Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Irrawaddy Fine Foods

Having heard that Irrawaddy Fine Foods, make their bread fresh daily and do a decent sandwich, we decided to pop over to try. They have recently moved from Irrawaddy Road to the adjacent Chow Thye Road, which is the same location as their restaurant, That Little Wine Bar. If the name Chef Tommes (and wife Louise) sounds familiar to you, it might be of his fame on the AFC TV programme, Chalk and Cheese.

We had a bit of an issue trying to find a place to park but luckily there was a private car park a few minutes walk away. The moment we stepped into the cool, air conditioned interior, Louise welcomed us very warmly and cleared a table that she was working at for us.

Irrawaddy Fine Foods still carry a small range of imported goodies for sale. I spotted Tetley tea bags there. 

Giant chalkboard menu at the side. 

Come to me, my loves :) I've heard that bread is sold at half price daily after 5pm.

In the tiny open air courtyard that was next to our table.

How could I resist ordering the Italian sandwich after seeing the delicious slab of focaccia on display? It came with a filling of gorgonzola cheese, lettuce and tomato slices. I bit into the warm, crusty, rosemary spiked bread and savoured how divine something as simple as very good bread can be. Mmmmm ...

Okay, I don't think I even need to describe the pizza - you can judge how much Bubs liked it by promptly sinking his teeth into it and refusing to let go. I did think it was a tad on the salty side though it could have been because of the cheese. Whole pizzas packed in vacuum sealed bags are available for sale too.

Hubs is on a pork burger kick at the moment. I asked if he was rating all of Penang's pork burgers given that he's been ordering it nearly everywhere we've been. His comments were that this version was close to the Gusto Cafe's but a slightly more expensive version, which is still worth it given that this is a restaurant styled ambiance with air conditioning and free flow of iced water. 

My thoughts? It's a nice place to go to chill and relax for not-too-bad priced food. Food is delicious, wait staff are very friendly. The bread alone is worth a repeated visit! 

Address: 54a, Jalan Chow Thye, 10050 Penang
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Phone: 04-226 8182

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Best Things in Life

Almost a cliche but true, the best things in life are oft the most simple ones.

Like a small, warm hand curled around your fingers and skipping along next to you as you explore the Botanic Gardens together as a family. That impossibly perfect blue sky blazing high above you. The slight breeze that tries to alleviate some of the scorching heat but ends up adding to the mugginess. Tall, gnarly trees and giant leafy palms provide patches of welcome shade.

Seeing how excited Bubs got about spotting a small group of monkeys, remembering that was exactly how you felt when you were his age, standing there in that same spot watching monkeys picking at their food with their clever paws and swaying their long tails when they walk? Listening to Bubs enthusiastically telling Grandpa with utmost certainty that monkeys eat oranges because he saw them digging out discarded orange peel from the bin to nibble on. At the same time, it also makes you a little sad inside while you wonder how long will they last there with the shrinking forest and encroaching development?  

A buy 2 free 1 weekday promotion for your favourite ice cream - Kindori at Gurney Plaza. The joy on his pudgy, losing-its-babyness-becoming-a-small-boy face when he sees that everyone has their own cup of ice cream, hence he doesn't need to share his precious chem-chem-dak (cempedak) ice cream :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Penang Yasakoi Parade

There was a Japanese themed parade - Yasakoi Festival in Penang and I thought it'd be fun to drop by for a quick look. We were lucky that it was slightly overcast so it wasn't scorching hot when we parked our car a few streets away and walked to the Esplanade during the evening. As expected, most of the major streets were closed for the festivities so it was an unusual experience walking right in the middle of Beach Street (where all the banks are and it's usually congested with heavy traffic).

The Esplanade was set up with lots of little tents housing different stalls. There was a main stage up in front with dancers performing to both Japanese and local music. Many people were dressed up in Japanese costumes and the little ones looked soooo cute! Bubs enjoyed the wide, grassy area for him to run around in - which made me feel slightly guilty for not bringing him to parks more often.

There were tents housing Japanese games (think skip ropes and stilts), haunted house, Japanese food, Japanese culture, toys and balloons, even a Star Wars stormtrooper tent!

There was a goldfish bobbing game where dozens of tiny little fishies were swimming in a wading pool and you could scoop them up in a net. I wanted one but Hubs said NO pets :( Killjoy. 

There was a nice lady providing children with free yo-yo balloons. Don't you love how pretty and colourful they are? Bubs promptly tried to eat his. 

 A Dark (Sith?) Lord (I'm sorry - I know nuts about Star Wars) tucking into his food. I thought it was nice of the 501st Legion Malaysia-Brunei to collect donations and help out the Child Protection Society.

At around 8.30pm, the street parade at Beach Street started. There were sooo many performers and costumes, from the MPPP to little kids - even spotted one dressed as a giant slipper. I wasn't carrying a camera and my handphone doesn't do too well under low light conditions so these photos are blurry. Bubs was dancing along to the music and had so much fun that he didn't want to leave at all! :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Currently Loving ...

Glam Girl's newborn son - Jacob. Awww, he looks so peaceful all snuggled up and fast asleep. Though I've to admit I'm particularly useless with babies and Hubs surprised me when he correctly pointed out that Jacob was hungry when he was making little smacking motions with his lips.

This custom watercolour sketch of Bubs from Etsy seller Noomie Doodles who does the most beautiful sketches. I highly recommend her - talented, communicative and extremely fast shipping. Everyone I've shown Bub's customised portrait immediately recognised him and agrees that she did a marvelous job of catching his cheekiness perfectly.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Victoria Rossa at Irrawady, Penang

The moment we stepped into the floral wallpapered walls of Victoria Rossa, I whispered to Hubs "You sure you don't feel out of place here?" Jazzy music was wafting softly, attentive waiters at your beck and call, everything was in pastel hues, even the menu was decked out in a flowery fabric. It wasn't what you'd term as a masculine place ;)

Being the scone fiends we are, we were eager to test Victoria Rossa's claim to have the finest scones, cakes and teas. We were showed to a table promptly and a very nice waiter brought a fabric lined wicker basket for me to place my handbag in.

A variety of beautifully packaged tea with intriguing names such as Isabella's blend, Julia's blend, Eliza's blend, is displayed throughout the tea room available for sale.

We had the afternoon tea for two and since it came with 2 pots of tea, we picked white tea and hibiscus mint. I was ecstatic to find white tea on the menu as it is impossible to find it here and I've been resorting to imports in the form of Aussie Godma to bring in fresh supplies for me each time she's back. The little pots of tea came bundled up in frilly tea cosies and English style tea cups. The waiter was kind enough to bring Bubs a cup of water at no extra charge. The hibiscus mint was strong and fruity but the white tea wasn't as good as T2's loose leaf though.

The afternoon tea consists of sandwiches, butter cakes, scones (mmmm ...) orange cream tarts and biscotti. Scones are served with strawberry jam and butter and a serving of clotted cream costs RM1.50 so we added on two portions of cream. A single dish of cream is on the tiny side so I would have loved it if they gave a larger dollop.

The sandwiches had fillings of sliced, boiled egg, ham and cucumber. These were a little meh so I delegated Hubs to polish them off while I ate the good stuff ;) The butter cakes were nice and crusty on the outside and soft once you bit into them. The biscotti were good, crunchy with thin almond flakes and sweeter compared to others that we've tried (tried to ignore the probable amount of sugar that went into them). The orange cream tarts had a pleasant, floral-orangey taste and Bubs chomped on them like no tomorrow.

I saved the best for last: the scones were absolutely brilliant! I'd go as far as to say that these are undoubtedly the best I've ever had in Penang and come very close to the Carcosa scones (which are forever known as the best in our books). These are milky-buttery and goes sooooo well with with cream and strawberry jam. The strawberry jam gets a thumbs up, I was expecting some cheapo, artificial tasting paste but was wowed by the rich, strawberry flavour.

Scones, cakes and pots of jam are available for purchase too.

All nom-ed out on scones and happy smiles around. Someone was happy eating strawberry jam for the first time and would have eaten it neat with a spoon if we didn't stop him :)

Address:33,Jalan Irrawady,10350 penang. 
Tel:04 2269128
Opening hours:  11am - 10pm, closes every Tuesday

Thursday, January 17, 2013

La Vanille: a Sweet Delight

We stumbled upon La Vanille and the girly girl in me couldn't stop exclaiming over how shabby chic the tiny cafe is. If you love desserts in the form of cupcakes, macarons and girly pastels everywhere, then this is the place for you.

There's a rustic feel to La Vanille with the exposed brickwork, bric a brac on the open shelves and desserts in all colours of the rainbow.

A variety of delicately constructed macaron and cupcake towers are also on display.

Wherever you look, you're bound to spot an interesting corner or two with pretty details. I asked Hubs if the bunting was too girly for me to put up in Bubs's room. His answer was a resounding YES :(

Check out the huge, vertical blackboard covered in chalk drawings of all things cute and delicious. Bubs is clutching a stuffed bunny he found at the cafe. 

We decided on the Peach Goo and Iced Chocolate. The Peach Goo has a light, fruity taste sandwiched with layers of cream and peaches. Bubs adored the Iced Chocolate and called it "chocolate water" :D

La Vanille Pastry 
Tel: 04-2264024
Address: 122 A, Hutton Lane, 10050 Georgetown, Penang.
Business Hours: 11am - 9pm (Daily)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kid Rooms

I've been really slack about moving Bubs to his own room. Before he was born, I told Hubs that he HAS to be moved at 6 months old based on what parenting books were recommending but after that, well ... coupled with the lack of shuteye, funds (it's more rewarding spending on toys than boring room stuff) ... his room is more like an empty storeroom for our junk at the moment while Bubs is still happily co-rooming with us. His cot has had one side of the railings removed and shoved next to our bed so bed space-wise, it's manageable.

Still I can't help ooh-ing and aah-ing over these cute kid spaces I've found. Still lacking in the funds-section to make these a reality for Bubs but one could still dream ;)

Image Credit
 The Ikea enthusiast in me recognises some of the furniture used here! I like the nifty idea of using the expedit shelves as benches which double up as storage for toys.
Image Credit
 If you have some spare cash, these cool LED balloons (USD73 each) would make any kid deliriously happy.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Take Two at Ben's Gurney Paragon

Forgive me as I'm still a little obsessed with Ben's so I've been dragging Glam Girl, Hubs and Bubs with me on repeated visits. I was really insistent on trying Ben's scones (huge afternoon tea fanatic) so I was crushed when the waiter said afternoon tea only starts at 3pm :(

The ever gorgeous Glam Girl, such a glowing mama to be :)

We'd a beefburger and mac-n-cheese. Both were nice but not really stellar though.

A meal at Ben's is never complete without dessert - this round we tried black forest and rocky road which were served in very generous wedges. Can you spot Bub's antsy look in the photo? ;) He finds my no-touching-mummy's-taking-a-photo-rule before cake extremely annoying and a test of his patience. He was well rewarded with all the cake his little tummy could fill.

I adored the black forest cake which I thought nicely presented with pieces of meringue shards (my favourite!) at the side and the juicy pieces of cherries sandwiched between the chocolatey cake were to die for. Topped with fluffy marshmallows and layers of peanut cream, chocolate mousse and a crushed biscuit bottom, I found the rocky road to be on the rich and heavy side.
Wearing a loose, flowy skirt in anticipation of all the eating we're going to be doing
Since I didn't get to try the scones, I insisted we head back again for the afternoon tea, time time ensuring that we were there after 3pm. Hubs rolled his eyes but as usual, Bubs is always game for any kind of cake ;)

For the afternoon tea: you get a choice of coffee or tea for two from the main menu and yes, Ben's does have a good selection of both. We had a mocha and green tea which I was happy that they used T2 teabags (Gorgeous Geisha - a nice, fruity green tea). Bubs had the iced water - free flow and no extra charge from Ben's :) I thought it was a nice touch for them to include a slice of biscotti with our hot drinks.

You also get to choose a slice of cake from the dessert display and the other two tiers are filled with scones, marshmallows, mini cakes, chocolate truffles, cookies and sandwiches. Is it sad to admit that at this point, I'd pretty much tried most of Ben's cakes so I stuck with my favourite black forest?

The scones at Ben's are more biscuit-y and crumbly, I usually prefer my scones to be softer. At least the cream served was decent and heaven forbid, not whipped cream! I found the highlight to be marshmallows which had a very lemon zing to them. Hubs enjoyed the chocolate truffles coated in cocoa powder.

Initially when the goodies were served, I was thinking that the portions looked very scant and thought of ordering more food - luckily Hubs restrained me because we were struggling to finish everything and zonked out with all the sugar. We found the afternoon tea to be really good value for money as it fed two adults and a cake-mad toddler.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Alphabet Elephants

After reading this brilliant post about alphabet fish, I was inspired to try crafting a similar version of it. I went to Popular to buy cardstock and lo and behold - they had ready cut elephants! I weighed the pros and cons: to draw and cut out 25 fishies so I could tell Bubs that we're "fishing" or to just get the elephants and come out with some kind of story line?

Guess which route I took? ;)

Hubs, who is good at drawing and everything I'm not, drew in the little details onto one elephant for me and I used that as a blueprint for the rest. In case you're wondering, the little squiggles on the legs are the wrinkly knees which all elephants have. I insisted on this when Hubs was drawing the first elephant. And can I tell you how cool Crayola markers are? They don't dry out even though I haven't touched them in months, they dry really fast and they don't bleed through the paper.

I hooked on metal paperclips and voila! A raging stampede of colourful alphabet elephants. By the way, the elephants are not smiling, those are their very ferocious tusks.

Tied a Daiso magnet with yarn to a chopstick. I couldn't exactly call it a fishing pole since there aren't any fish to catch. I was contemplating drawing a banana at the end of the chopstick and telling him that he had to feed the elephants until I thought what the heck, let's keep it simple. 

Bubs squealed "ally-fents" happily when he saw everything. I felt a little surge of self satisfaction that my artwork wasn't that bad since he could recognise what I was drawing :D I told him that he had to help the elephants cross a river to go home and showed him how to hook them on with the magnet. He was excited that he could call out the letters and this kept him occupied for quite a while.

A few notes: be careful when letting kids play with magnets, little paper clips and string. Oh and I found that for his little arms, the shorter the string, the easier it was for him to control the magnet.

PS - check out how cool is this mini magnetic fish set!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dear Bubs: 27 Months

Dear Bubs,

Time flies when you're having fun! Can I say that these are the best times we've ever had together? Or do I seem to say that each month as you hit a new milestone?

The things you say truly astound Daddy and me. You seem to pick up the darn-est things.

Me: Why are you digging your nose?
Bubs: There's an elephant in it.
Me: What is the elephant doing in your nose?
Bubs: Elephant ... what you doing there? Come out here, elephant!
Me: *trying to keep a straight face* So what is the elephant doing?
Bubs: The elephant's eating ice cream inside my nose

We've also ended up incorporating some Bubs-erisms into our daily speech. Daddy insists on correcting you but I always find your baby talk to be cute.

If you don't sit proper-berry, you will fall down. You love eating chocolate chip chip cookies and apochi (strawberries). You scratch your hand whenever you feel itchy-lily. We turn on our comp-pin-ter to work and to show you Elmo on YouTube.

In addition to Sesame Street, you now like the Muppets. I think your favourite character is Animal followed by the Swedish Chef (mine too!) and there's nothing you love more than using a clothes hanger as a guitar and strumming it while singing songs along to Sesame Street and the Muppets. If you run out of songs to sing, you just go "la la la, El-mo's songggggkkk". You were thrilled to bits when Por Por got you your very own toy guitar and you guard it fiercely. Not many people are allowed to touch it, not even Mummy and Daddy.

You also like going to Uncle M's room and plucking at the strings of his electric guitar. Future Bon Jovi, perhaps? ;)

Sorry to say, kiddo, you have a terrible temper when you don't get what you want. When you misbehave and get a swat on your palm, you don't even blink your eyes. However when we withhold something that you want badly from you, you throw the most awful tantrums. Big, fat tears will roll down your cheeks, you wail, you arch your arms behind your back and you stamp your feet - all at the same time, yeesh!

We've been trying to teach you how to share stuff with other children. Like your Chinese zodiac, you are very much the territorial tiger and refuses to share your toys to the point that if you see some other kid hovering close by your possessions, you march right over and grab it away.

 And another huge milestone, we've been loosely potty training you. Credit should go to Por Por who's had the patience to persuade you to sit on the potty until you've *ahem* completed your task, which can at times take up to 45 mins. You can now poop on the potty but we've to remind you to go, otherwise you'd still find it a lot easier to do it in your diapers. However, once on your potty, you need a LOT of entertainment to keep you on it. We've resorted to putting your potty next to the sofa so you have a back rest, in front of the telly and some toys around you.

You've also turned into a mini nagging reminding version of me which I find to be extremely helpful, much to Daddy's dismay ;) Daddy has an awful habit of chewing his fingers and each time I say "Bubs, tell Daddy to stop biting his fingers", you'll happily parrot after me "Dadddeeee, stop biting your fingers, it's dirty-yuck-yuck!"until he stops. Good job, Bubs!

Love you lots and stop growing up too fast, you'll always be my baby,

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gusto Cafe at Tanjung Bungah

Gusto Cafe, a small and homey cafe tucked in the Hillside area of Tanjung Bungah, offers American style breakfasts and diner-like burgers for lunch. Think fresh bagels, home made beef patties in their burgers and pulled pork sandwiches ... have these gotten you salivating yet?

I dragged Hubs and Bubs there early for breakfast and I was disappointed that the famous burgers weren't ready until 11.30am (that's when they start to serve lunch). Hubs looked at me incredulously and asked if I really wanted to chomp down on a burger with all the works first thing in the morning. Oh wellllllll ... at least I get to try the bagels for brekkie.

My choice - bagel and eggs. The bagel was very, very good. It was fresh, slightly crusty on the outside and impossibly soft and fluffy inside. It went down a real treat with the scrambled eggs.

Hubs picked French toast with bacon, banana and a side serving of maple syrup. I thought the bacon and maple pairing was a slightly bizarre and very American thing but Hubs devoured it. The bacon was really good and I could see myself ordering more of it. Both the breakfast sets come with a cup of coffee or tea each.

Since I wasn't satisfied I didn't get to try their legendary burgers, we went back again for lunch a few days later. Yes, people, the things I do to satisfy my foodie cravings.

Unfortunately they were out of stock for the pulled pork so we settled on the sukiyaki steak sandwich and the Double Happiness Burger - dubbed the heart attack for its double beef patties, bacon streaks and cheese. Was it worth the return trip back? Yeeeeeeees!

The sukiyaki steak sandwich was beautifully done, thin beef slices grilled and drenched in the most delectable tomato-chilli sauce on an open face sandwich bun. I polished this one off by myself and was almost prepared to order a second one but came to my waistline senses.

They weren't joking when they named the burger as double happiness, Hubs looked as though he was in ecstasy with each bite that he took. Made freshly from ground beef, it had an earthy, herb-iness to it and very well grilled, it was juicy and very tender. I asked Hubs, which was better - Gusto's or Marshall's? He thought about for as he chewed on his burger. Marshall's has a unadulterated beefy taste and comes with veggies, almost like a gourmet version of Ramlee burger. Gusto's patty has a more spice-herb-y earthiness to it, more like a meaty yet slightly sophisticated burger. In the end, he shrugged - why bother picking which is better, Gusto Cafe is open for lunch, Marshall's only starts at dinner time, just have both lah

Jason, the owner, is very friendly and approachable. On our second visit there, he came by our table to asked if everything was okay. We got him to describe what the Coronary Bypass burger was: imagine a slice of cheese, bacon and a patty and then ... times that by 4! Very aptly named, me thinks. For those that don't like beef, Gusto Cafe does the same patties but with pork. 

Gusto Cafe
4, Jalan Sungai Kelian, Tanjung Bungah, Penang.
Tel: +6012 595 9811
Opening times: Mon-Fri, 6.30am-3pm; Sat, 8am-3pm, closed on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Toys for Bubs

Bubs has been spoiled with gifts this Xmas and lets just say this better be a one off for this year ...

When I heard Sue was going to the US, I begged her to cart me back a box of Magna Tiles. The reviews for them were stellar and I couldn't find a retailer either in Malaysia, Singapore or Australia so I was psyched when Sue got them for me Bubs.

The concept is relatively simple: colourful magnetic tiles that snap together to form geometric shapes. I couldn't agree more with the tagline "where maths, science & creativity meet". We're using them now to build mini buildings and I'm introducing shapes to Bubs. When he gets a bit bigger, I plan to teach him basic geometry with these - Hubs is rolling his eyes and branding me as a tiger mum.

 I initially thought that we'd stop at the Magna Tiles, until I went into the Mothercare store during their year end sale and carted this out at half price (score, bargain!!!)

People, I present to you ... the Tower of Doooooom. 

It took quite a while to set this up, sort of like a 3D jigsaw puzzle but believe it or not, I built 3/4 of this all by myself before I got bored and left the rest to Hubs to complete.

It's even taller than Bubs, lol. We had fun playing exploring all the nooks and crannies in the tower of doom - it comes with a working drawbridge, trapdoor and beautiful details. Can foresee that this definitely be something to play over and over again for a long while.

The last 2 pressies were complete surprises from Aunt D. She is really generous in passing to Bubs fantastic hand me downs that are still in fabulous condition.

Bubs had a blast with the MEGA Bloks Fill & Dump Wagon. The blocks are a good size for his little hands and easier to put together. The wagon is a huge bonus for him, it's so cute to see him drag the it around on its wheels.

I was lost for words when I saw this.

The Injusa electric car has to be the most generous hand me down she has ever given us and Bubs is in total lurrrve with this. It is very sturdy, easily charged and surprisingly fast. It has 2 gears: forward and reverse and when Bubs floor the pedal, it speeds off really fast that even Bubs is jerked to the back. He picked up the concept of changing gears but laughs maniacally whenever he hits walls or runs into us (very often). When asked to steer, he twists the steering wheel left and right frantically while being very heavy footed on the gas pedal. Safe to say, he won't be allowed to drive Hubs's car anytime soon ;)
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