Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 December Holiday - Penang Art & Culture Trail

Besides the gastronomic part of our recent holiday in Penang, we also wanted take a look at the typical weekend of the locals too.  Having gone to Penang so many times and DinoPapa is so familiar with it I did not read up anything about that place, I sort of relied on him to show us all the places of interest.

We decided to show the boys the real wet market, something different from those they have seen in Singapore.  We popped by Chowrasta Bazaar and jostled with the locals who were buying the fresh fish & meat in the morning.  The place reminded me of the wet markets I went to with my mum & grandma when I was a little girl.  I have a strong urge to start bargaining with the stall owners and buy some of the really fresh food.  Anyway besides food, there are many other things being sold in the bazaar, things like clothes, toys, Chinese herbs etc.

Of course DinoBoy had other thoughts.  It was hot and warm, he was perspiring, though he is not complaining but he is not fully enjoying it.  The only thing that caught his eye were 2 beggars; one of them is an old man who seems to have some problem with his legs as he was kneeling down with his feet at some awkward position, in the middle of the road with a tin can in front of him.  The other one is a men in his 30s, missing his legs - knee down.  He was lying down in the middle of the other road begging for money.  I explained to him the possible reason for them begging in the street, well I would say that he learned a new life lesson that day.



A MUST VISIT itinerary is Penang's Street Art that consist of wall painting by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic and welded iron wall caricatures created by Sculpture at Work. To be honest, I know about these last year when every one seems to be talking about it but I never really take time to google or know more of it. So please click the link to Time Out Penang to learn more about these beautiful art pieces.

We took many photos with the wall murals and the welded iron wall caricatures, here are some of my favourite. Some of the paintings have faded or part of it has fallen off as the paint drops off due the the weather, so you must hurry down to see them (especially those orignal ones done by Ernest Zacharevic) before they fades away.



I was so mesmerized by this wall mural of Bruce Lee kicking a cat *opps* that I took a few shots of it.  Unknowingly I have captured DinoBoy in one of the photo, he was trying to catch the falling kitty.  Love this photo~


You can rent bicycles from some of the shops along the Street Art trail, for a minimum rental fee of course. Otherwise you can enjoy a slow walk along the trail admiring the surroundings while searching for art pieces.  Remember to look out for the bicycle sign which usually means that an art piece is at that direction.


Here, you can see the locations of the street art, you can click here to get a better view of it.


We walked into this Nonya Beaded Shoes shop at Armenian Street, attracted by its big red sign board outside.  I have always been intrigued with the nonya clothes and accessories, especially the shoes but I never have the courage to put them on.  The motifs are mount onto a woode frame then various tiny colored glass beads are being sewn onto it before being transforming it into shoes or slippers with exquisite design, this can take a few weeks to finished.  The owner was friendly and even showed us some of his finished motifs, he did not even mind when the boys rough handled the wooden frame. I would love to get a pair from him but time is not on my side, plus I am afraid that it will become an white elephant in my shoe cabinet. 


Big Beads, Small Beads and Glittery Beads


We used to have clans in Singapore but not many are as big as Khoo Kongsi, when I was a little girl Grandpa used to bring me to the clan he was a member, I don't remember much of it except that it's really dark inside and there is this area where there are some gods or something on the alter.  Going into Khoo Kongsi makes me see how other clans are outside Singapore.  The big courtyard, the clan house, the opera stage, all of them look so grand.  I am also attracted by the cravings I found around the clan house.

The clan house Leong San Tong


We are back at the Snake Temple again as DinoPapa wanted to pray to the Gods and offer some offerings.  I am not a fan of snakes but I like the snakes here, may be its because most of the time they are not moving, just hang there on the spiral stand chilling out.  Since its called the Snake Temple, you will see many snakes in it but they are mostly on the alter in the main temple, the trees beside the main temple and at the small area beside it.  It is also here where you can have a chance of taking photo with one of their big long python, for a price of course.

This is DinoBoy's 2nd visit to the temple and that day he saw a snake with its old skin hanging onto it.  It may not be something fantastic as you probably can see it in our local zoo but to see one up close and personal (almost close to your face), that is something you can't experience in the zoo.





Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi
18 Cannon Squar
Penang 10200
Malaysia
Tel: +604-261 4609
Fax: +604-262 2591
E-mail : info@khookongsi.com.my
Opening Hours
Daily, including Sundays and Public Holidays: 9 am to 5 pm.

Entry fee
Adults: RM 10/pax, Children (under 12yrs old): FREE

Snake Temple
Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah
Bayan Lepas
Penang
Malaysia

Location of Chowrasta Bazaar








Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 December Holiday - Penang Food Trail

Recently we went for our almost yearly trip back to Penang, this time with my friend SH and her family, so we were able to spend more time eating and exploring Penang instead of spending most of the time visiting our relatives.  When we finally made the air tickets and hotel bookings, we decided to have a "Eat till You Drop" Penang Holiday.  Our last visit to Penang was in November 2011 where we had a great time with friends & relatives, you can read about it here.  This time we are determined to spend more time eating the local delicacies then shopping.

FIRST DAY
Our 3D2N holiday started on 20 December 2013 and feasting started on the same day too!  We had a late lunch at Astons Specialities in Terminal 1 where both DinoPapa and me had Ribeye Steak while DinoBoy have his favourite Fish & Chips.  I love my side of pasta salad which it goes well with the soft and tender steak.  I must admit, I was extremely attracted by the Mac & Cheese side on DinoBoy's plate that I took the photo of it instead the fish.  Frankly, the Mac & Cheese tasted better then the fish.

Late lunch at Astons Specialities

We arrived at Penang around 4.30pm, by the time we reached hotel and checked into our room it was almost 6pm, we put down our luggage and headed out to find some food.  DinoPapa wanted to go to the famous food street but after walking for some time we can't find it.  We backtracked and found ourselves at Penang Times Square.  It looks relatively new with only a handful of shops operating on the 1st floor, we took the escalator to the 2nd floor and it was the same.  We saw the food court and headed there only to find more then half of the stalls either closed or empty.  We thought it was a new shopping mall but was shocked to learn that it has been around since 2011.  Business has been very bad over there.  We choose from the limited food stall and paid for some over priced fried rice, sliced fish hor fan, hokkien mee etc that tasted so-so.  Anyway we were too tired to venture more so this will do, for now.

Besides the spelling errors on the wall, most of the food stated on it were not found in the food court

After finishing our food and feeling unsatisfied with the food we had earlier, DinoPapa is determined to find that food street that he originally wanted to go so we left DinoBoy with SH (he was more then happy as he can play with kor kor R) and we ventured around.  DinoPapa asked directions from a car park uncle and we headed off for a short walk to the food street.  Luckily the boys were not with us as the street is pretty busy with crowds queuing up in front of the mobile stalls. people sitting around at the limited tables & chairs  along the road waiting for their food to be served.  Among these hustling, we have to be mindful of the road as there will be cars and motorcycles constantly going up and down the narrow road.  We quickly ordered our takeaways and headed back to the hotel where we feasted and our bellies are finally very happy and satisfied.

Now, assam laksa is a MUST TRY dish when you are in Penang and we bought a packet for SH since she has a craving of it.  So far we have not tasted any assam laksa in Singapore that is really tasty.  For the authentic assam laksa there must be pieces of tuna (not shredded or mashed pieces of tuna as we usually find in Singapore), pineapple, onion, shredded cucumber, red cut chilli, prawn paste, some veggie and the assam sour taste in the broth.  

I love oyster omelet but those sold in Singapore are over priced with only 5-6 pieces of small oysters.  I couldn't resist this dish when I saw it and immediately told DinoPapa excitedly that "I want THAT!"  As you can see from the photo, there are at least 7 oysters visible, there are some more inside the omelet. YUM-MEE~

Lor Bak is DinoPapa's favourite dish, it is something like our ngoh hiang but instead of minced meat it is wrapped with pieces of meat.  I am not a fan of it but by the look of his face it is really delicious.  The lor bak is served with fried prawn fritters, fried beancurd, century eggs etc.
We had Oyster Omelette, Penang Asam Laksa & Lor Bak

SECOND DAY
The next morning, we wanted to have something light and head off to have find some local breakfast.  We came upon Leong Kee Tim Sum Restaurant 龙记港式点心 and had the most delicious dim sum~ (there goes our "light" breakfast plan).  Leong Kee definitely is the place to go for really good dim sum which we can never find it in Singapore. Not only that their ingredients are fresh, they are generous with the fillings too!  I love their carts with the huge bamboo steamer filled to the rim with small plates of food.  

I love chee cheong fan but I only took a small piece coz I was too full to take in more.  Incidentally, this is the first time DinoBoy tried dim sum and he seems to have taken a liking to chee cheong fan.  Perhaps its because he saw kor kor R enjoying this plain looking food and decides that it is tasty too.  I strongly suggest that you try a little bit of every thing and take your time to savour the food.  We saw their big kong bak pau and have to give it a miss though we were was salivating when we saw it.  The pau is big and you can see the big piece of kong bak (pork belly) peeping out from the inside of the pau.  I am very sure the pau will be soft and kong bak will be tender and juicy.  Oh boy!  Now I really regret not having it!


Since our last visit in 2011, Bali Hai is on top of our MUST VISIT List. They have a wide variety of fresh sea catches and are pocket friendly too!  And really, if it swims, Bali Hai will have it, I guarantee you that you will not be disappointed with their food.  We only ordered 5 dishes as there were 4 adults and 2 boys (too few adults to order a feast for fear of not able to finish the food), we licked clean our plates leaving only the chilli crab sauce.

There is a reservation option in their website, it's best to reserve a table if you want to give it a try.  We were there around 5.20pm and there were only a few tables occupied.  The crowd started to come in fast and furious at around 6.30pm, luckily by then we were about to leave the restaurant.

Seafood Fried Rice, Stir-fried venison, Fried noodle, Claypot tofu with veggie & Spicy Sweet Chili Crabs

"If it Swims We have it"
Fresh seafood!

Lobsters, scallops & prawns from Bali Hai

I don't even know the name of some of the catches here!

Guess what?  At 8.30pm  while DinoBoy is with SH & her family we were at Kimberley Street buying supper from the various stalls.  We blame it on our early dinner, but since this is a Gastronomy Holiday it's only right that we should stuff ourselves with food.  After eating the fried kuey teow a couple of times we strongly suggest that you request for duck's egg instead of the usual chicken egg to be used on your plate of fried kuey teow even though it costs slightly more.  The duck's egg gives a unique flavour to the dish and makes it tastier.  

I saw a stall selling duck meat kuey chap and couldn't resist it.  When I was enjoying this back in the hotel I thought I would only find duck meat inside but instead there are also pieces of pig's intestines, pigs blood, pig's ear, an egg, pork belly and pig stomach.  DE-LI-CIOUS~  Plus the kuey are not the usual ones sold in our food court, its thicker and has a QQ texture, something like our lou shu fen or short rice noodle but flatten out.  

My advise - you have to consume the food while its hot otherwise it will not taste as good.  We have to wait for the hotel's room service to bring a few plates and bowl up to our room, by the time the food is already warm though still tasty.

Fried Carrot Cake (Penang style), Lor Bak, Kuey Chap and Fried Kuey Teow

THIRD DAY
We had an early start on our last day in Penang as we want to visit the snake temple.  We went back to New Lane and sat down in Sin Yip Nam Cafe for some local breakfast.  Here we had chee cheong fun in another style, this one is served with sweet sauce and prawn paste.  According to SH, the prawn paste is too sweet and its an acquired taste, you either love it or hate it.  So if you are trying this, do remember to sample the prawn paste first before mixing it with the chee cheong fun.

The hokkien mee is something similar to our prawn noodles but its cooked with spicy broth.  Our bowl of hokkien mee comes with 2 fish balls, some slices of fish cakes, some small prawns, bean sprouts and 1/4 of an egg.

Look at their toast!  Its even bigger and thicker then ours!  

Chee Cheong Fun, Lor Mee, Hokkien Mee and Toasts

We met up with a relative later that day who brought us visit some other relatives and we had our lunch at Kafe Mandarin.  We were here 2 years ago and according to the relative some of the stalls have since changed owner, some selling not so tasty food.  Lucky for us, this relative are familiar with the stalls there and ordered all the yummy food.

This is the first time I tried the curry mee and I like it a lot.  Its different from the curry noodle you find in Singapore that is usually served with curry gravy and yellow noodles with chicken pieces, instead it is served in spicy broth with tau pok, cuttlefish, cockles, prawns and some other ingredients which I have forgotten.  

This relative also ordered a cold dish which I forgot to ask her the name of the dish.  It has fried beancurd covered in some sauce that is a little bit sweet, I thought I tasted peanuts or yellow bean but could be sure.  I don't even know what is that white topping, so if you know the dish please let me know.

Do note that Kafe Mandarin runs 24 hours and each stall has 2 owners operating at 2 different timing, most likely selling different food too.  At 4pm daily, they will "change shift" and the stall owner operating earlier will close the stall by taking down their stall signage and the other stall owner will put up his stall signage to start his day.  So don't be surprise if you see can't find a particular stall you patronized earlier that day, come back again before 4pm the next day.

Hokkien Mee, some cold dish, Wanton Noodle - Dry, Wanton Noodle - Soup & Curry Mee

We went for the Penang Street Art walk and tasted some desserts; the ice ball and ice kachang, both much welcomed on a hot hot day.   Look at their ice kachang~ it has crushed peanuts on it~



So while the adults pigged out were enjoying our delectable sinful supper, the 2 boys were enjoying themselves in the room with us too!


The food portion are small as compared to those served in Singapore but the prices are reasonable.  I like this as this allows me to order many different types of food and eat them at the same time.  This is especially good when you are visiting as a tourist, you will want to sample as many local food as you can at one meal. 

This has really been a EAT EAT EAT Gastronomy Holiday, I think I must have put on a kilo or two over the 3 days of non stop eating.  I am already looking forward to our next Penang trip at the end of 2014.

Astons Specialities
80 Airport Boulevard
Viewing Mall Central Level 3 #03-18
Changi Airport Terminal 1
Singapore 819642
Tel: 6542 4709
Operating Hours: 10.30am - 11pm (Opens Daily)

Leong Kee Tim Sum Restaurant 龙记港式点心
61 Kimberley Street (junction with Rope Walk)
George Town
Penang 10100
Malaysia
Tel: +6016-4550386

Bali Hai Seafood
90, 90A, 90B, 90C & 90D
Persiaran Gurney Georgetown
Penang 10250
Malaysia
Phone : +604-228 8272 / 228 1272
Fax : +604-228 8273
Mobile : + 6016-520 3024
Email : seafood@balihaiseafood.com
Business Hours : Open Daily
GPS Coordinates : 5.433535, 100.315351

Sin Yin Nam Cafe
Lorong Baru (New Lane)
Off Macalister Road
Georgetown
10040 Pulau Pinang
Malaysia

Mandarin Cafe
Lorong Delima 5
Green Lane
Penang 11600
Malaysia




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This linky is for anything that is FOOD related. It could be a restaurant you visited recently, meals you cook with your family or for your family or recipes you wish to share with every one.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse - Book Review

Yogi's Curse Blog Tour Banner

About the Book


Title: Zoe & Zak and the Yogi's Curse (Zoe & Zak Series, Book #2)
Author: Lars Guignard
Publishers: Fantastic Press
Publication Date: September 9, 2013
Pages: 340
Recommended Age: 8+
Summary: Zoe and Zak are back in India. Again. And this time they're attending Moonstock Himalayan Boarding School, which might seem fun except for the fact that the school itself is a little strange. Students ride elephants instead of school buses, snarling monkeys work as security guards, and angry parrots monitor the halls. And even when they manage to get used to the wildlife, the food is absolutely terrible. But living with a bunch of other kids their age can be a lot of fun, too, or at least it seems that way until Zoe's roommate goes missing. Following the directions written on a steamy bathroom mirror, Zoe and Zak fly through the clouds on their magic carpet to learn that the two of them have been chosen yet again. This time they've been asked to lift the Yogi's Curse. It's not going to be easy. Zoe and Zak don't even know what the Yogi's Curse is let alone how to lift it, but like it or not, they soon discover that a whole lot of people are depending on them. Now, if they're going to save the day, Zoe and Zak are going to have to fool the monkey guards, avoid the nasty parrots, and maybe even develop a supernatural ability or two. Because lurking beneath Moonstock is a powerful new enemy. And if Zoe and Zak can't stop him, nobody can.

My Review

Guignard has done it again!  Yogi Curse is another great Zoe and Zak book that is not to be missed!  Be prepared to enter into more fantasy and bizarre action-packed adventures.

Shortly after they returned to India the pair were sent off to a boarding school in Himalayan mountains as their parents have to work.  As with the first book, I feel the cold and wetness of India's monsoon at the very beginning when both of them stepped off the freight train.  The whole boarding house looks mysterious and sad, probably because Zoe is homesick thus she is looking at her new environment from that perspective.  Things started to get weird when they reached the boarding school first with the disappearance of her new room mate Anita. 

Soon they discovered that another mission awaits them, they must lift the Yogi Curse.  What is the Yogi Curse?  What has it got to do with flying elephants and a yogi who was taking a nap under a rhododendron tree?  With a riddle and a map left by their old friend Mr Muk, they must try their best to protect the Elephant Egg of Life that contains a Noble Truth.

What has a mouth but does not speak?
What has a bed but does not sleep?
What always runs but never walk?
Gather me and watch your spots.

And what is a thrilling adventure if there are no villains?  This time they are stronger and fiercer (and creepier if I may say); with shark lookalike Principal, ugly monkey guards & squawking loud parrots guarding the school's hallway, fire-wing birds attacking the pair, YIKES!

While reading this book I constantly have a feeling that Zoe is always lost and needed Zak's advice and leadership.  I would expect her to be more decisive, afterall she is the one with the special birth mark and the special "yogination power" right?  Perhaps its Guignard's intention to let Zoe take a back stand in this book and focus a little more on Zak this time?  Being the more adventurous and daring of the pair Zak has got all the cool gadgets of Stryker and Doormat, he sure saved Zoe a couple of times in this book as her "yogination power" seems to fail to work whenever they are in or near the boarding school.  It is also at the same time Zoe found that she has acquired a new skill that shocked both herself and Zak.  What is this new skill?  I am not letting the cat out of the bag~

Purchase


The Buzz

"I have a 10 year old son who is an avid reader!! He loves books, (but he's picky too) he loved Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. He was so excited to read the 2nd book in this series! When I presented him the first book he was not sure he would like it but changed his mind quickly, then when I heard about the 2nd book being released he almost jumped out of his chair! (no exaggeration) He is anxiously awaiting the 3rd book! I would say that any child who enjoys fantasy/adventure books should read this series! It is a well written page turner! It's a fun story that adults can even enjoy the storyline without getting bored! According to my son, 'every kid should read this series'. " ~ 5-Star review from SavyGreenSaver, Amazon

"I loved this book, even as an adult reading it. I was completely sucked into the plot and was constantly finding myself staying up "just a little longer" to read one more chapter. Different twists and turns in the book have you constantly guessing who is behind what and who Zak and Zoe can trust. I could definitely see myself being involved in this series as a middle schooler considering how much I enjoyed it even now. Another thing I liked about it is if you missed the first book, you could still follow along with this one and not be lost." ~ 5-Star review from Staci, Amazon

"Lars Guignard has done a fabulous job with this series. I loved the `Ghost Leopard' & love this one even more. For late-elementary to middle school age readers, you can't beat this series. It's fun and fast-paced. Even my picky fifth grader enjoyed every page. There are bits of magic thrown in keep the action exciting. Mr. Guignard has a brilliant imagination & readers are blessed that he's chosen to use it for YA fiction. If you've yet to read the first installment in this series, do yourself a favor and read these books back to back. Don't limit it just to kids! Adults will have a blast reading these too!" ~ 5-Star review from Liz Terek, Amazon

About The Author: Lars Guignard


Prior to writing novels, Lars Guignard wrote for film and television. As a teenager he attended boarding school in the Indian Himalayas and his experiences there provided the inspiration for the Zoe and Zak series which now include: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard, Zoe & Zak and the Yogi’s Curse, and Zoe & Zak and the Tiger Temple.

He lives in the Pacific Northwest where he dodges bears and cougars while hiking & skiing the magnificent Coast Mountain Range.

For news about new releases, please join his email list here: Zoe&ZakAdventures@gmail.com


** Be sure to look for the upcoming Blog Tour for Book 3 in the Zoe and Zak Series, "Tiger Temple" coming January 15, 2014. **

MDBR Kid Lit Book Promotion Services - Button FINAL

Disclaimer : We received a pdf copy of the book Zoe & Zak and the Yogi Curse  for the purpose of giving our honest review.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Foodie Fridays - Air-baked Blueberry Muffins


Just the other day, I was doing some groceries shopping at the neighbourhood supermarket and saw some beautiful fresh blueberries.  I couldn't resist taking 2 packets and placing them into my shopping basket.  Back home I was thinking whether to bake a blueberry cake, cupcakes, muffins or simply just pop them into the mouth enjoying the fruit.  Ah~~ the Baking Bugs won and won.  Plus the thought of baking using my latest kitchen gadget, Philips Avance XL Airfryer, its just too much fun to resist.



I am using a recipe that uses the oven to bake the muffins, I set the same timing as indicated in the recipe on the airfryer and they turned out beautiful.  Of course I have to admit I was a little bit worried and opened the basket 15mins into baking to check (and of course to take photos).  They tasted as good as it look!  

Till the next Foodie Fridays post, have fun baking and cooking!

Blueberry Muffins
by Jennifer Lim (www.dinomama.com)
Prep Time: 30mins
Cook Time: 20mins
Yield: 12 - 14 muffins

Ingredients
* 2 cups blueberries
* 250g plain flour
* 110g unsalted butter
* 150g white (granulated) sugar
* 1 egg
* 2½ teaspoon baking powder
* ½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
* 1 pinch of salt
* 300ml sour cream
* 16 sugar cubes, coarsely crushed

Instructions
1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Place paper cases in a 12 hole muffin tin.
3. Toss the blueberries in 2 tablespoons of flour then set aside.
4. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, add in the egg , beat and mix well.
5. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt. Stir until just combined.
6. Gently stir in the sour cream and blueberries.
7. Spoon into the paper cases and sprinkle with the crushed sugar cubes.
8. Bake for 20mins until the muffins are golden and springy to the touch.
9. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yes, I'm a bookworm - Singapore Memory Project

I was at the Singapore Bookfest 2013 recently and was approached by a boy asking if I want to pen down my memories of Singapore and in this case its my memories of reading, I agreed to do so without hesitation.  This is part of the Singapore Memory Project which is a Singapore Government initiative and project managed by the National Library Board, Singapore.




Read about my Childhood Playground over here!

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Linking up with


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