Friday, April 28, 2006

If you can stand the heat, stay in the kitchen.

I had a nice tuesday off again, and it was all about me. I spent a evening at the Cellar Door again, reading "The making of a Pastry Chef" while enjoying a vanilla milkshake. It is, by far the best one I've ever had. There's only one reason. It's made with Vanilla bean ice cream, meaning to say that there were tiny specks of vanilla seed in the milkshake. Hmmm, just simply wonderful.
It's proving to be an interesting read because I'm just taking in quotes, insights, and wisdom from pastry chefs all around America. Stories of how they've started off, and memories of their first sweets is something that I identify with. It's inspiring. It's weird thinking about it, but what I'm doing now, is my beginning. It's where I'm starting off, beginning on my own journey to becoming something that I look forward to be. When people ask me what I do for a living next time, I want to be able to say :" I'm a pastry chef". I think chefs aren't getting enough recognition that being one is a decent and noble thing to do. It's hard honest work. Sure, there are opportunities to be famous and make a name for yourself, but ultimately, it's just hard work.
I went back to work on wednesday, and it turns out that the two new casual labourers couldn't take the heat (although it is generally cold in there and there are only 4 burners in a corner), and left after a day's work. Oh well.

Anyway, it was just about dinner, and I figured I'd try their minted lamb burger. Not too bad, but not the best burger. Then again, it isn't a beef burger. I'm still on my quest of searching for that perfect burger. So far, the burgers at The Eagle's Nest at the American Club ranks first on my list. I've yet to try the new gourmet burger joint, Über Burger. We'll see who takes first place.

Oh! It's Food and Hotel Asia 2006 week! I went today with Jeremy, and it was awesome. I felt so small. Sure the Singapore Expo is a pretty large place, but we felt small in a sense that our plans and ambitions is only a drop in the ocean, compared to the companies and people that were there.
There was so much to see and it was overwhelming. We both can't wait to get in on the action, of furnishing our own place, buying equipments and stuff.
A friend of ours too part in the Individual Culinary Challenge too, so that was pretty exciting.
I'll post pictures of FHA 2006 after when I take more tomorrow.
I have to go make two cakes now, but I'm just waiting for Jeremy to come with the eggs that he's gonna buy from some coffee shop in the wee hours of this morning.
I can't believe I didn't buy any eggs. Tsk.

On another note, I just came from a funeral and I have to say this. Life is short. Go for things that you wanna go for. Make memories that you want to enjoy in the later part of your life. Do not live with a life of regret. If you have to say something to people, say it. If you have or want to do something. Do it. Live a vivid and rich life. Share your life with people and enjoy other people. Touch others with your life. Bless others in your work, and enjoy the things and people around you that God has blessed you with, whether if you believe it or not.
Picture this: Life as you know it, is like the length of your keyboard. Eternity, is like the letter "O". It is a small circle, that has no end to it. Eternal life is forever and has no end to it.
You do not exists just because. You exists because God loves you. You are an expression of His love for you.
Think about it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Life, in general.

So I've been working alot lately, and it occured to me that I am out of school, and working now. It also occured to me that I am also working in the Pastry Kitchen of Raffles Hotel. It has been very exciting, but I have to admit, the daily grind has set in. I could go on and complain about doing the same dessert items again and again and be unsatisfied, but I decided it's better to be thankful for even getting a part time job in a pastry kitchen. I figured I could work on my time keeping skills, lowering the bar each time I churn out approximately 404 round scones for Hi-Tea. Freshly baked scones are, by the way, absolutely delicious with butter, and jam. It's better to eat them the day they're baked, but it is divine, to eat them hot from the oven. It's one of the pleasures I appreciate and enjoy very much.

I finished work at 11pm sunday night, had supper with two of my colleagues and got home only at 12:30am. I had only 6 hours of sleep before going to work again at 7am yesterday morning, and I was facing a 12 hour shift. I really needed a break, and I got one. Turns out that my name was cancelled and I'm not working the whole week. I was abit mad that no one had the courtesy to inform me. I have no idea who did it and it's weird cause I was specifically asked to do two 12-hour shifts this week because Executive Pastry Chef Kevin Curry is leaving his post at Raffles Hotel, moving on to China to work with Eric Perez and the Assistant Pastry Chef Anthony Poh, is taking part in the Asia Pastry Cup 2006. I guess they needed man power, and boy do we need more staff. It's always a mad rush everyday, thus the daily grind. Anyhow, no one has contacted me and I guess I'm having a much needed break. There are two new casual labourers anyway, and I'm not to worried about the production team (which is where I'm in) being overwhelmed.

More on life in general, I've been feeling very meh, or in-between times. I still don't know when I'm entering National Service, and there's so much wants that I want, and stuff that I want to accomplish before going in. I'm not even sure what I want anymore right now.

I don't know if a holiday would do me any good. Either way, I'd want to go somewhere before I'm grounded for two years in National Service. I could save enough money, and go away to the maldives, or some place like that alone, but I figured it'd be so much better to go anywhere with someone and enjoy the ride together. I guess that's what I really want right now. To build on memories, with people that I care dearly about and enjoy them.

The 12 Apostles and 4 Guys, Victoria,Australia
L to R: Jeremy, Julian, Me and Chris
I can't imagine going through life without a clue on what I did in my earlier days. I guess that explains why I chose to do what I really want, that is to study culinary, and not work in some 9-5 job with an attractive pay, that is still mine for the taking. I'm only working on a part time basis now, 8 hours a day, and I'm thinking, boy am I tired. Am I gonna jump into that? Most likely working more than 12 hours a day? And if Jeremy and I do open our own joint, we'll probably be clocking in more than 16 hours of a 24 hour day. I can't help but think, will I be tired for the rest of my life? Maybe, I guess. But I'm sure gonna have the time of my life, cause I will have remembered the first time Jeremy and I cooked together, the first time I baked my first batch of brownies and the first time I made a birthday cake for someone.
I thrive on memories of old, and I look forward anxiously to new ones.
It's gonna be awesome.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Languid French Affair

There's two thing I like about lazy afternoons.
One, they don't come very often, and is best savoured with good company.
Two, you don't need to worry about anything, and all you need is to enjoy the moment.

All you really need is some of the food you enjoy and just chill out and relax.
I've been wanting to just have bread, butter, cheese, and cheap white wine for the longest time, and go to the beach and enjoy it with someone. But I'm not really fond of the beaches here in Singapore. Anyway, it was just as well that CarreFour was having some "French Affair" thing going on, and I picked up said items, and headed to Jeremy's.
I'm tired of having to figure out what to do on weekends in town, and there isn't a better way to spend an afternoon with great company and simple pleasures.

I expected the usual exchange of dreams and aspirations and raves and rants with Jeremy, but he totally passed out on me.
I don't blame him though. The rhythmic pitter patter of the rain really sets the mood for sleep.

I figured I'll start without him and just enjoy the sounds of the rain. I totally would have made banana pancakes, if there were bananas that is. But bread and butter is just as good.

It was nice having dinner with his family, and it's awesome that everyone sits down at the table, say grace together and eat. It's a dying trend and I blame T.V box dinners and fast food. It's so much easier to buy take out food, and eat wherever. But seriously, imagine the fun you can have together as a family, cooking, eating, talking about the day and doing the dishes together. Or something like that. You know what I mean. Call me old fashioned, but I think it's so important for families to be really close like that.
And it's what the Church of God should be. Fellowship, and communion. A functional covenant community, where everybody loves one another and cares for one another.
I'm tired of reading in the news about broken families. Sons sueing fathers, Mothers dumping their own child in rubbish bins. It's sad, really.
Meh. The world is dying. Enjoy it while it lasts. Eat a cow while you're at it. They're delicious.
Jeremy's mom is awesome. She just brought up a tray of earl grey tea, rum & raisin chocolate, kit kat bars, dragon fruit and mangoes for us. I'm just gonna enjoy that alone for now. Jeremy passed out on me again.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

You gotta have strawberries when you're Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands
I went to the Cameron Highlands a couple of weeks back for church camp. It was an awesome time of hearing a man of God preach the word. He's 70 years old, and still going on strong. It makes me wonder if I'd even last that long. Hrmm.

Anyways, it's always nice to see how a fruit is grown, and where they come from. It only confirms that food does not come shrink wrapped in plastic from supermarkets. I'd reckon that the highlight to a trip to Cameron Highlands would be it's strawberries.
Rows of strawberries being grown in compost.
Here's a little one that's all ready to be harvested.
Just looking at these beauties makes me smile. The strawberries from around Cameron Highlands are very different from the ones from say America, or Egypt.
Now, the ones that I see in the supermarkets are huge, like they've been injected with hulk-inducing hormones. Sure, it looks like a real deal, to have a huge strawberry but seriously, they taste really bland compared to the ones from Cameron Highlands.

Cameron Highlands strawberries are full of strawberry flavour. No, really. Even the intense colour of it tastes like strawberries. It's rather squishy, compared to other strawberries and that only means it's really juicy.

I've came across these strawberries even before I went to Cameron Highlands, and I liked it so much, that I was determined to let everyone try it. And so I bought a kilogram of strawberries, made a chocolate fondue with the help of the hotel staff, and brought it up to the meeting for everyone to try. I didn't get to take a picture cause it was almost finished by the time I went up.
That's how good they are.
Meg had bought some too and I thought I'd dip them in some leftover chocolate for a picture.
The batch that she had bought were even smaller, just slightly over half and inch, and I couldn't help but think how awesome they'd be for petit fours.

If you're from around Singapore, you've got to go to the supermarket at Isetan Lido, and try them yourself. They're labeled as Grace Cup.
I'd really want to use these next time. Firstly, it tastes really good, and it's size makes it perfect for garnishing. Plus, it's compost grown, which means that it's not genetically modified.

We went to this place called Rose Valley, and they had mint growing there too.
There was a whole wall of these green gems growing, and I wished I could have candied them all.

We went down to Ipoh and stayed for a night, before leaving for Singapore.
There are several things worth checking out in the otherwise sleepy quiet town.

Ipoh White Coffee
You will not believe how aromatic and flavourful this humble cup of coffee is.
They're called white coffee because they are roasted with palm oil margarine and without sugar, resulting in a less darker roast than regular ones.
However, Ho Sen White Coffee roasts their beans with sugar caramel, and although not mentioned, I believe they're also roasted with palm-oil margarine.
This makes the beans more sweeter and flavourful when brewed. I've used them with tiramisu's and this gem of Ipoh has won my heart's affection, and has found it's place in my list of ingredients to use.
You have to try them yourself. Not just the packet 3-in-1 variety. They rely heavily on "natural flavouring", if you know what I mean.
Buy Ipoh White Coffee beans online!
Ipoh's White Coffee.
Here are the really cool bunch of people I hanged out with at the camp.
It's really awesome to have fun and spend time with people you care about.
Good food and great company are one of the world's natural pairing.
Kinda like chocolate and oranges.