Archives

This is our song…

Did you have that special song at your wedding, the one where you and your spouse had your very first dance as man and wife? No, I did not have one but I did have a videotape (Yes! That’s right! It was so long ago already!) recording of the church ceremony and what I did was to take excerpts from the whole thing to compile one short clip and then I dubbed the audio track with this song that I sang myself with one of those minus-one recordings that I had on cassette tapes.

It has been the general practice for sometime now to show a special video clip featuring the bride and the groom and so far, those that I’ve seen, the most popular songs used for the purpose are Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” and Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and at one time, it was Shania Twain’s “From this moment on”. These days, it is not uncommon to have a band in attendance at wedding receptions and they will play all the beautiful love songs that are most suitable for the occasion but if I were to engage one, I certainly would want to double check their playlist as at one wedding in Penang, I was wondering why they chose to play Trisha Yearwood’s “How do I live” which, I feel, is a rather inappropriate song with lines that go:
Without you,there’d be no sun in my sky.
There would be no love in my life
There’d be no world left for me.
And I, baby, I don’t know what I would do,
I’d be lost if I lost you if you ever leave,
Baby, you would take away everything real in my life…
Gosh!!! I wouldn’t think it is a good idea to think such depressing thoughts, not at one’s wedding. What do you all think?

Generally, the people here are more into Chinese songs and one song that I’ve heard being sung quite a lot would be this one…

As a matter of fact, I’ve sung at weddings a few times myself and those that I’ve presented included Elvis Presley’s “Can’t help fallin’ in love”, this version of Nat King Cole’s “When I fall in love”, Olivia Newton John’s “Let me be there” and this one…

In fact,  a blogger friend sang this very song at his own wedding for the grand entrance of his bride and according to him, he changed the lyrics a bit. I guess he didn’t quite like this line:
“…I know you haven’t made your mind up yet…”
…but other than that, I would think the rest would be perfectly all right and it certainly is such a beautiful song.

Among the more contemporary ones, I think I love this one the most…

…though I can’t imagine dancing to it, considering that it does not have that kind of melody that would make you wanna sway and sweep one off one’s feet, so to speak.

So what song did you have at your wedding? Or if you have yet to tie the knot, which one would you choose to be your song?

Story…

This brand new place in town…

Aussie Story, Sibu 1

…is a dream come true for two guys, Johnny and Frederick, each with his own lucrative profession by day and by night, they run this place together as all their lives, this has been something that they had always dreamed of and wanted to do.

Why the name, you may ask? Well, one was a chef in Ireland (and has an Irish wife, if I’m not mistaken) and now he does the cooking in the kitchen with his assistants while the other worked in Australia before, helping a barista there to brew coffee and make other drinks as well and that was where he acquired the skill to do what he does now. For so long ever since he was Down Under, the latter had wanted to open a place like this but when he came back, he got all caught up in his profession and never realised his dream until now, together with his partner. According to him, initially they had planned to do it after they had retired but in the end, they decided not to wait till then and just go ahead to make what they had been hoping for a reality.

That is why they do not open for lunch, just for dinner from around 6.00 p.m. and the kitchen closes at around 10.00 p.m…

Aussie Story 2

…as they still have their daytime jobs at the moment but coffee and drinks will be available till past midnight.

It’s a neat and pleasant place…

Aussie Story 3

…none of those excessively gaudy decor and clutter that one can find in some eateries here, there and everywhere. I like its simplicity and the use of real tablecloth sure adds a special classy touch to the place.

Actually, Huai Bin and I were heading some place else for dinner that night when we chanced upon this one so there was a last-minute change of plans and we decided to stop by here instead to give it a try. We shared these slices of french loaf with the very nice creamy topping…

Aussie Story French loaf toast with creamy topping

…which reminded me of my rich and creamy cheese scrambled eggs but there was much more to it and whatever went into the making sure enhanced the taste a lot more and the two of us enjoyed it very much. However, I would like the bread to be toasted a little bit more so that it would be crusty on the outside while still soft on the inside – I certainly would make that special request the next time I drop by and order these for starters.

We also had the Irish stewed lamb shank (RM38.00)…

Aussie Story Irish lamb shank

…which was very nice though I would not say it is my favourite in town. The meat was very nicely done, real tender and it tasted great. Personally, I would prefer a stronger gravy, something thicker and richer but perhaps, that is something else, not really the authentic Irish recipe.

The fish and chips (RM15.00)…

Aussie Story fish & chips

…was good. We ordered that when the chef told us that they do not use dory – he did mention what fish it was but I can’t remember the name now. I can’t say that it swept me off my feet though but it was definitely a lot better than those one would find at some other place in town and for both of the main dishes that we had, I thought the coleslaw was really good, very much nicer than any that I had had before – I certainly enjoyed that very much.

One thing that impressed me the most was the PR. The chef himself came out to tell us the details about every dish available on the menu and give his recommendations and after the food was served, halfway through the meal, he came out again to express his hope that everything was all right and get our feedback.

It so turned out that the niece of one of the guys, who is currently studying in Northern Ireland, home for the summer vacation, was helping out at the restaurant and she was in my English tuition class a few years ago…and when I ordered my usual glass of iced water, she insisted that I had something else so she could treat me to the drink. After some persuasion, I relented and asked for this glass from their Dilmah tea series – the Monin fruit tea, iced…

Aussis Story Moinin fruit tea

…and I had the one with green apple. It certainly was very nice and refreshing…and of course, the best things in life are free, right? LOL!!!

After we had finished our dinner, the barista came and spoke to us and it was he who told us the whole Aussie story and insisted that we had coffee…

Aussie Story latte & cappuccino

…on the house. I had the cappuccino while Huai Bin had the latte and we thought they were great. The guy did tell us the brand of Italian coffee that they use but of course, this old man with his very short memory span is not able to remember. Hehehehehehe!!!!!

It certainly was a delightful dining experience, not that the food was awesomely great but it was pretty good – what made the difference was how cordial everyone was and how they went out of their way to make sure that everything was to one’s satisfaction and to make one feel very much at home….unlike what one would find at most other places in town. I certainly would give them full marks for that…and based on that alone, I would not think twice about dropping by for dinner again.

To wrap things up, I would just want to add that somehow or other, the story brings to mind this song that is a favourite of mine…

…and the lovely and very meaningful lyrics:
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am

…and talking about songs, I did wish they would play some pleasantly soothing songs or music softly in the background (not so loudly and not those horrendous choices of songs that I would find at some places – that would absolutely ruin the mood and I would eat quickly and make a run for it). That, I feel, would help bring the ambiance and the whole dining experience to a whole new level.

Well, if anybody has not dropped by to try this place out yet and is thinking of doing so, it is among the shops right across the road from SMK Deshon, Jalan Sena, NOT around where the Italian restaurant is but to the extreme left in the block behind the very big Good Happiness Restaurant next to the Teochew Porridge coffee shop there, somewhere around the Sibu Bus terminal area, to the left hand side…and oops!!! I almost forgot! Thank you so very much, Huai Bin, for the lovely dinner treat and thanks to Frederick and Johnny for the drinks and the coffee. Keep up the good work, guys! Cheers!

Master Jack…

Gosh!!! You would be as old as the hills, like me, if you know this song…

…which was quite a hit during my time and received its fair share of airplay in those long gone days but no, we do not have a Jack here…just a Tan…

Master Tan 1

There used to be another makan (eating) shop here and I, for the dear life of me, simply cannot remember what my friend asked me to go and try and anyway, I guess I can’t do that anymore as they’ve closed shop and somebody has taken over.

I think they’ve renovated the place and spruced it up a bit…

Master Tan 2

…so it sure looks much nicer now than before.

I suppose anyone can jolly well guess what their specialty is simply by looking at the cartoon on the shop sign and the banner and that was what we all had when we dropped by the place to check it out last Sunday morning. Melissa had their original beef soup noodles (RM5.90)…

Beef soup noodles

…while my missus had their beef offal soup noodles (RM7.50)…

Beef offal noodles

Unfortunately, we thought the soup was rather mild and did not have the nice and strong beef taste that we would have loved very much in the broth. We could detect a hint of daun ketumbar (coriander leaves) in the soup and we’re not all that fond of it. Here, we would usually have daun sup (Chinese celery) instead…unlike in Kuching where you may find those leaves in most everything there. So if you’re not crazy about those as well, make sure you tell them not to add any when you place your order. Come to think of it, I wonder where they get theirs from as I do not think anybody sells it at our wet markets in town.

I ordered their fried noodles with beef (RM7.50)…

Fried noodles with beef

…and that was exactly what I got – fried noodles that came across something like fried Maggi (instant noodles) with a few pieces of beef and a complimentary bowl of beef soup. Ok…ok…I know some of you are waiting anxiously for me to say it so here goes: I do think that I can fry something much nicer at home. LOL!!! It was a tad too oily for my liking but with the chili dip that came with it, I would say that it was quite good. However, for that kind of money and those pieces of beef that I could count with my fingers on one hand, I don’t think I would be going back there to have this again.

I may want to drop by to try some of the other things they have on their menu though, just that we would not be ordering these that we have already tried. It seems that they have quite a wide selection to choose from including these…

Master Tan menu

…and I wonder if their soup power…

Soup Power

…is the same as the celebrated ones that they are selling at the Malay stalls at the hawker centres in town.

It does not seem to make much of a difference but yes, it will be a little bit cheaper if you drop by during their happy hour [SIC]…

Happy hour

…from 12 noon to 3.00 p.m.

Well, if you happen to do that and find anything that is really nice and worth trying, do let me know so I can head back there for the same. In the meantime, I’d probably go and look for something that’s cheaper…and most likely, nicer too, elsewhere.

Aloha Oe…

If you are as old as I am, you would probably know this song from the movie “Blue Hawaii”, starring the late King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley but when I was younger, this song was more popular than the rest from the original movie soundtrack. These days, however, my favourite would be this one…

…which I still sing time and again at karaoke sessions and it’s a great song for weddings, I would say – very appropriate.

Well, for reasons known only to the proprietors, they decided to call their shop by this name…

Aloha Corner 1

…and I think I would be quite right to say that it is one of the most popular coffee shops in town – always crowded all the time and very difficult to get a table despite the fact that parking can be a real pain where it is located…

Aloha Corner 2

The main attractions here, I guess, would be the Sarawak laksa and the Sibu-style egg-wrapped fried kway teow but when my missus and I dropped by for lunch the other day, she had the kampua noodles (RM2.70)…

Aloha kampua mee

…and it was pretty good. I could detect the fragrance of the lard used in the tossing of the noodles the moment it was served.

Actually, I wanted to go there for the sole purpose of giving their ayam penyet a try…

Aloha ayam penyet 1

I had had people telling me that the one here was much nicer than the one I had here, not as dry and so on and so forth.

Let’s start with the rice. For one thing, it was not wrapped in banana leaf so it did not have that squeezed texture similar to what one would find in nasi impit or ketupat and of course, it did not have the nice banana leaf fragrance either. It wasn’t plain white rice though – in fact, it was their nasi lemak. Unfortunately, there was so very little “lemak-ness” that one could barely detect the presence of its very very slight hint of it…and  that was why I thought they might as well not bother as one would hardly be able to tell the difference.

I don’t know if this is the sambal

Aloha ayam penyet sambal

…that you would get if you order their nasi lemak but if it is, then I would say that it is not all that great. I’ve had nasi lemak sambal at many places elsewhere that is a whole lot nicer than this.

The complimentary soup was very good though – chicken and definitely not the usual plain water with salt and msg added that you would get at many Chinese shops and food stalls.

As for the chicken, it was HUGE – one whole thigh…

Aloha ayam penyet - chicken

…but to me, it was just fried chicken…with traces of the oil used in the frying though not all that much. I could not see how it was any different as it was neither flattened not clobbered, and thus, not penyet. The only consolation was the fact that it was a bigger piece that the other place that I would frequent…plus it was cheaper by 50 sen.

All things considered, I wouldn’t think I would bother dropping by here for this again. In fact, I do feel that even the one that we had here would be much nicer…

It’s not easy being green…

This is my favourite brand, and I am pretty sure it is the favourite of many too, when it comes to instant mee goreng (fried noodles). I haven’t had any for quite a while now – usually, I would just eat whatever my missus buys and leaves lying around the house or I would cook something else for breakfast.

However, when I dropped by the shop round the corner from my house the other day, I saw that they have come out with this new flavour – green chili…

Indomie green chili flavour 1

…and at RM3.80 for a pack of five, I thought that was all right, less than 80 sen a packet…unlike some of the instant noodles that I see on the shelves at the shops these days.

I bought a pack and the other morning, I cooked one packet to try…

Indomie green chili flavour

There was a packet of bumbu (seasoning) inside, a bit of sweet dark soy sauce and some green-coloured oil. I checked the ingredients and these are the contents – refined palm oil, green chili, onion, spices and permitted colouring – chlorophyllin. That last one, alongside the green chili used, probably explains the colour.

I was too lazy to dig into the freezer or the fridge to see if there was anything that could go with it so I just fried an egg…

Fried egg

…the way my mum used to do it – in a wok, with the crispy golden frills all round. Like what she used to do as well, I splashed the hot oil over the yolk to cook it so it would not so orange and raw-looking and of course, I made sure not to overcook it…unlike what I would get at those makan stalls at the shops here, there and everywhere.

After boiling the noodles to soften, I tossed them with all the ingredients provided and served…

Indomie & fried egg

- with the fried egg by the side.

Yes, it was very nice. I liked it a lot – very slightly spicy with a hint of that green (chili) taste, almost like the original but not exactly. It did not look as green as in the photograph on the pack or the packet though. Ah well!!! I guess it is not easy to be green…

Have a delightful weekend, everybody…and happy holidays, kids!!!

More than anything……

It’s my blog’s 6th anniversary today. Yes, it has been six years since my first post on the 7th of March, 2008.

Dining in the dark
*Still eating after all these years…*

Many came and many went – I don’t think any who used to drop by and comment are still doing that these days anymore. If you care to look at the people who commented on that inaugural post, all the unfamiliar names that you will see would bear testament to that. Some were bloggers then though I don’t know if any of them are still doing that but some do keep in touch like the ones who would take the trouble to come and visit me during Chinese New Year, for instance…

Ex-blogger friends
*Archive photo*

I certainly am thankful and appreciate that very much even though I am not too sure whether they still drop by my blog anymore to see what I’ve been up to lately. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t…but it doesn’t really matter as it doesn’t change the fact that through my blog (and theirs) at one point in time, we became friends and have remained so to this very day.

Indeed, what I am most grateful for, after all these years of blogging, is the priceless friendships that I have made with all the wonderful people that otherwise, I would never have got to know. That alone is enough to keep me blogging and I certainly look forward to make lots and lots more friends in the years to come. As we would write in our autograph books in our younger days…
Make new friends, keep the old
One is silver, the other is gold
.

Six years. Six years of warmth, love and affection from you, you and you. Who could ask for more?

I have nothing, nothing at all, to give in return other than my friendship and all that you will get to see each passing day in this simple blog of mine which, I hope,will serve as a permanent record of everything especially all the happiness, all the joy that we have shared and will share over the years, precious times, precious moments to be cherished forever.

Thank you…from the bottom of my heart.

The last farewell…

It has been a week now since that fateful morning when, at the break of dawn, I received the devastating news of the tragic accident that took the life of one loved so dearly.

His father called me that afternoon and in between sobs, he thanked me and my family for our love and for always taking good care of his son. I told him that I would be at the funeral but he insisted that I should not go as it would be troublesome but nonetheless, there was no question about it. I just had to go. I just had to be there to bid him one last farewell…

It was held at the St Theresa’s Church…

F1

…in his hometown, Serian…

F2

It was a sad sad day for all – those who were not able to be present and all that thronged the parish hall that morning to say goodbye…

F3

He looked very good – like he was sleeping peacefully but the fact remained that we had lost someone so close to our hearts, leaving behind an emptiness that would be impossible to fill ever again.

F4

The school band, of which he was the teacher-in-charge, was there…

F5

…and when they played Amazing Grace, there was not a dry eye in the hall…

F6

…as everyone, even his students, wept uncontrollably. He passed away on Sunday and I heard that all day Monday, his students were lining up at the staff room in his school to leave flowers and messages on his table – they must have loved him so much too…just like me and my family and all his friends.

I flew to Kuching and got a ride to Serian for his funeral but I was not the only one who came from afar. Mohan, who was formerly his colleague in Bintulu and a very close friend, came all the way from Ipoh…and I met someone from Sungai Petani who said that she flew from Penang to KL to Kuching and made her way to the little town. There were many others from all over Sarawak as well and I felt very thankful to those who stopped by to say a few comforting words to me, those who knew us and how we were such great friends – I certainly appreciated that.

It has been a week now – the tears have yet to run dry, the hurt and the pain still remain…and deep in my heart, I know, for sure, that the memory of you, Jimmy, and all the happy moments we shared would live on and on forever in our hearts.

It has been a week now and to this day, I still ask WHY…why, Jimmy, why?

FOOTNOTE:
There will be a special Requiem Mass for Jimmy tomorrow, Monday, the 24th Of February, 2014 at 5.30 p.m. at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Kuching. Those friends and loved ones in the city, do try to show up and pray for the repose of his soul, may he rest in peace.
Thanks.