Sunday, 10 September 2017

11D8N Eastern Europe Tour with Chan Brothers Day 4 - Krakow, Poland

Set off very early for our long drive into Krakow. Many traffic accidents along the icy roads and we were caught in numerous traffic jams. We were trying to make it to the Wieliczka Salt Mine before the salt mine closed for the Christmas holidays but the terrible traffic and icy roads made it very difficult. We had to press on with our journey to get to the salt mine in time so all of us chose to pick up a sandwich at a rest stop for lunch instead of stopping for a long proper lunch. Many thanks to our superb coach driver for getting us to Krakow safely and just in time before the salt mine closed. 

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was amazing. If you find yourself in Krakow one day, do take the time to explore the salt mine. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Wieliczka Salt Mine was a large compound, but only 3 levels were open to the public. We started our guided tour by taking the elevator in the small shaft down 64 m. It was quite scary being in the elevator because the drop was sudden and quick, and the elevator was not enclosed so we could feel the wind gushing in from the sides. 



Legend has it that Princess Kinga, a Hungarian princess, married a prince in Poland and asked her father for salt since salt was very precious in Poland. Her father, the Hungarian king, took her to a salt mine where she threw her engagement ring into the mine. Later, when she arrived in Poland, she asked the miners to dig until they came upon a lump of salt with her engagement ring inside. 


We walked down long narrow passages (like the ones below) and explored different areas of the mine. I thought it might be hot and stuffy in the mine but ventilation was superb and, in fact, it was rather cooling inside.


As salt dissolves in water, the salt mine had numerous drainage systems to ensure that water flowed into a well and not into the salt crystals around the mine.


A large chapel deep in the salt mine with chandeliers made of salt crystals! This was my favourite part of the mine. So beautiful and... raw. Not the usual curated beauty but really, something so classical and surreal that I would not have believed it at first sight. The tour guide said there were couples who booked this chapel as a wedding venue. It must be so magical to have your wedding in this chapel!



The Wieliczka Salt Mine provided a glimpse of how miners lived and worked underground all those years ago. My first time in a mine and I was extremely impressed! What an eye-opener.

We checked into Hotel Swing in Krakow and had dinner (fish and potatoes that were not very nice) at the hotel restaurant. Headed to Auschan, this supermarket in a large squat building behind Hotel Swing, to stock up on water and snacks for the Christmas weekend. Quite thankful for the accessibility of the hotels to nearby supermarkets so far!


Check out my post on Day 1 ,  Day 2 and Day 3!

Friday, 1 September 2017

CreatureS

A very belated birthday lunch with Stef because we were both overseas when it was her birthday and we were just so swamped with work thereafter. Made a reservation for CreatureS for our Sunday lunch, and we arrived in our Grabcar both looking like we just rolled out of bed. Perfect look for a Sunday!

Located in a little shop house near Little India, the deco inside CreatureS was quaint and interesting. The waiter took us to the second level and we settled down in a table by the window. The second level was empty when we arrived but the crowd grew steadily and it was fully packed when we left.


Crayfish Hokkien Mee ($30). I saw this on TX's instagram and wanted to try it because it looked so good! The noodles were fried in a delicious prawn broth, and the crayfish, prawns and squid were so sweet and fresh. The japanese fish roe was a nice touch, and everything went well with the sambal. 


Garden and Crab Risotto ($34). Risotto in crab broth with crabmeat and salted egg. CreatureS was very generous with the crabmeat but I was a little disappointed with the crab broth that tasted a little bland. Might be because our Crayfish Hokkien Mee came first and our taste buds were already pampered by the rich prawn broth in the hokkien mee that we could not taste the lighter fragrance in the risotto.



Coffee and Manuka Honey Latte.


Ended the meal with a slice of Lychee Martini Cake. The cake was light and the lychee bits were so sweet and refreshing. But I really want to know what that blue tinge at the side was and whether it was just food colouring. 


120 Desker Road
Singapore 209639
62916996

Sunday, 20 August 2017

11D8N Eastern Europe Tour with Chan Brothers Day 3 - Prague (Czech Republic)

After breakfast at the hotel, we started the city tour early. It was a cold and grey day, and we were going to be out and about for the entire day so Eva (our tour leader) told us to dress warmly. I came out in as many layers as I can manage, complete with a beanie, a scarf and gloves. 

Our local tour guide for Prague was a tall lady with a very strong accent so there were moments when I struggled to understand what she was saying through the audio guide. But eventually I got used to it and enjoyed her introduction to Prague.

The bus dropped us off near the Prague Castle and we continued on foot for the rest of the tour.

St Vitus Cathedral was extremely majestic and impressive.






We continued on through the Prague Castle grounds and visited Golden Lane. It was originally built to house the castle guards but now it houses a row of souvenir shops. Somewhere down Golden Lane, we stumbled into what appeared to be a display of the way of life of a castle guard.



We continued walking through the Prague Castle grounds en route to Charles Bridge and found ourselves at a spot with a great view of the city. All of us stopped to snap a bunch of pictures before hurrying along because the place was getting real crowded.


View from Charles Bridge. Charles Bridge crosses the Vltava River and links the Lesser Quarter (the slopes below the Prague Castle) to the Old Town. Statues line both sides of the Charles Bridge but it was so crazy crowded that I failed to take any nice pictures of the statues.



The Old Town Bridge Tower stands at the end of the Charles Bridge next to the Old Town Square. We returned at night to snap a picture of the night view along the Charles Bridge but realised quick enough that the view (which was not much) was not worth standing out on the Charles Bridge on a wintry night so we turned back within 5 minutes.


We ended our city tour at the Astronomical Clock then it was free & easy time! Some members of the tour group went for the optional tour (lunch on a boat cruising along the river) but we chose not to join them because we would like to explore Prague on our own a little more. So we headed to Palladium Shopping Mall for lunch at the Old Prague Restaurant!


Clearly ordered more than I can finish because I did not expect the pizza to be so big. Hot red wine because nothing warms me up better than hot wine on a cold wintry day.


Shopped around a little before heading out to Paris Street on the other side of Old Town Square. Lots of branded goods and luxury brands here for those who love to indulge in some shopping! I was, however, more captivated by the beautiful fairy lights on the bare branches and the darkening sky.


So darkness fell before we realised it and the temperature dropped steadily. Best time to start exploring the giant Christmas market at the Old Town Square! It was so beautiful. The lights came on, everything sparkled in the cold night, and it just felt so incredibly magical.




Walked over to Wenceslas Square where there was another huge Christmas market and shopping malls on both sides of the Christmas market. The Christmas market paled in comparison to the large amazing one at the Old Town Square but the shops on both sides were pretty decent (i.e. high street / fast fashion at reasonable prices).



We walked back to the Astronomical Clock to meet our tour leader Eva as our free & easy time was coming to an end and we had to join the tour group for our dinner. The Old Town Square was getting crazy crowded with locals and tourists and our tour group had to push past a thick crowd to reach where our coach was parked.

While I loved the beautiful lights and architecture, I was so glad to be back in the warmth of our coach bus and finally sitting down after walking for so many hours. Dinner was very average Chinese food at House of Peking and we returned back to the hotel to rest.

It was a terribly cold day and walking around so much made it even colder but Prague was really too beautiful. The lovely architecture, the Prague Castle grounds, the giant beautifully lit Christmas market. Love Prague.

Check out my post on Day 1 , Day 2 and Day 4!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

JB Ah Meng

Came by for dinner after work with Stef and W! Managed to secure a reservation which was quite a feat considering the fact that nobody picked up the ringing phone for days. We were so glad we had a reservation when we arrived at JB Ah Meng to see a snaking long queue at the door. We went in and were directed to an auntie who was in charge of the reservations. The auntie looked very confused and overwhelmed, and hustled around for a long while before finally pointing us to an available table at the front. The restaurant was super crowded even though it was a weekday and things were so chaotic. Shortly after we sat down, the auntie asked if we could share our table with two others and we agreed, so 5 of us were packed around a round table.

After we got over the chaotic process of getting our table and receiving the menu, we ordered our food eagerly.

Salted Egg Prawn Roll. Not really a roll, but really just deep fried prawns with salted egg sauce. The best part of this dish was the deep fried corn. Omg the corn was so crunchy and delicious. The prawns were good, but the corn was definitely better. 


The highlight of the meal had to be the White Pepper Crab. We were told we could choose between 3 small crabs, 3 medium-sized crabs or 2 large crabs. Our first choice was 3 small crabs but the auntie commented that the small crabs were really small (her exact words were "Like baby lor") and that we could comfortably finish 3 medium-sized crabs since the crabs were much smaller than the usual Sri Lankan crabs. Auntie was very persuasive so we went for 3 medium-sized crabs.

The crabs were so good. I am not a fan of black pepper crabs and always opt for chilli crab. But this white pepper crab was amazing. The taste of the pepper was not overpowering and the crab was so sweet and fresh. I loved that they knocked the shell apart so we could get to the flesh quickly without having to grapple with the shell.


Stir-fried kang kong. Some greens to balance the (unhealthy) meal.


Fried Bee hoon. One of JB Ah Meng's specialties and totally not what we expected. When the dish first arrived, we were rather taken aback that the bee hoon looked charred. But the wok hei in this bee hoon was amazing!


534 Geylang Rd, Singapore 389490
67412418 (keep calling and you would eventually be able to get someone on the phone to fix your reservation!)


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Kim Keat Hokkien Mee

Been wanting to try Kim Keat Hokkien Mee forever but it is not really in my hood and I am rather lazy to swing by on the weekends. The opportunity came up to try this hokkien mee when my meeting in the area ended just before lunch and I met up with AA for some yummy hokkien mee!

It was a rainy afternoon. I checked my emails in the cafeteria while waiting for AA to end her phone call. Some 1990s tunes were playing in the background while I sat by the windows and cleared my inbox. It was so... peaceful. And I was looking forward to meeting up with a friend I had not seen in a while.

Lunch was great with the delicious claypot hokkien mee. The broth was thick and flavourful, and the roast pork was definitely the best part of the hokkien mee. But lunch was so wonderful mostly because I could catch up with a friend over yummy food, just like the days when we were together in the same office.

I wish there would be more of such days :)


92 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh


Sunday, 2 July 2017

The Masses and Candour Coffee

Heard from TT that the Saveur co-founder opened Masses after we stumbled upon Taste Affairs at Amoy Street Food Centre which was opened by the other co-founder. Have not tried Taste Affairs yet although I always see a snaking long queue at the store which is beside Han Kee Fish Soup.

So TT and I visited Masses the other day to try the food at this new place. I ordered the popular C&C Pasta ($9, $14). I did not realise this when I ordered the pasta, but it turned out that C&C stood for crab and caviar. It was a cold pasta dish and they were very generous with the portion of crab and caviar that came with it.

Now, I have to point out something rather interesting. I saw pictures of the C&C pasta on other food blogs and instagram and the sauce always had an orange hue. It looked like the sauce could have been tomato-based, similar to crab pasta served in other cafes. But look at the picture of the C&C pasta I took. It was clearly not orange. I have no idea where the thick orange colour came from in the pictures of the same dish on other food blogs. Or maybe my C&C pasta was prepared by another chef? Might be the lighting? Or maybe my phone's camera was just odd. I am clueless, but I should point out that I ordered the smaller portion ($9) and I am not sure whether that was the reason. So strange. But it was delicious, orange or not. 


We also ordered the Egg ($9) which came in hot and cold options. We picked the hot one and it really reminded me of the Japanese chawanmushi. It was light and delicious, and I loved the generous portion of ikura.


Ended lunch with a coffee run at Candour Coffee. Hidden gem tucked away along Beach Road. We entered only because someone opened the door and the fragrant coffee beans were too good to miss. Tried their mains with Tx on a Sunday a few weeks later and I will do a separate post on that. 


A very good cup of flat white. Read somewhere that Candour imported their beans from Market Lane Coffee in Melbourne! I really love their mint green cups too, so pretty. 


The Masses
85 Beach Road
62660061

Candour Coffee
41 Beach Rd, Singapore 189680


Sunday, 25 June 2017

Bridal Studio - Rico A Mona

For the longest time, we thought we were going to go a la carte i.e. we are going to purchase our gowns and suits, and engage our own photographer, florists, and make-up artists. Fast forward to a year after our engagement and we decided that it was just way too much trouble having to liaise separately with different vendors so we decided to book an AD package with a bridal studio instead.

Next came the extensive research about which bridal studio to sign the package with. We had dropped by Zwedding previously (while waiting for our omakase dinner at Teppei) and were completely blown away by how expensive they were. Definitely way out of our budget. So we took time to search through forums and narrowed down to the following bridal studios:
  • Labelle
  • Digio
  • Rico A Mona
  • BQueens
Aside from budget, I also looked through the various social media accounts of these bridal studios and got a sense of the designs of their bridal gowns. Generally I was most fond of the gowns at Digio and Rico A Mona so I decided we will check these out first. Rico A Mona was having their 8th year anniversary sale so I decided to make a booking to visit Rico A Mona. Was totally expecting to visit all the bridal studios in the list above but alas, fate had other plans and Rico A Mona was the first and last studio we visited!



I made a booking to discuss the bridal packages at Rico A Mona but did not ask for a specific coordinator. I was assigned to Yenn Yenn which turned out to be such a blessing because she is such a sweet and nice girl. If you would like to check out Rico A Mona, I would strongly recommend Yenn Yenn!

She sat us down and asked us about our general requirements. We told her we only needed an AD package because we had completed our first pre-wedding photo shoot in Japan (reminds me that I should do a review of Lavie Photography soon) and will be heading for our second pre-wedding photo shoot in USA soon.

She showed us the AD package and explained clearly what was included and what was not. Perfect, I love clarity. Thereafter, she led me to the changing room and brought out a few gowns for me to try! I think I tried about 5 or 6 gowns (a mixture of wedding gowns and evening gowns) before we sat down again to discuss the details of the package.

Rico's AD package is pretty standard and includes gowns, suits, flowers and make up. AD photography would be an additional $1,500 but we chose not to go with Rico's photographer for AD since we have another photographer in mind.

What I loved about Rico was that they did not have any weird "designer range" which required a top-up. I always found those bridal studios which charged for their "designer range" rather absurd. I mean, clearly you should pride yourself enough to purchase and rent beautiful gowns, right? Why would you segregate your gowns into different ranges and charge more for a specific range? Just sounds like a whole bullock of money-generating crap.

So we signed with Rico! Super glad with their service so far and love their gowns! Will update again after our AD. But first, here is a sneak preview of the gown and suit from Rico for our pre-wedding shoot in USA.