Saturday, March 31, 2012

Little Penang Market: In Aid of Japan

Once a month, there's a small artsy fair held at Upper Penang Road (just opposite the E&O) known as Little Penang Market, showcasing cultural performances and lined with stalls selling everything from potted plants to Penang food. Last Sunday, Little Penang Market had a Japanese theme marking the One Year anniversary of the Japan Earthquake. There were a handful of handicraft and food stalls manned by the local Japanese community with all proceeds going towards reconstruction efforts.

Even though it was just only an hour into the market, it was already packed with locals and tourists with many stalls already enjoying brisk business. It was a beautiful, sunny day, the type that make you feel like wearing a sun dress, donning a large straw hat and drinking plenty of iced nutmeg juice.

Seeing that I was neither in a sun dress nor hat, I made up for it by sipping on countless cups of very refreshing nutmeg juice. One of the stalls have an excellent promo that allows refills for only RM1 each which was a very welcome respite in the stifling heat.

There were photos of the Japan earthquake reconstruction efforts along with a what I found to be a very poignant poster titled Japan, Rising Again. It had special meaning to us because one year ago, Hubs was stuck in Tokyo during the disaster and had difficulties leaving. Thank God he made it back here safe and sound.

Tables were laden with Japanese arts and craft which were sadly not for sale. I'd have loved the pair of miniature wedding dolls or the dried lotus pods filled with colourful fabric balls.

A corner of the Japanese section was all about FOOD! All proceeds went to charity and we were requested to drop in the exact amount of cash into a donation box with no change given back. We tried the matcha cheesecake (on the right) and the bun (in the centre) for RM5 each. I always feel that food bought from charity fairs seem to taste nicer as compared to commercial store bought ones, maybe because these are home made, I guess :)

The highlight of the food stalls were the udon (Japanese thick noodles) making demonstration. By the time we were there, the udon making demo was already over but there were volunteers cooking the noodles and frying vegetable tempura to go with it. I'm a huge fan of freshly made pasta so there was no way I'd pass up a chance to taste udon that were made on the spot.

After the udon were cooked and placed in a disposable bowl, they were doused with a chilled sauce, deftly garnished with the vegetable tempura, spring onions and customers are offered to help themselves to a bottle of chili powder should they need it. At first bite, I was in love. It was unlike any kind of noodle dish that I’d ever had - the springy and chewy texture of the fresh udon complemented perfectly the crisp, crunchiness of the vegetable tempura. The chilled sauce had the right amount of flavour and the chili powder, spring onions all went beautifully with the noodles. It took some convincing for Bubs to eat it. It was his first time eating udon and he kept turning his head away. After a few tries, he was chomping it down happily. By the time we decided we wanted a second helping, the line was way too long :(

We also couldn’t resist trying mango sticky rice from a Thai food stall. It was nice but nothing that made us go wow.

In the main centre stage, there were performances with chairs set up for the audience. A traditional Indian dance was going on while at the side, cosplayers were getting ready to go on stage. Where else but in Penang where the old and the new can meet together? I love this place!

Bubs was getting sleepy so we'd to rush back for his nap. We'd fun, Little Penang Market, see you again next month :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Olivia's 1st Birthday

K was my team lead when I first joined the Office and ironically, even though I've switched many bosses over the years, my brother just joined and she's his manager :) Her daughter Olivia turned 1 and she threw a party at Strawberry Forever.

There was a nice view of the ocean at the balcony where everyone was mingling around. To get to the top floor, there was a steep spiral staircase which I teetered up in my heels. Needless to say, I held on tight to the banister, hence no photos of that!

The cupcakes and party favours were so pretty and got lots of oooohs and aaaahs over them. Her older son did such a nice job of distributing one out for each child. I love the old school number cake with so many colourful details on them. When K was cutting the cake, she was swarmed by children requesting for the bridge, the palm trees, the bunnies, etc, LOL.

 Food was done buffet style with plenty of kid friendly options.

There were many children running around and Bubs was fascinated by them. I think it's probably been a while since he last saw that many kids at a party. Bubs had a blast running around playing with his blue balloon.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Most Embarassing Thing

I do lots of really dumb stuff at work (slamming the door open on my foot, waving at the wrong people, etc) but today was majorly embarrassing, even by my standards.  

My director from the US flew out on a business trip and each team member had a quick chat with him in a conference room. It was only my second time meeting him in person.

So I went into the room and we shook hands.

He took one step closer to me. I assumed he wanted to hug and I hugged him.  

It turned out that he only wanted to close the conference room door behind me.

Face palm moment :( Everyone can't stop laughing at me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Delicious at Straits Quay

It's been a while since we last went to Straits Quay and it's a nice place to go during weekends as there are mainly F&B outlets there. 

There was a flea market with loads of knick knacks ranging from handmade jewelry, quirky clothes (angry bird beanies, anyone?) to hand crafted soap.

 At the other side, there's a long, pleasant walkway lined with shady trees and edged by water where yachts berthed.

We had a quick bite at Delicious, Straits Quay. It's best to call ahead for reservations during the weekends as it's quite popular. There was a kid's birthday party in full blast that day so we had to wait to be seated.

One can never resist ordering a dessert from the array of sinful concoctions on display there and it is difficult to narrow down your selection to just one ... or maybe two, or three perhaps?

I love the decor at Delicious, mainly done up in white and gray hues with pops of blue with their trademark white birdcage clusters hanging from the ceiling.

Outdoor seating is also an option but we were told that it only starts from 8pm onwards. It's really nice and quiet outside, overlooking the quay with loads of open spaces for little kids to run around and basically go amok. There are more of the white bird cages outside used to house potted ferns.

Despite its chic ambiance (and often filled with lots of opportunities to people watch) , I find the food at Delicious to be so-so, it's nice but nothing that makes me really go wow. From top to bottom: Death by Chocolate, Four Cheese Pasta and a Berry Trifle with the biggest strawberry I've ever seen.

Service is a bit of a drag during peak times but staff are unfailingly polite. They made a mistake by charging me for a plate of carbonara which we didn't order so do keep an eye on the bill before you pay. Kids meals are free only on Mon - Fri with every 2 adults main courses ordered.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Glam Girl's Birthday at the E&O

Glam Girl and I celebrated her birthday early this year at the E&O again. I've known her since high school and we took the same classes during uni. I absolutely love her style, she's such a girly girl with a dazzling smile and has the nicest mermaid like curls that tumble down her back. It's a long (pun intended) standing joke between the both of us that her hair length since the day we left high school is always long, long, long and mine is forever in a bob.

Glam Girl rocks a leopard print mini, chilli red bag and strappy stilettos.

It was such a hot day so I skipped my usual weekend uniform of jeans and opted for a skirt with flats.

Sarkies was packed that afternoon during lunch.Service was prompt and friendly but they didn't really bother refilling much of the food when it was finished. At the chocolate fountain, the fruit skewers disappeared really fast and they only brought out limited refills when we asked them. Didn't manage any food photos as we were too busy chatting.

Another shot of Glam Girl and me. She is so tall that I always feel like a midget next to her!

We found a little entrance to a widow's walk at the car park where you can get a good view of the E&O and the ocean.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lactation Cookies

Boy, does the name and concept of this sound weird or what? I first found this recipe on a mum's forum and was swayed by all the positive reviews for it. The brewer's yeast, flax seed meal and oats are supposed to boost milk supply for breastfeeding mamas but all in all, if you disregard the choc chips and reduced the sugar, it's quite a healthy cookie recipe and I had no qualms feeding it to Bubs.

Don't let the long list of ingredients daunt you and even though brewer's yeast smells (and probably tastes) foul, be generous with it as the rest of the ingredients will mask the taste. 

What I did differently:
  • It sounded like way too much sugar so I cut down sugar to 1/2 cup brown sugar + 1/2  molasses. You'll be getting most of the sweetness from the choc chips anyway.
  • Ran out of oats so I used 2 cups oats + 1 cup barley flakes
  • Used whole flax seed instead of flax seed meal because I didn't have that on hand
What I shall do the next time upon Hubs request:
  • Separate the batter to make his portion with chopped nuts and choc chips only
  • Bubs portion will be oat/barley flakes with raisins 
Not too sure if these had a lactating effect but the flavours of the brown sugar, molasses, brewers yeast and choc chips all went wonderfully and it had a bit of a fudgy texture.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips
2 -4 tablespoons brewer's yeast


Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar well.
Add eggs and mix well.
Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.
Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
Stir in oats and chips.
Scoop onto baking sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Let set for a couple minutes then remove from tray.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Little Luxuries at Work

To call it a hectic work week would be an understatement! At times when I get so burnt out and tired, there are little luxuries that calm my frazzled nerves down.

A new Dorothy Perkins printed top. Again can I tell you how much I adore their prints at the moment? I love the splash of goldfish swimming on it. Plus Bubs pointed at it and said excitedly "fwissh" (fish). Paired with yet another black skirt and my new gold sandals that are sooo comfy.

One of the best things to do in bed is to curl up with a beauty or fashion magazine. My favourites are British and Australian ones but they are so expensive here so it's a luxury I seldom indulge in. One of the silver linings of this week was that my ex director from Sydney was visiting Penang and got me a copy of Madison, yay! It's a long standing joke between us. A few years ago, his wife and him actually appeared in a copy of it and I joked with him about it. He was surprised that I saw him in it and when I told him it's one of my favourite mags, he's been getting it for me each time he visits Penang.

What do you do to unwind over a long work week?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Moo Cow Frozen Yogurt at Gurney Paragon

 The frozen yogurt trend in Penang is growing with yet another new store opening at Gurney Paragon. We chanced upon Moo Cow Frozen Yogurt while walking past and at first sight, the store is unbelievable cute.

Cloud shaped lights dangle from the ceiling amidst wooden trees and seats are fashioned from wooden box crates topped with a green cushion to match what I thought was the coolest part, vinyl floor covers that look realistically like green blades of grass. Every now and there, you hear a cow moo, I kid you not.

The starting price for the frozen yogurt alone is at RM9.90. You get a decent portion of frozen yogurt though the best part of it are the toppings. Each additional topping costs RM1. When we were there, there were 3 choices of flavours: original, winter melon and cranberry. The staff very very helpful and generous with samples which was a good thing as I hated the winter melon sample which was herb-y, almost medicinal and sour, blergh! We got cranberry with crushed oreos and digestives for a total of RM12.90. 

Charles & Keith were having a promo where you get 10% for every 2 items bought and 15% for 3. I was lucky enough to bump into Mei there and since she was contemplating on getting a handbag, I decided on a pair of gold strappy flats with a bit of a wedge heel. Call it old age or carrying around a 10kg kid, my knees have never thanked me so much since I stopped wearing 3" stilettos.

Gurney Paragon's water light show in the evening is so pretty! We'd to carry Bubs away from it otherwise he'd be drenched.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Sleep Talker

 I talk in my sleep. Yep, I'm one of those annoying people you'd hate to get as a roomie because I sometimes yell out random stuff while I'm fast asleep. There was a night where Bubs kept waking up nearly every single hour and Hubs had to keep getting up to rock him back to sleep. After Bubs fretfully went back to sleep and Hubs was dozing off himself while I was fast asleep, I sleep talked, or rather, sleep shouted *blushes* Bubs woke up crying again and the glare Hubs gave me was well ... less than pleasant.

This is the hilarious bit. Bubs started sleep talking a bit lately, just random words. A couple of weeks ago, he was fast asleep and he just shouted "Ehmoo" (Elmo). Hubs and I looked at each other. Last night, he laughed in his sleep, I kid you not, and went "Mama!"

Looks like Hubs now has to deal with 2 sleep talkers :) 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sweet Treats at Work

Every weekday, I get a serious case of the munchies at 3pm. That's when my mind starts to lose focus and I start to hunger for a little pick me up. My workplace is close by a mall so during lunch times, I like to buy snacks or sweet treats to keep me going through the rest of the work day.

Top of the list for my favourite treats would be Starbucks green tea frapp. I'm a sucker for anything green tea flavoured so I love this drink!

The Starbucks red velvet whoopie pie looked so pretty and inviting on display but sadly tasted really mediocre, there was a slightly bitter, burnt afternoon. Definitely not getting this again.

So what are your favourite afternoon snacks in the office?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tete a Tete at Ete Cafe

Carnarvon Street, Penang, is often known as Coffin Shop Street locally because it used to be lined with shops selling coffins, praying items and coincidentally book shops. With many of the old businesses going under (no pun intended), there are a growing number of Chinese food and beverage outlets there.

Ete Cafe's twist is that it offers French desserts, syphon coffee and a small variety of tea. It has that recycled shabby chic look with coffee gunny sacks put to good use as shop signs, old tree logs and cheerful sprays of cherry blossoms as decor in addition to small plants growing in cut-opened plastic mineral water bottles.

Be warned that the shop is very tiny with only maybe 4 or 5 small tables scattered around. As with most heritage shop lots, there isn't air conditioning, and Ete Cafe relies on simple ceiling fans and the hot afternoon breeze wafting in from outside. One side of the wall is covered with framed photos and certs of the owners who trained at the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school.

It was too hot a day for either coffee or tea and we were there solely for the famed French desserts. There's a small refrigerated display area devoted just for pastries, gâteaux and macarons.

It was hard work trying to narrow down my selection to only 2 choices as every single dessert there looked so good. We settled on the macarons (mais oui!) and a slice of the mango chocolate cake. I really wanted to try the much famed sea salt caramel cake but it was sadly sold out. The owners were surprisingly pleasant and obliging when I requested for water and didn't charge for that.

Without a doubt, the lemon, chocolate and rose macarons (RM5 each or RM10 for 3) were the best that I'd ever tried so far. There wasn't any of that nasty, artificial taste of the filling nor the cloying, heavy feel of the meringue base.The flavours were delicately light and the texture was smooth and just the right amount of moisture. The mango cake (RM8) on the other hand was nice and had a fresh tang though a little on the pricey side for its size.

Hubs and Bubs wearing almost identical brown stripey tees and chinos. Since everyone says they both look alike, might as well dress them alike ;)

Me in shorts and a Dorothy Perkins black bird print top. I'm loving all the printed tops at Dorothy Perkins this season, they all have quirky prints, short sleeves and loose fitted which makes it perfect for all this hot weather we've been having recently. 

Ete Cafe, 79 Carnarvon Street (opposite the police station)
Tel: 017 4350922
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