Sunday, June 17, 2012

Yangmei


Yangmei (杨梅), sometimes also called Yang Mei Berry, Chinese Bayberry or Waxberry, is not a fruit frequently available in Singapore.

This is an interesting fruit the size of a large cherry with a knobbly surface. The surface of the fruit is a deep red, almost purple. The flesh color is similar to surface color but somewhat lighter. The flesh is tart but sweet, with a single seed in the centre of the fruit.

I first came across Yangmei as a child, when my late grandfather brought home some fresh and dried ones from China. I was initially put off by the fruit, because Grandfather said it was prone to have worms and needed to be washed properly, with salt water.

But then Grandfather said they was delicious and gave me some to try. I remember they were pretty good!

After that time, the next time I had Yangmei was when I was living in Beijing. These were usually available in summer, and not for very long periods of time. Yangmei has a short shelf life just like raspberries, and has a very short growing period of just 2-3 weeks.

The Husband and I came across Yangmei quite by accident on Saturday and decided to buy a box home.

I wished we brought home a few more boxes.

These are the best Yangmei I've ever eaten - fleshy, juicy, tangy yet very very sweet.

Yangmei is a really healthy fruit - loaded with vitamin C and high in antioxidants. Do give them a try if you come across them!



Fresh on the tree. Photo from here

How Yangmei looks like on the inside. Photo from here

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Waffletown at Balmoral Plaza

I am a little crazy about waffles.

There's just something about the little squares and maple syrup that attracts me to it. And of course the ice-cream.

So when we drove by this place called Waffletown, I asked The Husband if we could turned back to have lunch at this place.

Waffletown is a small cafe at Balmoral Plaza along Bukit Timah road. I think it must have been around for a long time now, since a friend of mine said she has been there since she was a student. It's a very simple cafe - more like a school canteen with aircon really. The place sells fast food, local style. Items on the menu included the usual western food choices like burgers, fish and chips, fried chicken.. and more local choices like chicken chop with rice and chilli fish with rice.

We ordered the Fried Chicken and Sambal Chilli Fish. Both were pretty good. Many other bloggers raved about the fried chicken but I thought it was just alright. It wasn't bad - crispy and piping hot as any decent fried chicken should be, but not fantastic. (Well, I supposed they could serve it cold like 4 Fingers and so maybe deserves a little more than "just alright..)

The Sambal Chilli Fish with rice and coleslaw seemed like an odd combination but it was surprisingly good. The dory fish fillet was nice and tender and the sambal chilli was fiery enough to sting just a little. The rice had a bit of butter that made it slightly more fragrant and the coleslaw helped neutralized the spiciness from the chilli.

The highlight for me was the waffles. I opted for the plain waffle with ice-cream. The ice-cream is your basic, run of the mill Magnolia ice-cream but the waffles were crispy and yet slightly fluffy. It's probably the closest to A&W waffles I've tasted so far in Singapore.

I would probably visit this place a lot more if it were nearer my home. Sadly, it is a bit out of the way for me and there isn't much nearby for me to travel all the way for chilli fish and waffles..


Waffletown
271 Bukit Timah Road
#01-02 Balmoral Plaza
Tel: +65 6836 6536

Ragusa and Nutella

I have been feeling rather tired of late - work has been really hectic and I haven't been sleeping too well. That's why I'm up at 5+am on a Saturday morning!

Well, since I can't sleep, I might as well turn my attention to my neglected blog. I have been reading Ting's posts on her latest trip to Italy recently and one of her posts on this place called Ragusa reminded me about this chocolate bar The Husband picked up for me in Switzerland.

Trying out photo effects with Picasa

Yep, this chocolate is also called Ragusa and I LOVE it!

Ragusa Noir is the dark chocolate version and boy.. it is so delicious! It is not some fancy chocolate that you get from a high street chocolatier. Nope, you can buy Ragusa from almost any supermarket or convenience stores in Switzerland. I wished I ate it whilst I was in Switzerland because then, I would have brought home a luggage bag full of it. Sadly, I only ate it when I came back home and now, I'm waiting for the next time some Swiss colleagues come to Singapore, so I can beg them to buy me a luggage full of it.

Hmph.

Now, I have to describe the taste so you can understand why I like it so much. It's a soft chocolate bar with bits of hazelnut in it. Taste-wise, think of Nutella, the yummy breakfast spread, only in a soft chocolate bar form and less sweet but more chocolatey. Or think of the soft centre of Ferrero Rocher, slightly harder, darker and with nice crunchy hazelnut in it.

Yums.

I haven't been that crazy about a chocolate bar for a long time. I feel like a kid peeling away the tin foil wrapping the soft chocolate bar as I ate this. It really put a smile on my face afterwards and that's a lot for a tiny, inexpensive bit of chocolate.

Speaking of being a kid. Another interesting snack I had recently was from Italy. My parents went to Italy for a holiday recently and came home with a pack of this for me. I felt like I was 10 again. This Nutella snack is very interesting. It comes with some finger biscuits and a Nutella dip for the biscuits, as well as a drink (I think it's lemon tea). All in this compact little container.


Another interesting snack that put a smile to my face. In this case, almost a grin.

Sometimes, small things like these can really brighten up one's day.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Orange Thimble

Taken with Instagram

It's always tough deciding where to go for Sunday brunch after church with my cell group friends.

One Sunday last month, we decided to visit Orange Thimble at Tiong Bahru. I like Tiong Bahru - there are lots of interesting cafes and shops and the market is great.. But parking is horrendous.

As usual, it took us a while to get a parking lot. By then, even though we've made a reservation at Orange Thimble, we ended up sitting at the semi-outdoor area right at the back which had no air conditioning... Oddly enough, the cafe seems to have very few tables.. though quite a number of chairs.


I liked the overall set up of the cafe in front - the decor and sitting is pretty cozy. The big bottle of sugar biscuits invoked lots of childhood memories. These are my favourite biscuits when I was young. The semi-outdoor area is a little stuffy for me, even though they had a fan there.

The food is good. I shared the English breakfast with the husband, whcih came with eggs, sausages, bacon, sauteed mushroom, roasted tomatoes with toast for $11.50. The croissant (ordered separately) was impressive. It's surprisingly good for a cafe that does not seem to bake its own bread.. I like it even better than some of the croissants at specialty baking stores. I wanted to compare it with the new Tiong Bahru Bakery that is just next door.. but the long queues at that bakery was too much for me..


This is a nice place for a Sunday brunch.. It's also nice to wander around the area after brunch. Go earlier to grab parking spaces though.

Flea and Trees, an interesting shop nearby selling vintage clothes, 
jewellery and other knick knacks like utensils and books..

Orange Thimble
Blk 56, 01-68
Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru
Tel: +65 223 8068

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spring blooms

It was spring when we were in Switzerland and the flowers were really blooming everywhere.

Here are some pictures to brighten up your day. Have a happy Wednesday!

Cheery tulips

Love the deep yellow..

More exquisite than any dress

A very nice purple

I thought these are bluebells but the colour is dark purple, almost black

Similar colour, but a tulip instead..

Pretty flowers by the road

These look like butterflies to me

View of Lake Geneva on a cloudy day

View of Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps from Weggis

I love tulips - these red ones are lovely!

Don't know what these are but these are beautiful flowers along a random road!

More beautiful flowers by the road..

These were growing indoors at Hotel Hermitage

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jungfrajoch - Top of Europe


The Jungfraujoch railway station, which at an elevation of 3,454 meters (11,332 ft) is the highest railway station in Europe. It is often called the "Top of Europe" in tourist literature.

The Husband and I were keen to go up the Jungfrajoch but our plans were thwarted by poor weather. We stayed at Interlaken for 2 nights and the plan was to take the train up to Jungfrajoch on the first day, and then travel around Interlaken on the second.

Strong winds on Day 1 meant that the trains weren't running. We ended up spending Day 1 at Interlaken and Thun. On Day 2, we were told that the trains were only running up to Wengen, a village part of the Jungfrauregion, located at 1274m above sea level.

Since we didn't have any other plans, we decided to visit Wengen. It is a small, supposedly car free village alpine village and after a short walk round the village, we heard that the trains were running again up to Jungfrajoch.



The weather wasn't too good that day, so although we heard that it is a waste to pay for the (rather overpriced) tickets up to Jungfrajoch because there isn't much to see, we went ahead anyway.

It started snowing lightly as the train climbed up the mountains. The train was packed full of tourists who like us, refused to let the weather thwart their travel plans.

 The tickets were 129 CHF each, even though we had the Swiss Pass

Well, it turned out that we didn't get to see very much indeed - all snow and clouds that day but being from Singapore and Hong Kong, The Husband and I did have a very fun (and freezing) day at the Jungfrajoch train station, roaming around the ice palace and squeezing it out with the hundreds of other tourists. Supposedly with perfect weather conditions, one can see the Aletsch Glacier, the longest ice stream in the Alps clearly and even views stretching as far as France, Germany and Italy.

Views on the way up..

The things you can do at Jungfrajoch - ice palace, viewing points, etc

The ice palace was fun - I was just very afraid of slipping and falling, 
so I held on to the railings like a koala

Nothing much to see outdoors but it was fun because 
it was snowing and FREEZING...

We came down from the Jungfrajoch station via a different route, stopping by another alphine village, Grindelwald for a very late lunch. By then, both The Husband and I were starving so all I really did remember of Grindelwald was the tortilla that I had.

The very yummy tortillas

If you have had an opportunity to visit Jungfrajoch in good weather, do share your photos with me!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Lucerne and Hotel Hermitage

Probably the most famous landmark - Tower Bridge and the octagonal tower

View of Lucerne city from the old city wall

Lucerne was the first city we visited after Zurich.

It is a beautiful city, obviously very popular with tourists as well from the throngs of tourists swamping this place.

We took a boat ride on Lake Lucerne, also called the "Lake of the Four Cantons". A round trip would take something like 6 hours, so we opted to just take a relatively short route - to a small holiday resort called Weggis, where we had lunch and then went back into town.

Photos take from the boat ride

I like all the houses and buildings we saw along the way.. 

 Weggis has a beautiful view of the snow topped mountains

Taken at the beautiful resort town of Weggis

Lucerne city itself has 2 other famous sites -  Chapel Bridge with Water Tower and Bertel Thorvaldsen's famous carving of a dying lion. The bridge and tower is probably one of the most famous landmark of Lucerne, if not of Switzerland.

The weather was beautiful when we were there - it was also Saturday and apparently, Saturday is also market day, so we had a nice time strolling around, admiring the beautiful flowers and other sites of the market.

A stroll by the bridge

Market day!

I liked the Lion Monument a lot - I thought the lion really looked very sad, as it probably should since it was to commemorates the hundreds of Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when the mob stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

The sad sad lion..

We stayed in a modern hotel called Hotel Hermitage when we were in Lucerne. The hotel wasn't very expensive by Swiss standards, yet I thought it was very good. It was about a 15 mins bus ride from Lucerne train station, yet situated by the lake. We had a large room that had a magnificent view of the lake. This would definitely be a hotel a recommend.. and I would most definitely stay here again when I next visit Lucerne.

 View from our hotel room

 I really like this hotel - and I appreciate the Loccitane toiletries provided
 
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