chinese new year

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Blah blah blah year of the rooster cakes.

Didn’t feel like a day of celebration.

Didn’t even get a red packet.

Made rack of lamb for lunch, which I managed to cook pretty nicely this time. Spent more time making the gravy than the lamb, carrots, kale and potatoes.

This 揮春 decoration is interesting. Look closely, everything is in English.

CNY Indian dinner

CNY dinner was at an Indian vegetarian restaurant. I saw a poster that they are having a promotion every Monday in February: eat and pay as you like. They don’t take reservations for this promotion so we got there at around 5.50pm. There was already a queue on the street. We were lucky enough to get a table. The restaurant was full, but everyone was polite and orderly when getting the food (no mainlanders, that’s why).

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I filled up my plate on my first visit, with almost everything available at the buffet. The familiar paneer, aloo gobi (cauliflower), aloo chaat (potato curry) and the less familiar idli sambar (white cake with sauce) and medu vada (fried doughnut). For dessert there were the very sweet gulab and gaajar ka halwa, made from grated carrot, milk, sugar and we tasted something like semolina inside.

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We asked for something not spicy and the manager brought us a huge dosa. That was definitely the highlight of the meal, crispy and flavoursome.

We had a couple of bottles of wine, nice but a bit pricey. The pay as you like was a bit strange, they presented a bill together with an empty lai see envelope and didn’t explain anything. Apparently the amount on the bill is the suggested payment and you’re supposed to put it in the envelope.

Overall, not a bad meal. Didn’t blow me away. When we left at around 8pm the queue downstairs was still going strong. Looks like they will have a very full house.

CNY year of the sheep

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The obligatory CNY greeting. Year of the sheep this year. Woke up, hugged parents, got red packet from them, sent greetings to sis and mm, spent the day reading and watching tv. Had a chuckle to see the previews of the Great British Sewing Bee; I don’t think it’ll be as popular as Bake-off. Yes we had the non-vegetarian version of the traditional vegetarian dish 齋 for lunch accompanied by abalone and turnip cake but that was it.

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Met with my FA, and remember why I’m so glad I don’t need to brave the traffic jam and huge crowds every day to go to and from work. The flipside of not working is, of course, the need for money to pay the bills. I don’t spend a lot, so it’s an easy request for her to make a small withdrawal from the account. Hopefully by the time I need the next withdrawal, the portfolio will have regained that amount…and more. We’re switching out of Europe into UK, and exiting Latin America. There’s some in Energy that has gone down, but we’re not panic selling.

The CNY decorations are up. The Landmark mall has a display with clouds and sheep and a big tree in the atrium. Not sure why clouds, but they look quite cute.

bbmm cycling and market

Met up with mm in the afternoon to go cycling. Walked around some snack shops and had something to eat first, because she just came from her piano lesson and hadn’t had lunch. By the time we finished it was around 4pm, so we figured we had about an hour or so. The rental bikes were pretty rudimentary, I never quite got mine to shift gears. But the bike path along an urban river was flat and easy. I’d been using mum’s stationary bike so I was quite happily cycling along, but mm isn’t used to exercise so we took a couple of stops. All in all, about 45mins of actual cycling. Sigh, I wish I still had my bike.

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Took the train back into town and visited one of the markets that spring up at this time of year, the week before CNY. There were two main sections, one of young people selling soft toys and balloons and useless fun stuff. The other was a flower market. Lots of orchids, narcissus, chrysanthemums in all sorts of colours, and other flowers I don’t know the names of.

Dinner was sashimi set. She also had a grilled fish head and I had a umeshu soda. Good day. She was feeling stressed and teary and the outdoor activity helped lighten her mood.

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It’s the year of the snake. Hmm. It’s supposed to be an exciting year and it’s important not to keep secrets (cos snakes are all mysterious and suspicious and all). There’s also a possibility of great advancement in science and technology. LOL may be facebook comes out with more apps, or twitter stops getting hacked.

Snake years are supposed to enhance people who were born in the year of the snake. Both good and bad qualities. Watch out.

red packet

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It’s traditional to give red packets for luck. Growing up, it was only my parents so we missed out on a lot of money-gathering opportunities lol. It’s given by the older generation to the younger generation, but in practice it’s married people to single people. Since I’m technically single, I get given them too. It’s a little embarrassing, I accept because it’s polite to do so. If the giver has children, I make sure I give one to their kids.

Although most envelopes are red, there are also gold ones. SC gave me this cute one with a cartoon dragon, it being the year of the dragon. Quite festive.

CNY cocktail

<Originally I was going to celebrate CNY by getting Singapore noodles from the Thai place next to the station. Not perfect, but a good enough choice. The girls at work had a different idea, and we all went for cocktails. The place had 2-for-1 happy hour so we went a little crazy. During the evening I had a mojito, a caipirhina, a cosmo (I think), something with Baileys and ice cream, a Baileys & mint shot and a beer. Taxi home, naturally.

chinese new year, sort of

sushituna

mm and I celebrated chinese new year at a, um, sushi restaurant. one of those conveyor belt places that is usually very crowded but today at 1pm, we didn’t even have to wait. We ordered a mixed tuna plate, with 3 different kinds of tuna ranging from normal to fatty. Also had a bottle of sake.

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Then we were pottering around the stores, and were at burberry when there was a huge racket which got louder and louder. It was the lion dance, coming to the store to “fetch the green” — I’m sure there’s some lucky meaning but it escapes me right now. We were at the right place at the right time.

dog year

Lunar New Year today. Went to my parents’ for lunch — we had a mix of all sorts of our favourite foods, though nothing “cohesive” that would be considered a proper menu. I mean, we mixed steak with abalone and vegetable stew and carrot cake and the yu sheng salad from Singapore. Who cares, it’s only the three of us.

I spent most of the time before and after lunch fixing Mum’s PC. Sigh. Stupid PC. She had a ton of spyware that was crippling her IE. Hee, I half considered not fixing it so she could use firefox instead, but she plays some games off msn. I showed her how much faster and safer firefox is. Tidied up her start menu, got rid of redundant icons, general cleanup, downloaded a bunch of security software, that sort of stuff.

By the time I got back to mm’s it was almost 5pm. I stopped by the market and bought 4 giant tiger prawns — “big head prawns.” I made surf & turf for dinner – sirloin steak, prawns, potato cubes, mange tout beans and mini corn. A big plate each. Hee.

maddening crowd

Early lunch for us, almost brunch. Then again, steak and beans is a large brunch.

Went to the flower market, which was very crowded, even though we went fairly early. Bought some flowers, but not so many. I got quite hungry, so we stopped for pork chop roll. Afterwards I picked up the duvet covers and bedsheets I had on order.

Bus back to her place to take a rest and dump the stuff we bought. She had dinner with her folks and I had dinner with a couple of friends — we had hotpot at a posh hotel restaurant. Quite expensive actually. Originally wanted to go to dessert at this chocolate place but it was full. Instead we ended up with a bar/deli place where they had an evening special of cake and glass of wine or liqueur coffee. I had a banoffe pie and house red — heavy but yummy.

It was past midnight when I met mm at the park to go to the fair. I hate crowds and it was late, but she wanted to go, so it was fine by me. man, that crowd! We weren’t moving by our own accord, it was like a sardine tin and people behind us would push us forward. The stuff on sale were the usual tacky worthless toys — balloons, inflatable toys, cheap decoration. Why people want to go get jostled by people and wet from the rain I have no idea.

good day

It’s the Year of the Rooster. Happy Lunar New Year.

Didn’t sleep very well last night, woke up disgustingly early, before 9am. Turned the powerbook on while she slept on happily, woke her up after 11am and she came out to join me in the living room, but fell asleep on my lap.

Had a simple lunch, then went out to walk around. Majority of shops were closed but not some restaurants, supermarkets and fruit stalls. Just strolled around, enjoying each other’s company.

After a little debate, we bought sushi, sashimi and snacks and went home. Caught up with Apprentice episodes. Opened a bottle of sake.

It was so nice, so easy.

She felt a little drunk after the sake and got me worried for a while. Luckily she recovered after sleeping it off for a bit. Phew.

mix up

My ex-colleagues took me for “lo hei” yesterday. Translated literally it means mix happiness, or mix up! The other name for it is “yu sheng”, meaning raw fish, or sashimi lah.

It’s a uniquely Singaporean concoction invented by 4 master chefs in the 1960s, the main ingredients are raw fish, salad (carrots, cucumber, ginger, picked onions) and various oils and sauces. The trick is to say one of those nice prosperity blessing phrases at each stage of preparing the dish, eg when putting the fish in, say “year year get fish”, like that.

Look at the nice pictures.

Nowadays in restaurants there’s a variety of fish, from the “normal” salmon sashimi to abalone to lobster. Even vegetarian versions without the fish.

Then after everything’s been put in the salad, everyone stands up and toss the salad as high as they can, while again saying these blessing phrases. It’s fun and tastes good too.