Family dinner tonight at the posh club where sis and Rob are members. A bit of fun beforehand, sis booked the bowling alley and the three of us (me, niece and rob) tried to bowl. My scores were abysmal, the highest round was 95, ugh.
The dinner was buffet at the garden lounge at the top floor of the club building. Unlike hotel buffets, it was very civilised and the atmosphere very pleasant. There were only around 20 tables, so that was an advantage already. Soup and a half lobster salad were served at the table. My niece doesn’t like lobsters so mum had a whole one!
Both sis and I opted to add-on free flow drinks, which included champagne, red and white wine, and sake. We mostly stuck to champagne, I tried the sake with dinner and it was really good. Not dry, and went well with food.
Food was the usual buffet fare. Cold seafood of oyster, crab leg, prawn, clams were alright. Sashimi was fresh and enjoyable. I had two huge plates of rocket and beetroot salad and a little bit of cold poached trout. Skipped most of the hot food although the others said it was good–steamed fish, beef checks, iberico pork chops, curry. There was a noodle station which had very little business. Outside on the patio was a bbq station with skewers, roast rib-eye and other bbq meat. The skewers was disappointing, either overcooked (chewy and dry) or undercooked (the scallops were almost raw and not charred outside).
Had a sorbet and some macarons for dessert. There was a cheesecake with chestnut topping, I only ate the topping. Half my plate was full of delicious blackberries.
Most people spend CNY with family. All I did was stay home and cooked lunch and dinner. No difference from any other day.
Lots of greetings received on whatsapp groups. I looked and looked to find ones that didn’t have dogs, which was pretty difficult. These are from one of the priests mm follows on fb, he made them himself. I especially appreciate the explanation at the side, together with a pronounciation guide. With so much negativity around the use of fb (I deleted it from default tabs and check it once a day if I remember), it’s nice to see something that isn’t an ad, a stupid meme or spam.
Traditionally people go to a flower market on CNY eve to buy flowers and to participate in the festive atmosphere. Last time I went was so many years ago and all I remember is the crowd.
We set off around 11.30pm on the tram, the slowest means of transport. It was nice to enjoy the view and the cool breeze and not have to hurry. Catch pokemons too, tram is slow enough.
When we got closer to the flower market park, we saw the beginnings of the hoard. The station was completely blocked and there was a queue along the pavement to cross the road. Lots of police officers there to direct traffic and keep it orderly. It was very crowded, but organised.
There was a one-way system in place at the market, so we had to go up one aisle of stalls and down the next. So crowded that progress was slow, may be a few steps every minute. The market split into roughly two sections; one for flowers and one where mostly school and college kids sold soft toys, cushions and other festive stuff. Cute at the time, but incredibly useless and tacky a few days later. This year, there were so many dog soft toys it was hard to find anything else.
We only managed half of the souvenir section, there was one part that was completely gridlocked. When we calculated that we’d moved may be 10 steps in 20mins, it was time to give up. The flower section was marginally less crowded, so we headed there. Many stalls had discounted flowers, the market had been in place for about a week and it was the last few hours. We left with a few bunches of flowers, mostly for mm’s mum. I got a pot of basil for the equivalent of £1.
By the time we left it was something like 3am. Amazingly there were still people heading into the market. These wise and persistent individuals were there for last minute bargains, good luck to them.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
<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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.