Sunday, 29 January 2012

Taipei - Supper in the Streets

I love places that have a bustling night scene. Taipei's just like Hong Kong, with plenty of restaurants and small eateries open till late at night. I think we had this one night after traipsing/eating our way through a night market but needed a bit more food for sustenance. Taipei's terrible for the tummy. Just non-stop work for it from morning till night.

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I remember the noodles + bean sprouts + minced meat dish to be pretty tasty. The noodles in gravy one however... somehow I've found that I'm not a huge fan of stuff soaked in dubious starchy gravy sauce that seems to feature quite a bit in Taiwanese street food. Photobucket Photobucket
(Taipei, Dec 2011)
As you can see, Sandra, my fellow photographer on the trip, was also busy at work documenting our food. :D I love how Cheryl and Siang were completely understanding about us constantly whipping out our cameras at every single meal. I know it must be a pain for most people but but but in my defense, I'm really helping to capture moments worth remembering. Try using that line the next time somehow's about to blow a fuse when you take out your camera before the start of a scrumptious meal. 

Short post this time because it's late and there's school tmr (YUCKK). Attended a really great CNY gathering earlier tonight which was really a massive steamboat session (2 huge trays of veggies and mushrooms and a couple of trays of pork/lamb/beef and the smallest yummiest pork+chive dumplings) topped off with homemade cookies and cream ice cream (made by a guy!). I'm a little bummed that the height of the CNY festivities is almost over. Feels a little quieter this year. But at least there's still a whole bunch of goodies left to finish. 


Saturday, 28 January 2012

巢: Nido Cafe :)

One of the best parts about our Taiwan trip was the cafe-hopping. Honestly, I LOVE cafes. :) I could spend all day in a small, cozy, quaint cafe, attempting to make my cup of tea/cappuccino last as long as possible while reading, daydreaming...or simply enjoying being in a perfect little space for a few hours. Siang, our main researcher for the trip, came up with a list of awesome cafes (most of which were also featured in the Monocle Taiwan Travel Guide :D) and first on our list was 巢 or Nido Cafe in Taipei. We went after the morning of Jiu Fen so by the time it reached the evening, we were all ready to relax and veg out in a cafe. Problem was, we didn't exactly know how to get to the cafe from the nearest mrt station. We knew that it was off the main road of Zhong Xiao East, but turns out that it's a friggin long stretch of road. We ended up passing by TWO WHOLE SUBWAY STATIONS as we walked all the way down that loooong main road, counting down the alley numbers until we reached the one we were looking for. That was not the best experience ever. -__-;; But it was worth it in the end, because it was such a lovely quiet cafe (that is, until we barged in and wreaked havoc with our riotous laughter) with many many gorgeous nooks and crannies that we oohed and ahhed over and took many photographs of. :)
PhotobucketAccording to the owner, Nido stands for Nest in Spanish (if I remember correctly...or was it Greek?) and it was then that we realized much of the interior decor was meant to resemble the twigs/texture of birds' nests. Notice the texture of the table?
Photobucket Photobucket PhotobucketWe ended up staying there for agesssss. We were given a "private room" (well more like a private section of the cafe) probably because there were so many of us. It was nice and warm at the start but after awhile we realized the heating in that particular room was really POWERFUL. At the start it was just us in the cafe and we were having such a great time chatting and laughing (possibly in our boisterous Singaporean manner) that the owner of the place actually came into the room to tell us to quieten down as there were other customers in the cafe that we weren't aware of. WHOOPSIE. ;p
PhotobucketCappuccino! Pretty average cup but it's really the ambience that you'd pay for I suppose. We all took one look at the dollop of cappuccino art and wondered if it was because the owner (oh yeah, did I not mention that there's only ONE guy running the entire place and doing everything?? from making coffee to serving desserts etc etc) was a beginner and hadn't yet learnt any other patterns for his cappuccino art. :p Next time we're going to go back and see if his cappuccino art making skills have improved. 
Photobucket PhotobucketCheesecake on the left and tiramisu on the right. Both REALLY REALLY good. :) The cheesecake was excellent and it had a cool name like ... Cheesecake on Cheesecake. Or something to that extent. 
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket PhotobucketOur *ahem* Lovely Ladies pose.PhotobucketOur attempts at looking PENSIVE. ;) ROFLMAO. Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
I just looooove how there are so many whimsical spaces in the cafe that are so beautifully decorated. I'm hoping my house will be like this next time. All wooden-y and cosy with soft lighting and beautiful spaces. That's another plus point of cafe hopping really. You get to see all these examples of gorgeous interior design and get inspiration for the future. 

So if you're in Taipei, I'd highly recommend: 

Nido Cafe (巢)
10, Alley 22, Lane 553, Zhongxiao East Road Section 4, Taipei
Hours: 2:00pm ~ 12:00am (closed on 6th, 16th and 26th of the month)
Tel: 02-2753-4402

九份 (Jiu Fen) in pictures and words

Ohh this is sooooo belated. :D But I've got so many Taiwan photos left to edit and share and I'm so happy with a lot of the photos that I MUST POST THEM!! Going through photos and editing them till I'm happy can get pretty tedious/tiring since I'm no professional at it (I'm sure there's some sort of method professional photographers use to speed up the editing process no?) but at the end of the day, it's so worth it. :) I feel all happy thinking about the moments behind those photos and I must say that the trip to Taiwan with my pals from soooo long ago was really good. We were all such lazy bums who could never get out of the hotel room at the stipulated timing that we had planned the night before. 
So here are photos when we went to 九份 (Jiu Fen) for a little day trip. It's one of those small towns just outside of Taipei that's known for its rustic charm and olden day streets and shops. The only downside to the trip was that it was RAINING that day :(( which made for some inconveniences. Picture us making our way through the crowded narrow streets dodging the rain while trying to take photographs. My circle scarf was a big saver. :) It kept my camera nice and dry. Oh and it was funny how at the start of the day we had planned on taking a direct bus to Jiu Fen but in the end we were taken in by an extremely enthusiastic taxi driver who ended up taking us on a mini tour of other scenic spots around the Jiu Fen area ("I'm taking you all there for free!! No extra charge!"). Taiwanese taxi drivers are sososo nice. :) I guess that's their way of fishing for tips. 

Oh yes, so my mum would like to let the world know that for all the photos of the 4 of us, she's the one who took them! :)
Photobucket Photobucket  Urghgh, word of advice, best not to get the stick of corn on the extreme left if you happen to go there next time.
I'm sure the ordinary corn without special flavoring would've tasted pretty sweet and nice but for some reason we were adventurous that day and decided to try out the corn with the special dark sugary-salty flavoring. It tasted like something you'd get in a corn chip snack.
Isn't this adorable?? :D I was so surprised at how smart this little pun was. Who would've thought the Taiwanese knew how to pun English words like this eh?? (JUS KIDDINGZZ. My Taiwanese friend, Yueh, is probably reading this and getting pissed right this minute.)
PhotobucketLittle cats to decorate cups/glasses with! Aren't they so cute? :) I love the one hanging upside down chillaxing away.
So this young chap's in the middle of making a type of dessert-snack which is basically a wrap filled with sugary peanut shavings. I was pretty impressed by how diligent and quick he was. 
PhotobucketMan look at those huge slabs of peanut coated in syrup. 
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One thing that Jiu Fen is famous for apparently, is this dessert called 芋圓湯 (Yu Yan Tang) (Yam Ball Soup) (haha yeah that's roughly how I'd translate it), which is basically red bean soup with lots of small yam balls in it.PhotobucketWhat made this dessert so good at that time was the fact that it was warm and comforting and we were so cold from the rainy weather. MMM.  
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Cutest little girl playing with the rain. :)
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I like how our umbrellas came in useful in the end. :D 
Ahh how I would like to go back there again in the Spring or Fall... when it's not raining!! 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

the second New Year of the year :)

As it's 1 a.m. this time now, I should say Happy Chinese New Year to everyone! :) I really had meant to do a little CNY eve post and show some of the photos that I took over dinner at my grandparents' house but but but my mum, sis and I got carried away with the latest episode of Modern Family. :) It's HILARIOUS and if you aren't already hooked onto it, you should definitely start watching. It'll provide endless hours of side splitting laughter and make you feel good on the crappiest of days.

That said, I'm so glad it's the Year of the Dragon this year, because *ahem* I'm one too. X) And so far it's been a pretty good year and there's a ton to look forward to over the next few months so... I'm feeling pretty happy at the moment. But really, it's just because the next two days are public holidays and I'm gonna be stuffing my face with new year goodies and sleeping in and being a total (happy) pig.

Some photos from dinner at my grandparents' house tonight:

Isn't Baby adorable??? (yeah, that's her name!) She's my cousin's doggy and she's probably the fattest, laziest, cutest retriever I've seen yet. Most of the times when I go to the house in the afternoons, she's ALWAYS snoozing in a patch of sunlight. I can totally understand that though. It's one of the best ways to deal with the insufferable SG heat. She's usually not allowed inside the house but I guess they let her inside the kitchen since it was raining outside. I thought it was so cute how extraordinarily attentive she was inside the kitchen; watching everyone prepare the food and probably hoping to get lucky. :D

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Teehee. Staring at the food on the table!


The CNY eve dinner spread!! There was sooo much good food and there's definitely gonna be more tomorrow. :D Really looking forward to tossing some Yu Sheng tomorrow. 

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Nian Gao cooked with slices of yam. Not my favorite thing in the world 'cos it's kinda just a big slab of sweet sticky glutinous cake that you get sick of eating after about 3 bites. But that's tradition for you. Appears on the dining table every year. ;p


So that's my little niece, Amanda, in the center. She's about 16 months now and is pretty darn adorable. The two people by her side are my mum and dad. I thought it was pretty funny/cute how they were both taking turns feeding her after her main meal was over. My dad was like, "Turn right, and you get some fish maw. Turn Left and you get some bun!" Heh. It was kinda sweet/freaky seeing the two of them feed her that way. Almost seemed like a scene from 20 + years ago when my sis/I were that age. D'awwwww. :)))


Getting up close and personal with Amanda!! She likes going reaaaaaaaaaaal close to the lens; sometimes so close I can't even focus on her! It's nice having a teeny toddler around the house, especially at gatherings. Whenever there's a bit of a lull in the conversation or when people are too full and lazy to talk, all they have to do is sit around and watch that little ball of energy as she entertains herself, not realizing she's also entertaining about 10 other people in the room. ;)

Before I head off to bed and some pre-bedtime reading (soooo happy I've got more time to read now that the exams are over), you must must must watch this awesome video: 


This is one of the BEST video clips I've seen hands down. It's basically a promotional video done by Onitsuka Tiger about the legendary Zodiac Race among the animals that decided the order in which they'd be featured in the Zodiac calender. It's hilaaaaarious, especially if you listen hard to the commentary! :D And of course, you get to seen how incredibly magnanimous the Dragon was. There's really just no competition. 

 xx Peace out.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Style Snippet: 1 Week to Closet Revamp!!

Seriously, Ruche is one of my favorite online stores ever. Not only do I love just about everything they sell because it's pretty, sassy with vintage twist and really unique, but the girls at Ruche always take the effort to come up with amazing lookbooks and features which show how versatile a lot of their pieces are. Pretty much all the stuff is gorgeous so GO TAKE A LOOK! 

One of their most recent features was this: One Week to a New Closet !! It couldn't have come at a better time. After all, Chinese New Year is in like 2 days :DDD and it's the time when most of the Chinese families are busy spring cleaning...letting in good feng shui into the house haha... and yes, I think my wardrobe is in need of a serious overhaul. These are really great tips if you're looking to doing the same! I'm not in the habit of pruning my wardrobe regularly but apparently that's the wise thing to do in the long run since you'll always know what you have in your closet/what you don't need/what you have to match your possible new buys with.

All images from Ruche

Speaking of Chinese New Year, I'm so happy that this year I can enjoy it without having to worry about any studying at all. :D I think it's a first in a looooong time. I do think this would be quite a perfect CNY outfit:


DV by Dolce Vita Fawna Belted Crepe Dress from Tobi Unfortunately, as all good things go, this one's all out of small sizes. :(( If there's one piece of advice I can dish out based on my numerous hours of online shopping (and trust me, I've done a lot!)(i blame it on the unending stream of tests/exams), it's that once you see an item that you like, IN YOUR SIZE, and that's pretty much PERFECT, you should just GO FOR IT THEN AND THERE. Seriously, no point waiting for the chance of a sale because unless you're camping by your computer 24/7 waiting for the moment the sale starts, there's gonna be some lamer doing the exact same thing and waiting to snatch up the exact item IN YOUR SIZE the minute the sale notification pings in her email account. And you will be left with nothing but DEEP REGRET. Everything sounds more impactful when it's said in a theatrical manner eh? :D But yeah, trust me on this.

So I've just discovered and it looks like it's going to be the start of a nice long relationship. There are tons of brands that the site stocks that are amazing and that I love like Eryn Brynie, BB Dakota, Alice + Olivia, Mink Pink and ohhh the list does indeed go on. But apart from designer brands there are a ton of really nice items that are going for really reasonable prices. :) Yeah, in other words, GO CHECK IT OUT.

And do let me know if there are online stores that you like and would like to recommend? I do believe in sharing the love.