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Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

So my last post one life before Flo was incredibly wordy so I’m making sure to put add lots of pictures into this one to make up for it! Prepare your eyes for a whole lot of Nat and Flo aka #rennetan so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Picking up where I left off, I actually met Flo when I was in a weird kind of ‘ship’. I had been hanging out with this one guy for quite a few months and somehow couldn’t put my finger on whether we were together or not. Sorry I’m the kind of girl who needs things ‘official’ and said to my face rather than to assume things. Also, I think one big problem we had was that we weren’t communicating in the way that we should have which made it difficult for me to be direct and ask him about our status. In the end, I kind of gave up on things although this later proved to be a mess because apparently, we were in some kind of relationship according to him I later found out. I did share all this with Flo from the beginning and when it was time for me to make a decision, I chose Flo – Why? You’ll find out further down. 🙂

So since I didn’t think the other guy and I were in anything exclusive, I decided to explore a few dating apps, Tinder being one of them. So yes, I swiped my way right into meeting Flo. I know that some of you might cringe at the thought of using social apps to meet new people but the truth is, when you’re working from home, it’s not easy to expand your social circle.

In a country like Singapore, friends don’t usually introduce you to potential partners, or maybe my friends just don’t have good men to introduce to me. I look at it in a practical sense that we’re in an age of technology and there’s no shame in utilising it. And as I’ve learned, it doesn’t matter whether you’re on a dating app or meeting guys in real life – there are creeps, assholes and good men wherever and however you meet them. You just need to be discerning and sieve out the good from the bad.

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It was about a week after we’d ‘liked’ each other and started talking a little on chat before Flo invited me to watch a movie after work on Friday. We watched ‘Bad Moms’. We met right before the film started so we didn’t really have much time to talk and it got me thinking that this date probably wasn’t going to turn out great since I half-assumed that with nothing to go by, we might part right after the movie ended.

We didn’t.

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We found ourselves going to The Assembly Ground at Level 1 of The Cathay building and sharing about our lives with each other until the place closed. We then proceeded to walk over to Cathay Cineleisure’s Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe that closed at 2am. And there, we sat sharing even more about everything under the sun while Flo had his late late dinner, before we were told that they were preparing to close.

And so, after being kicked out of an eatery a second time, we walked some more back to where we came from, before finally booking an Uber each to return to our respective homes.

Shortly after parting, Flo texted me to say he wanted to see me again.

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So we did.

Next day, I met him in the afternoon only to end up whiling away a good 1.5-2 hours in his office lounge while he oversaw his team’s moving from one office to another, or something like that. I was smart enough to bring a book along so that helped keep me occupied. We only managed to hang around a short time after because he had a birthday party to attend soon after. But I believe that we shared our first kiss that day.

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Then things started to move a lot more quickly. Within a month, we planned to go on a short trip to Phuket together. Initially, I wondered if it was all too fast too soon – I mean, 4 days with someone you’ve just got to know could mean having a blast of a time, or turn out to be a total fail. Thank GOD it was the former. We were total bums most of the time, hauling ourselves over to the more happening Patong area only to save our stomachs from devouring themselves.

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We indulged in awesome seafood and spicy Thai tom yum soups; we lazed under the sun; we explored some of the nooks around Patong, but mostly, we took it very easy. It was while we were here that we both realised that we had developed very deep feelings for each other.

Within a couple of months, Flo met my parents and when my brother popped down for a couple weeks towards the end of 2016, we all spent a weekend together in Malacca.

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This was when Flo got stuck with my loving, but occasional dysfunctional family (I say that will all the affection in the world). He survived and decided he could put up with our little idiosyncrasies. Phew!

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Shortly after, his beautiful sister Naima came to visit and I got the meet her.

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In January of this year, I moved in to live with Flo. It was quite a big transition for me having never lived out of my family home here in Singapore, and even when I was in the UK, I was living with my grandparents. I shared about this move in one of my blog posts beginning 2017. The main reason for it was because I was craving independence and we thought it might be better for me living away from familiar surroundings in order to also cut myself off from the habits and routine of my eating disorder. Of course, it has by no means been a cure and I’m still working towards the goal of attaining and maintaining a healthy weight as well as a good relationship with food, but I’m getting there with the continual support of Flo, my family and Dr. A.

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Living together with Flo has been quite a journey. We’ve continued travelling together to neighbouring countries for short getaways from our little island. We try to meet with my parents for dinner every one to two weeks although I also see them more often during the week.

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Summer of this year, we both went to Europe. First to Hamburg for me to meet his family…

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As well as his friends…

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I was very touched by how warm they all were to me and how much they tried to speak to me in English, which has since spurred me on to get on with some basic German classes.

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It was also amazing for me to experience the gorgeous sights of Hamburg and surprisingly delicious fare, all made even better by the perfect weather!

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We then went on to London where we spent time with my maternal family, all of whom Flo finally got to meet.

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We spent time with my parents as well with short day trips out of London and came home nearly every evening to Grandma’s soul-hugging home-cooked meals.

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Our summer visits certainly brought us closer together in the sense that I managed to see more of Flo through his interactions with his nearest and dearest, and vice versa. I enjoyed it very much and wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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It was quite funny because the other day, I remembered thinking that we’ve been living together for a larger proportion of the time that we’ve been a couple. Admittedly, a lot of things in our relationship happened quite quickly but we’ve been blessed that they have worked out well for us. And in the time that I’ve been living with Flo, I’ve learned so much!

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I’ve learned how to iron much better, and I try to keep our home as clean and tidy as possible. I know that I’m a far better baker than a cleaner but I try my best with the vacuuming and the mopping and the scrubbing.

I also try to cook more often during the week. Simple things and when I’m feeling brave, I try new recipes. Recent ones for Flo include Pork Tenderloin with Mashed Potatoes

Steak and Wedges…

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Sliced Potatoes

Of course, our relationship, like every other, is not perfect. We suffer from the occasional blip which both of us hate going through, but I choose to see them as learning curves where we learn more about ourselves as individuals, and as a couple, so that we can continue to grow together.

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What I love about our relationship is that I feel able to communicate with Flo more often than not. I feel able to share with him my thoughts, hopes and dreams openly. In areas where I used to feel vulnerable, he has slowly enabled me to trust and not be afraid. I enjoy that we can cuddle up to each other and say nothing at all, but at the same time, we can also talk about anything at all.

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With Flo, I feel that I have become a better, stronger woman. I am becoming more confident in myself, and Flo never fails to tell me how attractive he thinks I am. I have learned to become less of a fiery little chilli padi, to be more patient, and to listen more. I have learned not to give up so easily, to work harder at our relationship, and to love with a bigger heart. It is not always easy, but with Flo, I want to make it work. So far, we have been making it work. And I pray that we will continue to grow in love for years and years to come!

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So this is our little story as of right now. It’s always easy to share about the wonderful snippets that go on within our relationship but I promise you that we go through periods where we want to tear each other’s hair out. At the end of the day, we are two different individuals, who have grown up in different environments and raised on different values and beliefs. But we have similar goals in life and for sure, we share some of the same values that point us towards a similar direction. And we have love. And so, we learn to accommodate our differences, and to give and take.

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In the time I’ve been with Flo, I’ve come to believe that aside from love, there has to be communication and trust in a relationship. 100%! If there’s no trust, or if you trust even only 99% of the time, then there is no grounds for a relationship because you have to trust your partner wholeheartedly. Communication is also a must. And it is when you feel least like communicating, that’s when you HAVE to.

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Flo is my best friend, my confidante, my travel mate, my dance partner, my plus one, my shoulder to cry on, my pillar of strength. And while I know that there is no perfect man, I believe that he is quite perfect for me. I don’t know where our story will continue, but I hope that it will continue a long long while more. Perhaps. Maybe. Even. For the rest of our lives!

 

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BUT FIRST.

Recently, littlesunbear sweetly requested that I share about how Flo and I met. It’s not a story I am shy to share since it is, after all, our little story. But first, I thought it’d be best to give a bit of an introduction to how things were before I met Flo. Then you might better understand why I think he is the awesome man that he is and is perfect for me.

In a big nutshell, I started dating quite early in life. I guess I felt very much an ugly duckling growing up and when boys started paying attention to me, I felt that sense of validation. Of course, I knew I was loved very much at home, but my insecurities, I suppose, led me to seek love from other places – a kind of love that was conditional and based more on the person you are.

My first boyfriend came from a broken home. I was still incredibly young then and got sucked into his world. As with most kinds of ‘puppy love’, I thought he was everything and allowed our relationship to determine my emotions. Things slowly came to an end after a lot of things happened in his home, leading him having to go to hospital from a ‘burn out’. I held a lot of bitterness towards him and how he treated me in the second half of our relationship but on hindsight, we were both probably too immature then to handle something that requires more psychological and emotional maturity. We didn’t know any better and were too prideful to look to the more experienced for guidance because we knew they would simply have told us that we were still too young.

I went in and out of relationships quite quickly thereafter, choosing to leave rather than fight for them to succeed whenever things started to get challenging. I guess it was mostly for selfish reasons in wanting to protect myself from getting hurt so badly. Most of my relationships lasted no longer than a year. A few I jumped into too soon only to realise they were big mistakes, and just as quickly, I’d jump right out again.

I dabbled in a lot of careless things, and sometimes acted out of impulse. Looking back now, I can only thank God for His protection in all my folly throughout my adolescent years. The longest time I was without a boyfriend was in my first few years of having the eating disorder. I was far too thin to be attractive, but more than that, I just couldn’t be bothered with love, or boys, or looking pretty. All I cared about was my food schedule, calories, what to eat, what not to eat, how much I weighed, what foods to eat once I lost that next two kilos etc etc…

As I started to toe the line between being healthy and skinny, I was able to go out more, and not make ED as much of a priority. Thereafter, I kissed a few toads, got burnt a couple times, before finding my prince.

What I wanted to highlight here are my last few serious relationships because I think they brought a few hard truths home to me:

  1. I met a boy, we’ll call him L, while I was working at my first job within the hotel industry. He wasn’t much of a looker, but he had a way with words. We couldn’t be from more opposite worlds – me being raised in an English-educated family, and him in a traditional Chinese family. I spoke only English, L spoke mainly Mandarin and broken English. I came from a very comfortable home, while his worked hard to make ends meet. Still, he was raised with good values and was always very thoughtful towards my family and I. After a year or so, we both left the hotel and I felt that it was time for us to go our separate ways as well. It was obvious that communication was becoming a challenge for us with my mediocre Mandarin that was failing to improve and his refusal to speak English with me. I felt that in the long run, it would be tough to carry on and while I cared a lot for him, it was more in the way of a friend.

    L, however, felt differently from me and didn’t feel able to let go. He began following me and waiting around my home. One day, I’d gone out with a guy friend and reached home late. When I got into my home, I just about had the door locked when I felt some resistance. I thought I may have pulled the doormat in by mistake so I opened the door and he pushed his way through, came behind me and covered my mouth. I went still with shock and as it dawned on me what he wanted to do, I thought of Mum in her room, fast asleep, and for some reason, couldn’t bring myself to scream for help. I know now that what I felt was shame and humiliation as he tried to assault me. He didn’t go as far as to rape me, no. But I was assaulted.

    I can understand why some girls don’t scream for help when in such a precarious situation. I used to think I would scream and shout and yell it all out until help came but in that moment, I couldn’t bear to let Mum see what was going on. I felt so dirty thereafter. It was 3, 4am and I went for a shower to wash. I did, in the end tell Mum about it and right after work the next day, I went to make a report. Only, I retracted my statement on the assault because the police said that if they accepted it, it would become a court case and knowing what I know of him and his family, I couldn’t let his future come tumbling down. I chose to believe that L acted on a flash of rashness and heightened emotions from our breakup. Instead, I reported his stalking me and from what I know, the police gave him a warning after which, he stopped. 

  2. My next serious relationship was with a guy who was smart, pretty good-looking, and from a background quite similar to mine. Let’s call him V. He was is a doctor, even though I didn’t know it when we first met. So no, it wasn’t at all because he was a doctor that I went for him. He was well-spoken, and witty, and was close to his family – qualities that stood out to me. Not long after we got together, I had spent the day with him and he was off to cover his night shift at the A&E which was his rotation at the time. I’d just checked my email using his computer and stupidly (or maybe it was a blessing in disguise) forgot to log out of his computer. He actually went and read through my private emails with a close girlfriend of mine who lives in Canada.

    Misunderstandings quickly arose when he accused me of ‘cheating’ on him with another guy I had gone on a few meaningless dates with before meeting V. The guy had casually invited me to go visit a country with him and I’d emailed my girlfriend lightly saying I may consider it. But it was all in good humour and obviously after getting serious with this guy, I wouldn’t have gone ahead. Anyway, Dad sweetly rushed me over to the hospital just to iron things out with him because I was so upset. At the same time, Dad did warn me that a guy who looks through your personal things has trust issues. I pooh-poohed that thought away and thought that V couldn’t be like that. How can someone like him, with all that he’d been blessed with, be that insecure?

    Over time though, I started to see what kind of person he was. He would keep texts from stupid whatsapp arguments and bring up all our past arguments whenever we had a misunderstanding. I, with the memory of a flea, tend to forget arguments almost right after they’re over so you can imagine how frustrating it was for me to listen to him haul up the past when I could hardly recall them. He also insisted that I ‘report’ to him any male who had spoken or texted to me in the day, no matter how friendly it was, because he was convinced that they all had an ulterior motive.

    I began to dread meeting him and became so emotionally drained as he told me day after day that he was the best I’d ever have and I would never find anyone better; That if I dared leave him, then there must be something wrong with me, and seeing that I’ve had a string of broken relationships, there had to be. He would twist my words to make it such that I was always the one in the wrong, and he would make me feel so very small. Some days, I felt as though he would say certain things just to watch me hurt.

    My parents warned me to be careful if I wanted to continue with our relationship, especially as we actually considered settling down together, even getting a flat together. Mum said she worried that in the case V decide to return to his home country, I would find myself trapped into an emotionally abusive situation with nowhere to run, and no friends to help me. He had already told me not to confide in my friends and even my Mum because ‘you don’t air dirty laundry in public’. It sounded ridiculous, still does now to think of it all as ‘abusive’ and a future together might have led to worse behaviour, but I guess sometimes you can never be too sure. 

    Things came to a head when we went on a short trip to Bangkok and he once again, went through my phone behind my back even after I had password-locked it. I  actually think he has a photographic memory and somehow managed to sneak a peek at me keying my 8-digit code into my phone the previous day. I found out, we had a huge flare up, and I immediately booked a plane ticket home. We let the flat go and lost our first $2k deposit (thankfully we hadn’t yet paid for the second one) but it was over and I had never felt so emotionally relieved. I could breathe once more.

As with most girls in their late 20’s or early 30’s – I was about 28 then, breaking up with V while liberating, also struck fear in me that I was destined to live alone for the rest of my life. I think this fear is heightened especially in Asia where there is still some pressure to settle down and have babies, especially once you’re in your late 20’s.

I would look through Instagram, Facebook, and see friends getting engaged, friends getting married one after another, friends popping out babies one after another after another, some moving on to have their second. And I was nowhere near any of that. On the one hand, I was afraid of being alone forever especially because I have always wanted to be a wife and mother (seriously ever since I was a little girl). On the other hand, I told myself that I would be ok even if I didn’t meet anyone because I would rather be by myself and make peace with that, than to be in a miserable marriage that I felt stifled in. And it’s true. I don’t think I could ever allow myself to be married to someone so controlling, possessive and manipulative.

Now, I’m not trying to make myself look the victim here. I’m no angel I’ll be the first to admit to that. I used to be reckless and I used to think of dating as a game. It was only in the last 5 years I believe, that I started to acknowledge that feelings get hurt in the dating process and that it’s important to tell a person if you don’t think the relationship has potential to grow further; that mutual respect towards each other is important not just in front of others, but behind close doors too; and that you should never believe that a person will change based on what they say, but only based on what they do.

I learned that it’s ok to be single whatever age you are and that each one of us are different and so, have different life trajectories as well. It’s not a competition. Sure, the clock is ticking in some aspects such as having children, well, mainly having children, but it’s more important having them with the right person, not simply because you feel like it’s time. I did date a number of really nice, good-natured men after V, but I didn’t feel attracted to them the way I hoped to be attracted to a possible life partner. Some are still friends, and some have disappeared from my life. I realised that I enjoyed being single even though sure, there were pangs of loneliness from time to time. So yes, I did start to think that I would be fine and happy even, without a man.

But!

Of course I didn’t lose all hope. If I did, I wouldn’t have met Flo…

P.S. I could actually write a whole post on my relationship with V and I have thought about it because I know that sometimes, it’s hard to believe that you’re actually in a destructive, abusive relationship. Using the word ‘abusive’ for me even now, is difficult, and all the more so when it is emotional and psychological because you can’t see the bruises so it’s almost as though it all never happened. Let me know perhaps if you’d like me to share more. It’s not about me wanting to paint V in a bad light because he did have his good points for sure. I just feel that there are a lot of girls, guys even, who may be stuck in a life-sucking relationship and maybe my sharing might help? 

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#throwback to last weekend.

I had my fill of poke!

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Prior to this bowl from Aloha Poke at City Link Mall, I’d only had it once before at Alter Ego. And before that I made my own although my flavours skewed more towards Japanese rather than Hawaiian. Anyway, I found myself hankering after a bowl and this certainly hit the spot.

As requested by Flo, I did go for a base of brown rice (I ED would have definitely gone for salad greens) for my Lil Swell, which they topped with lots of greens and complimentary chunks of sweet pineapple as well as finely chopped chives. I opted for jalapeños cos a girl’s gotta have some fireeeee, cherry tomatoes and pomegranate seeds for my superfood topping. The best part of course, was my 75g of beautifully marinated original Salmon Poke.

It was $12.90 for this so… maybe just once in a while although I have big plans to replicate this at home. This time with a more tropical theme.

With my 3rd Aunt still in town since we had the memorial Thursday before for Aunty Judy, we met up with a few other uncles and aunties for lunch at this Vegetarian restaurant called Elemen.

I’d heard rave reviews about it but I know my man needs his meat. Also, after our disappointing experience at Green Dot, we weren’t sure how Elemen would fare. But guess what? It was pretty bloody awesome!

For starters, Mum and I shared this Double-boiled Burdock Root Soup with Monk Fruit. It was delicate and light on the palate, but still so comforting. I’ve been deprived of hot, steaming herbal soups so this tasted especially good!

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We also ordered this Spicy Shiitake with Purple Rice Roll which we happily shared with the rest of our table before ordering yet another.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the crunch of fresh cucumbers and carrots, and the crispiness of tempura within the vinegar-ed purple rice which had more bite than regular sushi rice, and carried a pleasant nuttiness to it. Each piece was topped with chopped shiitake mushrooms marinated in a teriyaki-esque sauce, almost mimicking unagi. Sadly, we couldn’t taste much of the spiciness which we expected from its name. More chilli please!!! 

We also had a couple of other appetisers to share: The Mushroom Salad, and the Watermelon Feta Salad.

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Both were dainty in presentation and while I enjoyed the mushroom salad (I love mushrooms!!), Flo didn’t take to it being served cold. That was quite unexpected I have to admit but served hot or cold, they’re still mushrooms so you can see just how much my love for mushrooms extends to.

The watermelon and feta salad was refreshing and light. I especially liked the watermelon eaten with some fresh mint. The food here in general are a bit on the pricey side so a more generous sprinkle of feta would have been very much welcomed.

Dad zeroed in on the Milano Pizza which ended up being the crowd’s favourite.

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Wafer-thin, crispy base topped with monkeyhead mushroom, sliced red radish, baby cress and of course, cheeeeeese!

Flo had the Edamame Tofu with Black Truffle Wild Rice.

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I managed to try some of his tofu and rice. The rice was lovely – chewy and nutty and still moist. I shall look to make some once I get my hands on wild rice. The tofu was yielding, so smooth and silky, tasty even without the luscious savoury sauce on top. Having it together simply gave it an extra oomph.

I think the entire family enjoyed lunch at Elemen. I especially liked that they highlighted the beauty and versatility of vegetables in all their dishes, using them in various way to create a myriad of textures and flavours. None of that mock meat/konnyaku seafood jibber-jabber that I deplore.

We had a great time surrounded by family and listening to stories from way back in the day. We reminisced about Aunty Judy, and we laughed about the silly antics Ah Gong (my paternal grandpa) used to get up to while driving everybody up the wall. I’m glad Flo was there with me, getting to know my 3rd Aunt, whom I am very close to, a bit better, as well as some of my other uncles. I know that they also appreciated his company very much.

And because…

I cannot leave this post without sharing about some of my kitchen antics, this is what I whipped up for last Monday’s dinner for Flo. He requested Prawns for protein and while I seriously considered making prawn ceviche, I decided I would stick to the traditional fish ceviche and save it to make for another day.

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Instead, I baked up some uber-sweet Japanese Beni Haruka Sweet Potatoes, and made Cauliflower-Rice stuffed Red Peppers. I quickly stir-fried the ‘rice’ with some finely chopped haricot beans, king oyster mushrooms, and onions, splashed in a bit of fish sauce and soy – should have added some oyster sauce but I didn’t have any, and seasoned it with some sea salt and black pepper. I didn’t want to overcook the ‘rice’ so I roasted the red pepper halves in the oven beforehand, then filled them after.

For the prawns, I used a simple Gochujang Marinade:
1 Tbs Gochujang
3/4 Tbs Soy Sauce
1/2 Tbs Minced Garlic
1/2 Tbs Minced Ginger
1/4 Tbs Sesame Oil

  1. Mix everything together. Massage prawns gently into the mix and let sit together at least 10-15min. 
  2. Heat pan and sear away!

You can also use this versatile recipe for any other meats although you should probably marinate them for longer in the fridge, about 2 hours or more. You can even use this for vegetables!

Oh funny story before I sign off. After Sunday’s veggie-filled lunch, Mum and Dad headed off to church before coming over to have dinner with Flo and I. Mum had been having a craving for Vietnamese and wanted to go back to Long Phung. Due to the lack of animal meat in their bodies, the two men made sure to have their fill at dinner, Dad especially. Flo had a bowl of Chicken Pho and Dad, Vietnamese Beef Stew with Rice. Then they both shared a plate of Rare Beef cooked in Lemon Juice that Flo loves but haven’t been able to have for quite a while now.

So right at the end, Mum saw that Dad had left a single chunk of tender beef sitting in its bowl while he focused on eating the rare sliced beef, and asked whether he was going to finish it. Before he could answer, I quipped “Of course! He just likes it so much he’s saving it for last! Riiiiiiight?”. To which Dad smiled until his eyes turned into two horizontal lines, gleefully nodding his head in agreement. I know. Because I’m my father’s daughter and can totally read his mind. And because that’s exactly what I do too!

Are you a ‘Save the Best for Last’ kind of person or ‘Have the Best First’ kind of person? Let me know!! I used to think that EVERYONE should save the best for last but I know a few people who like to have the best first so it’d be interesting to know which train of thought you subscribe to. Don’t be shy!!! =P

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Wednesday 19th Jul 2017 Noon.

I met Flo for my ‘surprise’ lunch that he had made a reservation for. I had a little inkling as to where we were going to go but wasn’t entirely certain. We met at City Hall station and headed towards Carlton Hotel. There I guessed we were going for Japanese. Then I narrowed it down to Shinji. I was right!!!!

The restaurant only opens at 12pm on the dot so since we were a couple minutes early, we I took some wefies of me and my beau.

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Shinji is actually an extension of Chef Shinji Kanesaka’s 1-Michelin Star Edo-style sushi restaurant in Tokyo. Only omakase menus are offered to ensure that the freshest, seasonal produce are served at their highest quality. Of course, I expected great things, especially since Flo had visited before and always gushed about how great the food at Shinji is.

We both opted for the smallest Setsugetsuka Sushi Course Menu – Hana, which consisted of 9 pieces of Nigiri Sushi, one dish of Maki, Soup and a Dessert. I was a little apprehensive about how much rice I’d have to consume, but overall, I was excited.

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We were seated around a 17-seat counter where we could see the sushi chefs at work as they deftly sliced through lovely fillets of raw fish, moulded sushi rice into small mounds, and carefully wiped their benches and our serving plates after each course. It was a clinical operation that flowed so artfully.

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The prelude to our Hana Set began with Seared Maguro. This was light on the palate and the subtle smokiness from the sear highlighted the cleanness of the tuna.

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Moving on to the Nigiris, we were first served Hamachi (Yellowtail). I’ve always heard, but never tried, that proper nigiri should be eaten with warm rice. It was the perfect mouthful – the grains of sushi rice were lightly packed yet still held well together, warm and pleasing to the tongue and topped with a beautiful slice of the delicate-flavoured fish.

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The Ika Nigiri was the next to grace our palate. Never have I ever had a slice of squid so soft and so creamy before. It was a delightful surprise and surely not one that I will easily find elsewhere at this level. It was served with a hint of wasabi and a single drop of freshly squeezed lime juice that brought the entire piece of nigiri to life.

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So Flo actually knows that I’m generally not so much a tuna fan than a salmon fan. When Chef asked if we had any dislikes, we both said we didn’t. Thank God for that! Our lunch ended up comprising of a fair number of tuna courses and I’m glad I didn’t dismiss the tuna so quickly because I ended up developing quite a fondness for it.

I’ve only bothered to have Maguro tuna which is the leanest cut. Hence, it was my first time eating Chutoro, which is semi-fatty tuna. It was definitely a step up from Maguro in terms of its soft, luxe texture. But then…

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Ōtoro made its appearance and lordy Lord! This was even more luxurious than the Chutoro since it comes from the fatty part of the tuna. See how handsomely marbled this slice of ōtoro is? This practically melted in my mouth and disappeared far too quickly, as with all wonderful things.

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Our trio of tuna made way for the Aji (Horse Mackerel) Nigiri which was topped with a chiffonade of aromatic Shiso. The tiniest, pea sized dollop of herbaceousness served to accentuate the sweet freshness of the fish

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I quite enjoyed this Flying Fish with Tobiko Gunkan Maki. I loved the tiny bursts of the tobiko with inflections of shiso against the still-crisp seaweed, and soft, yielding sliced fish that gave for a balanced textural contrast in this mouthful of yum.

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The Maguro-Zuke, shoyu-marinated tuna, was nicely executed – not too salty and perfectly complemented by the seasoned rice beneath.

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I love me my prawns and this Tiger Prawn Nigiri was deliciously sweet, thoughtfully cut into two pieces because I’m a lady and couldn’t possibly fit the entire prawn into my mouth. #thatswhatshesaid

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Now, this. THIS turned out to be my favourite of the lot! This Negitoro was sublime! As soon as the last of it slid down my throat, I turned to Flo and said “I think I’ve just had an epiphany!”. It was just so amazingly creamy with its richness cut by the presence of very finely chopped Asatsuki Chives.

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Our final piece of Nigiri was the Anago (Sea Eel). Unlike the unagi which is often served slathered in sweet teriyaki sauce, this was a lot more toned down with a swift brush of sweet soy glaze. It was topped with sudachi zest which gave a slightly bitter tang against the salty-sweet of the eel.

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After the excitement and dynamism of the nigiri courses, the tune of our meal mellowed down to present to us the humble Maguro Tuna Maki, with sweet, crunchy, Pickled Radish, and the most custardy, lightly sweetened piece of Tamago I have ever had.

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To wash everything down, we were served a bowl of this clear broth made from boiling tuna bones. It was light, yet rich in flavour, and boasted an incredibly fluffy, delicate, almost falling-apart-in-your-mouth tuna ball.

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Our meal ended with a light, refreshing dessert of Orange Jelly with Kiwi and Grapes, topped with a Raspberry Red Wine Sauce. In all its simplicity, I appreciated how it came to be the perfect two-bite dessert to see us off. As with our entire lunch, it was unpretentious yet bold in highlighting the quality of ingredients used. Like a ballet performance, this sweet was like a graceful bow signalling that the finale had come to a close.

Needless to say, this was one of the best Japanese meals I have had. My tastebuds have been thoroughly spoilt and it’s certainly going to be no easy feat to surpass the level at which the food at Shinji was prepared and served. Sushi – so seemingly simple to make, but so great a skill is required in order to compose it into a singular, perfect, mouthful. The impeccable service and constant replacements of our cups of hot green tea ensured that our meal from beginning to end went without a hitch.

Thank you Flo, for yet another wonderful culinary experience with you. And because it was with you, lunch was that extra bit more delicious and memorable!

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Last weekend was a nicely packed one for Flo and I in that we were busy enough, yet not so busy to tire ourselves out for the week ahead. We decided to book tickets to a local theatre production – Boeing Boeing. Flo’s never been to watch any of our local theatre productions before and I was a little worried that some jokes might get lost in translation. In addition, knowing that my man is not a big fan of musicals, I wasn’t sure whether Boeing Boeing would be full of music, dance and song galore. So I simply had to keep my fingers and toes crossed that the show would live up to its good reviews.

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We bought ourselves awesome seats along the first row of the second half of the theatre. I’ve not been to Victoria Theatre since it got renovated so I was very impressed with its modern interior that breathed of comfort and great visuals from all corners unlike before, when big pillars would block certain sections causing one to have to crane their neck left and right depending on where the actors were on stage.

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The entire performance was full of energy and not too localised which we very much appreciated. Oon Shu An was perfect as the resident ‘SQ girl’, and I thought that Judee Tan took the cake as a flight attendant from ‘China Air’ with her accent totally on point. In fact, I think the women outshone the men in Boeing Boeing although the men were vital characters to the plot.

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The cast were incredibly sporting and game to pose for all the audience to snap photos of at the end of the show. I have to admit that in recent years, Singapore’s local theatre has been producing more and more performances of substance. Some of them are catered more to locals but still, they are witty, charming, and insightful.

Flo and I walked away gushing about how well Boeing Boeing was performed, and how impressed we were by the production as a whole. No, there was no breaking into song and dance but Flo actually said that even if they did he would still have enjoyed it. So we plan to watch more local theatre and support our local actors!! I always love watching Dim Sum Dollies and Hossan, so hopefully they will put on a show later in the year which Flo and I can attend. They tend to focus more on Singapore current affairs, and are very quick to touch on the political yet so very clever in making it unapparent. That would be nice for Flo to experience especially now that he’s been in Singapore nearly two years now.

Also, this weekend saw me making a Black Double Chocolate Birthday Cake with Gold Drippings. It’s not perfect, and there’re lots of bits I could improve on, but it was a nice challenge to have had.

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I’m not one who encourages the use of lots of food colouring so I recommended that chocolate ganache be used instead of buttercream. I was worried it might not turn out well but thank God somehow everything came together. It was also my first time gold-painting over white chocolate ganache so again, I was glad that the ganache set well for me to paint over although I think it was a little thicker than I’d have liked. Next time I’ll be better set to make an even prettier cake!

We also spent Sunday evening with some of my old high school girlfriends. It went ok but it’s funny how sometimes, gaining the perspective of someone else helps you to see certain things in a new way. I guess we change over time and while we’d like to think that our friends may evolve along with us, that’s not always the case. We tend to hold on to friendships especially the ones that we’ve been part of for years and years. That’s not necessarily a bad thing unless there are elements within that friendship that may be a little toxic.

Of course, I don’t plan on cutting off ties entirely, just that I won’t be making as much of an effort anymore with them not because I don’t care, but because that care is seldom reciprocated. It took another person to help me realise that even with old friends, there should be respect in how we speak to each other, thoughtfulness in our replies, and patience in our thoughts. Perhaps it’s time to cultivate new ones. 🙂

And just a little snippet of Monday’s dinner to kick off our week…

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It does stretch my brain quite a bit when it comes to thinking about what to cook for dinner these days. I don’t always want to ply Flo with the same foods and the same flavours. I enjoy challenging myself to creating new dishes and for sure there are hits and misses.

This dinner was both a hit and a miss. I tried my hand at making Baked Zucchini-Carrot Rosti (to be healthier) but I failed to squeeze out as much water from the zucchini as I should have so the rosti didn’t crisp up properly. The Grilled Honey-Dijon Chicken Breast was yum-O though – Honey and Dijon Mustard, a dash of Olive Oil, Fresh Minced Rosemary, Salt and Pepper. That’s all there was in the marinade! I tried some of the chicken so I give it my thumbs up, but truth is, I felt like some baked tofu for my choice of protein Monday night so a sprinkle of sea salt and some cayenne pepper on top and it was enough to make me a happy girl!

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When I was little, I used to ask Mum who her best friend was. She’d always reply that Dad was her best friend. I was never satisfied with that answer and would say to her “Noooo! Dad can’t be your best friend. He’s your husband! You MUST have someone else who’s your best friend!”.

It took me years and years until I began to understand that your partner should indeed be your best friend. In the last year, I believe that Flo has become my best friend. I share with him my every joy, I wet his shoulder with my tears whenever my heart is overwhelmed with sadness, I run to him when I have exciting news to share, I gossip to him, I tell him the most mundane things, and I share with him my thoughts, my hopes and my desires.

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It boggles my mind, how two people from opposite sides of the world managed to come together, managed to meet, and managed to both feel that spark to want to pursue a long-lasting relationship together. I think that one thing that struck me the most about Flo was how incredibly easy it was for me to communicate to him. It felt so natural to want to open my heart to him and it amazed me how we could talk for hours on end, then stare into each others eyes for some more hours on end, smiling giddily at each other.

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I liken us to the nuts and berries in this recipe I’m about to share with you. I think I’m like the blueberries – sweet most of the time with the capacity to shock you with a bit of tartness every so often. I’m more sensitive so a little prick and you might find me busting with emotions. Flo’s more tough and protective of me. He’s usually the more calm, steady one, but he also makes my life a little nutty sometimes with his silly antics. He gives me strength to face fears and injects fun into my life like when I overcame my dancing-in-public phobia at Lesley’s wedding because of him.

What unites us is our goal to live the sweet life together. Like this brownie, life can deal you lovely, cushy, fudgy goodness, but there are also crusty, chewier parts to get through too. Our values, beliefs, hopes and dreams are what binds us together and while the road ahead may get bumpy from time to time, we’d like to imagine that on the most part, it’ll be a deliciously wonderful ride!

Now… Without further ado!

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Gluten-Free Pistachio Blueberry Brownies (8×8″ Square)

200g Dark Chocolate (I used 72%)
150g Butter
220g Coconut Sugar
3 Eggs
150g Ground Hazelnuts
125 g Blueberries
50g Pistachios, Chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C and line an 8×8″ square tin.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate together over a bain marie. 
  3. Stir in coconut sugar.
  4. Whisk in eggs.
  5. Fold in hazelnut flour. Then fold in half the berries and half the pistachios. 
  6. Pour batter into prepared tin and scatter the remaining berries and chopped pistachios over the top. Press them into the batter slightly so they stick after baking. 
  7. Bake 22-25min until just set. Cool before slicing into 12-16 pieces. 

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I think the blueberries and pistachios in this brownie worked swimmingly well together in creating an epic symphony of flavours! Feel free to switch blueberries for raspberries or sliced strawberries. The world of berries is your oyster! I enjoyed the nutty, slightly herbaceous earthiness of the pistachios in this brownie and the subtle grainy texture created by the ground hazelnuts. This is definitely a brownie that tastes indulgent but is a lot healthier for you so you can munch on them almost entirely guilt-free!

If you want to make this paleo, you may switch the butter for coconut oil instead. I imagine that would add a beautiful whiff of coconut which will surely be complemented by adding desiccated coconut instead of pistachios along with pineapple chunks to replace the blueberries to create a tropical flavoured brownie! Oooh! Lightbulb!!

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I used to be someone who would turn around and run the minute a relationship appeared to be turning sour. That dreaded feeling of failure would well up in the pit of my stomach and the thought of uncertainty scared me. Rather than try and fix things, I would choose to instead give up.

Then I ended up with someone who turned out to be highly intelligent, highly manipulative, and highly (emotionally) abusive. I stayed not because I wanted to, but because he made me feel so weak, so undesirable, and so unworthy of being with anyone better. In his words, he was the best. I stayed because I feared starting all over again. But most of all, I stayed because he told me that my trail of failed relationships that never seemed to last past a year was a sign that there was something wrong with me. I wanted to prove him wrong. And in a scary way almost, I look back and realise now that he knew that all along. (I’ll save this story for one day.)

But see, love isn’t possessive. Neither is love about moulding a person to fit the ideal that’s in your head. For sure, love takes work but mostly, it is a lovely, wonderful thing. No doubt, there are days where Flo and I both feel like strangling each other, but more often than not, I believe that we love each other in a way that makes us want to grow with each other in years, in heart, and in mind.

I think that we have layers and layers of love. Love for strangers that may be born out of compassion. Love for friends that begins with empathy and shared interests. Love for family because we’re stuck with them. Haha. Just kidding. Love for family because a lot of life’s lessons, values and beliefs are taught through our interactions with our family members. Because they never give up on us. Because they’re love is unconditional. Then there’s Love for that special someone that develops from mutual attraction.

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The beauty about having layers and layers of love is that you experience them all differently in different ways. Yet, all forms of love when given and received create a warm buzz that wraps around you like a snug blanket on a cold, wet night.

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This layered cake I made the other day had a Red Azuki Bean layer below, and on top is the Earl Grey layer. The floral notes of the tea gave way to the earthy flavour of the beans below. It tasted comforting yet new, exciting and unexpected. A little of the East mixed with a little of the West, each holding up its own while complementing the other. I’d like to think that Flo’s and my relationship is like this Earl Grey Azuki Bean layered cake. At least, most of the time.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today though, is a little more familiar but just as comforting to the soul. I baked up this Chocolate Cheesecake Loaf the other day and while reminiscent of my Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake bars that I shared only a few days ago, they aren’t the same! As we like to say here in Singapore – They’re ‘Same same but different’.

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This cake yielded a moist, fluffy, tender crumb. Smack in the middle we have a rich, gooey layer of vanilla cheesecake. I loved how they textures played against each other to create a marriage of sheer decadence. That being said, it didn’t feel too indulgent as the cake was light and the cheesecake wasn’t cloying and heavy.

Chocolate Cheesecake Loaf (Yields 2 small loaves):

Vanilla Layer:
250g Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
45g Sugar

1 Egg
Vanilla

Chocolate Cake Layer:
180g Butter
130g Sugar
3 Eggs
30g Cocoa Powder
120g Flour
5g Baking Powder
Vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C and line baking tins.

For Cheesecake Layer:

  1. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and cream. 
  2. Whisk in the egg and vanilla until mixture is smooth. Set aside. 

For Chocolate Cake:

  1. Cream butter with sugar.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. Add vanilla then add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Pour half the chocolate cake batter into the two tins and spread as evenly as you can.
  5. Top with cream cheese layer.
  6. Pour the rest of the chocolate batter on top and level off.
  7. Bake for 35-40min before removing to cool. Let chill 3 hours of overnight before removing the cake from tins. 

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The layers in this cake speak of comfort, tenderness and pleasure. It is the tale of two classic cakes – Chocolate Cake and Cheesecake, each mouthwatering on their own, merging together and learning to balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to become one awesome, flavour-packed, loaf of deliciousness. Which, I believe, is exactly what every relationship should aspire to be – two individuals who are stronger together I mean, not so much to gratify gastronomically.

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