Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas in Singapore - Christmas Tree Shopping and Christmas Decorations

This is my first Christmas away from my parents and siblings and I will be honest and say I am struggling with it. December for me is usually a month building up to two weeks at home near Toulouse, shopping for presents and the like. And usually I would be all wrapped up in winter clothes. So this is feeling a bit strange for me, in the tropics, without my family and no plans to get on a plane back to Europe. So I am taking advantage of this post to tell them I love them and I miss them.

But on the bright side, this is my first Christmas I will spend with my other half as we have always gone to our families for Christmas and met back up for New Years. And it is our first Christmas as a married couple. And we have space in our house here in Singapore so we can do things properly.

My husband will also miss his family but he understands just how upset I am, so he is going out of his way to cheer me up and make Christmas special. First thing he did was organise a Christmas tree. And since we don't do things my halves in our house, he ordered a huge one! A 7 to 8 footer! Luckily our ceilings are quite high :)

He ordered the tree from Far East Flora - I am not sure what it cost exactly as I am not to know these things :) But they deliver and they pick it up too and it is awesome. The smell going through the house is spellbinding. Making it all very magical I must say. I smile every time I walk through the dining room as the scent of Christmas comes towards me.

From my research I understand you can also buy live / real Christmas trees in Singapore at IKEA, at the plant nurseries on Thomson Road and some other plant shops.

You have spotted some of our decorations in the shots above... so you must be wondering where we went Christmas Decoration shopping? We started with Daiso in City Square Mall, Daiso is amazing, everything in the shop is 2$ if you haven't heard about Daiso before. We actually picked up some lovely baubles there, most of the purple ones on the tree are the Daiso ones, where they came in tubes of about 10 baubles which is great value for 2$! We also got some tinsel there which I plan to hang up and some stockings which we need to fill for each other.

We picked a couple of items up at Fairprice (some small shiny presents and some lights). And then we hit the jackpot - the top level of The Verve shopping centre in Little India. IT WAS WONDERFUL! We went rather totally mad. You can buy artificial / fake trees in The Verve too, not just decorations (you can also get plastic trees at Tangs, Cold Storage and Robinsons among others).

We totally spent far too much and bought far too many Christmas decorations but we had no idea how much we would need as it is our first tree (good excuse right?) But we are very happy with our loot and will find homes for everything I am sure, I can always decorate all the rooms in the house as well as the table! And I still intend to go buy some more, as I bought ornaments home to my Mum from Raffles Hotel and Tangs in the past years, and I want some we will keep forever too.

Table full of Christmas decorations

Monday, 15 December 2014

Do You Need More Awesomeness In Your Life? My Awesome Cafe on Telok Ayer for Western Food

We helped out a friend and in return he took us out for dinner which was very nice of him. He suggested My Awesome Cafe as the location, which is down in the CBD area on Telok Ayer street. I hadn't heard of it before so did a quick google search, saw some positive reviews so we went for it.

I wandered down Telok Ayer Street and spotted all sorts of places I read about on blogs, or have had recommended so it was fun to locate shops like Pantler Bakery, Sophie's Bakery and wine places like Napoleon and a friend's fav - Sarnies.

Any how, back to the place we actually ate at! My Awesome Cafe - lets start with a collage:

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Coconut Lemongrass Chicken in the Le Creuset in the oven - Pinterest to the rescue!

You know we love to cook at home, as evidenced by all our cooking posts. But we find ourselves cooking the same thing over and over again, the easy usual favourites. That is perfectly understandable on weekdays when we just want to eat quickly and chill, but on the weekends we need to challenge ourselves a bit more.

So the other night, we raided my Pinterest boards for inspiration and came across the following: Chicken in Coconut Milk and Lemongrass.

G was on board, with a few modifications, so that was what we went for. And very happy to have done! One of our best home cooked dishes in a while! OK I admit the sauce isn't the prettiest thing ever, but it tastes *amazing*.

So what did we make and how? Read on to find out more!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Birramisu? Don't mind if I do! Pizza Fabbrica - New Kid on the Singapore (Italian) Block

You know my pizza obsession right? It has been well documented on my blog (all my pizza posts can be found here) and it seems friends are even calling me the "Pizza Queen" (see their post about Fabbrica to see they are really calling me that!)

I heard via that a family member of a friend of his had opened a new pizza joint called Pizza Fabbrica on Bussorah Street so I sent them a mail to get their menu. It seemed interesting, I shared it with friends and suggested we give them a visit.

I am glad we did (see more on my first visit below) and I then followed up with feedback to the Pizza Fabbrica owner who then asked us back to provide feedback on their upcoming beer / food with beer pairing menu and we helped as a group (with Pizza Fabbrica's beer and wine suppliers) determine which beer should go with which dish! Loads of fun!

I am especially glad we went that second time as we chatted a lot with Pizza Fabbrica's owner which allowed us to learn loads more about their ethos, their goals and their plans. Pizza Fabbrica as a name may be deceiving as the intention is not just to serve standard pizza, but to be an innovative Italian restaurant with a mix of traditional and more modern food, using some current techniques like sous vide, and that is good value for money. Chef Matteo hails from Cremona in Italy and is certainly full of amusing ideas.

Here is a sneak peak of my second visit, full info further down the post! Doesn't it look yummy? Spoiler - it was! Also serves as a TL, DR - yummy Italian food at Pizza Fabbrica :)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Yummy Hummus and Fresh Pita from Pita Bakery @ Bali Lane

I have been wandering past the Pita Bakery on Bali Lane quite frequently but never stopped by for some strange reason. Well that will be changing, I have been three times in 3 working days!

Well, it does what it says on the box, i.e. it is a pita bakery :) They do different types of pita, I have tried one of the standard round pocket ones (below) and one of the longer flatter ones (further down the post). If you buy 5, you get 1 free. If you buy 10 you get 2 free. I ordered 10 for our Christmas party so received 12 of the standard pitas for my 10$. The bigger pitas with the flavourings are 2$ each. The Japanese green tea is 1.5$ and the whole wheat is 1.2$.

Here are the standard white pitas:

250g of home made hummus is 12$ - you can get 500g for 19$. I think 1kg was about 30$ but I would need to double check. The hummus is really good, nice texture, thick enough and a good bit of "smoke" from the tahini. I like it a lot.

6$ for one of the long pitas, with a one person pot of the hummus. 5$ if you go for one of the normal pitas, the pocket ones. Perfect for a mid afternoon snack at work. I went for the New Orleans pita which is herbs and a touch of spice. Very nice. Based on their Facebook page it seems they do some different types of pitas on different days so I will keep an eye out for their creations.

The spicy New Orleans pita:

And here is the Zaatar version I had yesterday:

Here are all the different types of pitas - from left to right you have the sesame / cumin seed one, the wholewheat pocket and the standard pocket. I really liked the fluffiness and slight chew on the pocket pitas, yummy. But G isn't a fan, he likes them dryer and crisper. I am happy though, more for me ;)

Cumin / Sesame on the far right might be my next one, then you have the one I had as my afternoon snack, the spicy New Orleans and next to last on the right you have the sweet mango pita. Interesting!

You can also get pita filled with Nutella (4$) or with kaya (3$) - if you don't know what kaya is, it is a kind of Singaporean coconut jam.

And here is my Nutella pita bread :D

Pita Bakery
29 Bali Lane

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Kampong Garden: Ways of the Gentle Warriors - Bollywood Veggies book launch

I was kindly invited to a book launch recently, for "The Kampong Garden", written by Carolyn Ortega and published by Bollywood Veggies with the support of the National Heritage Board, which was held in the Singapore National Musem.

The book is an introduction to growing edible gardens, encouraging young minds and novices to heighten their awareness of what they consume, with key messaging on sustainability and the environment. We all know Singapore is small and quite crowded but that shouldn't mean that we can't still grow on a smaller scale, using roofs and small gardens!

I had wanted to bring my lovely friend L with me as this was right up her street since she is very much into edible gardens, greenery, growing food and eating healthily. But she was ill and so N from came along and we had a lovely time. It reminded me of when we used to grow vegetables on our balcony in Nice, but more on that further down.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Black and White Photography Challenge - 5 pictures - Who wants to join in?

My darling friend over at  challenged me to the 5 day Black and White photo challenge. Here are my contributions that you can also find on my Instagram account.

Day 1 - Jia Jia the panda at the River Safari

Day 2 - Angkor complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia - magical time of day 

Day 3 - my wedding dress :)

Day 4 - Buddha head in the tree at Ayutthaya in Thailand

Day 5 - Humayun's tomb in Delhi, India

Now who should I nominate next? Who fancies joining in the black and white photography challenge? Drop me a comment below!

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