Zén – Singapore

Our date night adventure saw us departing from our fave restaurant to check out Restaurant Zen run by chef-restaurateur Bjorn Frantzen. The 24-seat restaurant will serve tasting menus only, priced at $450 for nine courses plus snacks (apparently the priciest in Singapore) and the food is chef Frantzen’s interpretation of Nordic, French and Japanese cuisine – his take on kaiseki dining.

Perhaps being somewhat new to the dining scene in Singapore and with the high price-tag per diner, reservations were not particularly too difficult to score when we headed down in January. The Man booked us in sometime in December 2018 and Zen only opened its doors in Singapore around November.

I’ll have to admit that doing research on the restaurant and checking out a couple of reviews before heading there, the stakes/ expectations were high.

As the restaurant took over the premises of Andre which was formerly a 3-storey shop-house, diners are expected to be moving through the different floors throughout dinner. So for starters, we had them on the first floor where we also saw the open kitchen and watched how the chefs prepped our meals using the freshest ingredients on-hand that were proudly displayed for the evening.

Our starters were all prettily plated with different servers coming to us to explain the philosophy and the inspiration behind each dish. In fact, throughout the meal, there was a lot of attention paid to explaining the concept behind each dish.

There were elements to some of the dishes which both the Man and I enjoyed very much but for some dishes, we thought it could have been done better.

Lighting was also not the very best so the photos taken in the dim light didn’t do much justice to the dishes. But one thing that served my memory well is that we walked away with a lot of rich flavours left lingering in our palette. Some of the ingredients complemented one another but sadly, there were more that didn’t.

Perhaps it’s also the teething phase that some new restaurants go through when they open their doors in Singapore or perhaps we have been spoiled by oh-too-familiar flavours by our fave chefs. One thing we do know is that we won’t be visiting Zen again too soon and perhaps let some time pass before we head back again to try out the meal.

 

Back at our fave place – Odette

 One would think that now that the Bub is older, we would be able to resume our normal pre-kid / dating / fine dining activity. Well, the answer is not really. That said, I guess I can’t quite complain for we do occasionally get to head out to indulge in good food and wine. It’s just a little harder cos now the Bub will end up waiting for us till we head home, refusing to go to bed. I feel for the care-givers because they are put in a spot and it’s hard when the next day is a school day.

Mag and I, we do go a long way! We got to know each other through blogging, found out we were pregnant around the same time and then just became friends the past five years. We’ve been wanting to set up a double-date for a while now so I’m really happy that the stars were aligned for us one Saturday evening to head back to our fave restaurant for some really good food.

Being a creature of habit, I prefer to head back to places where there’s a sense of familiarity when it comes to food/ wine and people. We’ve been going to Chef Julien for the longest time and there rarely (in fact, I dare-say hardly) a dull moment when it comes to going back to Odette.

Every dish served was a beautiful work of culinary art to behold. The plating was never over-the-top, the flavours of each dish always complemented one another. The memory left behind is always as good as the last meal we had. This time, in the company of good friends, we chatted and clinked our glasses as the wine poured.

A refreshing dish that lifted up my palette! But don’t let this simple outlook fool you for it’s made with fine ingredients such as abalone and foie gras cooked in a light dashi broth. I loved it for the chewiness of the abalone went really went with the soft foie gras texture.

We usually get 2 main courses – a fish and a meat dish but usually by this time of the meal, I’m stuffed. The portions at Odette are pretty reasonable but I guess with age, I just can’t afford stuffing my face at every opportunity I get, so I obviously have to pace myself.  In fact, this time around, I totally gave the bread basket a go. I usually have at least one piece of bread with their signature Lardo.

Usually when the pigeon is served, I will give the Man half of my serving. Sometimes he takes it gladly, sometimes I get the earful or the evil eye for not helping to finish my portion but well, one shouldn’t waste good food right?

Funnily, we still found some space for Cheese! Perhaps this cheese was a little special and I saw Chef Julien preparing this earlier in the morning which was Brie layered with truffles and nuts. Each bite was surprisingly light and the truffle was a nice touch with nuts nestled in each bite. Loved it!

Last, but not least, presenting the dessert for the night! One that Chef Julien specially brought out for the table – an Ispahan-inspired creation! Think strawberries with a light sponge cake and rose/lychee flavours infused in the dessert. I’ve seen this in his feed and have been really wanting to have it so I was really honored when he chose to serve us this dessert and told the Man my choice over-rode his! Aww..

It was a great night out indeed with the Angs where it didn’t take very long before the men talked shop while us girls talked about shopping! Looking forward to the next one already!! 🙂

Decluttering

Last December, the home improvement/ reality show that was the talk of the town on Netflix was ‘Tidying up with Marie Kondo’.  I caught an episode of it while checking out what’s new on Netflix and was intrigued with the whole concept of decluttering.

Inspired on what it could possibly do to my lifestyle of impulse buying and my love for shopping, I decided to do a ‘Marie Kondo’ on my wardrobe. After 7 years of living in our home, there is so much stuff that I have accumulated and not worn/ used. The wardrobe is bursting at the seams even though I always complain I have nothing to wear. While I do give stuff out or sell some of them away, I know that I have yet to realise my potential of getting rid of things that I don’t use.

It was a daunting task but I was determined to reduce the amount of clutter I had especially in the cupboards – behind those closed doors. While I didn’t have the courage of taking all my clothes and piling it on our bed. I think that may result in greater decluttering after getting a shock of how much I actually have. I did set out small goals by clearing one wardrobe at a time. That to me felt a little more manageable. P.S: It also acheived the same effect seeing how much clothes I have lying on the floor. Had a headache thereafter wondering how am I going to get pass this all?!

Dividing my clothes into a stash to either be donated or given to friends. Friends of my stash were pretty pleased with what was given to them and for me, I’m just glad that the clothes were either re-homed or put to a good use. I also felt extremely guilty for spending so much on stuff that I think I will use but never got round to using. It sent shockwaves on how impulsive I really got on spending and to really think about whether I truly needed the item before just buying it. I also made a conscious effort to wear the things in my current wardrobe at least 3-4 times a month now instead of taking out the item and then putting it back again thinking “I’ll save it for later!” I realised later never quite came and said item was left in my wardrobe for years. Multiple said items by 10 to 20 pieces.

After I cleared out and downsized my clothes wardrobe, I decided to move on to my wardrobe which houses my prized possessions – bags! I had to be brutal and asked myself if the bag really sparked joy. After I identified which bag sparked joy and which bag didn’t, I decided to sell them at some unbelievable price or gift them away. It was hard… hard because I had to let a luxury item go at a price that was a fraction of the orginal price that I paid for. When I shared this news with a friend, she thought I was going bonkers. It is, to be honest, but I figured if I wasn’t actively carrying the bag in the last 3-5 years, what are the odds of me carrying the bag again in the near future? Probably and possibly nil. So with that mindset, I again brutally cleared a good 20-30% of my bag stash in exchange for good old hard cash.

Goodbye my pretty unicorn Chanel bag! I really did love you!

As a result of my brutal destashing and selling off a prized unicorn bag that was pretty sought-after, I manage to squirrel just about enough for the above two bags in PINK! Super pleased and hey, I needed a small reward too right? 🙂

New Zealand – a little something for everyone!

This is a re-cap of our annual family holiday that we took in 2018. YIKES! I know.. but it has been a crazy couple of months, with work at the Company and then work at MAPL (retail peak season), it’s like I finally got a chance to take a short break on my own and just chilling on ME time when the Bub goes off to bed.

But blogging has always remained close to my heart, so here’s an attempt of putting down the memories as I clear my back-log of photos/ posts.

Why New Zealand?

When the Man asked where we should go for our annual trip, I suggested New Zealand. Mostly because if we didn’t want to go back to Europe and a trip to the US with a young kid does sound quite daunting. New Zealand was a country I had wanted to head back to for friends with young kids who have been there do give it a thumbs-up for being close to nature. Also, I visited New Zealand when I was a teenager and it would be nice to go back to visit a country and see the changes that it has undergone in the last 20 years.

For our trip to New Zealand, the Man decided to use a travel company to plan our family holiday. We knew most holidays in New Zealand are self-drive but driving on holidays are also quite stressful – planning the route, making sure that the hours on the road are not too long for the driver, rest-stops, etc – the Man didn’t want to deal with this. I wasn’t going to be a good navigator, so we decided to leave the planning of our holiday in the good hands of the people who knew the ins and outs of the country instead.

As for the itinerary, we did have a couple of things that we wanted to incorporate on our holiday, such as golf for the man as well as sight-seeing for both me and the Bub. Because the Man and I are both big on wine and food, we wanted an itinerary that would be curated to suit our needs.

What we did as a family?

We couldn’t quite call it a holiday in New Zealand if we didn’t visit the Hobbiton Movie Set tour. This was done on Day 2 of our holiday where we didn’t quite adjust to NZ time yet and was horribly late in meeting our guide. The weather was also very deary and cold. We needed to be out at the set for a good 1 – 1.5 hours and so we braved the rains/ winds, dressed the Bub as warm as possible and decided to put forth our best smiles for the camera.

The tour coupled with anecdotes from our guide made it very enjoyable. We did catch Lord of the Rings and could associate with a couple of familiar scenes from the actual set. The Bub was probably tired from the cold so the Man did his fair share of weight-lifting as we meandered around the tiny set.

Fun fact! The Royals were also in town when we arrived in New Zealand and we visited some of the attractions before they did.

We (or least I) get a thrill out of saying ‘We did it first!’ before the Royals did. The Redwood Treewalk at Rotura was very enjoyable as the weather was cool and being up in the trees felt pretty surreal. The kid was also very adventurous in being the first to complete the tree-top walk. Competitive indeed!

Day 4 of our holiday, we took a private boat-ride on Lake Taupo where we experienced Taupo’s crystal clear waters. We sailed past the famous Maori Rock Carving which is only accessible on the water and it’s a must-see in Taupo.

We also opted to fish while on board as the area is protected and to fish in the lake, a special license must be obtained. Thankfully the weather cleared up quite a fair bit and sunshine greeted us as we both tried our hand at fishing.  The Bub also wanted in on the fun and was a tad disappointed when the fish she caught got away. We had to pacify her a little and tell her to try harder.

What we did in Queenstown:

In Queenstown where we spent the remaining 5 days of our holiday, we took a chartered plane ride to visit the famed Milford Sound. It was very beautiful admiring the alpine scenery and rainforest from the top. I think what would have made it more enjoyable on the almost hour-long plane-ride is if it could be accompanied with commentary or some music. The Bub was obviously very soothed by the ride that she fell asleep almost immediately after the plane took off. We were supposed to do a cruise back into town but because the weather had been bad while we were there, it was cancelled eventually.

We also enjoyed the Ben Lomond High Country Station private tour that saw us on an ATV zipping in and out of the countryside while stopping by to say hello to the thousands of sheep that were grazing on the hills. The little one enjoyed this up-close-and-personal touch with nature very much and was super thrilled by how the ATV could maneuver through tiny roads and river streams.

All in all, this trip to New Zealand saw us bond as a family and allowed us or rather me to fully rest from the hustle and bustle of city/ normal life. I really have been so worn out with work and it was good to just to not do anything and just turn in early to let the body rest.

I’ve only just scratched the surface on what we did on our holiday! Will probably try to find time to blog about where we stayed and what we ate in a follow-up post! Till then, dreaming of our next holiday already.

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I didn’t quite imagine that I would be having this conversation with my 4 year old. But I guess this topic is popular and would come up from time to time again, be it in school or at home.

She has gone from becoming a Princess to now wanting to become a Doctor. I guess that’s quite evident from the number of doctor sets that we have acquired for her as toys. I kept wondering why she kept going back to buying another doctor set when we already have a functional Doc McStuffins play-set and another set that my MIL has gotten her. When we went to Daiso and I allowed her to pick just ONE toy, she gravitated towards a stethoscope packaged with an injection needle. For $2, I wasn’t going to quibble with her.

It all clicks now when she proudly shows off the doctor sets that she has acquired since about 1 year plus and tells us that when she grows up, she wants to be a doctor! The teachers in her school also know about this ambition of hers and so when she tells us she wants to bring her doctor set to school, I let her – coupled with reminders that she should take great care of her stuff because if any parts get lost, I’m not getting her a new set. I often eat my words after.

Penning this down for it will be interesting to see if she actually will become a doctor when she grows up. I know when I was a child and if asked this question, I would say I want to be an actress. Look how it all turned out! Very different in reality but hey, I am not complaining!

No more monkey jumping on the bed

Well, you should know by now how the famed ‘Monkeys jumping on the bed’ song goes. Just a couple of days into 2019, we were greeted one horrifying episode when our little monkey fell off the bed. While she didn’t quite hit her head, she did end up with a hairline fracture on her elbow.

Incident happened on a Saturday evening where we were just about to have few friends over for dinner. She was playing in her room unsupervised, mostly because we felt she’s old enough to do so. We did leave the baby monitor on and could hear what she was doing in her room which was basically watching TV and playing with her toys. I didn’t know what happened exactly but I heard her crying and the Man trying to soothe her.

Found out later that she slipped off the bed frame while trying to jump off with two pillows placed on top of the frame. This girl, she really has no fear.  Her cries were pretty loud and when we asked if she could move her arm, she screamed louder and told us she couldn’t. We were in a dilemma as to whether we should rush to the hospital to have her treated but on the back of mind, we also thought perhaps she was in shock and once she had her nerves calmed, she could move her arm.

So our friends came, we had our dinner and while the crying stopped, when we attempted to get her to move her arm, the tears would start along with the whining. We decided for peace of mind, it would be better for us to head to the hospital to get a X-ray done.

After approximately about 45 minutes wait at KKH Hospital (A&E for Children), we did a X-ray and our worst fears were confirmed. The little one did have a hair-line fracture on her elbow and that elbow needed to be in a cast.

Our first thoughts were whether the cast would be comfortable for a young child and whether we should cancel our upcoming ski holiday. But the doc on duty told us to just leave the cast on for about a week before going back for another review with the specialist. And hopeful we remained.

A week on, we went back to see the specialist who advised us to let the Bub be on another cast (he assured us the material used for this cast would be more comfortable than the previous one). I guess the highlight of the whole session was that she got to choose the colour for her cast. She went with apple green in the end. With the ski holiday fast approaching in Feb, I daringly asked the doc if her cast can be removed by then and for her to learn skiing. He said ‘let’s see’! While the very least he did was to book the next check-up a few days before the Lunar New Year holidays. He was hopeful that the cast will be removed by then for her to enjoy the season of feasting.

It was a traumatic experience for us as parents having to see our child being in a cast and just praying that it would not be as unbearable as it looks (ie: itchy and smelly). Thankfully, the Bub is such a trooper and her am being in the cast did give her the extra boost of confidence to run around (back to her usual normal self).

That said, the extra attention that was showered upon her during the time then didn’t hurt as well. She had extra hugs, kisses and portions of food/ fruit and ice-cream that came along her way.

As for our holiday? We did go eventually and the Man and I took turns hitting the slopes while the Bub stayed indoors and got an extra-large dose of Netflix. Ain’t a bad way to spend a holiday right?