Friday, July 25, 2014

Dinner For All

Just a little indigression on food to avoid posting food pics and waffling on in a most nostalgic way on FB.


As you all know by now, E@L and Izzy (SPGica domestica) and her beau Danijel (how many frackin' guy called Dan does E@L know? fuck!) traipse off around the world a coupla times a year. Summer here, summer there. Often with Odette, Izzy's sister, as well. Absolutely the best times of E@L's recent life.

We've done the Croatian coast, Cambodia and Laos, Tuscany, Belgium, and Cebu. Probably some other unforgettable places that E@L can't recall just now. All fantastic. E@L only had two heart attacks on these trips. One involved an inappropriate lust attack in Hvar and the other involved an inopportune angina attack in San Gimingaino. Won't tell you which was the more painful.

 Cat, Izzy, Danijel, Odette: Split, Croatia

Arty-farty camera tricks: Luang Prabang riverside, Laos

The front lawn/breakfast/dinner nook in Tuscany

Six types of lobster: ?Antwerp, Belgium

The ferry from Negros to Cebu, Philippines


And now, as in soon, as in a few weeks, we are going together to Malta.


At first, like you, E@L be thinkin': Malta? Meh.

But as it happens he had recently read Empires Of The Sea, about the 16th century siege of Malta, amongst other nautical shenanigans involving the Ottomans and the Kerniggets Hospitaller the Hapsburgs, and found it fascinating - educational and entertaining, erudite and mildly erectile. And speaking of which, of course, as E@L twigs eventually, Thomas Pynchon's V. is set for a considerable chunk of pages in Valletta (as imagined from his Baedeker and library researches of the place) - so E@L reread that not unsubstantial tome. And realised there were several obliquely prurient scenes that he used to masturbate to as younger man. (Hmm. Not on the plan to revisit those periods of his life, but hey, whilst the tissues are handy...)

The reason for this trip to Malta, much less sensually, seems to be that Valletta was used in some outside shots as Kings Landing in Game Of Thrones, first season.

These friends of mine are obsessed.


Another of the things that Izzy and D are passionate about, as are all cool people, is good food. Or at least expensive food. And home-cooked expensive good food. On our trips they usually have a hit list of top places to eat and sometimes we have to book in advance to get seats, but also they like to experiment in the kitchen - with food, E@L reminds you correctively - when back home in their cozy nook in The Hague just up the road from the Escher museum.

We experimented with poached eggs last time E@L was there, for example. And roast carrot soup and jellied tarragon infused vodka or something...

All sorts of activities in The Hague (note the crisp sage leaves).


So E@L is currently working up a dinner plan for New Years in response, when they (E@L presumes) come to Singapore for a few days prior to our next Southern Hemisphere trip.

The experiment tonight was Roast Cauliflower Soup, with a few of his own crispy sage leaves on top. Why the fuck not.

Step One: put the oiled up cauliflowerettes into the overheated oven and burn the fuck out of them in 15 minutes. No photo, lots of smoke.

Step Two: walk to shop and buy new head of cauliflower.

Step Three: oil up, etc, but don't have the oven as hot and keep checking!

Step Four: sweat onions and garlic then add chicken stock (not home-made) with the browned cauli and simmer for 15-20mins.

Step Five: add coconut milk and whizz around in the Kenwood Over-The-Top-Complicated (it was on special) Food Processor what E@L used for the first time today.

Step Six: Put in bowl and garnish with brown-butter crisped sage leaves and a rescued roasted flowerette and observe how it looks for all the world like hummus.

Tasted very good, but it was too thick and the cauli was still slightly rice-like. Maybe E@L didn't put in the complete 3 cups of chicken stock, or maybe the cauliflower was oversize for the proportions of the liquid... And perhaps one could mash it through a sieve or something to make it look smoother.


Followed up by some lamb chops supposedly encrusted in thyme and rosemary salt, cooked to grandma's specifications (i.e. well done so you can eat the crisp fat without gagging) and with some simple steamed veggies (and a dobbed knob of butter).

Mmm-mmm. Definitely maybe the start of a menu for the anticipated end of year dinner party at E@LGHQ.

Keep checking your mail for the invite.


Monday, July 14, 2014

The Storming Of The Pastilles

Happy Bastille Day!


Showing his mastery of Photoshop is...


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Lost in Public Transit

When your town's founder is some rascal who ripped it off from the local Sultan (Raffles had signed a treaty with the Sultan's brother which meant little) you end up with a plethora (veritably) of landmarks eponymous to the much-lauded (except by his senior in the Navy) pioneer.

Wikipaedia lists quite a few places: hotels (one offs and chains), notable sights, schools, businesses, hospitals, streets, shopping centres, etc... around Asia and Australasia which have the dubious honour of bearing his name.


A well-liked person. Attractive to the ladies.


Raffles Hills Jakarta
Raffles City
Raffles City Shanghai
Raffles Hospital
Raffles Hotel
Sir Stamford at Circular Quay
Sir Stamford Double Bay
Stamford Grand Adelaide
Stamford Grand North Ryde
Stamford House
Stamford Plaza Adelaide
Stamford Plaza Auckland
Stamford Plaza Brisbane
Stamford Plaza Double Bay
Stamford Plaza Melbourne
Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport
Swissôtel The Stamford
Raffles Class (business class) of Singapore Airlines
Raffles Holdings
Raffles International Patients Centre
Raffles International Training Centre
Raffles Investments Limited
Raffles Medical Group
Raffles Tailor
Stamford Global
Stamford Hotels & Resorts (Singaporean hotel chain based in Australia)
Yantai Raffles Shipyard
Raffles College (currently National University of Singapore)
Raffles College of Design and Commerce
Raffles Girls' Primary School
Raffles Girls' School (Secondary)
Raffles Hall, National University of Singapore
Raffles Institution (Secondary)
Raffles Institution (Junior College)
Raffles-BICT International College
Raffles International Christian School
Stamford Primary School
Raffles Country Club
Raffles Cup
Raffles Marina
Raffles Town Club
Raffles Avenue
Raffles Boulevard
Raffles Institution Lane
Raffles Lighthouse
Raffles Link
Raffles Place
Raffles Place MRT Station
Raffles Quay
Stamford Road


Which may (Understatement Alert) create confusion: for example - how does the intrepid steak- aficionado get to the illustrious and soon to be famous Wooloomooloo Steakhouse (plug intended, please spend up big) in Swissôtel The Stamford by public transport? Despite it's unexplained absence from the Swissôtel The Stamford's website, or indeed in any signage in the hotel, it is there in reality if not virtuality.

Woolies hides itself away demurely on the 3rd floor of The Stamford Hotel on Stamford Rd, at the Raffles City Shopping Center. Got it? Stamford, Stamford, Raffles. Wooloomooloo.


Let me tell how NOT to get there.

Take the EastWest Line MRT (underground) and alight at Raffles Place MRT Station.

Half-asleep thanks to the soporific sultriness of the clime, half lost in a pod-cast on climate change or in the dream-world sounds of some ambient stuff recommended by No1 son ("No1 Son, did you leave the washing machine on downstairs?" "No, it's music." "Oh.") such as Carbon Based Lifeforms, Ulrich Schnauss, or Shpongle, I rouse myself as the train judders to a stop... almost to stop I mean, as it judders (jolts and shudders) briefly again to align itself with the outer anti-suicide doors and I fight my way out against the tide of prams and grannies as, I notice, the train on the opposite platform, going in the opposite direction, takes itself off.

The crowd looks and acts the same as in any situation, train-mall or large shopping mall, I can't tell yet where I am. A pulsing swarm-unintelligence rushing, pausing, floating, obstructing, ever-alert to inanimate things like clothes and watches, but nasty with indifference to non-members of the shopping swarm, as shopping is all the crowd does. I have to join for the flow through the turnstiles, or get crushed, eaten, assimilated and ejected.

So I come up from the depths of here, wherever that is, unthinkingly choosing one exit and slapped in my eyes is light. I am coming from a gate at one of the delightfully colonial pavilions of colonial architectural provenance, brilliant white in the sun in a small rectangle of a tended park of manicured lawn and low trimmed hedges that is standing defiantly dated, dwarfed on three sides by looming bank offices of Raffles Place, of course. Over the peak of the pavilion in the dazzling azure, I see the towering round tower of the hotel I had been expecting to find one hell of a lot closer, like all around me. The Stamford, Raffles City.

I am nowhere near where I should be. I realise that I have gone one stop too far again, yo-yoed up and over my public-transit bird-flipping ring finger. City Hall is naturally closer to Raffles City than is Raffles Place. Do'h!

But, seriously. Why the fuck would a station called Raffles Place not deposit you at a shopping centre called Raffles City? It's a fucking mystery. I've made this mistake three or four times now - but being who I am, I never learn from mistakes - how plebeian.


The building itself, Swissôtel, The Stamford, was once the tallest hotel in the world, for about 20mins (it is 221 meters at 73 stories). It was designed by our buddy I.M Pei, the guy who fucked up the Hancock tower in Boston when all the windows fell out, and the guy who built the much more iconic and impressive (and stable) Bank Of China building in Hong Kong. Tall and round, it is a great hotel to jump out of the windows of - recent case of a lady landing on the roof of the al fresco Starbucks, no doubt quite a shock to the green tea lattes consumers there. (Apparently, while they were retrieving her body, it fell further, through the parapet and onto the ground! May even have been a murder...!) The Formula 1 race takes a corner right at the window of Woolies at the base of the hotel.

It's a cool place, but I am not there. Yet. Back into the depths of the MTR... And, yes, the train to doors close, beep beep,just before I attain entry...


Belief and Knowledge

E@L saw somewhere recently a woman defending her atheism (someone look it up for me). And was asked if she was not rather an agnostic than an atheist. She dodged the question. Some guy on the video comments criticised her for not quite understanding the bias of the question.

Agnosis is about "knowing." Atheism is about "believing". You can, he said, be an agnostic atheist. They are not mutually exclusive. You don't KNOW, but you BELIEVE.

[And I guess, for the believers, if they BELIEVE that they KNOW about LTUAE, then they have what to them is a FACT in their hands. Which is why you can't really argue with them. But let's ignore this for the purposes of the blog, as it's already having been written. E@L]

So E@L is looking for an analogy and he gets as far as Schrodinger's Cat, at least initially.


Heisenberg: Imagine, E@L, that this cat was put in its metal box several hundred millennia ago (but by whom?) and the nasty radioactive substance has been decaying and threatening to release the hydrocyanic acid gas to kill the cat ever since. Not counting the cat suffocating in the first 30 mins, or the hammer mechanism seizing up, etc... Say the cat has been there since around about when human's started thinking about the afterlife, and all-powerful tea-pots on the other side of the sun (Richard Dawkin's analogy) and Santa Claus and the like. Say that we can never open the box to confirm one non-probablistic result or the other. Let's look at that box.

E@L: Amazing material, what is that box made of?

Heisenberg: Omnium.

E@L: Cool. From The Third Policeman. I get it.

Heisenberg: Is the cat dead, or is there a psi-function following the Copenhagen principle that Herr Schrodinger (zat traytor!) has set out to mock, that still allows the cat to be (calculates decay of that radioactive substance over time) only 99.9999999999976% dead and 0.0000000000024% alive?

E@L: If I didn't see it for myself, I wouldn't BELIEVE it! You did all those calculations on a fucking slide rule! Dude, you 30's scientists fuckin' RAWK! Anyway, to answer your question, I do not KNOW that the cat is dead. But fuck you and your fuzzy photos of reality, I BELIEVE that after all these thousands of years, the cat is dead. It has ceased to be.


Good analogy? Not really perfect is it? There is still that tiny, teeny weeny chance. (Cue Sfx: muffled meiaowww)


How about --

Schrodinger: E@L, you and I are locked in your bedroom behind the closed door FOREVER! How comfortable are you in your sexuality? OK, joking. But, you're typing this blog post and I am indulging in other wave-function related internet activities, and I hear a noise in the lounge room.

E@L: I didn't hear anything. Are you sure? The footy is on TV: the Cats are trouncing Melbourne.

Schrodinger: No, it was more of a big thump. Man, I reckon there is an elephant in your lounge room! In fact I BELIEVE there is a baby elephant in the lounge-room. I'm going to pray to it!

E@L: Pray for a Cat's victory and pray for it not to change the channel. You can't prove that about the elephant.

Schrodinger: You can't prove otherwise. You can't tell me for certain that the elephant is not there.

E@L: OK, I admit it. I don't KNOW if there are elephants in my lounge-room or not, however I aggressively and vehemently BELIEVE there are no elephants in my lounge room. It's 3/4 time. Score check.


Or, (and this is more my true position) --

Rosen: I moved an invisible and intangible table through time and space (from the Emu Heaven shop, yesterday) into your lounge room next to the other one.

E@L: Where? What the fuck are you talking about?

Rosen: You can't see it or feel it, or use it, but it is there.

E@L: You're a fucking nut-job.

Rosen: Don't you have FAITH?

E@L: In an invisible table? No.

Rosen: Einstein told me it is there - you trust Einstein, don't you? There are spirit photographs of the table on the web. I heard a podcasts about it. I believe there is a table in your lounge-room. I am going to pray to it.

E@L: Einstein has been misquoted and misinterpreted since forever (relatively). If I can't see a table or touch it or use it for any practical purpose, there can't be a table there. A table that is not manifest in the world doesn't in effect exist.

Rosen: But I have seen the photos! This table cured my niece of hiccups! It has an aura! I can see it.

E@L: Those photos are fake, just painting done up with photoshop - it is so fucking obvious. I scared your niece into not hiccuping in a manner I will not divulge. Your aura is a migraine coming on from me about to thump you.

Rosen: How do you KNOW that?

E@L: Because there is no table there. I'm looking: No table.

Rosen: Oh table, grant E@L the faith to believe in you.

E@L: I don't need to BELIEVE that there is a table there or not. There is no table. Repeat. There is no table. I KNOW there is no table there. However, I BELIEVE a cup of tea from the Great Tea-Pot on the other side of the sun would be nice. Milk, no sugar.


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