My life with a pinch of sugar.

What’s up Australia !

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(Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne)

Helloooooo…this space seems a little quiet. I know It has been too long since I’ve blogged and I hope that I’m back for good. A lot have happened since my last post. One thing to update is my major life transition, I’ve been studying in the city of Brisbane, Australia, for almost four months now and it has been great. To be honest, before moving here I had certain doubts about my own emotional stability judging from the fact that I got REALLY depressed the last time I was away from home for long. But since I got here I haven’t been experiencing any symptom of homesick (except the sickness for home cook meal by my super mum. Does that count?), so all is great. I am loving Australia. The people are seriously and genuinely nice. My facial muscle got used to smiling so much to pretty much everyone that I come across. I’ve also made awesome new friends who it has been a blessing to get to know. I’ve found a church and a connect group that feels like home. My university rocks, I can skip lectures and watch them later at my own pace (how awesome is that? CHULA you should definitely consider adopting this policy). I’m so excited to explore the café culture here and have already made a list of places to go and all, yay! And above all Australians seem to be really into healthy and organic way of living, which I am all in for. So I am all good.

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(Seven Seeds, Melbourne)

But still, this country is the complete opposite to Thailand where the city lights, shops and restaurants live on for several hours past midnight. Here… supermarket closes its doors by 4pm! I guess that is the only things that got some getting use to. Oh and the fact that everything costs pretty much 300 times more than it does back home. So yeah maybe I do miss Bangkok. Okay I should just stop this doing this comparison thing or I might just get homesick right here and now.
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(Infront of Crown Casino, Melbourne)

Back to my happy self. So yes 4 months in Australia and I’ve already been to three cities! Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Yep that’s three destinations cross off my “Places to see in Australia” list. I’m excited to cross them all off within the year that I have left.

Right now I have a week to go before my 3 months summer break begins and I cannot wait. I will definitely blog more often especially about all the cafes and restaurants I will visit during the break. Here are random photos of my journey in Aussieland so far. Enjoy ☺

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(Winter Wonderland at Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne)
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(Random Korean restaurant in Melbourne)
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(Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio, Melbourne)
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(SpringBrook National Park, Queensland)

Singapore Food Adventure (P.3): Jaan

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So I’ve been thinking what makes something “delicious.” A McCheeseburger is delicious. Bon Chon’s deep-fried chicken is delicious. Even the papaya salad around my neighborhood is delicious. Whatever I eat, I take pleasure in. But then once in a while I come across a restaurant that the three syllables word, “delicious,” wouldn’t simply do the food justice. A restaurant that serves dishes that makes me just want to keep eating like there’s no tomorrow. Like my stomach is just a black hole with no end.
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Jaan at Swissotel The Stamford Singapore is such restaurant. Even though I’ve heard and read countless great reviews about Chef Julien Royer’s fine cuisine, none really prepare me for what I was about to experience.

The restaurant’s interior is simple, a small room, longer than wide, with glass panels exposing the breathtaking view of Marina Bay sands. The ceiling seems to be the only prominent decoration with its green metallic geometric design. The restaurant only holds 40 diners, so reservation is highly recommended.
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Ploy and I went for lunch at Jaan on our fourth and final full day in Singapore. When we got there the door to the restaurant was still close and we were the first customers to go in. Our waiter told us we got the best seat in the house, right by the window with the panoramic view of the city landscape and harbor.

We chose to go with the five-course degustation lunch set ( 3041 B ++ ), which includes a choice of coffee or tea at the end of the course.

Okay guys. Be prepared  to witness something special, exquisite paintings on a plate, too beautiful to devour but too attractive to not to.
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We started off with a little amuse bouche that comes in between each course like a surprise gift. The first  amuse bouche comes in the form of mini appetizers-Chicken Pastillas with marsala and coriander yogurt, Black Sesame Sponge with Danish eel and Walnut Cracker with cantal cheese-on a platter along with rye crackers served with hummus dip in a jar. A perfect starter to warm up our taste buds. And just when I thought the first course would come, along came another amuse bouche, Cepes Sabayon, or what the waiter referred to as “mushroom tea.” This is no ordinary mushroom soup, first sip and I was swooned, swept off my feet, who knew mushroom soup could have such an effect?
IMG_6525IMG_6527Then along came four bread selections. I chose to go with the onion brioche, rye sour dough, and walnut and raisin bread (ate it before I realize I didn’t took a picture). Yep. Couldn’t made up my mind so I went with three. My favorite is the onion brioche. So so soft and buttery with just a tang of onion, so so good.IMG_6530Now moving on to our first course, Quail and Foie Gras Duo, which came looking so pretty and pink. To be honest, I was happy with this dish, it was good. The meat was tender and I was completely happy to be eating it. But this did not prepare me for what about to come.
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Next up was the Winter Garden, which is a mirror image of its name. When this dish was served, Ploy and I both looked at one other, confused, not knowing how to start. Winter garden looks perfectly green and well-executed. As pretty as it was, HOW DO I EAT THIS THING?

But once started, there was no turning back. I was blown away. This dish was amazing. Every bite was a new experience. The crunchiness from the hazelnut, the soft and light texture from the parsley sponge just sparked up fireworks in my mouth. No joke.
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Our second course was Confit Rainbow Trout with kagoshima pork, cauliflower and miso caramel, which came looking like an ordinary piece of salmon filet. How wrong I was. This was no ordinary salmon. Seriously as I sliced through the fish, the knife just went through, with no exertion from my part. It was a melt-in-your-mouth kinda experience. And the kagoshima pork hidden beneath the rainbow trout gave the dish an extra flavor and crunch. This was like no fish I ever had. Definitely set the standard for my subsequent experience with fishes.
IMG_6561So when it was time for our fourth course, my pants were starting to feel tighter around my waist. But who cares. I was excited and so ready for my next firework.
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Our fourth course was roasted Venison Loin, which is the finest piece of deer meat, served with celeriac, mulled wine pear, and poivrade sauce. The meat was definitely very tender and cooked to perfection. Duh. There was a hint of sweetness from the poached pear and citrus fruit that gave the meat an extra flavor. So good. So so good.
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Next came the Truffle Brie de Meaux, a.k.a truffle ice-cream. served with hazelnut crunch. Three words, eight letters. To Die For. Where can I get a quart of this? Too bad it came in such a small portion but I guess there was a reason for that. Yeah dessert(s) were up next.

Oh before dessert, we were asked if we wanted to have the special cheese plate and unsurprisingly, I said yes. Who could say no to cheese?
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Next up we were surprised yet again with another amuse bouche, this time a pre-dessert, blood orange granita and grapefruit foam. Very light and refreshing. Perfect for cleansing our palate.
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So you know how they say the ending is the most important part of every story? Well this dessert was my epic ending. There’re no exact word to describe the taste of this Choconut tart. It was the perfect blend of taste, texture, and temperature. I took a bite. It tasted great. Very rich with different textures of the best quality chocolates. I took a second bite. I could taste cold chocolate mousse in complimentary with a slight crunch from the nuts and caramel. Each bite was different. Purely magical.
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That was our last course but of course, just when we thought the meal was over, out came our final amuse bouche, the petit fours, which consisted of chocolate rosemary lollipops, soft marshmallow with raspberry jelly, and chocolate clusters, to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea. At the end, we tried to savor each and every bite as long as possible, wanting the entire experience to last. But like all good things, this too has its ending.

On a ten-point scale, I would give Jaan a 9.8. The food (as I have bragged and bragged) was that amazing. The service was great. One of the staff there was Thai and she came over to talk to us, giving us her name card for special reservation in the future. Overall, my experience at Jaan was definitely one of the best dining experience I’ve ever had. I look forward to coming back here in the future and being blown away by more of Chef Julien’s creative masterpieces.

Jaan Restaurant at Swissotel The Stamford
Lunch : 12:00 – 14:00
Sunday and public holidays: closed

Dinner:
Monday to Sunday: 19.00 – 22.00
Public holidays: closed

For Reservations:
For online reservations:
Phone: +65 6837 3322
Email: reservations@equinoxcomplex.com

Singapore Food Adventure (P.2): Rise and Shine

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Since I was in Singapore-a country most reputable for its culinary arts- I thought what better way to start the day than with a hearty one-day worth of calories meal. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. No one should feel guilty from indulging in thick slice(s) of buttery brioche even if there is extra slab(s) of butter and jam on top. One gotta live a little once in a while.

Here is to part two of my food adventure in Singapore.
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Wild Honey@Scotts Square

Following the good review from Lady iron chef, Wild Honey at Scotts Square is ranked quite high on my “what to eat in Singapore” list. With its convenient location on Orchard road, quite close to YMCA hotel where I was staying, Wild Honey is my very first impression of breakfast in Singapore. Ploy and I met up with House at the restaurant around 9:30 in the morning. We all decided to order one plate each plus an after-dessert.
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I ordered the Portobello Road, which is also a vegan dish, consisting of two of the restaurant’s signature brioche toasts with Portobello mushroom, spinach, red peppers, and two perfectly poached eggs.
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Ploy order Norwegian (I was going to order that but she beat me to it), which is two whole-wheat brioches with avocado, asparagus, two perfectly poached eggs wrapped in Norwegian smoked salmon and served with REAL GOOD hollandaise sauce.
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As for House, he went for something simple (but not really), a full English Breakfast, which makes up of (ITS SO FLUFFY) scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, potatoes and grilled tomatoes with two-very awkward looking but tasty-brioches. Haha. So much for wanting a simple breakfast. Our dessert was Brittany, which is panettone french toast with fresh baby bananas, salted caramel mascarpone, toffee’d hazelnuts & salted caramel sauce. Even though I was so full, I couldn’t help but drools at the sight of this dish. My favorite part of Brittany is the french toast with crust that is very crisp, nutty and sweet and go so well with the soft chewy center. Honestly, Wild Honey at Scotts Square really put many breakfast and brunch places in Bangkok to shame. Not only is the portion wayyyyy bigger, the meal is overall very satisfying. Even though the price is not such a bargain, it is worth it for such a cozy ambience and a decent service in Singapore.

Wild Honey@Scotts Square
Address: Scotts Rd, Singapore 228209
Phone:+65 6636 1816
Monday-Friday: 9:00–22:30
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00-22:30

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Artisan Boulangerie Co.

Have I ever mentioned that I love bread? Well in case I haven’t, I LOVE BREAD. When I was searching for the best bakery in Singapore, Artisan Boulangerie Co came up nearly on top of the list. The bakery is owned by Eran Mayer, an award winning French baker who moved to Singapore with dreams of making this country a better place with his amazing quiches and croissants.
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Scanning the array of options on display, I decided to order my favorite pastry, which is the almond croissant. I loved it ( as well as the quiche, the chocolate chip twist, and I’m sure if I try more of his baked goods, I’ll be in love with them too.) Ploy ordered Salmon with dill and cream cheese, which took forever to arrive but the waitress made up for it by giving us a complementary pastry of our choice! We chose to go with the salmon quiche but regretted it after because it ended up tasting so good (we had to kinda finish the whole thing and skip lunch.) So if you’re ever around the neighborhood (or not), stop by Artisan Boulangerie Co, trust me you won’t regret it.

Artisan Boulangerie Co.
01-01, 118 Killiney Road
Singapore 239555
Phone: +65 6444 8130
Daily: 8:oo-22:00

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Kith Café

For my third day in Singapore, I made a reservation for lunch at Jaan at Swissotel, which was what I was looking forward to for the whole trip (more about this later). So for breakfast, Ploy and I wanted to go for something a little lighter. I decided to look up small cafes around our hotel and Kith Café came up with really positive reviews.
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Kith café is really small but cozy with an outdoor patio. I was really tempted by the sweet treats shown on the counter but resisted the temptation and ordered Beetroot, carrots and green apple juice with chia seed, which was very refreshing.Ploy ordered a cup of hot mocha, which was good cuppa coffe. I really like Kith Café. I can imagine myself having a late breakfast here or spending my free afternoon on the patio just watching cars go by..

Kith Cafe
Address: 7 Rodyk St #01-28, Singapore 238215
Phone:+65 6341 9407
Daily: 7:00-19:00

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Tiong Bahru Bakery@Tangs Orchard

Yeah so it was our last day and we just had a very full dim sum lunch but we still managed to order five different pastries from Tiong Bahru Bakery. Yep. Five. Oh and we also ordered coffee too, just to complete the experience. That’s totally normal right? By the way that was a rhetorical question.
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I ordered chocolate lava, almond brioche and chocolate almond croissant, which was a must since it was the last piece left on display. Ploy ordered a slice of teacake and a giant financier. One advice I can give you is to not take the staff’s recommendation. Go with whatever your guts is telling you to order. This is to avoid the situation in which you found yourself asking the question why the hell did I ordered this?! The chocolate lava is nothing extraordinary. It wasn’t even ordinary. When cut, the cake lacks the gooey, rich, chocolate sauce flooding out from the center.
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The tea cake is alright but doesn’t taste or smell like tea, more like a good banana bread. What we love (I love) is the financier, almond brioche and chocolate almond croissant. I don’t know if almonds has to do with why these pastries tasted so good but I’ll accept that as a logical explanation (financier is a French cake made out mainly of almond meal).

Tiong Bahru Bakery@ Tangs Orchard
310 Orchard Road,Tangs Orchard L1-16B, Singapore 238864
Phone: +65 6735 3787
Monday-Thursday, Saturday&Sunday: 8:00-22:00
Friday: 8:00-23:00

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Singapore Food Adventure (P.1): All About Dim Sum

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So I finally got around to rearranging my photos from Singapore. The trip that is wholly dedicated to the satisfaction of the stomach and one that I had the pleasure of going on with a few of my favorite people, Ploy, House, and his friend, Wen. I took tons of pictures on this trip (probably more than 1,000) but because of everyone’s hunger and minimal patience, most of the shots I took may show the food as less mouthwatering than it actually is. I guess you just have to take my word for it when I say that the dish is OH SO GOOD or FANTASTIC even with not much evidence.
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Last time I told someone about my five days, fours nights trip to Singapore, I was told about how much I’ll get bored after three days and how there isn’t really much to do in Singapore except the extravagant shopping on Orchard road. NOT TRUE (true for the extravagant shopping part, how can there be so many mega malls on one street?!). Five days are simply not enough to fully explore this gastronomic city. Sure if you’re only interested on shopping and going on rides at Universal Studio I say two days are plenty. BUT. If you are a foodie and looking to go completely guilt-free on an oversea trip with good friends, spare yourself a good 5-6 days. Singapore may be a small island but its food scene is anything but. Last time I googled “What to eat in Singapore’s Maxwell Food Center,” I was advised to go try out any stalls because everything is just downright delicious (a bad stall wouldn’t last long and would go out of business). My only advice is not to expect smiles and hospitality from Singaporeans.  You might have a whole different experience with them, but as far as I know, friendly is not the word to describe my experience.

So here is the first part of my food adventure in Singapore.

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Yan Ting
Even before landing, I knew that I wanted to have dim sum for my first lunch in Singapore. But with so many places with good reviews, it’s hard to settle on just one. Yan Ting Restaurant at St. Regis was seriously one of the best meals I’ve had throughout my whole trip. House and Wen were already in Singapore for a couple of days and weren’t joining us for lunch. Instead, Wen insisted that Ploy and I come to Yan Ting for a dim sum lunch and recommended ordering the roasted pork (top picture), an advice that we gratefully took with no regrets.
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We also ordered the black truffle shumai, steamed salted egg yolk buns, broccoli with crabmeat and xiao long bao. Apart from what we ordered, the waiter also served us pickled eggplant to start, which we thought was a pumpkin. Don’t you think it looks like a pumpkin? So everything I tasted was exceptionally good but the roasted pork and black truffle shumai was by far my favorites. The crisp skin of the pork and its soft under layer gradually melted in my mouth and the black truffle shumai was just loaded with so much shrimp giving each bite a soft springy bounce. Oh and in case you’re wondering, the steamed salted egg yolk buns tasted as good as it is picture perfect.
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Tim Ho Wan
On our last day in Singapore, Ploy and I came to Tim Ho Wan-the world’s cheapest Michelin stared restaurant-for brunch, praying that by the time we got there the queue would magically disappear and we would stride in and enjoy our meal without the long wait. How naïve we were. Judging from the number of people queuing up, we were in for at least a 30 minutes wait. BUT. Luck was definitely on our side. Since we were a party of two, we got to cut queue and waited for only 10 minutes! Yay!
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We ordered three of the Big 4 Heavenly Kings, which are the signature dishes at the restaurant: the steamed egg cake, baked bun with BBQ pork, and pan-fried carrot cake. We also ordered the prawn dumpling, bean curd skin roll with pork and shrimp, dumpling teochew style, vermicelli roll with shrimp, and vermicelli roll with beef. Yup. All that for just two girls with VERY big appetite.
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All the dumplings, rolls and the pan-fried carrot cake were good but not a WOW factor. However, two of the Big 4 Heavenly Kings certainly live up to its name. At first I was skeptical about the steamed egg cake, looking at the picture, the cake looks…to be honest like an ordinary sponge cake. But when I bit into this cake, it was clear why it’s crowned as one of the heroes at the restaurant. The cake was extremely light and fluffy in texture. There was a tiny hint of brown sugar, which I love. Definitely one of my favorite items on the menu. Now the baked bun with BBQ pork is another story. I’ve heard so much about this baked buns that I made a priority to try it before I leave. One of the greatest decisions I’ve made, YET! The bun has a crisp outer texture with soft sweet BBQ pork filling that is simply to die for. I love love love this bun. Did I say I love this bun? I love it. I would definitely go back to Singapore for another taste of this delicious BBQ pork bun.
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Yan Ting
29 Tanglin Rd, Singapore 247911
Tel:+65 6506 6866
Mon – Sun : 12:oo – 14:30, 18:30 – 22:30

Tim Ho Wan
01-29A/52, Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road
Tel: +65 62512000
Mon – Fri: 10:00 – 22:00
Sat, Sun & Public Holidays: 09:00 – 22:00

Road Trip (P.2): Kaeng Krachan National Park + Chailay Seafood Restaurant at Cha-am

IMG_6893Happy New Year folks and Happy Birthday to me. Yup I’m finally 20 and legal. Can’t believe I’m hitting the big 2 0. This holiday has been amazing. Bangkok has been surprisingly cooler than past winter and for longer too! It was definitely one of the rare holiday treats for any of us, Bangkokians, who are used to the hot and humid climate that marks the beauty of this city. Finally I get to dig out my wool sweater and actually go all out with the fall/winter fashion without feeling the funny glares and raised eyebrows from passerby. Another thing I love about December/January is that my whole family gets to spend the longest time together. I love waking up in the morning knowing that they are downstairs having breakfast or watching T.V and that the house is filled with the warm smell of coffee and with whatever I’m having for breakfast. It’s the best feeling to wake up to. Don’t you agree?IMG_6890Now for part two of my family road trip I’m taking you guys up hill to Kaeng Krachan national park, which stretches from the area of Petchburi province to Prachuap Khiri Khan province, and is currently the largest national park in Thailand. The park is approximately 2,914.70km and is also now being considered as one of UNESCO heritage site. In case you’re wondering how I happen to know all this. Many thanks to the contributors of Wikipedia.com.

I fell asleep the whole drive up to the sightseeing point. When we’ve arrived I’ve noticed that this place is not yet as crowded as many of the other tourist attractions. Yes there are a few tour buses parked along the narrow street, but compared to the Emerald temple in Bangkok or the Jomtien Beach, Kaeng Krachan still seems to be under the tourist’s radar. It seems like you can also do some bird watching around this area since it seems to be the home of many rare species of birds not found anywhere else in Thailand. But for my family trip (with a less adventurous crowd), a couple of snapshots and we were out of there.
IMG_6898Our final stop is at Cha-am beach where we (or rather I) were on our (or my) search for the freshest seafood. As we drove along the Cha-am beach, there were so many seafood restaurants with signs claiming to be the best. But having read so many diverse reviews-both good and bad-about places around the area, I had my doubts. So with the satiation of eight hungry fellow travelers (my parents, grandparents, two of my house maids, the driver and myself) resting upon my shoulders, I felt its my duty to give them not only a full stomach but the satisfaction to their taste buds. In the end I came upon one restaurant on the internet, which offers not only good ambience but the freshest fish, shrimp, and crab as well.
IMG_6944IMG_6948Chailay Seafood Restaurant is not situated at the most accessible location. From the road that runs alongside Cha-am beach, head straight towards Wat Neranchararama, do not enter the temple, keep going straight. You will see so many small seafood restaurants at both sides of the road, but keep going straight until the end of the street. There will be a narrower road and keep going straight until you reach an intersection, turn right and keep going straight and there you will see the restaurant sign “Chailay Seafood (ชายเล ซีฟู้ด)”.
IMG_6903IMG_6906The reviews were right, Chailay Seafood restaurant does have a great view of the beach and the many colorful fisherman boats moored to the dock. It was quite sunny when we arrived, perfect for a tanning session, which was obvious from the many tables of foreigners in their bathing suits, clearly enjoying their meal as well as their rays of sunshine.
IMG_6909IMG_6914We got a table beneath the shades but close enough to bask in the amazing view of the seaside. First, my dad ordered the crabmeat fried rice. Personally I think the cook was being stingy with the crab but made up for it with the rice, which was fragrant and well-cooked. If it weren’t for the scant amount of crab, this fried rice could have been my favorite dish. Next came the stir-fried shrimp and asparagus, the shrimp is big, meaty and very delicious!
IMG_6917IMG_6927One of my favorite dishes is the Thai green papaya salad with horse crab, which has the perfect combination of salty, sweet, sour and a tinge of spiciness. To me, this is a damn good papaya salad. We also ordered the fried oyster omelet. I’ve never before have eaten a bad oyster omelet. This oyster omelet is not bad, but isn’t exactly the best. It’s just that, again, the cook is not being generous with the amount of oyster given. Still, the dish is fried and served with a spicy sauce, so we did finish the whole thing.
IMG_6935 IMG_6931Next came the Thai shrimp cakes, which was my dad favorite out of all the dishes. I’ve had better shrimp cakes with crispy outer texture yet firm and soft shrimp on the inside. Chailay Seafood’s shrimp cake is big, crispy but lacks the firmness and tenderness that a good shrimp cake should have. We also order tom yum sea bass, which is very spicy! So if you’re not such a fan of chili, stay clear from this dish. For me I love it! I love the tenderness of the fish and the spicy yet sweet and sour taste of the tom yum soup. The last and final dish of the day is steamed Rainbow fish with soy sauce and assorted mushrooms. I practically ate half of the fish so I’ll let you be the judge of whether I like it or not :P
IMG_6940Overall, if anyone is ever in Cha-am, I would recommend coming to Chailay Seafood restaurant. Sure it may not be the trendiest place that serves the most delicious seafood in town, but I would go there just for the ambience. You can enjoy cracking crab shells and savoring its sweet meat while breathing in the serene backdrop of the ocean. How awesome is that? After all, not many of us go to the beach for a Michelin star quality meal, right?

Road Trip 2013 (P.1): Meklong Market

IMG_6767Hello! I’m so literally sugar high right now. I just got back from a one day road trip with my family to Cha-Am (ชะอำ) beach and it was so awesome. At first I was kind of dreading this trip since I just got back from Singapore a day ago (will blog about this soon!) and was exhausted from all the eating and the walking. But if I stayed home I would really have missed out because in the end today turns out to be a day well spent. I always thought taking a road trip would make a great end to the year. But this road trip is even better than what I had in mind, a journey accompanied by seafood, local confectionaries and the beach is my 2013 grandest finale.
IMG_6795IMG_6772This year, just like last year, my parents would take my grandparents  and I on a short trip as a new year’s treat. They thought it would be a good change from staying at the house and being so intensely occupied with the ongoing political riots in Bangkok. So my parents rented a van, woke up super early, packed tuna sandwiches and roll(s) of toilet paper before leaving the house at 6:15 am. But since I’m such an early riser myself, I wasn’t so affected or bummed out by the early schedule. Besides I had the whole backseat to myself and practically turned it into a temporary day bed.
IMG_6805IMG_6809The final destination of this trip is Cha-Am (ชะอำ) beach but we made occasional stops along the way to check out notable local markets and do some sightseeing. The first stop is Meklong market (ตลาดร่มหุบ). At first glance, the market appears to be just like any ordinary fresh market. It wasn’t long before I realize that this narrow alley of shops is located on an operating railway. Crazy right? So what does these shopkeepers do when a train approach. It turns out that the farmers and shopkeepers know the train’s timetable by heart and would scurried away before hearing the sounds of the approaching engine. Hahaha imagine what a thrill it must be to have to face this kind of anticipation for a living.
IMG_6832The market includes the long alley that makes up the railway as well as a larger enclosed space, which specifically sells fresh seafood from river prawns, crab to fishes half the size of my body and I’m telling you it isn’t small. The market is not for all kinds of tourist. The fishy aroma and the deep puddles on the floor make it less than ideal for those who prefer to encounter food served on beautiful silverware, cooked and ready to indulge. As for those who wanted to get more hands on with food, especially fresh seafood, and doesn’t mind getting down and dirty, Meklong market is definitely worth checking out. My dad, mum, and grandma seemed to be enjoying themselves, stopping by most of the stores, skipping only one or two, and bargaining prices with the shopkeepers. I think they bought more than half of the variety of the seafood there. Let’s just say I’ll be spending the first few weeks of 2014 eating nothing but crab omelets and shrimp fried rice.IMG_6766IMG_6878IMG_6880

Meklong market is also packed with so many Thai confectionaries. This is the part where I go around wide eyed and practically hopping from one stall to the next. The first sweets I tasted at the market is black sticky rice with sungakaya, which is egg custard, wrapped in banana leaf (ข้าวเหนียวสังขยา). The taste is not out of this world good but is still a pleasure to eat nevertheless. The next sweet wasn’t photographed since it was gone so fast that I felt guilty asking my dad for his half-eaten share. It was a sugar palm cake (ขนมตาล), which is yellow in color. According to my grandmother, sugar palm cake can be commonly found in Bangkok but it’s rare to find ones that are truly made of palm sugar. The one I tasted at the market is made out of pure palm sugar, it was mildly sweet and frgrant, SO GOOD. I also bought the sweetened taro (เผือกเชื่อม), which is one of my favorite post-meal dessert. I like to fool myself into thinking that taro is a kind of plant and so it must have some kind of health benefits, making it good for me. If you have read my previous blog, you’ll know that I do these kinds of self-reassurances A LOT. So bear with me. The last sweet treat that I tried at the market (notice how I specifically said market and not the entire trip J) is known as kralan or kao lam (ข้าวหลาม), which according to Wikipedia is consisted of sticky rice, red beans, coconut and coconut milk molded into a bamboo stick. Again, the taste didn’t make me go wide eyed but still it’s hard to go wrong with all my favorite components of sticky rice, red bean and coconut in one dessert.
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Having sampled so much sweets, I’ve learnt one important lesson today: never enthusiastically point out every tasty looking stalls to grandma. She’ll eventually buy me the whole market if I do. Next time if I ever do go food shopping with granny, I’ll learn to keep calm and hold back my excitement.

Meklong Market
Kasem Sukhum Rd, Mae Klong, Mueang Samut Songkhram, Samut Songkhram

The best carrot cake !

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Carrots? I don’t really have the fondest memories with carrots. They are not my favorite thing to eat. When I was younger I wondered what are carrots anyway? They are obviously not green so I never classified them as vegetables. I doubted that they’re fruits since they’re all that sweet or luscious. But since my parents always went on and on about how carrots are good for me, I always ended up eating them. Gosh, the ambiguity. And then there is carrot cake. Why would anyone put this funny tasting thing into a cake? Whatever carrot was, putting them in a cake was illogical.

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But like every other things that change, so too my love for carrot cake. It all started when I first tasted my aunt’s carrot cake. It was a 3 layers cake smothered with tier of rich cream cheese frosting. I take back all the evil things I said about carrot cake. I love everything about my aunt’s cake, especially the wholesome texture. The cream cheese frosting? Genius. I can have this cake for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I keep telling myself that all that sugar is nothing compared to the ratio of carrots in cake. Since carrots are packed with lots of vitamins A, I guess I don’t have to feel guilty about helping myself to a second slice. But yeah I’m no longer five so who am I kidding.
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This carrot cake that I’m about to share with you is adapted from Dorie’s Big Bill carrot cake.. This is seriously my favorite recipe EVER. It’s wholesome and not too sweet with a tinge of lemon, everything I love in a cake. Feel free to substitute different fruits or nuts to your liking but this variation so far is my favorite. I made 24 cupcakes with this recipe and it was gone by the next day.
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Carrot cupcakes with tangy lemon cream cheese frosting
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Big Bill carrot cake.)

This cake is best enjoy the day it’s made and is good for any time of day.

Make 24 cupcakes

Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted with a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup moist, plump raisins
½ cup candied orange peel
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

Lemon cream cheese frosting
85g Unsalted butter
113g Cream cheese
1 1/2 cup Confectioner sugar, sifted
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 lemon zest

To make the cake
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with paper cups.

2. In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped walnuts, coconut, raisins, and candied orange peel.

3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

4. Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway thgough, and bake until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and unmold them.

5. The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the lemon cream cheese frosting
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy

2. Add in cream cheese and beat until well combine.

3. Beat in sugar, lemon juice and zest.4.Refridgerate cream cheese for 15-30 minutes. Now frost your cupcakes and enjoy!

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