Let’s get to what’s real…

When my girl got back to town last Friday, I heard that she went to the franchise pizza place and was so disappointed with the seafood lasagna that she used to love a lot. They had a choice between beef and seafood before but eventually, they did away with the former which my girl actually preferred to the latter. I do know that owing to the poor quality control, there may be differences between outlets. She always complained about one in Sungai Petani and even here, she would prefer the one in the town centre after having had a few let-downs at the other outlet on the far side of Sibu.

Well, she went to the better of the two that day and she grumbled that they seemed to scrimp on the ingredients on the seafood lasagna now and instead of the tiny shrimps and whatever else, the one that she had that day had those imitation crab sticks instead. Between the two of them, she and her colleague, the bill came up to some RM60.00 plus…and with the 10% service charge plus 6% government tax, the total came up to around RM70.00!!!

Anyway, to make up for it, I decided to bring her here

Bistecca & Bistro, Sibu 1

…for lunch the next day – Saturday.

We did not want any steaks…

Bistecca & Bistro, Sibu 2

- I thought that would be a  bit too heavy for lunch and I, for one, would like to try something new instead of stuff that we had had before, nice though they might be. In the end, we ordered one Pizza Bracio di Ferro (RM29.00)…

Pizza Bracio di Ferro 1

…and yes, it was very nice. I don’t recall ever having any pizzas with egg on it like this…

Pizza Bracio di Ferro 2

…and I love eggs…and ham so to me, this one was a winner!

I had seen a photo of their new pasta dish with squid ink and it turned out to be their Pasta All’Nero (RM28.00)…

Pasta All'Nero 1

I was quite hesitant in ordering that as I had seen people sharing disgusting photographs of their black teeth after eating that and normally, when we buy squid, we would rinse and rinse to get rid of all the ink. However, my girl said she had seen and heard a lot of this squid ink stuff but she had never got to try – that was why, in the end, I relented and ordered it…

Pasta All'Nero 2

It was quite bland – not much taste at all which probably was a blessing in disguise as somebody said on Facebook that he tried it once somewhere and did not like the smell nor the taste.  This one that we had was all right, just that it did not have the wow factor and to me, it was not something I would be in a hurry to go back for more.

I cannot remember for sure if we had this before or not – their Pasta Tomato Amatriciana (RM19.00)…

Tomato Amatriciana 1

…which wasn’t too bad by us and anytime better than the one with the squid ink.

I’m not really a fan of tomato-based sauces for my pasta dishes…

Tomato Amatriciana 2

…but my girl loves it more than the rich and creamy carbonara ones. Anyway, there was bacon in this one and without fail, anything with bacon will get my double thumbs up.

The bill came up to RM76.00, a bit more than the previous day’s lunch for two and this time around, there were three of us and without a doubt, my girl enjoyed what we had here a whole lot more. I do hope they will add some lasagna selections to their menu one of these days and rest assured that we certainly would be making a beeline back to the place to give theirs a try!

The main event…

The wedding of my niece and her groom culminated with a grand banquet…

Wedding cake

…held at the sparkling new hall at this recently-completed building in town.

The door gifts…

Door gifts

…included a pair of lovey-dovey heart-shaped glass photo frames and a box containing personalised red velvet cookies and a slice of cake – if I’m not mistaken, it was the hati parek with its lovely rich taste of fruit (raisins or prune).

Upon the arrival of the newly-weds, they took their places at the pelamin (dais) and there followed the bersanding and menepung tawar ceremony…

Bersanding

…with the blessings by the distinguished guests and the immediate members of the couple’s families.

After that, the couple proceeded to the main table…

Couple with guests-of-honour

…where they were seated with the guest-of-honour, the bride’s paternal grand-uncle, my maternal uncle.

Dinner was served in what I always call “the dome” – I used to have that very frequently at hotel restaurants and other venues on my working trips here, there and everywhere in the peninsula prior to my retirement but this was the first time I had seen this here. Selections included the ayam masak merah (red-cooked chicken)…

Masak merah

…and the Sarawak’s own daging masak hitam (black-cooked beef)…

Masak hitam

I loved the pineapple curry…

Kari nenas

…and the acar ikan masin (pickled salted fish)…

Acar ikan masin

…though the latter was a tad too salty. It would be good to soak the salted fish first so it would not be so salty in which case, I would be able to indulge in more of it. Hehehehehe!!!!

There were the acar limau (calamansi lime pickle) and fruits as well and to go with all those, we were given a choice of white rice or nasi kuning (yellow rice)…

Nasi kuning

I would say that I enjoyed the dinner very much, a nice change from the usual Chinese dinners at the hotels or restaurants.

In the course of the evening, the sister of the bride…

Sister of the bride

…gave a very delightful and entertaining speech.

Gee! I love weddings, I really do and I would say I enjoyed the evening very much, basking in all the joy and the splendour…and there will be another one coming up at the end of next week – I’m certainly looking forward to that.

In the meantime, here’s wishing the two of you again, Nadya and Helmi, everlasting love and happiness and all the best in the years ahead. Cheers!!!

My little girl…

No, no…it wasn’t my little girl that was getting married but my cousin’s youngest, my cousin from my Melanau maternal grandma side of the family.  His older children, a son and another daughter got married together on the same day a few years ago in 2010 and now, it was the youngest child’s turn to tie the knot.

The handsome groom comes from Bangi, Selangor and here, you can see the entourage arriving at the bride’s house…

Nadya's wedding 1

…bearing gifts and all, for the akad nikah or matrimonial rites ceremony.

They all gathered in the living room…

Nadya's wedding 2

…for the prayers and the handing over of the gifts and everything else after which, the bride’s family reciprocated with their gifts…

Nadya's wedding 3

…and when that part of the ceremony was done…

Nadya's wedding 4

…the bride made her appearance…

Nadya's wedding 5

The brother of the bride…

Nadya's wedding 6

…and somebody else from the groom’s side were the witnesses and they had to sign the marriage certificate. There were more prayers and a somewhat lengthy sermon before finally, the father of the bride handed over his daughter’s hand in marriage…

Nadya's wedding 7

Here, you can see the happy couple seated on the pelamin (dais)…

Nadya's wedding 8

…but the bersanding ceremony would only be held the following day. Bersanding literally means the “sitting together of the bride and bridegroom on the bridal couch” for the menepung tawar, the ceremonial blessing by the couple’s family and friends. This is followed by the feasting and merry-making called the kenduri which, in this case, would be the grand banquet the following night.

The guests at the akad nikah ceremony that night were treated to a very scrumptious buffet dinner with all the delectable local delights…

Nadya's wedding 9

Heartiest congratulations to you, Nadya, and Helmi, on your marriage…from uncle, auntie & Melissa. May your lives together be filled with everlasting happiness and God’s abundant blessings each passing day in the years ahead.

That time of year…

It was that time of the year again when my ex-student, Julia, would be home from the UK for a few days…and like what we did last year, we arranged to meet one afternoon for tea. When it comes to afternoon tea, there are not many choices here in Sibu and we did not want to go back to the same place again and Julia decided to give this one a try since she had not been here before.

She thought the blueberry cheesecake (RM8.90)…

Blueberry cheesecake

…was good but she would have liked the green tea taste/fragrance to be stronger in the frappe (RM9.90)…

Green tea frappe

…that she had. I had the long black (RM5.00) which was all right by me and I asked for a slice of their turkey ham quiche (RM7.50)…

Turkey ham quiche 1

It certainly looked like they took the trouble to put in some effort and make it more presentable when they served it – I had expected it to come in a saucer or a small plate…

Turkey ham quiche 2

…and as far as the taste was concerned, I thought the chicken mushroom one that we had sometime ago when it was a franchise place was much nicer…but this one was o.k. too.

I must say that I loved the place though – it was not crowded and noisy and we could sit as long as we liked, chatting away and catching up with what each of us had been up to since a year ago. This certainly is a good choice for doing that. I particularly enjoyed talking about Plymouth where Julia is based at the moment and things way back in 1994 and are still around now, twenty years later in 2014, though I am very sure the city has changed a great deal and is no longer like what I knew it to be way back then. She stays around the Barbican/Plymouth Hoe or the harbour area and she knows the Church of Christ the King that I used to go to there

During my time, there were only two supermarkets…or at least, I only knew of two – Asda…and Tesco in the city centre. They have more now including Sainsbury’s which has come out with a very nice Christmas commercial for 2014…

With the theme – Christmas is for sharing, it commemorates 100 years since WW1 in 1914 and all profits (50p per bar) from the chocolate bar, available now at Sainsbury’s, will go to The Royal British Legion and will benefit the armed forces and their families, past and present. Personally, I feel it is like some epic war movie with a very meaningful message but I did not think it moved me as much as the John Lewis’ one did, plus it did not have a song…which I, being musically-inclined, would consider essential if it were to touch more hearts. In Shakespeare’s words, “If music be the food of love, play on!”

Anyway, going back to the place where Julia and I met for tea, I noticed that they had come out with some Christmas goodies for sale including these chocolate chip cookies…

Choc chip cookies

…and these gingerbread men…

Gingerbread men

Oops!!! Some had cracked, it seemed – they could have taken out those to let people try the bits as samples. At those prices, I  would expect them to be really very good and I certainly would not buy without having tried and confirming that it is really that good and worth forking out all that money for.

Anyhow, I already had these to enjoy…

M&S goodies from Julia

…all from Marks & Spencer. Thank you so much, Julia – I love their All Butter Viennese ones in the orange packs, my favourite, but I had never seen, much less tried, these blue ones before. Well, I had sampled a few pieces and I would say they were very very nice though I would very much prefer them without the chocolate coating on one side. My girl was so thrilled to see the all butter mintoes – she loves those a lot and of course, I let her take some back to her school after the weekend home. At the time of writing, the box of Belgian triple chocolate cookies has yet to be opened. Slowly does it! LOL!!!

It sure was nice seeing you again, Julia – too bad I had something on over the weekend when Judy would be back or I would have loved to get together one more time before you left town. That will have to wait till next year then…

I got you…

Not one to give up easily, I went back once again to this coffee shop and yes, the lady was around…but unfortunately, she did not seem to have anything ready. The first time I was there, they told me that she would come a bit later every day, past 9.00 a.m., as she would prepare most of the things at home to bring over to the shop. Well, it certainly did not look anything like it but I just asked, anyway, and was told that I would need to wait for around half an hour or so. Ok, I said, I would wait…

In the meantime, I decided to try the pan mee or 板麺, in Mandarin (RM4.00)…

Full Fortune Cafe, pan mee 1

I was wondering why it was thus called, seeing that it had got nothing to do with (frying) pans but according to Wikipedia, it is “a Hakka-style noodle, originating from Malaysia. Its Chinese name literally translates to ‘flat flour noodle’. It is part of Malaysian Chinese cuisine.” Hmmmm…interesting! I did hear before that it was hand-made and hand-torn but it seems that machine-made ones are available now, cut into strips like most regular noodles…

Pan mee

I was never a fan of the soup version so that was why I asked for it dry…

Full Fortune Cafe, pan mee 2

…and yes, it was very nice – definitely something I wouldn’t mind having again.

They gave quite a lot of the sayur manis/cangkuk manis so I took a bit of it and put it in the complimentary soup…

Lakia chai therng

…and it turned out to be like the lakia chai therng (Dayak vegetable soup) that my mum used to cook when I was small. For some reason or other, this vegetable is also called lakia chai and we loved to drink the soup as it would be so very sweet because of the vegetable…but we would leave all the leaves behind, much to my mum’s distress. LOL!!!

While I was halfway through, the lady approached my table, all apologetic and sorry that what I wanted would not be ready but no, I was not leaving without it! Tsk! Tsk! I just told her to carry on and we would see about it later…and I went on enjoying my pan mee. I had just finished when this was served (RM2.50)…

Full Fortune Cafe, popiah 1

…the popiah (spring roll) that I had been wanting to try!

The skin was not all that nice – in fact, it did not even look nice and I was wondering if it was one of those frozen ones available at the supermarkets, not something freshly-made locally. The filling was all right…

Full Fortune Cafe popiah 2

…and all in all, it was not too bad but unfortunately, it came nowhere near these awesome ones that I loved so much once. I heard that that lady is not based at any stall or shop anywhere now but anyone can call her to order and in fact, she does make them sometimes and goes around the shops and offices to sell, in packs of two. My missus met her at a bank once and she bought some home but I’m afraid they were no longer nice especially when she had packed them when still hot and by the time we ate them, it did not matter so much that they had gone cold but they had turned soggy in parts and were not all that palatable anymore.

On my way home, I spotted this in front of the mall near my house…

Delta Mall Christmas tree

I did see the Christmas decor outside a hotel in town as well but I have not been around so I wouldn’t know whether everyone has all gone full swing in their decoration and preparation for the festive season. Come to think of it, by this day next week, we would only have a month to go and the following week, another year would have gone by. Sigh!!!

No luck…

I said I would go back to this place to try the popiah (spring roll)…

Popiah

…but when I finally got down to it, the place was closed. I had no choice but to go back the following day and yes, it was open. According to the guy there, they only close once a month…and I just had to choose that day the drop by – that was the day before! No, that was not all! Despite the fact that it was business as usual in that coffee shop, the popiah stall was closed and the guy told me that the lady had some personal matters to attend to. Sighhhh!!!! It certainly looked like I was not destined to get to sample her spring rolls, after all.

Well, since I was there already, I thought I would try their kolo mee (RM3.80)…

Kolo mee 1

…with a special request not to add the char siew oil so that it would not be red – Rose‘s daughter had that the previous time I was here and looking at the comments,  a lot of people did not seem too comfortable with the colour.

This cost RM1.00 more than a plate of kampua noodles in most places but instead of the few paper-thin slices of red-dyed meat, this one had a lot more…

Kolo mee 3

- two pieces of meat and two fish balls and a whole lot of minced meat plus some green vegetables. But this time around, the chopped spring onions and fried shallots were not served separately in a saucer – maybe they only do that for children as some are not all that fond of those garnishings. My girl, for one, did not want any fried shallots when she was younger and even today, I don’t think she is all that fond of those.

I liked the complimentary soup that came with the noodles – at most places, all you would get would be something quite bland, just plain water with a bit of msg added. I did wish, however, that the guy had added some fried shallots and chopped spring onions to it though as they certainly would help enhance the taste and bring it to a whole new level. I also liked the chili in vinegar dip…

Pickled chili dip

…which you would get when eating the authentic kolo mee in Kuching. At many places here where they sell kampua noodles disguised to look like kolo mee, they would just give you the usual bottled chili sauce.

All in all, I enjoyed what I had…

Kolo mee 3

…but the next time I drop by here again, it will have to be the elusive popiah…or nothing. Tsk! Tsk!!!

Sweet tooth…

I love Julie’s cheese crackers and I particularly enjoy the ones with the peanut butter filling in between…and I’ve heard of Hershey’s chocolates, especially their kisses. I may have tried them but unfortunately, they did not leave much of a lasting impression.

I saw these…

J & H cookies 1

…at a supermarket the other day going for RM7.70 a box and later, I spotted  them again at a mini-supermarket near my house, priced a little less at RM7.30.

I do not know why this product is thus named – maybe it is the collaboration between the two (and if I’m not mistaken, there is also that soy milk and chocolate drink in those tetra-paks from the two, available at most supermarkets) and since I am not really into anything sweet, I did not bother to buy the first time but the second time around, I relented and grabbed these two boxes to try…and also for my girl to bring back to her school to enjoy there – she likes chocolate chip cookies, this much I know for sure.

These are made in Malacca…

J & H cookies 2

…and inside, you will find eight individual packs…

J & H cookies 3

…with two cookies in each…

J & H cookies 4

I would say they are very nice with their very rich and fragrant chocolate taste and the vanilla cream in between…

J & H cookies 5

…but no, I would not think I would want more of those as I thought they are rather sweet and not something I should indulge in.

Besides, they do not come cheap – almost as much as some of those imported stuff that we can get quite easily here. Furthermore, if you do a bit of calculation, you will find that it works out to over 45 sen a piece, a little less than 50 sen, depending on where you buy yours and for that kind of money, I think I would rather go for those savoury local kuihs (cakes)…

Rejang Park chai koi

…that I certainly would enjoy more, minus the sugar overload.

I bought these chai kuih (called soon kuih in Singapore, I’ve been told) at 50 sen each at a stall at Rejang Park here, one or two doors away from the Chinese medical store (open in the afternoon only) and even though they were kind of deflated, unlike the nice ones in Kuching, they tasted great and the skin was very well done. I would state in no uncertain terms that I do derive a lot more enjoyment eating these rather than those over-priced cookies.

While I was at the mini-supermarket, I also spotted this (RM8.90)…

Ice cream 1

Now, the tub is not the same as the usual ones from this brand that I am more familiar with…or maybe I was confused with all the other brands available. A closer look revealed that this type is made in Thailand…

Ice cream 2

For one thing, I was told by the boss of this cafe that he uses another brand but he makes sure he would only buy the ones made in Thailand.

I bought the vanilla with chocolate chips to try…

Ice cream 3

…and I thought it wasn’t too bad- not as rich and creamy as what I am more used to but the best part was that I found it was not all that sweet. I can’t say I am all that fond of those tiny bits of chocolate chips in it though – it felt like eating something with bits of whatever inside…like coffee grounds when drinking coffee without sieving it with a strainer first. Other than that, I am not too sure whether it was because I tried it on a very hot day or what but it did seem to melt a little bit more easily, faster than the usual.

All in all, I would say it was all right. I can’t say it got me jumping up and down with delight like these did…