Don’t eat endangered animals this Chinese New Year

Give shark’s fin a miss – you’re really eating chicken stock and cartilage anyway. Don’t listen to people who say all those stories about fishermen cruelly slicing off fins and dumping the shark back in the sea are false. You tell me, what do they really do with the rest of the shark? (OK, fish and chips, fish fingers, cat food… yes, I looked it up. But still!?)

I’m not sure what else we eat during Chinese New Year that are on the protected list, but please pause and ponder, because even if we Chinese are not the only ethnic group that thinks along the lines of “the more endangered it is, the more prized the delicacy”, we certainly are the largest ethnic group on the planet.

There’s a Facebook Group called Project:FIN and it aims to stop the consumption of sharks’ fin by debunking and questioning the very reasons we consume it. E.g.:

It is questionable why we are paying so much for a “delicacy” that we don’t even know what it actually taste like. Simply because the fins are tasteless. What we are actually enjoying, is the taste of chicken / pork stock, alongside other ingredients that gives flavor to the dish. And to think that the insistence of buying tasteless food and paying for them at ridiculous prices, is a mockery on its own.

Join it, spread the word, and help finish the fin trade!

The Better Toy Store needs better English

There’s a wonderful toy shop in Ngee Ann City and Tanglin Mall called “The Better Toy Store”. You can find great toys which are generally eco-friendly and non-toxic, which is a good thing, because Kai’s at the age where he tries to eat everything including the foam mat we’ve assembled on the floor of his play area. But cute lah, our boy.

Anyway, The Better Toy Store has an online shop, which for some reason, is full of surprisingly bad copy and a standard of English you’d expect to find on labels of Chinese foodstuff and not sensible, educational products for children.

For example:

Playtime Ideas

* Children can use the mallet to pound the different colored pegs as they like and continue playing by simply turning the board; this develop fine motor skill and eye-hand coordination. Pounding also helps children release tension and teach them regarding disciplinary action.
* Parents should specify the color to hammer; this will help children learn to differentiate and recognize colors easily.
* Parents should praise children when they can do it and advice if they are not able to do so.

Children can use the mallet to pound the Parent’s head since the Parent already has a headache trying to figure out what the website is trying to say. Children can disregard disciplinary action in this instance.

I think maybe the copy might have been written by Jamie Yeo cos I have no frikkin‘ idea what she’s on about.

Our World Cup runneth away

World Cup Trophy made from Balloons (wooden spoon prize) 2

Seriously, we’re really not going to get the World Cup on television?

MSN did a survey recently, and out of over 5,000 people who participated, 69% said they weren’t willing to pay a single cent to to watch a game. I guess that’s the national stance that got us into this mess in the first place.

It’s alright by me, cos I’m happy sitting at home watching the rugby on several channels on Starhub.
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Southern Italy is in Bukit Timah

Antipasto bench

Somewhere on the Amalfi Coast, some schoolchildren are sitting on the floor because the bench they used to sit on was used to hold the massive serving of antipasto we had last night at La Braceria Pizza & Grill.

As far as Italian restaurants are concerned, we’ve lucked out with two good locations in a row – both in the Bukit Timah area – the other restaurant being Valentino’s.

Both are family-run establishments, and both have gigantic dining tables on which to put school benches containing your hearty portions of home styled food. Just the sort of place last night to have a dinner with Naomi’s brother, his wife, and Kai’s 21 month old cousin Yasutaka, visiting from Shanghai.

OK, not quite. Because the transition from the relative cold of a Shanghai February to the al fresco of a Bukit Timah neighbourhood might have been a bit too drastic a change.

On a side note though, I was a bit peeved when I read some reviews on that I tweeted my displeasure, and this prompted a response from the site’s owners. I’ve got nothing against the site, and I think it works great as a directory of restaurants.

It’s just that some users post things that are not exactly useful. Take for instance this excerpt from a review of La Braceria Pizza & Grill:

Pizza – Pizza was nice, thin crusted. Seems to be the main choice for most diners!

But to be completely honest, it’s really because I’m just a grumpy diner who cannot understand how people can rate Ajisen Ramen higher than Ramen Santouka.

Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park

We brought Kai to a trial class at a child learning centre (that’s what they call playgroups here) at the old Police HQ at Phoenix Park, but we’re not so sure about signing on. Not because of the location, of course. It’s pretty and quaint, and bears no traces of the old usage of the Internal Security Department and their powerful air-cons.

It’s really nice that they’ve upgraded and moved the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Police HQ away to spunkier, more modern digs at New Phoenix Park – the Home Team is not here to be creative with names, we’ll just copy Scotland Yard and New Scotland Yard – on Irrawaddy Road. I can’t imagine the civil servants and cops doing even an hour of hard work at the old location. I’d be putting my feet up and lazing under the canopy of an Angsana tree with a gin sling and a newspaper.