Kai’s menu

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This is Kai determined not to open his mouth to eat any more carrots.

In over a month of eating solids, he’s developed a preference for green stuff and for pumpkin. His favourite food is mashed peas, followed by mashed avocado.

He really really really dislikes papaya, which is the only thing that’s made him throw up. He dislikes cooked apple, potato, sweet potato and carrot, all of which make him gag, but which are not foul enough to make him throw up.

Christmas gift ideas: give a pair

A good pairing

We were getting last-minute grocery for dinner at Cold Storage Takashimaya when we saw outside the cashier’s, a stall selling Crescendo flavoured olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars.

The company’s representative in Singapore has stalls like this all over town, but for some reason, we stopped for the first time, for a sampler.

Unlike many temporary stalls at department stores and supermarkets, this one was manned by a very knowledgeable young man called Promoter (seriously, why do they bother with name tags?) who very patiently paired as many combinations of flavoured oils and vinegars for us to try.

We finally settled for a 100ml bottle of truffle-flavoured (not real truffle extract – we’re told the oils are merely flavoured by soaking white truffles in them) extra virgin olive oil and a 100ml bottle of 16 year old balsamic vinegar.

They’re not exactly cheap (ok, I can’t remember how much they were and I can’t find the receipt) – we had some at lunch but treated them as if they were some precious potion of youth – but accompanied by a few drops of each, we had an absolutely gorgeous lunch of poached eggs and spinach and rocket salad with crusty bread this afternoon.

Something else that got our attention was the fact that the company says you can bring your own glass bottles to buy your oils and vinegar. In fact, it’ll be $6-8 cheaper if you do, because that’s what they charge for the glass bottles they sell.

Eco-friendly Christmas vendor, I thought. Until I saw the stack of plastic spoons piling up in a little tray – used by the dozens of people sampling the offerings. Oh well.

What’s a sporting event around the Padang that’s better than F1?

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It’s held at and around the Padang, it lasts a weekend, it brings in teams from around the world, it’s got beer girls and after-parties, but it’s not the F1 GP.

It’s a sporting event with a way longer history – 62 years – played at the Singapore Cricket Club’s grounds in front of city hall, and there is no more hallowed turf in Singapore than The Padang.

Though it’s multi-purpose nature stands it apart from cricket’s The Oval or Lord’s or rugby’s Twickenham, The Padang (literally translated as ‘The Field’) has a far longer history than the soon to be demolished National Stadium.

And although it doesn’t have the Kallang Roar, every single ACS boy my age and slightly younger will remember the Great Padang Riot of 1984, when a fired-up ACS boy decided to run the school flag around the field before the start of the U-17 National Schools Grand Final between ACS and Raffles Institution.

Around 1,000 ACS boys of ages ranging from 10-16 saw the flag flying around the field, over the heads of the RI boys on the SRC side of the Padang, when apparently one RI boy took offence at the taunt, and decided to trip the flag bearer.

One sharp-eyed fella from ACS saw that the flag bearer had fallen with the flag, and shouted something that ended with “… the bastards!”, and the next thing we knew, the entire contingent of ACS boys had swept across the field and grabbed anyone dressed in all-white, teachers included, and tried to pummel the daylights out of them.

Back in the grandstand, the headmasters of both schools smiled and nodded politely to each other. There was not much they could do, really, except wait for the riot police to arrive with water cannons.

I don’t think there’s been a more violent incident since, and we were quite happy to be invited to the SCC International Sevens tournament last weekend.

Well, I was invited, but I wrangled a pass for Naomi, Kai and our helper, hoping to make it a family outing. I was eager to show Kai the famous tournament his Papa played in 20 years ago as a schoolboy, even though he won’t remember a single thing from the weekend.

It was a good call – there were kids everywhere, and I don’t think the F1 race would have been as family-friendly – and that’s what we’re after in Singapore, aren’t we? More kids? More family events? Surely not gas guzzling, air polluting, eardrum bursting race cars going round and round?

Best of all, there were no road closures.

Plus the format of sevens rugby is great – 7 minutes a half, 10 minutes a half for the final makes for dunnohowmanygames a day for the 25 odd teams from far flung countries like Kenya, Fiji, Scotland, competing with the likes of the NS Wanderers from the town of Seremban in Malaysia, and the fast pace and unpredictability is even better – the Seremban boys beat the Scots on Day 1!

I had a great weekend showing my wife and son the grounds, and regaling them about how, back in my day, we used to have to take off our jerseys between games and lay them flat on the grass to dry before the next match.

It’s just so good to see one of the country’s oldest sporting events still going strong. More importantly, it’s gonna be around when Kai’s old enough to appreciate it. Or dare I hope, play in it.

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P.S. Congratulations SA Vipers for your hattrick of titles.

Unhacked

OK, I’ve finally managed to clean out the entire blog and its directories, so I’m hoping that it’s all clean now.

Those of you running wordpress, I can’t emphasize this enough: Make sure your WP is the very latest version.

Christmas gift ideas: get what Jesus got

Frankincense

If you’re in the business of giving presents at Christmas, then you sure as hell better start now.

(Yes, I did think about whether it was wrong to put hell and Christmas in the same sentence, but is just a figure o’ speech, yeronner!)

You might take the path most beaten and take the top box off the Christmas specials stack at a department store and then line up for the gift-wrapping service, all the while wondering how come they don’t save everyone’s time and gift wrap everything first.

Or, you could follow the star that led the three wise men (or kings, depending on which DVD zone you bought your story from) to stop by the perfumeries and jewelers on their way to the little manger.

The good news is you don’t have to travel to the Holy Land for that.

Because this is Singapore, and Singapore being the crossroads or East and West and all that, you can purchase a bit of the three things these wise men three gave as gifts to the baby Jesus.

Well, just gold and frankincense. I didn’t see myrrh anywhere in the Arab Street area (where we returned for more ribbons).

It was the first time I had seen frankincense. In resin form, it looks a bit like rock sugar, but has the most powerful fragrance ever.

I suppose living in the desert and all that, you’d need powerful perfumes to mask the smell of camels and not enough water to bathe.

So, Jamal Kazura Aromatics on Baghdad Street sells jars of Omani frankincense resin for $15-18, so you’d be quite the wise man to buy one as a prezzie for a friend.

I asked the salesman – who’ll whip you up your own signature fragrance from the dozens of alcohol-free scents on display after asking you a dozen questions (do you smell like camel?) – what one was to do with the resin if one were so inclined to buy a jar.

The salesman very kindly demonstrated how to burn the resin, as one would burn the stuff they smoke in a shisha – with charcoal.

Cute. But I wasn’t too convinced about getting an entire jar until he told me that this fragrance could be had on the go – you can burn the resin as you would in a charcoal incense burner, only in a special, purpose-made 12v car socket incense burner.

Now you can get rid of camel odor in your car while you bear gifts and traverse afar.

Car incense burner