Useful Christmas Gifts #6: Nespresso Christmas Variations

If you wanted to buy someone a Nespresso machine (wah, so generous, can I be your friend?), but they already have one, you could, this festive season, buy them a couple of tubes of the limited edition Christmas variations. This is especially good if you’re always bumming Nespresso off your friends when they invite you over, and you feel a bit guilty for depleting their stock.

There’s vanilla, almond and caramel. If you’re not already a Nespresso Club member, you can head down to their boutiques at Ion Orchard and Takashimaya to try them and buy them.

Meantime, before you leave your computer to do so, check out the entertaining and niftily animated game again.

The weekend worrier

Spat out

I had an unpleasant experience on Saturday over coffee at the Hilton. We had ordered some of the hotel’s world-famous cheesecakes to go with our coffee, and were settling down nicely to gorge ourselves further after a heavy lunch.

Coffee was served with some complimentary choux pastry. Being the greedy person that I am, I stuffed an entire pastry into my mouth. There was something wrong with the taste of the pastry. So I said to Naomi “there’s something wrong with the pastry”, to warn her that there was something wrong with the pastry. But of course, I continued chewing into the pastry, and very cleverly swallowing some, hoping for the taste to go away.

It didn’t, so I said again, “there’s something wrong with the pastry”.

I must have said it three times more before my brain finally decided, “there’s something really wrong with the pastry”, and I spat what remained of the pastry onto my saucer, nursing a residual burning sensation in my mouth.

A waitress came over and I mumbled to her, “there’s something wrong with the pastry”, and added, “there’s a burning sensation”, “maybe there’s detergent or insecticide in it”, “I think you should get someone to taste it”.

The waitress said something to the effect of “I’ll get you some other pastry”, or more likely, as is the Singaporean way of saying it, “I change the pastry for you”, before taking the remaining pastries on the plate back to the bar counter, where she sniffed at it, opened the box from whence the pastry came, and took the box of pastries to some backroom.

An eternity must have passed before someone who looked like a manager (I forget his Ang Moh name on his nametag) came over to ask how things were, and I explained all over again about the something wrong with the pastry, and he went over to the bar counter, and from where we were sitting, looked like he was interrogating the waitress and bar staff about the errant pastries. The box that contained the pastries was produced out of the backroom, but which was now empty.

From where we were sitting, it looked like he was asking where the rest of it was, and how come they threw it away without finding out what was wrong with the pastry.

A second eternity passed before the manager came back with a bottle of liquid which he explained could’ve been the cause of the taste. It was some sort of flavouring he said the chef could’ve used in the pastry. We had a spoonful of it and decided it didn’t have the same burning sensation we had come to know.

Over my repeated muttering that “there’s something wrong with the pastry”, Naomi finally and very sensibly said to the manager, “well, there’s not much you can do about it now that you don’t have the pastry to taste it”, and we left it at that, even though I was quite upset that the waitress didn’t do anything about our complaint.

Or so we thought.

The waitress came over again with a plate of a different type of pastry, only for me to say something agitatedly to the effect of, “I don’t want any more pastry or cookie, I want to know what’s wrong with the pastry I ate!”

But unless they took the trouble to sift through the freshly strewn trash where they must have dumped the pastry, there really was nothing we could do but accept the apologies of the very industrious manager (he sniffed the box that contained the pastry and looked like he was going to lick it) and his waiving of the price of the cheesecakes which we understandably didn’t eat any more of.

And wait. To see if I had poisoned myself with the something wrong pastry.

It’s Tuesday, and I haven’t felt any worse yet. I might just rise from this chair and walk into a wall, but it doesn’t look likely to be caused by the pastry now.

If there’s anything to take out of this experience, it was the manager’s sense of urgency and immediate tackling of the matter. If there had been pastries left in the box, I have no doubt he would have taken a taste of it, putting himself at risk of becoming the mumbling idiot that I was.

Even after it was quite clear that there wasn’t much that could be done except wait to see if I had been poisoned, he came back to our table several times to apologise, and even mentioned that he understood that we would’ve lost our appetites for the two slices of world-famous cheesecake we ordered.

If only all the other staff were as diligent as he was, we might have been closer to resolving the mystery of the something wrong pastry.

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The big and small of it

So small, ok?
“No boss, never bluff you one, the cup is so small only”

Naomi and I always order double espressos when we need our coffee (except when we’re at Caffe Beviamo Tanglin Mall, because Eleen Cai makes a mean latte), and apparently, there are many Singaporeans who send their coffees back when they realise a double espresso isn’t as voluminous as they expect it to be, given the ‘double’ and the extra 50 – 80 cents you pay for an extra shot.

This is why staff at Changi Airport Terminal One’s Caffe Ritazza have been instructed to inform customers who order espressos that, “it comes in this small cup, is that ok?”

I can imagine their concern too, if there were many customers who would protest at the smallness of their $4 something coffee and demand a refund or an exchange for a jumbo long black.

“Must say, because some customers not happy”, said Rajoo the barista/cashier/manager, when we asked him if he always informed customers who order espressos. He seemed relieved that we knowingly ordered our foolish little beverages in their silly little cups.

We also almost suggested to him that he should put up a signboard to inform customers of the size of the espresso cup, but stopped ourselves because, you know, he might just have done that.

Having said that, Rajoo was a very good sport, agreeing to pose for a picture because we told him that we would help him educate the public and save him the trouble of informing every espresso orderer.

So, an espresso, double espresso, macchiato or double macchiato come in this really small cup. Is that ok?

There.

But there are reasons to be concerned about shrinking portions, as Naomi and I realised a few days ago when we dined at what used to be one of our frequent quick fix dinner places. Pictures in the menu (which I rely on a lot because my Chinese, she is the sucks) were grossly misleading as we ended up having a not so satisfying dinner and having a further two late night suppers to make up for it.

While I should know better than to blog about price hikes and how they affect my unborn children, I think it’s ok to talk about how some altruistic businesses have shouldered some of the burden by being absorbent citizens:

Absorbent nation
The Absorbent Nation

But really, the sheer shrinkage of portions is getting ridiculous:

Amazing Shrinking Dumplings!

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It’s good to be a kaypoh nation


Asleep in car – by Andwar

Earlier tonight we went out to Holland Village for a bite and to take a short break from work. At 11:45 p.m., parking wasn’t hard to find.

We parked next to a car that had its engine running and its sole occupant motionless in the driver’s seat. We didn’t think much of that and we went off to NYDC.

Friday night out at the village was something we hadn’t experienced for a long time, and I swear, people looked different, and I think fashion trends must’ve changed a bit, because both of us felt a little out of place at this ‘young people cafe’, even though we were greeted by the familiar (and old) ‘NYDC cat’, who’s always at the doorstep of the cafe every time we walk past.

We sat amidst the din of many young people, and we ordered our drinks, and cake, seeing as it is my birthday. And then I took out my new MacBook Pro, hooked it up to the free wi-fi and started looking for bits of information that might help the project we’re working on, but the noisiness of the place put paid to that.

Naomi grabbed a copy of IS Magazine and started looking through interesting stuff about our island’s night life and arts scene. She was done in about five minutes, and at midnight, I was very happy to have my wife kiss me and wish me happy birthday, and we thought we’d spend the next half hour or so fielding birthday text messages from friends and well-wishers. There were only three (and one of them was from Naomi), so that didn’t take us too long either.
Just as well, because as with most outings these days, we had to keep it short because of Naomi’s painful back. So we headed back to the car park, where the car with the running engine and motionless occupant was still there. The windscreens were all fogged up, and we were a little concerned because it had been close to an hour since we’d left the car park.

“You think he’s ok?”, asked a very concerned Naomi, so I peered into the car just in time to see the occupant’s chin loll onto his chest, which moved in a way that resembled breathing.

“Yup, he’s alive”, I said, and we got into our car because, you know, we really didn’t want to be too kaypoh. And we don’t like kaypoh people, do we?

But something stopped us from driving off. Maybe it was the recent story about the taxi-driver who was found dead in a car park after many passers-by had thought he’d just been drunk and sleeping. So I got out of the car, looked into the window, then decided to get back into our car, but we felt uneasy, and I got out again. Then in again, then out again, and in again until I thought, what the hell am I doing?

Then Naomi asked, “what the hell are you doing?”

So I got out of the car again and tapped on the running engine car’s window. There was no response, so I tapped harder. And some more, until I must have scared the bejeezus out of what we then knew as a sleeping man, who woke up and spent five seconds wondering such pertinent things like, “Whadda!…! Wha!” and “Whadda!”, before he found the button to roll down the window and ask me what I wanted.

“Are you ok?”, I asked, and patiently waited for his brain to register the question and formulate an answer, which eventually came in the form of a puzzled sounding, “ok, yah! I’m ok?”.

I then wanted to tell him, “You know, carbon monoxide is odourless and poisonous and car engines produce a lot of that stuff which can get into the comfortably air-conditioned cabin of a stationary car”, but chocolate and cheesecake and ice-cream makes your brain as fast as flowing molasses, so I merely said, “OK, you shouldn’t sleep inside your car so long, roll down your windows a bit”.

It’ll have taken a while for him to fall back asleep again, if that were his purpose. But Naomi and I were glad we did as much as we could without agitating the sleeping man too much.

Of the many things I’m wishing on my birthday, one of them is, please, don’t sleep in your car with the engine running and the air-con on – it’s dangerous; and the other is, if you do see someone motionless in their car or anywhere else in public, please, check on them to see if they’re ok.

I mean, if we’re kaypoh enough to be unconcerned that we’re causing another traffic bottleneck by slowing down to take a closer look at a traffic accident in the next lane, we should be kaypoh enough to check on our fellow citizens when it looks as though there’s a chance they’re in trouble and might need some assistance.

Embrace your inner kaypoh! You might save a life. Come to think of it, kaypohness should be a civic duty.

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Dawn of realisation

Al fresco at the Imperial CafeFor more than four years, I’ve been buying my takeaway coffees from the Imperial Cafe & Pub on McCallum Street, and it’s only just now that I realised why the tables and chairs are placed so that patrons who dine in get to face McCallum Street and the silver-grey office block across it.

When a traffic police patrol bike comes along, as one did this afternoon, ridden by the shortest traffic policeman on motorcycle I have ever seen – his boots could only touch the ground one at a time when he was on the bike – the patrons are alerted by the proprietor of the Imperial, who simply mumbles ‘lai liao, lai liao’.

There’s a mad dash across McCallum Street by about half a dozen courier riders and deliverymen who run off to move their vehicles which are illegally parked on the street as well as on the side lane.

No one gets booked this afternoon, as the policeman seems like a nice enough fella, standing around till all the illegally parked vehicles have cleared the area before getting back on his bike and riding off.

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One plus one is…

Thank you for helping me with Math

Thank you for helping me with Math II

If you wanted a glossary of beverage definitions, go no further than Olio Dome, because their menus are like that, describing to the last drop what you might order, just so you’re never in any doubt that a beverage like a double espresso actually contains two shots of espressos and not one. Because that would make it a single.

Same thing with the double cappuccino. Two shots, you know? Then it becomes a double, you know? And that’s a stronger coffee, you know? You order it if you like your coffee stronger you know?

Eh, how you know I used to be from the Department of Redundancy Department?

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Many miles to go

Drinks break
And many more coffee breaks on the way

I’m having a week like no other doing stuff for the wedding ceremonies. Like doing last minute arrangements with florists, last minute arrangements with the caterers, and last minute arrangements with the photographers.

I read somewhere that a day’s lack of sleep can cause your IQ to drop by as much as ten points. Or is it ten sleep of points drops your IQ by a day? Or sleep ten days? Or IQ sleep? Or ah fuckit never mind lah.

Shillings

Please bear with the music

I went for a coffee break just now, and discovered a little, oft-forgotten quirk in our coffee shops.

As I was preparing to pay for my kopi-o, I wasn’t sure if the price had gone up from 50c to 60c or 60c to 70c, so I laid my coins out on the table for the auntie to collect.

She told me it was only 60c, and then asked, 你有 shilling å•Š?‘, pointing at the coins on the table, and asking, “can change shilling for me?”

What she meant was, she wanted to give me a $2 note in exchange for the two $1 coins I had on the table.

Fair exchange, I thought, but it struck me strange that so many decades after we’ve stopped being a British colony, and even more decades since the British started using decimal denomination in their oddly named currency, the coffee shop auntie still refers to small change as ‘shillings’.

Podcast: the mrbrown show 1 May 2006: the persistently non-political podcast no. 6
(MP3, Filesize: 1.5mb, Time: 00:02:58)

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That’s mean


Marmalade Kitchen

It’s no good to make fun of people when they mispronounce things. It’s the bad English karma, you know, where you end up mispronouncing something the same way as the person you’ve made fun of.

I’m talking about when people say, ‘that’s mean‘, in this context:

“This thing is very complicated. That’s mean I find it very difficult to do”.

Get what I mean?

Yes? Well, then, that’s mean you are very clever.

Today, I was told to make a reservation at the Marmalade Kitchen, so I laughed and said, ‘Marmalade Pantry’ lah, before calling up Marmalade Pantry and asking if it was the Marmalade Kitchen.

That’s mean I was laughed at right back.

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