Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Of Portobello Market and Permutation

Working life is miles different from being a student. Somehow part of me is really glad to move on and do something different instead of studying, yet there are perks of being a student in a beautiful place like Cambridge (except the silly workload). There are endless activities to get involved in, I definitely do miss the cookouts, formals, and the proximity of everything/friends whilst belonging in a quaint university town.

Working is not all bad either, you get to switch off after working, take a break/chill out, and finally make things happen and execute deals. But its a different ball game in a way that your colleagues are not really your real/close friends, so that takes time to get used to, although having fun/nice people to work with is one of the biggest plus point that'll probably make you hate/love your job :)

Anyways, you all probably know my fascination with markets whether its pasar pagi (morning markets) in Malaysia, or Christmas ones in Germany. All is good and I love it when people congregate in one place and display whatever random things they'd like to interest people to buy. I've been to Portobello Market (near Nottinghill Gate tube station) before, but it's nice to take a stroll in it on a Saturday as it has the widest array of stalls that day, despite being a bit too touristy.

I'd like to highlight this stall I spotted, unfortunately, after I had my lunch. Probably spotted it more through my nose that sight, but it has the most amazing looking/smelling Paella! The pan was lifesize too, and pretty good value for money too for the generous portions ...

Here's a close up of the Seafood Paella, I suspect that will trigger a Paella cooking session again pretty soon!

Meanwhile, I haven't forgot to cook, my dear readers :P Life's a bit too hectic at the moment settling down with so many changes and transition, but yeap, I haven't forgot about cooking for sure. This is what I conjured up in my kitchen, first cooked meal in the flat I must say. This is the time where you open your fridge and see what you've got, do some simple permutation and see what you can come up with.

So in my fridge I had some minced pork, chopped vegetables, eggs, noodles, garlic, soy sauce, chili sauce. Hence its fried noodles with those things, predictable. First, fried the chopped garlic, whilst boiling some water in a saucepan for the noodles. Then add the minced pork and fry till half cooked. The vegetables can be added then. By this time, the noodles should have been soft, drained, and add these to the wok. Finally, season with soy sauce to taste, then add the egg in the middle of the wok and let it set a little before scrambling it up with the noodles. The extra thing I added was a dash of sesame oil for a smoother, silkier taste, and of course a naughty scoop of chili to spice things up a little. Turns out pretty good, reminds me how long (2 months!) since I ate home cooked food :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

140 Park Lane Restaurant

This is my first proper eating out experience in London after coming back from NYC training. Definitely something worth celebrating for :) Hence we went to this restaurant near Hyde Park Corner tube station, called 140 Park Lane Restaurant. Although a little quiet at this time of the year, the food and ambiance definitely made up for it.

The online menu has recently been changed, so I guess I have to use a bit of my imagination to explain what we had, though not in the most euphemistic of words! Starter was Rabbit Timbales & Sun Dried Tomato in Pesto Dressing with Toasted Brioche. Timbales is something like a mold, generally high-sided, drum-shaped and slightly tapered at the bottom and closed end, used to bake various dishes. This is a cold dish, with lightly seasoned rabbit meat, egg, cucumber and held together in a gelatine/jelly like mixture. Just imagine these ingredients being rolled nicely in a swiss roll shape and cut into an oval cross section :) Accompanied with the warm and lightly buttered brioche, this dish was a brilliant mixture of richness in the pastry and simplicity in the timbales. Lip smacking stuff! But there is more to come...

P had Grilled Cod Fish with Crabmeat Mash and tomatoes, the sauce, which I seem to have forget, how utterly embarrassing. Love how they place the parsley as decoration on top, though I do love parsleys with steam fish Cantonese style. Thumbs up from him for this dish.

Finally, I ordered Chargrilled Seabass with rocket salad in dressing and Deep Fried Quails Egg. I suppose you can say its a cholesterol disaster, but the egg was done beautiful with the yolk half cooked and melts in your mouth. The Seabass had crispy skin and wasn't overly flake-y, perfect cooking timing, complementing the salad well :)

Definitely a dinner to remember ...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Your M&M's dream come true

Personally, I was never much of a fan of M&Ms even though I do like things with peanuts and chocolate, much prefer Asian types of desserts like mochi or festive kuih's (cakes/snacks).

Then again, when you see billboards in Time Square like these, how can you resist? This is definitely one of the largest M&M stores I've been, and definitely a must see. I literally stood there for a minute to watch the colorful M&Ms advert board snapping photos of it in broad daylight. What a tourist :P

And you know you're in NYC when you see this! That's one hell of a sexy version of the statue of liberty :PAnd this is the world's biggest wall of M&M collection, of any color and versions. I've seen white and dark chocolate ones, and even ones with almond and hazelnuts. I was oblivious to other merchandises at the store given this huge array of variety to choose from.

They even have M&M country packs too, with them packaged nicely according to country colors in a nice gift set. Maybe a good idea for rugby/football matches ...

But the only thing that brought down my defense and made me succumb to this M&M mania is this Shrek mix, i.e. 'Ogre sized peanut M&Ms'. Man, that was a great snack before trotting off to watch Bourne Ultimatum :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Inner Child In You

Being in NY for a few days kind of dries up your desire for any more fashion sightseeing. Strange you might think, but walking pass so many Ralph Laurens, Abercrombies, Coach and even Zaras, I think I'd seen enough of clothing range to be able to write a 8,367 word essay consisting purely of clothing brands in NY.

Hence, it's time for something new guys :) It's time to feel what's it like to be a kid in NYC, hehe. Definitely a more refreshing perspective after doing too many window shopping in shops that things you admire but know will never buy :D

So what do kids in NYC do? First thought was to visit toy shops, and here is one smack right next to the Apple Store, which we'll come to later. This is FAO Schwartz, a posh looking toy store for kids and serious toy collectors. It has every single popular toy imaginable ... e.g. soft toys of all sizes,

toys for those musically inclined, like this life size key board where kids hop about to the sound of music ...
to Barbie fans ....
Lego mania ...
and some Potter magic! These are life size figures built from Lego sets, pretty neat yea?

Apple Store was next. Definitely a hip and cool place to visit. Apparently the Apple Store is opened 24/7. It's a basement floor building, but I was keen to check out the iPods and of course, the iPhone! Pity I didn't take any photos downstairs, but iPhone is one pretty impressive gadget I must say. The only down side I see is that it's quite difficult to type , and also it's rather ergonomic shape makes it a rather slippery phone to have. Cool but not practical, to me at least.
Another picture of Time Square at night! There's nothing in this world like that place, comes alive at night time with those multicolored bright electronic boards full with adverts, feels like Hong Kong in some ways ...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Back on 5th Ave!

So, I finally passed all my exams yesterday! Woohoo, my life is back (for the moment), before I start work on Wednesday, hehe :)

It's back to the New York story, this time along 5th Ave in continuation of the (mostly window) shopping spree...

Here's the large Disney store along the street, filled with every imaginable kind of stuffed toys you want, yes, there's Mr Donald and Shrek in there too. It's about time I started growing up and out of these, :P
Any of you a 'The Apprentice' fan? Here's the exterior of Mr Trump's Tower. Had lunch inside too on the last day before I left. Definitely an air of sophistication which somehow leaves you in awe as you see the display of jewelry and other merchandises. Music at the bar was great too (it was Frank Sinatra's and other musical-y songs, suits a Sunday brunch for me!), though food wise wasn't that impressive, so let's not waste too much time on that...

More importantly, I managed to meet up with a good pal HH, who is working in Tokyo now, was there was training at the same time too! Yes, Japan! It was cool catching up with him in Little Tokyo, keeping each other updated of what has happened so far in the past 1-2 years since he left uni, and of course, life and work in the land of the samurais.

Dinner in Little Tokyo was even better! The place was near Aston Place on the green line, where Little Tokyo is situated. Humiliatingly, my Japanese reading skills has deteriorated that I can't read the name on the sign board as it's only written in Japanese. Nevertheless, that and the presence of many locals eating there is definitely a positive indication :)

And we were spot on! Can you believe this big mug of Asahi/Japanese beer just costs $3? HH was definitely a happy man munching and drinking away, haha

I had my first try of Oden, which according to Wikipedia, is a "winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs. daikon radish, konnyaku and processed fish cakes stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth." The yellow condiment you see by the side of the bowl is Karashi (Japanese mustard).

To me, that's the Japanese version of 'Yong Tau Foo', a common Malaysian dish consisting of various fish cakes or vegetables/tofu stuffed with fish cakes, boiled fish paste dumplings etc, in a flavorful broth. I loved the Japanese version too! It's the ultimate comfort food

And we had few other dishes too! The glutton in us resurfaced especially since everything was relatively cheap in US dollars, effectively 50% off compared to London! Stir fried yakisoba was good as well, not too oily or salty. The beer definitely made me regret stuffing myself silly, happens after the weeks of deprivation of Asian food :S

It was a friend Sasha's birthday a few days later too! Visited the Grand Central Terminal, a majestic looking subway station, which looks best at night with the beautiful chandeliers lighting the large hall, with many restaurants and shops in it too. Amongst them is the ever famous 'Oyster Bar', and (duh) as the name suggest, seemed famous for their seafood and oyster selection. We decided to go upper class, celebrating her birthday with a glass of champagne with a couple of fresh oysters.

Geez, you must be thinking, but its fun acting like a posh snob sometimes! What's life without a bit of fun and giving yourself a little treat?