Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hanging Out With Evan

Evan and I used to hang out a lot especially during JC and university days. We knew each other during first three months of JC and then I left for another JC after that. We continued to keep in touch and hung out even when we were in different schools.

We were like BFFs in university. Apart from the 1st semester, we chose the exact same modules every semester for the next 3 years. I was quite the lazy person and depended heavily on Evan to scan through all the modules we were interested in while meeting the requirements and fitting everything into our timetable. It was no mean feat to fit everything in whilst de-conflicting the exam dates for all 5-6 modules each semester. Apart from that, we always strive to create possible off days by packing a lot more lectures and tutorials in a day.

Of course I was no parasite. It was a mutual symbiotic relationship... Lol. I recall the times when she pang seh me, like when she could not make it for lectures. I would be there sitting alone and copying down notes frantically so that I could lend her the next time we met. I also had to find lunch buddies and people to hang out with till the next lesson whenever she wasn't around.

Of course we were no geeks. It wasn't all school school school. In fact, we were just those crazy and fun-loving gals who loved to hang out till the wee hours doing stupid things and taking photos. All the drinking sessions, clubbing and pubbing, and checking out new places... Those were the fun days!

We did not hang out as much as before once we started working. Nevertheless, we would make it a point to meet each other during our birthday period and Christmas. As we got even busier with work and planning our overseas trips, it could sometimes get increasingly tough trying to find a day to meet. There were years when we didn't meet during those occasions because either of us were overseas.

I was glad that Evan and I managed to meet up for her birthday this year.

We decided on Wild Honey for all day breakfast.

Somehow some people love eating breakfast food during dinner time.

I chose the English Breakfast... I think.

After dinner, we adjourned to an empty couch in Mandarin Gallery and chatted for hours on end even though there was work the next day. Each time we did that, we promised to meet up more often as there was simply too much to chat about.

Aside: We were rather tickled by the sign above the couch.

I was glad that we managed to meet up more often this year. By a twist of fate, she could join me for dinner one fine day when I was searching for someone to have dinner with me since my course ended early. We met up at Skinny Pizza but ordered no pizza. I had the Meatball Rigatoni.

She had some sort of mushroom risotto.

The very next day, we met up for breakfast together with my hubz at Wimbly Lu before heading over to Evan's new place. Her new home is a few months old (or a year) but I've yet to crash it yet. I'm always a sucker for visiting friends' homes to gain inspiration for interior design for our new home.

Cappuccino for Kh would never go wrong.

For me, I love anything matcha so no prize for guessing whose drinks belong to whom in this photo.

Kh had Eggs Benedict.

He loved it!

I had some sort of crepe which I can't remember the name. It was the Garlic Mushroom and Mozarella Crepe I think.

It was delicious but far too little for me. I was still hungry after chowing it down in 5 minutes.

I can't remember what Evan had too. All the menu I found on Google and even on their official webpage seems to be outdated.

All I know is that her appetite that day was small and she was so full just from her main course to even eat her share of the sides.

Truffle fries are always yummy!

I was a tad disappointed by these chicken bites. The menu described this as home made ginger-infused chicken pieces which sounded really delicious. However, it tasted just like those frozen microwavable Japanese chicken bites. In fact, the taste is strikingly similar that I wondered if they were in fact those microwave version. I like those microwave Japanese chicken bites but I was expecting something less commercial and more home made when I ordered that.

The Root Beer Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream is a supposedly must-try. Who would have thought of marrying Root Beer and chocolate cake to get Root Beer Cake? It has a distinctive root beer flavour which the hubz could not pick up at all. It was unique and I like root beer though I would prefer my dark chocolate cake without any taste of root beer.

When I was editing this photo, I simply had to do something to myself.

Q: Could you spot the difference between the 2 photos?

A: Photo on the left shows a protruding vein on my forehead. Photo on the right is edited to remove it as much as possible with my limited Photoscape tools.

For the first time in my life, I realized that I have a very distinctive vein running down the left of my forehead and ending at my left eye. I had never ever noticed it before until I started to keep my bangs long, exposing my forehead.

I'm rather disturbed by this distinctive ugly vein. Not only is it physically disturbing, it disturbs me at the back of my mind as I start to link things up.

I suffer from very bad headaches quite frequently to the point of nausea. It had been going on for years. Furthermore, I notice that when I get very bad headaches that last the whole day, I would always complain about it being a left headache and left eye ache to the extent of wishing to pluck out my left eye to massage the muscles behind. (Yeah I'm gross and morbid).

I notice that whenever I have problem with my eye, it is always the left eye. My left eye is beyond 600 degree. I had cornea infection with ulcers in my left eye. I experienced pain and blur vision due to thick mucus in my left eye even when my right eye was well and normal from wearing contact lens.

I started reading up a lot on protruding forehead veins after my eldest sis nagged at me to do a CT scan ever since she woke up from her brain surgery. In my family, my mum, my eldest sis and I are very prone to bad headaches.

From the websites I've read, protruding forehead vein isn't much to worry about except for it being physically disturbing. Heck, there is a whole blog post dedicated to celebrities with big forehead vein! I have the exact same type of vein as Nina Dobrev and Julia Roberts-- two celebs whom I don't exactly like. My sis has what she calls an angry vein which would protrude out during anger. I told her mine is a happy vein coz it would protrude out only when I smile in a certain manner.

Ok enough about the protruding vein. Kh dropped us off at Evan's place and was happy he got rid of me for that Saturday. I love her welcome mat!

Besides chatting and chatting and chatting, I got lots of advice from Evan on renovation and dealing with contractors. We also picnicked on the fake grass in the balcony, took photos to show that we picnicked on fake grass and headed back to the cool air-conditioned comfort when it got too hot and humid. What a pleasant laid-back Saturday spent with a good old gal pal.

I hope that as we grow older, we would still continue to nurture this friendship. I always feel very thankful to have good friends all around to be crazy with me and to share our ups and downs in life with each other. I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of great friends who have given me a heart full of joy whether in times of happiness or sadness.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Taipei Throwback: Good Food, Great Friends at Shilin Night Market

After a relaxing day at Beitou, the hubz and I headed for Shilin Night Market (士林夜市), Taipei's largest and most famous night market. I was really excited as I had arranged to meet my gal pal and her sis there. Kh was really excited as that meant more people to share more varieties of food.

It was really coincidental that we were in Taipei during the same period and almost the same duration with Em and her sis. We had been arranging to meet up the past few days to no avail as there would be a break in communication whenever they were out of the hotel since they did not get the Taiwan prepaid data roaming sim card. In view of that, we would always update each other about where we would be going at the start of each day and left it to fate if we bumped into each other. Just because of this wonderful night, I declare Shilin Night Market my favourite night market in Taipei!

I've always associated Shilin Night Market as a night market that sells mainly food. But it was just like any other night market whereby you could find almost anything there-- like a bespectacled bunny with a bandaged ear in hip-hop get up.

Obligatory wefie shot in the grounds of Shilin.

My my my... what notti little icies!

We were tickled to see Singapore Soya Beancurd as we did not even know we had one! There are too many soya beancurd brand names in Singapore but none by that name.

Em and I had fixed the famous Ah Zhong Mian Xian (阿宗麵線) as our meeting place...

... but before we could even get there, the greedy hubz wanted to try some noodles which I thought looked like any other fat yellow noodles in Singapore. He loved it. I didn't.

In a pretty little accessories shop, I saw a poodle-like item together with the accessories. I thought it could be a swanky furry stand until the poodle turned and looked at us... I've said it a few times, Taipei is an extremely dog friendly city.

We decided to take a seat inside Ah Zhong Mian Xian/ Ah Zhong Mee Sua  (阿宗麵線) while waiting for Em and her sis. We were surprised that we managed to snag good seats though without tables at such a famous stall.

We could not resist starting on our own first. OMG! Ah Zhong Mian Xian is sooooooooo yummy! I could taste the soup right now and am totally craving for a bowl as I'm typing this.

It was so gratifying to slurp a bowl of piping hot vermicelli (mee sua) in the cold drizzly weather. Ah Zhong would be my favourite vermicelli if only they had the oysters version as well. I would really choose oysters over pig's intestines.

Do take note that Ah Zhong Mian Xian is only served with pig's intestines so it might not be everyone's cup of tea. I don't take a lot of intestines as those not cleaned well would have s strong porky innards smell that I cannot stand. Ah Zhong's ones are soft, chewy and really delicious; No "smelly" porky taste at all.

I thought that the little girl beside us was really cute and I sneakily snapped a picture of her playing with her dad.

Finally Em and her sis arrived! Just when I thought Ah Zhong had tipped my happiness index, Em overloaded it more. I'm always super thrilled to meet with friends overseas.

A wefie with our phones.

We had to snap a pic of where we met to seal this memory till we are old grannies. Lol.

Hubby also wanted an obligatory shot with the legendary mee sua.

Next it was time to check out more food! We love the Shilin huge chicken steak (大雞排) back in Singapore and decided to try some chicken steak from big brand names in Taipei.

We saw Sa Niao Ji Pa (撒尿雞排) which doesn't have an official English name but if I were to translate Mandarin to English literally, it means "Pissing Chicken Steak". Yes, you didn't read wrongly. Apparently it is claimed that the chicken steak is so juicy, its juice would spew like someone taking a piss.

Could you see the juice spewing out? No? That's coz there isn't any juice spewing. It didn't live up to its juiciness though I like the taste of it.

Next contender would be Hao Da Da Ji Pa (豪大大雞排) also known as Hot Star Large Fried Chicken. We still like to call it by its Chinese name coz it is a pun on word sound that could mean "very big chicken steak".

They asked me to put the steak next to my face to show how big this chicken steak is. I like the taste. You could already tell how flavourful and sinful it is from the seasoning on the crispy skin.

By the time I update on my Taipei throwbacks, Hao Da Da Ji Pa (豪大大雞排) has already opened a few stalls in Singapore. Do note that the few times I bought in Singapore, the steak all had bones! I don't get why chicken steak should have bones! The Taipei one didn't have bones. T

Guan Cai Ban (棺材板) is supposedly famous too. Look at the photos with the stall flanked by celebs. Loosely translated to "coffin bread", you could tell how its name was derived from the pictures.

I did not like this coffin bread at all. I didn't like the combination of mushy ingredients inside.

This is supposedly another famous stall. It is full of fried food! Em's sis said that if you follow where the Taiwanese queue, you would never go wrong. This whole Shilin food area was a wonderland for Kh. He was hypnotized by all the varieties of food like how silly flies are hypnotized to dazzling bright lights. For a while, he disappeared for so long that we reckoned that the kid was just lost in Wonderland.

We had oyster omelette...

Deep fried mini crabs and some roll...

Meatball soup to wash all the oil down.

After filling our tummies to the brim, we decided to get out of the bustling main food area underground back to level ground and started shopping. Boy was there lots to shop! It was so fun shopping with gals!

I've always wanted a chic (faux) leather style jacket. There was this shop that sold such cool, chic, pretty and girlish jackets all under one roof. Once I tried this piece on, Em and her sis unanimously agreed that this looked the best on me. Kh also preferred this over the rest. I really love this style best but it was just too cheap as compared to the rest. I can't recall the price now though I remember kh's eyes popping in disbelief. The beautiful dolly sales assistant explained very honestly that the material for this jacket was not as good as the rest.

"You could wear a few times and throw away," she quipped.

Even with that, Kh said something along the line of "Buy la! It's just like me walking down this street and coming back with the same value of food and you could wear yours a few times."

I would get to the story of the cheap jacket in another Taipei Throwback post.

While we were shopping, Kh disappeared for a while and came back with something for all of us!

He got Em a rooster pancake as that is her Chinese zodiac sign.

I thought he got himself a rooster too but he got a gun instead. You can't see it in this pic coz he bit it off before I could snap him with it.

He got Em's sis a motorcycle saying there wasn't any suitable design left.

I was so excited to see what he got me when he declared that I would definitely love it a lot. Oh boy oh boy, I thought it would be a dog or a cat. When he revealed an ugly pig from the paper bag, em and her sis burst out laughing.

Uh... I mentioned before in this post that I like pigs and cats but when I meant pigs, I meant those cute pigs.

We bit them heads off and laughed and posed with our kills. We ought to be hanged.

After that, it was more shopping in the slight drizzle which soon transformed to a passing shower just as we were on our way to the MRT station. What a lovely night full of good food and hearty laughter with my dear gal pal. I'm also glad to make friends with Em's sis. We could all click quite well!

I would end this post with a little gift of snack that Em gave. Chia Te (佳德糕餅) is Em's favourite brand for pineapple tarts in Taiwan. She loves how the pastries came with other fillings instead of just the usual pineapple. Her personal picks are the pineapple egg yolk and the cranberries and so she gave me those exact flavours.

It was the first time I hear of this brand and I tell you, she made me a convert! Before Chia Te, I never ever liked Taiwanese pineapple pastries. I find the pineapple taste too fake and the pastry too hard. I've always loved the Singapore version with buttery crumbly pastries and pineapple filling that tastes just like home-made pineapple purée. Chia Te pastries are so good that they threaten relationships-- My relationship with the Hub was on tenterhooks during that few days as we fought over the pastries, each claiming that the next packet was ours. In the end, we made a trip to the shop one fine day and practically swept every flavour off the shelves for our families and friends.

Wow... I took quite a while to craft the last few  paragraphs above as I kept nodding off to sleep. I don't even know if what I wrote above make sense. I'm just too tired to proofread through now and will be scheduling to post this early Friday morning.

Happy TGIF all of you!


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