Traditional versus Innovative

Two beers and a blog . . . Ready . . . GO!!!

I have had the opportunity to live and work in three countries for an extended amount of time and naturally I compare the three of them.  When I describe Singapore to people that have never been there, I tell them it is like going to the future.  Of course, this is due to the “my way or the highway” enlightened technocracy (that I was a part of) that runs the country.  When I got off the plane in Austria and drove to tiny St. Stefan (about 40 or so minutes by car from where I live now) I had the exact opposite response.  I think we can also attribute this response to the system of government that rules here.  This is a broad, complicated topic that I think I have hinted at before and it is impossible to tackle within 30 minutes and another beer.

So, I will focus on something I know pretty well – beer.  (At the present moment, I am sipping on a delicious Andechs Doppelbock.  I highly recommend a visit to this Monastic Brewery a short trip outside München.)  I find that beer is a really good window into a society.  A country’s beer (at least in Europe) can hint at how a country values tradition versus innovation.  I will cheat by quoting an email I sent to a friend lately:

In general, there are three kinds of countries in the world: Those with long standing beer traditions, like Belgium/Czech Republic/Germany, that have made great beer for generations and see no reason to expand their styles/approaches. There are guys without tradition, that have embraced craft beer-Denmark, Italy, Poland, Hungary. And there is everyone else.

In my view, both sets of beer brewing countries make great beers.  Belgian beers are my favorite.  FULL STOP.  You could cruise to Delirium Cafe in Brussels and they have at least a thousand domestic beers and I would hardly call any of these craft beers.  I also love me a good German hefeweizen or Bock.  Same for a Czech dark lager.  On the other hand, I have been to brewpubs in Italy, Poland, and Hungary that have blown my mind with their craft beers.  Some of these craft beers are imitations of traditional styles and some are innovative twists.

But that is the difference between traditional brewing countries and craft beer friendly places. The traditional brewing countries absolutely refuse to change their beers and their people refuse to explore new tastes.  Here in Austria, most of the people here refer to me as a beer connoisseur.  This is absolutely ridiculous as I do not know anything about anything.  That said, I did have two delicious beers by Fladerant that do not even show in Untappd.  But I digress . . .

In countries that are not beholden to tradition, they are free to experiment and push the boundaries of flavors.  While the places I have been to that are more open to craft beers are not necessarily economic powerhouses, I find these are places that I have found really exciting and thoroughly enjoyable as a result.  I think the willingness to embrace craft beer is representative of a broader spirit of innovation and open-mindedness.  I think the stereotype for countries like Austria and Germany is that they are boring, sterile places.  If you exclude Berlin, I think there is something to that.

I think we can look at the beer and see this as a reflection of this stereotype.  Of course we see craft beer starting to sprout shoots in both Austria and Germany.  (I am more than happy to be a cheerleader for this.)  I really hope this is a sign of a growing open-mindedness in this country (as opposed to the disappointment I felt when the right wing nationalist party had an impressive showing in the elections earlier this month.

And there goes the 30 minute timer . . . until next time, friends.

Since the ball is already rollin . . .

I have had well more than the prerequisite one beer and there were two things I wanted to at least attack in my next 30 minutes of brain dump (that I did not get to address yesterday), so here goes.

Migration/immigration – NA vs EU

How people view people of a particular other race is for sure a function of where they are in the world.  People in the US will tend to have a lower opinion of Mexicans and Central Americans as they are able to migrate by land into the country.  People tend to have a higher opinion of Asian people (yes, South Asian people are Asian people!) – we are all expected to be good at math and science.  In Singapore, South Asian people are largely at the bottom of the food chain.  My brethren are largely flown in to do construction work and other dangerous/menial tasks.  As a result, I was told on more than one occasion to go back to my country (although I really wish these spineless assholes had the balls to say this to my face instead of muttering it under their breath and then running back to their mother’s house).

In Austria, there are not a lot of us South Asians here – I have probably met half of them.  Thus, Austrians probably do not think much of us more than to lump us in with all the other “Auslanders” that they wish would disappear.  The Austrians do think rather poorly of the Turks and North Africans/Arabs.  The reason for this is two-fold – they are terrified that there is some sort of Islamization at play here and there is the socio-economic angle (since these people can get to Europe without a plane).  Distance and the necessity of taking a flight to migrate to a place automatically means that migrants have to have a certain amount of money before they get to a place.  This is why Arab migrants to North America are of a very different socio-economic demographic than in Europe.  North Africans in Europe are in this way similar to Mexicans in the US (crudely speaking).

being neutered by the language

The spoke weapon is the greatest tool I have in my tool kit (especially since I sold off most of my cool tools before I left Texas).  When I was 19, I was a floor salesman for OfficeMax – I sold stuff like copiers, mobile phones, computers, etc.  This job did wonders for my confidence since my livelihood depended on me being able to sell people stuff they did not need.  Since then, I have always believed I can sell anyone on anything.   After leaving Texas, I even felt like I had a chance with any woman I was interested – as long as I can get a word in edgewise.

This confidence has been absolutely been neutralized here in Austria as a result of my inadequacy in German.  Now, I hate talking because I know there is a 50-50 chance that either I will say something different from what I intended because of said inadequacy or the person I am speaking to will misunderstand me (regardless of what language I am speaking).  It is to the point where my knee is toast and I have absolutely avoided going to the doctor.  (I write this blog with an ice pack sitting on my knee.)

ManItellyouwhat, though.  If you think you have game, I challenge you to move to another country and try to hit on women in a language that is not native for you.

What is particularly terrifying is being in a meeting conducted in German.  It is guarantied that I will lose track of what is happening about 5 minutes in.  What is even more terrifying is when the room goes quiet – that means everyone expects you to say something.  Ist Alles Klar?

The rules

So I think the previous format of unadulterated random thoughts has run its course.  My mind still runs a gajillion miles an hour and I forget my thoughts just as quickly as I hatch them – and my thoughts are even headier than ever as I take in the world around me.  So here are the rules for the next blog entry:  I have to have at least one adult beverage before I start the actual blog and I have to publish whatever I have got at the end of thirty minutes.  Everything else goes.  So . . . here goes . . .

I set up a Youtube music mix of random mashups to play as I write this, and then boom I get Rick-rolled.  If there was a more perfect way to kick off a blog post, I cannot imagine it.  Never gonna give you up.  Never gonna let you down. . . .

Topics of discussion:

  • Social media
    • here
    • Facebook and G+ (smnazir00@gmail.com, although I pretty much ignore it.  pipardoojoe email has been retired
    • My pictures are on Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/60392948@N00/sets
    • where I have been – add me on 4square
    • what delicious beer I drank – add me on UnTappd
  • Being here is the hardest damn thing I have ever done
    • I would not qualify myself as insanely successful.  One of my friends from Texas said it best when he said that I just do not die.  I like that.  No matter what situation I am in I will figure out how to thrive.  That said, I and those of you that know me take my ability to make it out alive for granted.  I grossly underestimated how much of a struggle being here was.  The language is just a start (do not even get me started on German grammar – whose idea was it to have a thousand forms of “the”.?)  This is my third overseas assignment in my life, but it was the only time I got culture shock.  The tough thing was I totally expected the shock, read up on how to deal with it, and was still completely unprepared.
    • Since I left Texas, I have been on a mission to work on cars and make them less destructive to the world around us.  The mission I started out with has been recallibrated and this will continue to occur as I continue learning how little I know.  My life in this time has been like John Stark’s shooting the year he helped the Knicks to the NBA Finals (against some team from Houston, how did that end up again?) – either I am on fire or I am frigidly cold.  My highs are high and my lows are low.  (why does my cursor jump to the damn title field whenever I create a new point???)
      • Highs
        • SNOWBOARDING – it makes me feel like such a joyous child
        • I have seen a lot more of the world since I left Texas in 2008, than in the previous 28 years of my life
        • I fell in love for three amazing years
        • I have eaten and drank some of the most amazing things in my life.
        • My level of perspective is off the chart
        • Have a ridiculous level of confidence, as I feel like I can somehow survive any situation
        • SNOWBOARDING
      • Lows
        • I had to choose between love and continuing to chase my dream of making cars sustainable – I stand by my decision 100%
        • I had my first (and hopefully last foreclosure)
        • after a year here, I still remain functionally incompetent in German (for professional purposes).  That would not be so bad, if the level of English here and especially at my office was not shockingly bad.
        • Dealt with obnoxious levels of tribalism and racism/ultranationalism/protectionism/terribleness/whatever the hell you want to call it
        • Been served an insane amount of humble pie every time I think I have gotten things under control
        • Have not seen any of my friends as much as I would have liked – halfway my fault
  • Where is the racism the worst – US, Singapore, or Austria?
  • Tradition = refusal to improve/change
  • Old World:Asia::fear of the future:our time is coming
  • Snowboarding is the best
    • getting old – stupid damn knee
  • Austrian beer and other beercations (is that a word?)
  • Where I have been

That sound you do not hear is my time going off.  Given how quickly 30 minutes go by, it looks like it will take 30 minutes to address each of the other points.  We will see how long it takes before I make my next blog entry.

My first month in Österreich!

***As I have had more culture shock here, the content of my ramblings are a bit different than what you saw from me in Singapore.  Not to worry, I am still eating and drinking my way through the continent.***

4 May

Künstlerhaus Museum-i put the Steiermark season pass to work.  Small, but thought-provoking exhibit on words as a window to film. 

3 May

Bier Baron-average Austrian beer; burger was awful.  I am sticking with my transition to wine.  

2 may 2014

So my Euros have come in, so I can finally move into the new apartment. The agent confirms earlier in the week that power is on.  So we go to the house for the formal key swapping; of course the power has been cut off.  The agent has forms for two power companies that can supply my building.  Given my shitty German, I decide to pay a visit to the utility that has an office in Graz instead of trying to speak over the phone.  I get in to that building, where there is no reception and wander into a room with people. They finally understand that I am looking for new service; however, they so not provide service to my building.  They give me the name of the correct company. 

I make it to the office of this utility and set up my new utility account.  I inform them that I need power before the end of the day.  That is not a problem but a guy has to come over to the unit.  He will come by between 15:00 and 17:00.  So, I will not be able to go to work at all today.  At 17:00, no one has called or showed so I call the utility company.  They have no record of my appointment.  Luckily, this person understands some English and sets up a new appointment for 18:00-20:00. 

Afraid of getting hosed twice, I call the utility company with half an hour to go in my window.  At this time, customer service is down to their B squad.  This means no one speaks a lick of English.  I hang up in mid sentence, since my three months of German lessons did not cover how to deal with a utility company.  I call again hoping maybe the next person to answer will speak English.  Fail.  Luckily, between my terrible German and Google translate, she is able to confirm the appointment and that someone will be there in the time allotted.  The guy showed up in the last 10 minutes of the window, unlocked a panel, and flipped a switch.  That is it.  At least I had power.  It only cost me ten hours of my life.

I did not go to work after all that BS.

1 May

Schloss Gamlitz-the first place I have been to that does wine sampling.  Why do more buschenschanks and gasthauses do this?

Liebnitz has a cute little hauptplatz

Römermuseum Flavia Solva-in a word (or two): half-assed.  This site in South Styria was the only Roman city in Austria.  That sounds promising, right?  WRONG. The museum is just some displays of coins and pots in the window of a decentish cafe (Koppitz).  You can wander the former excavation site, but the interesting stuff has been pilfered off to other museums.  Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Silberberg Wine discovery path – everything is in German.  Fail.  I put on my hiking boots for this?  I gave up a hundred meters in after it started raining. 

30 April

Stainzerhof-Real Madrid destroys FCC Bayern.  A lot of players fell down and grabbed their shin (including Mssr. Ronaldo).  During player confrontations, there is a lot of gesturing and yelling-maybe even a shove.  I have never thought that I could go mano y mano with a professional athlete, but I am thinking if a soccer player does not have a medic to spray water or that magic spray for them I may have a puncher‘s chance.  Is it true that soccer players do not even bother training upper bodies?

The food and wine were both fantastic. 

26 April

Gasthaus Lindenwirt

Steirisches Backhandl (Styrian Fried Chicken FTW!)

YES, I went to the Arnold Schwarzenegger museum and YES it was amazeballs!  The only other patrons there were American tourists who were also having a good laugh.  It was, of course, ridiculous, but I had a great time chitchatting with the guy working there.  He actually works out at the Governator‘s old gym in Graz, AND Arnie‘s old training partner is there a lot.  Arnie‘s coach makes sporadic appearances at the gym, as well.  I will have to check this gym out!

25 April

Irish cappuccino can have non-alcoholic whiskey.  Why would I put up with the lactose and excessive sweetness, if there is no buzz at the end of the rainbow?  Turrible.

On the 23rd, I went to an expat happy hour.  I have spent a lot of time today reading about the adjustment phases of being an expat as I am deathly afraid of repeating the experience I had in Aberdeen (over a decade ago!).  In Singapore, there was no real culture shock as I initially lived with foreigners and had an expat crew right off the bat.  I am beginning to appreciate that the Europeans I meet outside of their home countries and those in their home countries are different animals.  While in Singapore, I did not spend too much time with super expatty expats.  Here, I think that will be a useful crutch given the cultural differences and at least until mein Deutsche ist funktionert mehr.

23 April

Internations Happy Hour at Hemingway’s, Graz

Yup, still lactose intolerant  ☹

21 April

I am beginning to think that people that have interacted repeatedly with me see me as a stupid kid or dog.  Whenever I master a new aspect of the German language, they all but pet my head and give me a treat.  I cannot tell if they are impressed that this dumb Amurrikan is absorbing culture or if they are being patronizing.

Mauthausen

Cafe Am Kai-I asked for a „speisekarte“.  The waitress said that food is served next door.  What I needed to ask for was a „getrankekarte“.  I guess a menu is not really a menu, and I was supposed to ask for a drink and snack list (and not a menu).  Who‘s bright idea was it to make German such an unnecessarily complex language?

Mauthausen concentration camp-wow, that was real.  This is one of the few concentration camps in existence that was not completely destroyed after the war, although the retreating SS tries to destroy as much evidence as possible before the Americans liberated the place.  We think of the automotive companies in Detroit as part of the Arsenal of Democracy.  How should we look at the German and Austrian auto companies (including the one I presently work for)?  Life is certainly complicated.  Another interesting aspect was the engineering of the complex and sourcing of suppliers (something I could certainly relate to).

20 April

Hotel Post, St. Valentine-so the bathtub is in the bedroom.  I managed to take a shower without soaking my bed – I will take the win.

Madame Wu‘s-so much tea!  And xiao long pao (which I was too full to try).  Again, the staff here is trilingual.  I am too timid to break out my Chinese.

Abbey, Wilhering-beautiful ceiling artwork (frescoes?). Well worth the short drive from Linz

Pöstlingberg Schlössl

Frohe Ostern Alles!

I just beat the Easter rush.  One advantage to rolling solo all the time is I can usually squeeze in somewhere even when all tables are full.

19 April

Why did I think it was September all this time?  I am a moron.

Jindrak Cafe

The Linzer Torte was spectacular-better than the Sacher Torte.  The „omelette“ (like a dessert taco, with a soft cookie shell filled with strawberry cream and strawberries) was also superlative.

Being around Austrian drivers is putting soccer floppery and theatrics into perspective.  I will need to continue to develop a hypothesis around this.

Neuer Dom-simply spectacular.  2nd tallest church in Austria and lots of stained glass art.

Cubus

Cool riverside view and clever Asian fusion menu.  Asian fusion may be a thing in Linz.  Pretty decent music.

ARS Electronica-a very worthy use of time.  The animation shorts were very entertaining and I had no idea how much more serious about privacy they are here.  Somehow, second-hand smoke wafting into my lungs is not an invasion of my personal rights (but I digress).

Royal Bombay Palace

They are desi and I am pretty sure their English better than the „locals“ and they still have their native tongue and German.  How did they end up in Linz?

Like every other place,  they have a full liquor license.  Those must be easier to obtain when your country is not run by people who think they are on a mission from God.  How was the US founded by people looking for religious freedom, but we are more religiously conservative than the country our ancestors came from?

BTW-second highest Rated restaurant in Linz on Tripadvisor, and it is hard to disagree with.

Gelbis Krokodil (in the culture quarter-artists and musicians culture, not lederhosen culture)

18 September

Linz

Cook

Asian-Scandinavian.  The place has the simple elegance you expect from all things Nordic and a open kitchen set up like an Asian hawker.  awesome.  I hate liver, but this place reeked of greatness so I gave it a whirl.  They made liver taste palatable and damn near good.  How is it not packed?  This place in a large cosmopolitan city would have a butt in every seat and a line stretching down the block waiting for a table.  Wonders never cease.

Stieglitz

The Stiegl here is way better than the garbage I had in Toronto.  That bar in T-dot was pretty blah, so I do not regret forgetting its name.  The weisse here is pretty solid.

The Old Dubliner

They have a decent bottle selection-more Belgian beers than Irish.  They even have the proper glassware for Kwak ale.  Unfortunately, there is no one here for me to speak English with.  :-(

17 September

Dubbing non-German stuff on TV is bad enough, but Lion King?  C‘mon! The guy who did German Mufassa had no where near the same gravitas as James Earl Jones (RIP).

16 Sept

Real Madrid vs Barca was entertaining.  The B-list drama and flopping was kept to a level that did normal end turn the tube off.  Of course commentary was in German.

14 Sept

Ugh-they have the same agent dipshittery with apartments they had in Singapore.  ZERO VALUE ADD.

13 Sept

Rauch-hof, Stainz

Make a reservation; otherwise, you will be lucky to be stuck at the bar.  Otherwise, this was one of the great eating out experiences I have had in Europe.  I wonder if the guy serving bar, Willi, was one of the owners.  He was spectacular.  Usually, sitting at a bar is super uncomfortable and generally no one does it at restaurants.  Here, Willi made it worthwhile.  He walked me through the menu (get the veal cheeks-lightly fried but so tender) and was impressed with my interest in local wines.  He said his daughter saw me at the wine festival last week at the Stainz castle.  Being the only brown person for miles, I suppose people will remember me.  He even served me wine that he got from a neighboring vineyard that was not even on the [short but great] wine list, some sort of white blend whose vintage I will unfortunately never remember.  All of the food is sourced locally.  While I am no locavore (I am Amurrikan), the freshness of the ingredients really added to the meal.  Compliments of the chef, I received an amuse bouche of fried veggies – DAMN.  Willi asked if I had room for dessert.  I told him if there was something he liked, I would find room.  BAM!  Carrot cake with lemon icing.  Spectacular.  I will be back . . . . SOON.

The Schilcher trails are pretty terrible.  Without a good map and GPS, you will get lost.  Plus, there are lots of climbs and drops so you will most definitely break a sweat.  If you do not mind stopping every so often to consult a map, it can be entertaining mountain biking.

Wait-Why can I not watch movies online here in Österreich?  What kind of BS is that?

12 Sept

Casa Rossa, Stainz

Why do they beer and then actually add head to it?  Does anyone actually believe that the foam tastes good?  Is it purely for aesthetic reasons?  Turrible-I am the idiot for not ordering wine.

Asparagus is in season

Cafe Parkhouse-sweet location in StadtPark.  The park is chill with cool statues and stuff.  They seem to have a lot of beers, too.

“Wow, nature is cool.  Let’s ruin it by smoking.”-says everyone here

Checked out my first apt-it is a definite step up from the Buschenschank.  Never swing at the first pitch.

11 Sept

I have a bank card!  (But 0 Euros in the account)

10 Sept

I have a residence permit-it only took two tries.

But I still am not allowed to work.  I hate that I left a day of boarding and a night at the hotel on the table like that-at least it was a good deal.

orange Cafe-close to work, nur pizza für essen

9 Sept

Arkadenhof (partners with Pub O’Cino), Leoben.

Pub O’Cino had a cool crowd, but my tapeworm needs food.  I think they have all the same beers at Arkadenhof, so no compromises here.

Cake day at johannahof!   Homemade tiramisu FTW.  Great way to say good bye to the Kitzsteinhorn.

Whiteout!  It took all day, but I can ride reasonably comfortably without being able to see past my board.

Alpincenter-seeing the glacier is a fail do to visibility (obvs)

Back to work –

8 sept

Tauern Spa: The spa to end all spas. Shelling out extra for the sauna is the way to go.  The spa downstairs is dominated by super annoying kids and teenagers, although the outdoor heated salt pool has a cool view of the adjacent mountains.  The young‘ns were too much so I retreated to the saunas.

Yup, I did it.   I took the naked sauna plunge.  I was kind of expecting hippy hollow meets Turkish bath.  That was not the case.  Obviously a lot of old folks.  In the naked area, I was one of the younger people there.    I have to say putting yourself out there like this is super liberating.  Plus, the steam room did wonders for my cough.  I cannot wait to do this again.

Pizzeria Paletti’s-music and Paulaner

7 Sept

Pavillion Après Ski

The staff drink and the patrons smoke.  Holler

Hilberger’s Beisl

Authentic local food, Hofbrau on tap, die Wiesse Salzburger bier.  YUM

Intersport Superstore-Superhelpful, they found a binding solution for my crappy board and gave me a discount in the amount of the rental.  End of season sale was an added bonus.

Alps 1, Bindings 0 (at least I now know what off-piste is)

I think I have mastered the damn T-bar without making as ass of myself.  

Gletschermühle

This place is not as much of a madhouse as the Alpincentre and seeing how I hate people, this place was perfect.  The food was spectacular and they have legit veggie options-I will vouch for the Spinatknockerl (spinach spaetzle).  Their pastry display was pleading with me, but I stood strong.

Kaprun-this is a cross section of Europe.  From England to Eastern Europe, they are all here to ride the glacier Kitzsteinhorn.  That means people will speak English!

6 September

Tafern, Kaprun

Laundry was a two hour affair, and my clothes still had to be hung up to be dried.  As soon as all my clothes were hung out, it started raining.  Of course.

Benedictine Abbey, Admont

I really came for the library.  Thanks to the whole laundry affair, I only had 20 minutes to spend there.  That was still worth the price of admission, a sprint through the fine art museum had me wishing I did not care so much about clean draw’s.  First world problems.  The chapel is free to enter and was of course stunning. I highly recommend a visit through the whole complex here.

5 September

Restaurant Mediteran

The mixed souvlaki platter was unremarkable.  The Styrian salad that came with it was spectacular.  I had Edelweiss for the first time-these guys have been at it for over 3 ½ centuries!  It shows-probably the best Austrian weißbier I have had so far.

Cafe Lex, Stainz

After a bit of wandering and photonerdery, i needed to refuel with some melange (a sort of Wiener cappuccino) and some dessert that tasted as beautiful as it looked (Schoko Weidselfoilchen?).  Chocolate, cake, and mousse . . . topped off with jam?  Yes, please!

Between the Yelp and Tripadvisor apps, I never have to have a game plan for how I want to entertain myself.  While I understand that the websites serve two purposes, I am one of many who would be better served if the two sites merged and kept their constituent functionalities.

Schloss Stainz

When I cruised through Stainz last night, it seemed so nice I had to come back and visit it twice.  The Schloss seemed like a logical point, especially since a colleague recommended it.  This is THE dominating landmark of Stainz, and the castle sits on a hill overlooking the rest of the town.  There are free agricultural and hunting museums-the vast majority of content was German but it is still worth a quick wander (especially given the price is right).  I had more fun wandering the grounds taking pictures of the towers from various vantage points.  The church is absolutely stunning; just wander in and stand in awe of the splendor.

2 April

Having come to terms with the fact that I could not start working, as my residence permit had not processed, I made the next logical move.  I went snow boarding!  Because of its more comprehensible website, I ended up at Gerlitzen in neighboring Kärnten state.  The sun was out and it was definite spring skiing, but 2000m was more mountain than all of the hills I have been to in Michigan stacked together (by like 3x).  The only black run open was not really challenging (I am obviously an expert), but I was thoroughly befuddled by the damn T-bar that gets you to the top of that run.  F that thing!  The terrain park had more features than my feeble capabilities would allow for, but was on par with Pine Knob in Detroit (Michigan hills are underrated for how they actually use their terrain).

Their is one run that tells you your speed, but I kept losing my momentum right before the radar gun (as I am a wimp).  I think I topped out at 40 km/hr, although I definitely went faster on other parts of the mountain.  All in all, it was a great time as I only had to share the mountain with only a dozen or so other people.  Next time, I will have to check out the nearby Villach Brewery for après ski.  C’est la vie!

Life is crazy . . .

So after long last, I have moved back to Detroit, Mi.  I will discuss that on a later date (or you can go old school and call me).  I kinda stopped blogging in between legs of the Filipino trip discussed below.  Stay tuned for a later update.

8 December
Subhani Family Stall (Clementi Ave 2)-everyone was eating radioactive-looking mee goreng.  I had sup kambing.  Everyone is a winner.9 December
Food for Thought-I will say it: I love fruity beer.  Their fried curry chicken is ginormous and delicious.  Their red velvet . . . Not near as much.  The au gratin potatoes were wonderfully cheesy.  The pesto pasta was also tasty.

Usman’s-the grape shishah is not as potent as the apple, but my lungs probably appreciate that.

Prague-the dark lager is quite tight.  Why does this place close so early?

Youtube/beer pong combos are always welcome.  Shooters keep shooting; I keep missing.

10 December
Keppel Rd-the masala thosai is pretty tasty

Prive, Keppel Bay-for the second time this weekend, we found that “all day” breakfast stops at 5.  There is nothing bad here-we end up eating the whole menu and struggling through a bottle of wine-my liver hates me.  There is no sunset view, but the marina is both baller and romantic.

11 December
LRT to Karu’s Banana Leaf Curry.  The LRT is like a radio control van that runs on a fixed guideway.
Karu’s does not skimp.  The fishhead curry is delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed tearing into the soft, flaky cheek meat.  There was enough flesh to generously cover my lunch the next day.  The chicken curry was also tasty and will provide fodder for lunch for the day after that.  It was too beautiful not to order.  In asking for more rice for the takeaway, we unwittingly were charged for a briyani set.  No matter, as that meant we got the cabbage and the curry vegetables that came with it.

12 December
Khansama-I finally got my hands on some daal ghosht.  Mutton – check, daal – check, delicious curry – double check!

13 December
Pinnacle@Duxton Skybridge-at 50 stories up, we have a solid view of the downtown skyline and the Tooth Relic Museum.  Unfortunately, we could not see much of the Marina Bay Sands (just the tip).  Sunset was somewhat disappointing thanks to cloud cover and probably pollution.  For $5, I support this.  We were reprimanded for having wine, though.
Street ice cream-only a buck and it freakishly does not melt.  The mocha chip was tasty.

Thai Accent-the green curry was delicious while the stir-fried basil minced chicken was a bit off (under-cooked, perhaps?).  Plus, they were out of mango sticky rice.  Double boo.

14 December
Rong Guang BBQ Seafood-mmm – sweet and sour pork.  The chicken fried in curry leaves is also good.

15 December
Toast Box-the peanut toast is cooked over charcoal and has no butter.  YUP!

The Circle Line is delayed for the second time in a row . . . Ahhh growing pains

Clementi Mall Food Court, Beef noodle stall-Beef kway teow is rich and no doubt artery clogging.  My colleague tells me it is overpriced, at a whopping $6.  Eh
The guava at the fruit stall is suspect and not what I imagined at all.  Have I been bamboozled?

17 December
Lucky Plaza-I jammed my toe on every corner coming out of the escalator.  Bullshit!  The mall is sketchier than the glitzier ones elsewhere on Orchard Rd.
Ria Ayam Penyet-so much hype.  The chicken tasted okay, but the quality of the cut was not so good.

7-legged race/pub crawl
Of course we pit stopped at Senor Taco-they love us

18 December
Wild Honey-I [of course] had the sweet breakfast which was mango-stuffed french toast with mascarpone cheese and berry compote.  This would have been epic without the mango.
The Tunisian breakfast was also tasty, but I would have preferred scrambled eggs to the fried variety.
I had a bit of buyer’s remorse in not getting the traditional English breakfast.  The bacon looked like the dank.

Oriole Cafe-I am not enough of a coffee drinker to confirm or deny if the latte is Singapore’s best, but it does pack a punch strength-wise.  The art in the froth sure is pretty.

Erik’s Wuesterland-the cheese sausage and the bratwurst are the dank.  The pretzels are best when they are fresh.  I prefer them just barely over the onion rolls.

19 December
Seah Im FC, Aspirasi-why is this the only fish-free sambal I have come across in Singapore?  The tomato fried rice [in the tomato sambal chicken rice] is generous and delicious.  The golden fried chicken and fried floss are the star attraction of this all-star cast.  I am not sure why the workers are weird about having pictures taken-this is a Singaporean thing I will not understand.
The phad thai at Thaksin’s next door is rather fishy-consider that curiosity satisfied.

20 December
Old Chang Kee-they are down to only a handful of things for the day.  The chicken curry puff was not one of them, so I went with a chicken mushroom puff with low expectations.  BOOM!  It was piping hot and tasted like delicious English pub food.  You cannot spell rock without OCK.

Zamzam-no holy water here.  They are out of deer biryani, the lamb shank (yes, a whole shank) biryani is a more than acceptable substitute.  The rice is proper biryani rice, even though the lamb is not cooked in it.  The deer in the deer murtabak is not discernable from their mutton.  That said, this is the tastiest murtabak I have ever had.  There will be an internal debate in my brain regarding whether I go back for the deer biryani.

21 December
Thai Street Food, Keppel Rd-I love that hawkers are a rare illustration of flexibility in Singapore.  Olive-fried rice instead of steamed rice with basil chicken: no problem.  Along with the green curry chicken, it was all delicious.

Waiting for the 191-50 minutes of my life gone.

Holland Village FC-the grilled skate with sambal may be the best in Singapore.  The special fried rice (only Taz knows how to order it) is equally good.  The deep fried wings from the western/nasi lemak stall are also special.

22 December
Marche-strawberry crepes with mascarpone and sausage rosti; both are amazing!  The apple crumble cake was too dry-more apple and less crumble would have sealed the deal.

French Stall-My expectations were way too high.  The garlic pesto bread and cauliflower soup were delightful.  The escargot were good, but not particularly memorable.  The sea bass would have been much better grilled so that the skin would have been crisp.  At least we ended on a high note with the chocolatey profiteroles.

23 December
Chinatown, Smith St Complex-we wondered if the cramped design with overwhelming layout was on purpose to scare off non-Singaporeans/Chinese.  No matter, down to business.
Xin Xuan Pancakes-fresh peanut pancakes.  No surprises here.
Hong Kong 101-noodles and standard fare . . . Eh
Hong Kong Mongkok Tim Sum-char siew bao: possibly the best evar!  Soft, pillowy crust oozing with char siew goodness.  Love it!
Char siew chee cheong fan-I initially wanted the prawn variant to mix things up, but was swayed by the guy making the bao to go pork.  He is a wise man.

On the way to work, I see two friends running to get on the MRT.  One makes it as the train closes its doors and the other gets left behind.  Way to be a team player.

Bakerzin-chocolate Souffle (Singapore bucket list).  A supplemental dosage of raspberry mascarpone was also very yum.  The carbonara linguini made the meal a bit substantive even though we were not even a little hungry.

The Ides of March-The movie was great.  Politicians are scumbags.

24 December

Peramakan (Singapore bucket list)-DIZZAMM!  Everything is dank.  The ayam buah keluak and lamb SHANK rendang are both so tender you can eat them with a spoon.  I also end up sopping up all the curry with extra steamed rice.  The sambal fried seafood rice is also a solid accompaniment.  The banana (fosteresque) apom desert was an excellent (excessive) cap.

Marina Square-serious billiards, not so serious bowling.  Why would the bowling folks give us cacophonous children’s party favours?  Terrible (GREAT) idea.  Any of the Singaporeans that think they can bowl seriously may be a bit mistaken.

Zouk, Ferry Corsten (bucket list?)-dude brought old school back.  Aditim thought his set was too Tiesto-ey.  Whatever-still a great show.  The club is pretty dope with a great light and sound set-up.  This is how I should be spending my last weekend in Singapore.  There is so much Asian red face here.  The capper has to be two Singaporean friends passed out on the sidewalk outside the club puking all over each other.  The sidewalk in general was not passable due to the puke.

25 December
Paulaner Christmas brunch (bucket list)-I definitely prefer the lager to the Munchen, at least for breakfast purposes.  They brought their A-game pork knuckle, which is greatly appreciated.
A strategery that worked for me is:

  1. Grab a beer
  2. Grab a plate of food
  3. Finish the food
  4. Finish the beer
  5. Repeat until stomach explodes

Normanton Park tippy cup (sans relay)-the antagonistic Malay security guard was not there.  Bummer.

Nasrin’s (Arab St)-ordering 2 nargileh was a bad idea.  The hummus shwarma was a great idea.  I shall miss springy, tender kampong chicken.

26 December
Wild Honey (unfinished business)-I had to go back for the English breakfast.  Bacon this good must be experienced.  The scrambled eggs were runny like I prefer them.  The New York breakfast is also tasty, but they are a bit too liberal with the sturgeon for my taste (fish!).  The bagel is formidable, though.

Hunting for monitor lizards on Sentosa.  FAIL-the Sungei Buloh reserve would have been a better bet.  I had a good time snapping night shots of the Merlion and navigating around timid tourists on the luge.  The best was someone that came to a complete halt in front of me on a fast stretch.  The consequences of indecision in a soapbox flying downhill are greater than those coming off an escalator.  It is all annoying, though.

We revisited the much-hyped (and imitated) 328 Katong Laksa (bucket list).  The laksa without cockles was far better than I remembered.   Even more fascinating was the conversation between my Indian girlfriend and my Chinese language speaking partner-really uncanny how similar their experiences in Singapore and abroad were.

Awfully chocolate-big ups for selling to us after they closed, a rare instance of customer service.  The poached chocolate was spectacular, although I could have done with much less topping.

27 December
West Coast FC-claypot tofu with vegetables.  A welcome healthy change of pace.

Why are so many bus drivers here in such a hurry?  Do they get a bonus for not stopping for passengers and returning home?  I wish they recognized the middle finger here, so I do not look line an idiot gesturing madly (too late).

Chako’s-what I forgot about this place is that only the matriarch cooks here and that she makes everything by hand.  If there is someone other than you in the joint, you will be a-waiting for your food.  It took about an hour to get our first dish, and she literally makes one dish at a time.  That said, this is the best Japanese cooked food I have ever had in my life.  The chicken katsu curry was dank and the miso mackerel was just delightful.  The gyoza were a bit flat (nothing a little soy sauce and chili oil could not cure), but the outer shell was superlative.  The handmade ice creams are worth trying, too; the banana is better than the mango.  If I lived here, I would make it my mission to work through the menu.  (Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time.)

28 December
Before I go to restaurants, I usually check out a website called HungryGoWhere-a sort of poor man’s Yelp!  My favourite review I have read where a couple went to a beer bar and reviewed the food.  Neither of the two even bothered with the beer-which is not surprising, since there are probably Muslim countries with higher rates of alcohol consumption.
Every commenter on the site has a food blog.  This is not surprising since Singapore is such a great food destination.  Every blog sight is identical-pictures and a few lines about the food.  Also, the bloggers generally do not know anything about food-only that they liked something or they didn’t.  The only food blog that transcends this is IeatIshootIpost; his hawker stall reviews are how I have learned about this cuisine even though his restaurant reviews are hit or miss.

I love the Cafe l’ Cair stall at NUS’ Business School canteen.  $2.70 for delicious mutton, fragrant rice, salad, and an Arabic samosa.  Huzzah!

I figured out that the reason I can never catch a good sunset in Singapore is because it occurs out west, where my view is blighted by the pollution generated out in Tuas and Jurong Island.  Hopefully, I will catch a good one in Tioman this weekend.

La Baroque-not as “hype” as insomnia, but I rather enjoy not having to box out to get drinks during free flow.

Senor Taco-I am legend

29 December
Mughal Sweets (bucket list), Little India Arcade-ras malai, pakora and samosa

Tekka Centre-
Pisang goreng-this would have been superlative out of the fryer.  The perfect banana and breading were let down by virtue of being left out.
Appam-this fermented rice whatnot is seriously growing on me.  Crisp on the edges, but soft and pillowy in the middle.

30 December
Senki-fresh salmon sashimi, soft shell crab rolls, curry udon . . . It is all good

Winebos-I love the new location (just around the corner from the old one in Kampong Glam).  At free flow, the wine is really good and my glass never goes empty.  Huzzah!

Ya Mahyuddin-they do not have daalcha.  SKIP.

Brinda’s-mutton keema at 3am.  Boom!  Thosai also can.

31 December
I have never been happier to eat at McDonald’s (which may be one of the better offerings at the Changi Budget Terminal).

The Tioman Airport is tiny, easily the smallest international airport I have been in.  We grab a sea taxi to Kg Paya and are excited by the break in the monsoon rains and the tropical paradise scenery.
We get to Paya and it is absolutely dead; I am reasonably certain we were the only tourists in the village.  We try our hand at snorkeling: nature 1, us 0.  The choppy swells and murky waters (monsoon season) defeat our best efforts.  We give up and make our way back to Paya Beach Resort to catch the sunset, easily the most glorious exercise of the day.  We grab dinner from the limited restaurant menu (they do not even have steamed rice!) and then catch a nap before a private NYE.
There is literally nothing to do in Paya.  Even in the peak season, there would be the hotel bar and a few food stands more than is open now.  The beach is slightly above average here, so I really do not know what the draw is here.  Lonely Planet warned that Paya is the one place in Tioman overrun by KLers and Singaporeans.  The village is fun only because of the company.

1 January 2012
We decide to eat the transport costs and head to Juara for the seasonal surfing-brilliant decision.  We had to hire a boat to get to Tekek and then a 4WD to drive a pretty treacherous path to Juara-about $70 round trip from Paya.

Juara was amazing-I would recommend staying here if you go to Tioman in the off-peak season.  I am not sure if I see the value of going anywhere in Tioman during the peak season, other than for the diving.

The surf was slightly choppy (it is raining pretty hard) but very ridable-I do end up actually catching a few waves once I remember what I am doing.  Between bouts of being tossed around by the waves, we hang out at the Surf Shack Beach Hut.  The owner, Jim, is awesome.  He is an Aussie who has lived/surfed in Malaysia since he was 7.  He drank with our ragtag bunch of backpackers and kept us fueled with cheap food and booze.  Even renting boards was cheap (I think 60 ringgit for 2 people’s worth of food, beer, and one surf board rental).  All in all, good times.

3 January
Cafe Le Cairo-
Adas bil Hamod (lentils)
Gibna Mahrus (feta cheese)-this was really weird, too cheesy and tasted like something I would find on the salad bar of a fast food place.  The other two appetizers were pretty tasty.
Hummus bil Tomato (chickpeas)
Chicken Bukhari-this was good, but not near as epic as I remember or built up in my mind.  The chicken had hardly any meat on the bones, despite being well seasoned and prepared.

4 January
Ayer Rajah FC-I was looking for the murtabak that a friend ordered but instead I happened upon “Probably the Best Briyani in Singapore”.  Of course these were delusions of grandeur, but this could have been good . . . Really good.  The flavours and seasonings were okay, but the meat was cooked at too high a temperature and not for long enough.  This is pretty inexcusable given that meat in briyani here is cooked separately from the rice.  I did get a nice workout trying to slice through the mutton, though.
While we are at it, the mango juice from the fruit stall across the aisle was a disappointment, too.  The sourish mango was masked by an overabundance of sugar.
Hate hate hate . . .

Pepper crabs (bucket list), Spottiswood Park-I have not eaten crabs enough in Singapore.  This is not on the level of Mellben’s or Joo Chiat, but the taste is up to par.  The claws were a bit wimpy, though.  The claypot veggies and fried bee hoon were standard fare.

5 January
You see tons of Maseratis here, tons, but I have only seen one Aston Martin since I moved to Singapore.  I wonder why there is so little love for James Bonds’ ride?

1-Altitude: what sets this rooftop bar apart is that it is in the middle of the skyline, has fun music, has a loungey feel, and is very reasonably priced.  We ordered a bottle of Yamikaze whiskey to keep the going away party going.  This was a great idea.

6 January
Chili Padi-I was guilted into going here.  The curry chicken set met my abysmal expectations.  My colleagues seemed really enthralled with the Peranakan buffet.

What an interesting last day at work.  I got taken out for lunch two days in a row by colleagues, but the exit process is virtually non-existent.  I wanted to call one person out, and they deprived me of that pleasure by not being there.  At any rate, I am convinced that good-byes are necessarily awkward.  Luckily, I was not so attached to this place.  The best one was one colleague who hoped that I find what I was looking for.  Off I go in search of my sunset.

7 January
Again, we find ourselves at the McDonald’s at the budget terminal.  Terrible and great all at once.  We make it to Cebu to connect to Legaspi.  In the Philippines, long metallic objects have to be checked in: goodbye umbrella and camera tripod.  Unwittingly, I leave my phone at security-the fourth phone I have lost or broken since moving to Singapore if you are counting at home.

We make it to Legaspi, whose airport affords incredible views while you are walking on the tarmac from the plane to the building.  My understanding is that there is absolutely nothing cool about Legaspi except attacking nearby Mt. Mayon.  We hop on a tricycle (tuk tuk/auto rickshaw/etc.) to the bus station.  The bus is a minivan packed to the gills, and once it can hold no more people, off we go to Donsol.

We knew Donsol would be pretty undeveloped, but we were still shocked when we got there.  We took a tricycle straight to the resort area near the Butanding Tourist Center.  While we were mulling our hotel options, we chowed down on some food at Mommy Nem’s in the Woodlands/Vitton Resort.  Mommy Nem’s can fry a mean chicken!  This would be the first of many trips to this delicious Filipino eatery.

After checking in, we catch the early sunset.  Even though the Philippines are pretty far east of Singapore, they are in the same time zone.  Weird.  We then head down to the river crossing to try to catch the fireflies by the water.  Fail-it starts pouring, so we give up and head back to the resort to drink by ourselves.  We ate there, too, but the food was salty and generally forgetable.

8 January
After waking up, we grab breakfast at the resort restaurant.  This is our last meal at this place, as not being able to fry an omelette is pretty inexcusable.

After rustling up some other tourists to share a boat (or rather getting rustled up), we embark on what we came to do in the Philippines: find whale sharks.  Fail-after cruising around the boat in light drizzle, we see nothing.  I am pretty sure that the “Butanding Interaction Officer” does not actually know anything about the creatures.

We are taken to Giddy’s by this overzealous/creepy tricycle driver.  Giddy’s has significantly more people, and it is nice to be around humans.  We even run into one of the couples from our boat.  At the restaurant, we order dinner, beer and appetizers (all delicious) for two and a bottle of Moscato-grand total was like $30 SGD.  Insane, and the restaurant manager thinks we are ballers.  The creepy tricycle driver returns to take us home.

9 January
After the morning boats did not spot any butandings, we were advised not to go out.  We meander back into the city.  Village is really a more apt description.  Despite the lack of development, everyone is so happy and helpful here – exactly the opposite of Singapore.  Most everyone speaks at least rudimentary English, too.

We stop at a forgettable bakery and then stroll through the market.  I snap a few photos of fruits and fish and then we head back to Giddy’s, where they remember us from last night.  After more yummy adobo, we head back to the resort for cheap sunset beers (~1 SGD!).  A father is assisted by his two precocious children in driving his tricycle in taking us home.

The creepy tricycle driver returns to take us back to the river for firefly spotting.  I am pretty sure he is on the take from the river boat operators.  No one else is there to share the boat with us, but it is not too excessively priced so we just shoulder the whole boat cost.  Having missed butanding two days in a row, we were determined to see something of the famed wildlife.  I highly recommend the boat tour IF you are already in Donsol.  The fireflies light up many of the bushes like Christmas trees.  Since we are on a swaying boat, I cannot take good pictures in the dark.  The tricycle driver even comes along and snaps some pictures on his phone.

The driver then takes us to Amor Farm resort so we can eat at the restaurant.  The food there is stellar-there was a grilled fish dish and some sort of chicken dish in white sauce.  Way better than at our hotel.

10 January
Before our flight back to Cebu, we take another stab at the whale shark interaction.  Fail.  After getting to Cebu, I decide to check in with airport security there.  Holy hell, they have my phone!  AMAZING . . .

Once again I have waited too long to post my musings . . .

Highlights

  • So many delicious buffets (I am rethinking my views on buffets)
  • Deepavali
  • Jakarta/Hari Rayi
  • Singapore bucket list (mostly food) is on like Donkey Kong!

 

22 October

Todai-being in the Sands, the quality (and price) far exceeds the one in Houston.  The sushi rolls are average, but the cheesy scallops on the shell are brilliant.

 

24 October

Spize-apple cinnamon prata with ice cream was pretty clever

 

25 October

Spize-briyani, mutton soup, whatever … It is all good.  I need to try the pineapple fried rice.

Curry shot=1 part mutton curry + 1 part Mumbai Sapphire=deliciousness

 

Taboo

“sounds like zucchini”

“pickle?”

“YES!”

 

26 October

Subho Diwali Preeti!

Homemade mutton daalcha for a culinary celebration (sans lights)

 

27 October

Haji Daliman Korner, pisang goreng-the breading is right, but the banana is not right.

 

28 October

Tanjong Pagar Complex, Indonesian food-the kway teow, curry beef/rendang combo is oily goodness.  Along with Millington’s favourite bak kut teh place, this complex is oozing with deliciousness.

 

Why do people here feel the need to share their terrible taste in music on public transport?

 

5 November-JAKARTA

So much going on here

On the one hand it is far less developed than even KL or Bangkok, but on the other hand the glitzy new malls are over the top.  The rich folk here are retardedly rich.  Entertainment (bars and restaurants) are even more mall-centric than Singapore.  Asia loves them some malls.

English is a rarity here as even the ethnic Chinese speak Bahasa at the expense of Chinese.  I wonder if Singapore would be better with a single unifying national language instead of several mother tongues.

People here are super friendly.  A security guard at the Istiqlal Masjid (big but otherwise underwhelming) gave me his chuppals when mine broke.  Numerous times, our tuktuk drivers would pull over and get directions from random people.  None of this would ever occur in Singapore.

The food is not near as exciting as Singapore’s.  Stick with President Obama’s favourites-nasi goreng and bakso.  The street food is diarrhea on a stick.  The food at our hotel was epic, though, and 4 star hotels are a steal in J to the K.

 

8 November

My Windows Mobile 6 phone locked up for the first time.  I am frankly stunned it made it this long.

 

9 November

I guess one thing is the same the world over: immigrant labourers and illegal immigrants are treated like garbage.

 

My love/loath relationship with the Economist is veering back towards love.  The seasonal Intelligent Life is . . . Well . . . intelligent.  The debate on the best place/time to live in history is rather thought provoking-especially since it considers that not everyone is an affluent white male.

 

Ayer Rajah FC-the mutton soup stall is closed-oh noes!  Hopefully, this is not permanent.  The pisang goreng from the rojak stall is a good bet, as always. I try a new briyani stall. The owner says they have only been there a month and asks if there is good briyani in the US (does my Mom’s count?).  The meat/curry was pretty decent, but the rice was a bit flat. I hope it indicates a minimal usage of ghee.

 

I am not sure if the folks at Subway know what bell peppers are; I ordered capsicum to be safe.  I also figured out the difference between cheddar and American cheese.  Cheddar is a mixed blend of shredded cheese, and I am not sure what American cheese is.

 

I am on a crowded (mostly university students) bus that pulls into a stop where most people will get off.  Logically, there are a half dozen students standing in the doorway with no intention of getting out of the way of the 20 or so that need to alight.  It is comforting to know that there will be continuity between present and future generations.

 

10 November

The Cafe l’Cair stall is back at the NUS Business canteen!  Yay for Crispy Chicken!

 

A few things wrong with a scene I saw on my way out from work:

  1. Huskies with a thick coat out for a walk in an equatorial climate
  2. One of said huskies dropping a deuce without the owner picking up afterwards

 

11/11/11

Outback Steakhouse-Why am I just now trying pork chops for the first time? I am missing out on life.

 

Winebos-I was shushed at $12 free flow.  Apparently, we were interrupting a couple’s romantic SMS discussion.  Sadly, this was not the first time I have been shushed at a bar.  However, Winebos is not as nice as the hotel bar in Boston.

 

Usman’s-Serious Pakistani food and HALEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEM!  The only black eye on this place is the very subpar ras malai.  The mains and the sheeshah were the dank.

 

12 November 2011

Sabar Mementi II-Jackfruit curry whatnot rocks my socks!  It is the national fruit of my peoples.

 

Rum Diaries-It was not bad, but it was not great.  I wish it would have included more oon the Puerto Rican socio-economic angle.  It paired very nicely with the No Reservations episode of Cuba.  As far as places like Jakarta have to go to bring up peoples’ standard of living, at least some Indonesians can enjoy the “good life”.  In Cuba, you will not see locals at bars and restaurants.  Bourdain’s handler’s are awkwardly conflicted about having a restaurant and entertainment industry that locals will never be able to go to.

 

13 November

Treehouse at Krish-the open air set up is really nice.  It is set in this elevated patio in the midst of dense foliage and loaded with fans.  There is even an area of couches and porch swings.  Really beautiful.  I was a bit sceptical of the Indian fusion brunch concept, but it works.  The fruit juices are divine. The curry crab cakes benedict were overwhelming; there were far too many conflicting flavours going on.  The idly was really good, with a nice tofuey texture.  The lamb bowl was just sick with the different types of preparations of the meat all in one bowl.

 

Riverside Indonesian BBQ-the conveyer charcoal machine nailed it.  The chicken was as tender as that at Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester (do not laugh!).

 

German Film Festival, “Girl Called Rosemarie”-deceipt within deceipt.  It was a fascinating view of a call girl’s life in post WWII Germany.  Her clients are a bunch of “high society” industrialists.  It took a while to develop and the ending was kind of weak.  The premise of a woman falling for the wrong guy combined with blackmail is a fascinating one worth checking out.

 

14 November

I read today that there have been incidences in the SE Asia games in Jakarta.  Considering that it is a stepping stone to the Olympics, that is pretty crazy.  Considering that it is Jakarta, it is not surprising.

 

I am in the kitchen sorting laundry and talking with my roommate when I catch an old man staring through the window.  I say high and smile at him.  He just continues to stare at us.  So I do it again . . . Same results.  So weird . . .

 

15 November

West Coast FC, Hup Seng Heng Vegetarian-I was lured by the claypot but went for the economy rice.  It was not bad, but I should have followed my gut.  The bean sprouts were not as tasty as I would have hoped.  I should try the roast meat stall next time.

 

On the way home, the bus driver tries to avoid stopping at our stop even though there are a half dozen of us waiting and it is a well-utilized stop.  Where people are in such a hurry to is beyond me.  You do not get a cookie for finishing your job first.

 

16 November

The NUS Science Canteen has bakso!  I will have to come back for this!

 

Commonwealth MRT Koufu-this place is hopping and it appears all 15 or so stalls are open.  The Thai-style chicken at Jia Jia Le Kitchen takes a while but is not too shabby.  It is more fried breading than chicken, but I will live.

Added bonus: the Best Bake has blueberry cheesecake tarts for $1.30 and their taste far exceeds their quality!

 

17 November

Khansama (Science Park)-somehow, I escaped this place without any of the food ending up on my clothes.  Miracle!  They did not make the daal ghosht available on the buffet, but they make up for it with the only butter chicken I have ever liked; it had this wonderful smoky aroma to it.  The pappadom is also the best I ever had.  Even the service is good, here.  At this price ($12), I shall be back.

 

Beer Market-I thought it had this name because of its wide selection. It is actually because of its gimmicky fluctuating market prices that change every 5 minutes.  By gimmicky, I mean clever!  I fully support this.

 

A friend is in town from the States, so we take him to Chinatown Food Street.  The German hot dog guy is not there, so we just order Chinese food.  It was a bit overpriced (for the tourists), but still tasty.

 

I love seeing Singaporeans run to catch the lift designated for handicapped people.  Terrible.

 

18 November

Lunch Shuttle=Clementi food court. Laksa with chicken=the dream.  Maybe not.

 

We get into a cab driven by an old Chinese uncle.  Not to fear, he is polite AND knows how to use his GPS.  Amazing!  I was beginning to think GPSs were just for show.

 

German weekend begins-grabbing beers with an Ang Moh of German descent.

Archipelago Beer: Summer Lager is hawt

 

Senor Taco-Bone Thugz . . . And Harmony . . . Shit got real . . . They jockin our style

Random affirmative action moment-the missus and I have been requesting songs on YouTube TV (maybe the greatest invention since the mp3 jukebox) and said ang moh is asked for a tip when he makes request.  Or was it just the tip?

 

19 November

Why do they give out plastic bags like they are going out of style, but paper napkins are nowhere to be seen?

 

Ali Nachia Briyani-these guys are not messing around.  The mutton is most certainly the dank.  These guys relocated to Tanjong Pagar from the Malaysian KTM rail station was ceded back to Singapore.

 

BBQ with A to the D’s labmates.  The 4th Reich will be advancing through medical research.  How did so many Germans end up at Duke-NUS?  Why are the PhDers so much cooler than the med students?  Singapore is bizarro world.

 

20 November

Mandarin Court at Mandarin Orchard-of course you have to walk through a mall to get here.  By whole duck, they actually mean just the skin, which is served with crepes.  As my first ever Peking Duck experience, this rocked my world.  The skin was amazing!

 

Two Groupons, one day.  Popeye’s for the win!

 

German weekend comes to an end with the German Film Festival.  Vincent goes to the Sea was amazing and a refreshing change of pace from the traditional WWII Nazi-themed movies.  On the one hand, the ending was not all too surprising.  On the other hand, there are sufficient twists to keep your mind running.  The psychological disorders were treated with respect.  This is the best movie I have seen since moving to Singapore.

 

21 November

Sin Kee-the chicken rice is every bit as good as expected.  One of the owners explains how to properly sauce up the chicken and rice.  No need, lah!  The chicken and the rice stand on their own.

 

23 November

Why can airlines not adopt a douchebag business model?  How is a flight from an Asian hub city to LA more expensive than a flight that connects through said hub to LA?  F those guys.

 

Ayer Rajah FC: Ar-Rashidun Khan is open.  Whew! Order is restored.  The stall next door has BAKSO.  Next time . . .

 

I wonder if they are showing the UT-A&M game somewhere.  I just saw an older uncle decked out in burnt orange.

 

24 November

This week in diplomacy: I told a high ranking US Embassy official that I would toss his baby out the window and I called out a Singaporean Government Scholar (the so-called best and brightest).  Maybe next week I will punch a UN Envoy in the face.

 

25 November

Ayer Rajah

Rasa Sedayu-the bakso has some kick!  Whew nelly!

The murtabak my friend ordered was pretty dank-I wish I saw where she got it (Masmerah?).  Same for the kangkong veggies, which may be the best I have had.

Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles-the namesake dish is not bad, but not striking.

 

Puss in Boots is pretty eh.  On a related note, the Erdinger Dunkel is not bad at all.  I still prefer the Weiss, though.

 

26 November

ABC Brickworks, YRA North Indian Pakistani Food-the Tandoor may be the best I have ever had.  They have a Tandoor oven!  Even the chana and aloo palak were tasty.

 

Thanksgiving #3 (I actually had a 4th invite on Facebook, does that count?): each dinner was more fun than the one before.

 

27 November

Senki-the GroupOn made this place an absolute steal!  The tempura and sashimi were the dank.  I cannot believe that I used to eat farm-raised salmon back in the States – terrible.  The soft sshelled crab and salmon skin rolls were also amazing.  The tomato omelate rice dish had a smokiness that I did not care for.

 

Hokkaido ice cream-anything berry is delicious.

 

28 November

Cut (Wolfgang Puck)-Does it live up to the hype?  Let me preface with the fact that this is the most expensive meal I have had in my life.  I do not know if I have just gotten to accustomed to shite Singaporean service or if their’s was over the top.  Apparently, every selection we made was superlative.  The bartender’s knowledge of beer was pretty impressive, nonetheless.  The wagyu cut is the best steak I have ever had in my life and the marbling truly makes it.  The USDA prime is also really good.  These two overshadowed the kobe.  I had higher hopes for the bone marrow flan (reconstituted/deconstructed bone marrow beautifully presented), but it was overshadowed by its mushroom sauce accompaniment.  On the other hand, the highly recommended pork belly was amazing, with an amazing smoky/bbq flavour.  At this point, we were stuffed (the wide assortment of breads and delicious butter, the first time I have ever seen the bottom of a butter dish, did not help).  However, dessert was a must.  The chocolate souffle, which was assembled before our eyes, was not bad.  I think the one at Bakerzin is better, though.  All in all, my first celebrity chef experience was pretty solid.  At celebrity prices, it will probably be a while before I do it again.

 

29 November

Mr. Bean papaya soya . . . Eh . . .

 

West Coast FC, Roast meat stall with Chinese name-the beauty of sio bak lies in its combo of crispy skin and tender, fatty pork.  I love this stuff.

 

30 November

Cheese Prata Shop-I got my usual, egg cheese and banana; but I found it rather unsatisfying.  Bummer

 

1 December

There is another Ayer Rajah FC!  This one is smaller and a bit more rundown, though.  Nasi Padang Nora has a bit of a queue, so I join in.  The curry vegetables have no fish sauce or bee hoon, they have whole chicken breast, and the rendang is not so bad.  The pickled veggies definitely pack a punch, a punch that is quickly quenched by teh peng (teh tarek in ice) from the neighbouring stall.  All in all, I wholly approve!

 

2 December

Clementi

Koi-I always see a really long queue here, so I must see what the fuss is about.  I had the honey green tea (with pearls).  The queue goes by fairly quickly, and the tea is definitely good.  I may give the plum tea a go next time, maybe less sweet.

Srisun .com (space intentional) Prata-this is where I discovered the greatness that is banana prata.  Today, they have a ginormous pot of briyani out-of course this is what I get.  The rice is amazingly flavourful.  They were already out of mutton, so I had to “settle” for chicken.  Dizzamm!  It was a huge chunk of breast meat; even when I ripped the skin off, the white flesh below was still flavourful.  The cherry on top was the curry.  Curry is something added on the side to Briyani only in Southeast Asia; I usually do not bother with it.  This may have been the best curry I have had in Singapore.  It begged to adorn the rice and the chicken; naturally, I obliged.  I love happening upon greatness.

 

3 December

After being hungover all day, I muster the fortitude to get to the new diner/bar Lucky 13 at 111 Somerset.  Drinks are very reasonably priced (for Singapore: less than $30 for a pint of Erdinger and a gin & tonic).  Plus, they are dropping all sorts of 80s/90s hip hop-SNOW and Kris Kross.  What?  The crowd ebbs and flows as there is not a lot of nightlife on Orchard Rd, but this a fun little oasis.

 

So we skedaddle to Orchard Plaza for Thai disco action.  I am not sure if what happens here is any different from the Towers, but it kind of seems like the Thai version of a Hindi lounge.  There is definitely a ladyboy singer.  Good times.  Hooray for the $38 jug of gin and tonic.

The Thai food stall just outside is pretty tasty.  The green curry definitely has a kick.  By the time we have had our fill of the Plaza, the sun has come up and we have spotted a friend running in the marathon.  Good times!

 

5 December

I am Keen on Crepes!  Healthy and reasonably priced.  Sweet, savoury: it was all pretty solid.

 

50/50 – serious and funny, they pulled it off.  So many thoughts.   I should call my mom more.  What would I do on my last night to live?  Crazy.  Of course Seth Rogen’s character smokes up in the movie.

 

Thai on Circular Rd-I have never had yellow curry before.  I am definitely glad I popped that cherry.  Added bonus for being open past midnight.

 

5 December

Seah Im FC-there is a precise and quantitative means of measuring how delicious a meal is.

  1. Weigh your clothes.
  2. Dress yourself and eat your meal
  3. Disrobe and reweigh your clothes

Shi Ji Noodle stall-They threw every piece of seafood they could find into the Tom Yam.  The hell broth base was delicious, but man it had my nose running.  Much of this soup found its way onto my shirt and pants.

Soon Cheong-Fruit juice and customer service . . . Wah!  The lady not only fought through a crowd to deliver my juice, she also apologized for taking so long.  Seah Im is selfishly hoarding fruit/juice stalls, and this one deservedly has the longest lines.

 

6 December

When the cat is away, the mice shall play.  After sleeping in late enough to catch lunch, we go the Ben Kei Japanese stall next to the Pinnacle (which is never open when we go).  The chicken in the katsu curry lets down the curry sauce.  The kaya toast from the neighbouring stall is even sadder.

 

Insomnia-free flow may be the best $20 you can spend in Sin.  The cover band is good but playing the wrong music for this crowd.

 

3am Ya Mahyauddin al Jailani run-worst experience here evar.  We got the server that does not speak English, they are out of mutton dhaalcha (the piece d’resistance), and everything is generally mediocre.

 

7 Dec

Slept in past lunch-terrible.  Keppel Bay Tanjong Pagar Complex

Outram Park [something something in Chinese]-some of the best bak kut teh in Sin.  They have a pretty serious all girl operation with computer-printed receipts.  With you tiao it runs me almost $9, though.

Andra Curry-spicy and GOOOOOOOOD.

Globetrotting

Highlights:

  • First ever Singaporean wedding (apparently, those throwing the wedding get the attendees to pay for most of the affair – no gifts or registry here)
  • Understanding the disrespect of Indians
  • Mutton soup
  • Formula 1 (the only night event on the circuit – bucketlist worthy!)
  • Inglorious return to rugby
  • Loads of Tex-Mex in Texas
  • Atlantic coast airport delays
  • RUDY!  RUDY!  RUDY!!!
  • Watching 2 UT football games and seeing 2 defeats by 2 Oklahoma teams

13 September

West Coast Plaza

Braised duck-the longest line at the food court.  The porridge is not a bad way to go as the porridge masks the duck texture. The braising sauce seals the deal.

CKT/carrot cake stall (a few stalls down)-the white carrot cake is damn tasty.  The radishes really make it.

 

A little girl on a bike and a car both approached an intersection.  Of course the car took the right of way and made the girl wait in the middle of the road.

 

14 September

Who is the idiot sodcasting Katy Perry on MRT? F-that is my alarm.  My bad, ya’ll.

 

Ayer Rajah FC, A Rashid Khan Mutton Soup (01-58)-mee siam.  I should have just stuck with the namesake dish.

Abdus Salam Rojak-I had no idea what stuff is and conservatively picked random items out.  The sauce is warm, sweet, and has a kick.  Most people drench their items in the sauce, but I enjoyed gingerly dipping the constituents (the bready/vadai thing and the potato were tasty).  This was healthy and kindof tasty, considering it is a sort of salad.  Rojak is like a SE Asian garbage plate.

 

Fusionopolis-is it an innovation hub or a mall? It is a beautiful building, though.  The food court and restaurant selection rival most malls.  The sweet and sour pork at the Miniwok stall is quite solid.

 

E-Sarn Thai Corner-the red curry is quite tasty, but a bit pricier than Thai Fusion.  The Thai iced tea was also delicious.  I may have to come back for their lunch sets.

 

17 September

Queenstown Library-They have free Wireless@SG, but they charge you to use their computers.  Like they always say, subsidize the rich and make the poor pay.  They have lots of periodicals for browsing.

Cafe Galilee-This may be the best Western food that I have had at this price-an avocado sandwich on focaccia bread with crisps for $4.  Yup.

 

First ever Singaporean wedding.  With no dancing, open bar, or cake, this was definitely not a Western affair.  The food was good, there was free flow wine (I may have been the only one taking advantage of this), and there was both English and Chinese commentary.  We will file this under “cultural exchanges”.  Hopefully, the American weddings I go to will be a bit more boisterous.

 

Hooters-They had local and imported waitresses and the wings are pretty tasty.  The ice cream waffle was average.

 

18 September

Ananda Bhavan-“The stamina of a camel, the strength of an elephant and the beauty of horse are all sustained on a vegetarian diet.”  Ideology aside, the vegetarian food is all good.  Vadai, appom and putu mayam are wonderfully complemented with sambar and coconut chutney.  The pav bhaji was the dank.  I would have been okay with substituting a more “desi” bread for the pav.

 

What the Little India is going on?  The place is packed with Bangladeshi males.  This experience certainly sheds light on why so many Singaporeans have such a negative response to South Asians.  I really feel like I am no longer in Singapore.

 

Sagar Ratna-finally, a place that has vermicelli kheer in Little India.  Not too bad.

 

Balaji Bhawan-kulfi on a stick.  The folks at the Texas State Fair need to develop a deep fried version of this!

 

19 September

There is a dude on the bus sporting an Astros hat!  I wonder if he knows what the Astros are.

 

Sheng Ji-the sweet and sour pork is crispily good,  but the mixed meat fried rice is even tastier.

 

20 September

Remember when your mother warned you not to make faces because your face would get stuck like that?  The older generation did not heed their mother’s warnings.

 

Chilli Padi-I did not expect them to pull off the ayam buah keluak, but they rocked it.  I did not see any nuts in the dish, though. (Was I supposed to?).  Hooray for simplifying your menu, but boo for forcing us to get sets.

 

I am sitting at the bus station . . . next to an Ang Moh . . . that casually dropped “lah” in conversation.  Wonders never cease.

 

The Leng Kee Community Centre actually has a decent basketball court, but no gym.  The Queenstown Community Centre has both.  The gym is supremely weak and an accident waiting to happen.

 

Zion Rd Food Ct, 28 Chinese Cuisine-Kway teow brings a smile to my face.  The grilled beef makes me yearn for grilled fajitas-this is pretty well cooked.

I heart fruit stalls, and there are two right next to each other.

Great World Centre and River Valley Rd is right up the street.  Maybe I will try Spize sober!

 

Yang Hua Cake House-$1 Moon cakes.  These are probably leftovers from autumn festival.  At this price, you cannot complain.  I am a fan of lotus paste.

 

23 September

I scored free Formula 1 tickets in the 11th hour!  I wish knew what was going on, because then I would not have missed Massive Attack, whom I have wanted to see live for like a decade.  Why were they not headlining tonight instead of the calypso cover band (who was a lot of fun) or the K-pop group?  As you guessed, this is more event than sporting.  This is still a bucket list event as this is the only event on the Formula 1 calendar at night.  The scenery is amazing as this takes place on the streets of downtown.  My seats rock as I have view of a turn where I can see brakes glowing red with heat.  I can of course take in the Flyer, Sands, and the Skyline.  Big ups to my friend that hooked me up!  He is actually a big F1 fan, while all I can surmise is that Michael Schumaker nabbed 6th place in today’s practice run.  They even let us wander onto the track after the laps are done.  That was pretty awesome!  Even though Singapore allocated more time to the “side” events than actual racing, I wish I knew better what was going on.  I must expand my horizons past American sports if I want to keep myself entertained here.

 

24 September

Queen’s HK Bubble Tea-cheap, good, and on the sweet side

 

Mushiya Steamers-$1 steamed muffins at close.  We nabbed the last raspberry, for the win.

 

Go India Express (Orchard)-Unfortunately, they were closing.  However, they did offer paneer tikka and roti.  I wish I knew that the paneer tikka came with a delightful rice.

 

25 September

7-11 mashed potatos are not too shabby!  The machine spits out liquid that quickly emulsifies into the proper consistency.  Hooray for technology!

 

J. Co Donuts-yum yum.  Always a hit with the peoples.

 

26 September

So the Bedok Kings practice on an artificial surface.  It is okay, I could probably use the aggressive exfoliation.

 

Ya Mahyuddin Al-Jailani-daalcha and prata are always a good bet.  Fruit juices are also refreshing.

 

27 September

I am living the dream!  I have just experienced the Toto washlet.  No messy hose or nozzle, just a direct jet of water to wash your sphincter.  Now, I have to somehow get my ass on the Toto with temperature settings and massage features.

 

28 September

Ayer Rajah-just thinking about this place gives me the warm and fuzzy tinglies.  I decide to have a wander through Ang Chee Sia Ong Temple across the street since I am never here during the day.  There are lots of dragons.

A. Rashid Khan-why can’t I quit you?  Their sup kambing may be one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted.

Shenton Way Power Stall-there is no excuse for soggy pratas.  I understand preparing the dough in advance, but you should fry it fresh to order.  Never again will I buy food from a place that needs touts..

Mesmerah Food-a tale of two pisangs.  One is fresh and ginormous and the other is smaller and has been sitting out a bit.  Both are breaded nicely.

 

One of the refineries is spitting out a plume that looks like South America.  Uh oh . . .

 

$1.50 lychee pearl tea at the MRT station-a little sweet, but as good as anything in the States but cheaper

Redhill FC-there is a lot going on here considering it is 9 at night.

Redhill Curry Rice-luckily the aunty doused everything in curry (despite me wanting to limit the curry to the rice), because she scooped the kind of veggies with the bee hoon noodles that I do not like.  I think the Chinese are the only ones that do curry pork and that is a shame.  It is also a shame that these Economic Rice-type places cannot scoop different items and keep them separate on the plate.  There is a was a lot of flavours going on.  The aunty is very sweet and offers me free chicken curry and rearranges all her dishes when she sees me whip out my SLR.

I have no business stopping at the pancake stall.  You cannot offer strawberry pancakes and not expect me to take a pass.  The pancakes are fresh, but the filling is more syrup than fruit.  I should have went with a native filling.  I know better.

 

29 September

I cannot wait for the Circle Line to open up as I am tired of jostling for the 200 bus.

 

It turns out yesterday’s plume was just Shell’s largest refinery in the world.  Why do I keep volunteering to live in these refinining towns?  Is my next move to Rotterdam?

 

Why are there so many huskies in Singapore?  Those poor guys must be miserable in this climate.  Man, their fur sure is pretty, though.

 

Middle East Day at NUS catered by Cafe l’Cairo.  Too bad they closed their stall in the business canteen.  There is lots of yum afoot.

 

Coffee shop by Saint Andrews Junior School, pork rib noodles-servicable but I would have liked more ribs.

 

30 September

You would think that I have learned not to waste my hate on people here, but I have not.  Today, someone in a car actually hit me.  When I turned to scowl at them, they were locked in their tunnel vision and just motored off.  Typical.

 

Johnny English 2-not terrible, eh. I never saw the first one, but this was hardly plot-driven so I doubt that it added anything.

 

1 October

Adam Road FC-such a small footprint but it packs a punch.  Unfortunately, the two legendary nasi lemak stalls are closed.  I am betting the sisters that own them are duking it out.

Bahrakath Mutton soup-the leg bones are 100 percent fat, but the broth rivals that of my boys at Ayer Rajah.

Hoo Cheng Big Prawn Mee-the prawn are on steroids, but the noodles are just too fishy for my taste.

Taj Mahal-the teh hahlia was definitely tasty, but I may be getting over ginger now.

 

Osteria Mozza-the Burrata Bacon presented on the cracker was delightful.  Primi is right as it is hardly a real main.  The pork loin was the dank even though it was not fatty.  They pulled off the pepper crust without going overboard.  The Borsellino was apple deliciousness!

 

Bazin-sublime skyline views!

 

2 October

Hooked on Heads-The a la carte buffet is the way to go.  I am officially a fishhead curry aficionado!  The pineapple fried rice also knocked my socks off.  The rendang was average, but the Thai green curry and chicken curry were solid.  The banana fritter (extra) was superlative.

 

Mouton Cadet-I cannot believe the landlord left a 1988 Bordeaux for pipardoojane.  It appears that it was actually purchased in 1988 and still has the duty free label on it.

 

3 October

Deepavali Festival-they had the same vadai stall as the Hari Raya Festival (but not the wing vendor, booooooooo).  This is more about the clothes, and even the men’s clothes are shiny.

 

Usman’s Restaurant-they still do not have the haleem, but they make up for it with the chana daal, ladyfingers, and tandoori.

 

4 October

L’Entrecote-Do one thing and do it well.  They do steak.  I suggest getting the sauce on the side since a good cut of beef stands on its own.  The sauce more than makes up for a slight lack of flavour in the beef.  The pomme frites are ridiculously tasty and free flow.  The 2008 Carmes Cantillac is like the Bordeaux I had earlier and super smooth (almost watery).  I cannot say I cared for the pate-it was like a salami that has gone bad (to be fair the texture did not suit me).  The escargot was amaaaaaaazing.  The half baked cake was perfect.  Although this food is hardly local, what a last meal in Singapore!

 

5 October

Changi Airport, Terminal 3-Even though the butterfly garden underwhelms, this terminal is ridiculous with a GYM, lounges and plenty of comfortable places to sleep.

United to Tokyo-I wish I had not force fed myself breakfast at 6 in the morning, as they served breakfast shortly after takeoff.  The flight is half empty so there is plenty of room to stretch out and get some zzz’s.

 

Inglorious Basterds-I am not afraid to say again that I love Brad Pitt movies.  This is pretty brilliant.

Hangover 2-I am not sure whether this is brilliant for recycling the first movie’s plot or if they were too cheap to write a new script.  A different role for Mike Tyson is hilarious.

 

The Continental entertainment system is generally the dank, especially considering the budget Asian airlines I have been travelling on.  On demand movies, TV shows and music all rock.  I just wish I made it through the Last King of Scotland.  Some day . . .

 

7 October 2011

Cutten BBQ-I am so glad I discovered this place near the ‘rents’ house

Chicken sandwich-after scooping off the mayonaise, this was brilliant

Sliced beef sandwich-wonderfully fatty and they do not skimp on the brisket

Baked potato-we had no business getting this, but we did because my mom and I are gangster.  Sliced brisket on a loaded baked potato is ridiculously over the top.

 

Teotihuacan-returning to the barrio

Queso fundido

Beef fajitas-I love the slightly charred tips of the beef and the greasy flour tortillas

Margarita

Fried cinnamon ice cream-it is like sopapillas with ice cream.  Dessert before dessert.

 

El Bolillo-this place made living in the barrio worth it.  I am still having trouble getting used to the expanded digs.

Flan-this is damn near identical to the egg custard Mom makes, equally unhealthy, and equally delicious.

Tres leches-I hate that they adulterate a great base product with whip cream and strawberries.  Luckily, that stuff can be scooped right off.  The cake soaked up the three milks wonderfully.  Who knew soggy would be such a desirable attribute in a cake?

 

8 October

Ruby Tequila’s-iT is what you expect when you see the suburban get up and flair (go watch Office Space) everywhere.

Tortilla soup-eh, unnecessary filler

Fresh guacamole-I am stunned that they made this tableside.

Chicken enchilada-this was not bad at all.  I am also a fan of the dry Mexican rice.

Fried ice cream-solid

The fajita beef was not bad, I would have liked it grilled a bit longer.

 

Cadillac Bar

Guacamole-I am a sucker for their tableside preparation and their four serving size does not skimp.

Chili con queso-free courtesy of Foursquare. Yup

Sopapillas-topped with honey and cinnamon, it is as delicious as you would expect.

 

Agora Cafe-I miss this part of town. No Frapaccinos here.

 

9 October

It turns out that OU does not suck this year.

 

Chocolate Bar-if you walk out of here without a smile on your face, you may be dead.

Frozen berry ice cream-yum

 

10 October

Daal puri-why does this not exist in Singapore?  Mom and I innovated a healthier baked version that is not bad at all.

 

Lupe tortilla

Beef fajitas-why is this so wrong when you leave border states??

Queso

 

Laphraig Scotch-this is very different from any scotch I have ever had.  It has zero bite and has a very strong smokiness (likely from the aging cask).

 

11 October

Goodson’s Cafe-this is what is good in Texas.  Good folks and good food.

Chicken fried steak-not minced meat, but real steak

Chicken fried chicken-like the steak, it is breaded with corn flakes and has the gravy on the side.  I prefer the chicken, and it may be the best I have had.

Macaroni and cheese-creamy and oozing with cheese

Fried okra-ranch dressing as a dip is actually brilliant

 

12 October

Han’s Bierhaus-how have I not been here before.  It is small and homey, but you are more than spoiled for choice.

St. Arnold’s Oktoberfest-I only like St. Arnold’s Amber Ale and their Christmas Ale.

 

BB’s Cafe-how did I live down the street from here, regularly stagger past this place on the way home from bars, but I have never even seen this.  I love their small and low-priced options so you can try a few different things.

Boudin balls-more deep fried goodness

Abita Purple Haze-you can me a girl for drinking this and I would not care.

Gumbo-wow, I missed this more than I thought I would.

Crawfish etouffee-if mudbugs were in season, this would be epic. The crawfish were smallish, but the base makes up for it.  Etouffee is easily my favourite Cajun dish.

 

Cheesecake Factory, Red Velvet Cake-why would you mess this up with whip cream? Is it not good enough?

 

13 October

Chilling at ATL-“I am from New York!”. Thank you for letting us all know, hahahahaha!

 

Katy Perry comes to the Big Apple with DJ Skeet Skeet. Could this warrant a trip back?

 

Mama’s Cafe-eat everything here.  The serving size is twice as big as I would like, but no one seems to mind.

7B-Where is it? 7th and B.  Real simple.

 

14 October

McKenna’s Pub-closed, I am wounded

 

Poppyseed bagel on the corner of 14th and 8th-the vendor gives me shit for me being a tourist with my camera.  Who cares? Him dousing my bagel with cream cheese makes up for it.

 

It is nice to be able to get on public transport without getting manhandled.  Asia, this is not.

 

High Line Park-this is the kind of clever reclamation of wasteland that you would never see in Singapore.

 

Nerd Con-that is why everyone is in sci-fi costumes.

 

Union Square Farmer’s Market-what a pleasant surprise.  I grab a delicious scone.  The vendor makes the same tired joke about charging me to take pictures.  Real funny.

 

14 October

Flight out of JFK delayed due to weather-shocking.  Delta makes it worse by hassling me for not showing up at the scheduled time.  I received an email alert stating that the flight was delayed by an hour-why should I show up on time if they do not?  I get hit with a fine if I am late; should I not get credit if they inconvenience me?

 

Buffalo-how I have missed you Upstate

 

Free warm cookies at check-in at Hampton Inn.  I tear into cinnamon raisin before realizing there is one last chocolate chip-DAMMIT!

 

Drinking with Grandma and the rest of the groomsmen’s family: Paint stick from Home Depot modified to deliver 2 cans of beer in well under a second.  These guys are brilliant and I am clearly outclassed.

 

RUDY!  RUDY!  RUDY!

 

15 October

Gameday-grey, dreary and sideways rain.  A perfect day to get married!

On a random note: Buffalo has some cool architecture.  Even Frank Lloyd Wright has work here.

 

The wedding was way more religious than I cared for.  I suppose it is not about me.  The highlights:

1.  Being preemptively reprimanded by the deacon (?)

2. The priest referencing the “social establishment” where the couple met

3.  The flower girl turning around and waving vigorously in the face of a man kneeling in prayer behind her.

 

Pre-game/Aardvark reunion at Salsaritas: the food is average but there is no arguing with $3 margaritas that are actually tasty.

 

Wedding reception:

1.  RUDY!  RUDY!  RUDY!

2.  Another damn Oklahoma team beats us

3.  Prom pictures

4.  The rest is a little hazy.

5.  RUDY!  RUDY!  RUDY!

 

16 October

Post-game breakfast

1.  Heckling the old lady trying to use the waffle iron

2.  Piecing together the reception

3.  “Our wedding party is way more fun than the other party at the hotel.  They do not look hungover at all.”

4.  RUDY!  RUDY!  RUDY!

5.  Telling the bride I forgot her present in Singapore and her threatening to kill me.  The two events are unrelated.

 

Anchor Bar at the airport-nothing special.  The Anchor Bites with the spicy BBQ sauce is pretty common fare and hard to mess up.

 

17 October

A day of my life has disappeared thanks to crossing the International Date Line.  Flying Air China was not as bad as I thought it would be.  They do, however, use planes from the Cretaceous Period.  The entertainment system consists of a projector from the 80s showing commercials.

Beijing Capital Airport is spotlessly new (I am guessing thanks to the recent Olympics).  International transfers (as in Tokyo and Singapore) are a snap.  They do one better than Singapore by not forcing you through security twice.  I cannot seem to connect to the free wi-fi, even though I was able to register successfully (the Chinese monitor internet usage).  The airport does offer free water dispensers and plenty of places to take a nap.

 

18 October

Il Siciliano-why did this place have to open up AFTER I moved out of this building?

The eggplant parmigiana and prosciutto di parma were both stellar; the latter was still fantastic the next day.  I was not all that impressed with the risotto funghi porcini, but risotto in general is kind of average for me.

 

20 October

I am beginning think my strategy of showing up to rugby practice once every 3 weeks and working out at a similar frequency will probably not serve me well in this weeks debut for the Bedok Kings.

 

Hawker centres are seriously the best thing about Singapore: cheap and mostly freshly made food and cheap beer.  Plus, people are their nicest around food.

How the food court at Potong Pasir has eluded me during my time in Singapore is beyond me.  Today, I started with the pork pie and xiao long pao from the Chinese stall.  Both were all sorts of epicness.  The pork pie was probably the closest I will get to daal puri in Singapore.  I will take that.  All that plus a can of hTwo0 set me back a cool $6.  Yessir!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.