She’s got it…

The 17th of September is my girl’s birthday and that was last Sunday so of course, the mum cooked the chicken soup with the traditional Foochow red wine and we had that with hung ngang (the big bihun) instead of mee sua as the latter is not gluten free.

There was a lot of the noodles left over and I fried it for breakfast the other morning, with Thai fish sauce…

Gluten-free fried hung ngang

…instead of soy sauce which contains wheat and is not gluten free as well.

We could not order any cake from outside for her special day – they are all made from wheat and are not gluten-free and she did try making her own a few times before but it had not been very successful.

However, this time around, she managed to pass with flying colours – her Japanese baked cheese cake came out really well and she and her mum did the decoration with whipped cream and fresh strawberries…

Mel's own-made birthday cake

…so she did have a birthday cake…

Happy birthday

…to cut and enjoy after all.

Finally, she has succeeded in making a cake with the soft cake texture…

Melissa's Japanese baked cheese cake with icing & strawberries

…unlike some of her failed attempts before, and it tasted very nice too. The light brown colour was because she decided to use brown sugar instead of the regular sugar.

Incidentally, last weekend, she also used this cheese sauce…

Cheese sauce from Australia

…that my cousin brought all the way from Melbourne, Australia to give to me to cook some broccoli…

Broccoli cheese

…that I had in the fridge. There wasn’t all that much left so the mum asked her to add some sweet baby corn as well to come out with this lovely broccoli casserole…

Broccoli casserole

Yes, it was very nice and we all enjoyed it but being a carnivore, I thought it would be nicer to add some bacon or ham to it. That, I’m sure would bring the taste to a whole new level.

Well, her birthday was on a Sunday so we could not go out for a celebration of any kind. After enjoying the noodles and the cake that morning, we had to be on our way already, sending her back to her school in the jungle.

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Moon…

The Mooncake Festival also known as the Mid-Autumn or Zhongqiu Festival falls on the 4th of October this year which means that there are some two to three weeks to go.

Needless to say, they are getting more expensive by the year so I will not bother getting any of those “branded ones”. With the kind of money, I could go out with my family and have a really nice dinner and derive a lot more pleasure from that instead. As a matter of fact, I saw somebody sharing a post on Facebook that day that there are imitations/counterfeit not only in Hong Kong or elsewhere in China but right here in Malaysia so that would be another reason not to go for those.

We do have a bakery here that makes very nice ones but the last time I bought some…

Famous Bakery, Sibu mooncake
*Archive photo*

…from there was 5 years ago in 2012 mainly because it is located at the far end of town, very far!

I’m sure the prices have gone up by leaps and bounds now – my Miri friend ordered from them for sale at RM38.00 for a box of 12. Back in 2012, they were only RM11 for a pack of 6 or RM13.00 for the ones with salted egg yolk…

Famous Bakery, Sibu yolk puff
*Archive photo*

…inside.

Even our local Foochow Mooncake Festival biscuits or what we call Pek Guek Tong Chiew pia

Pek guek tong chiew pia
*Archive photo*

…are selling for RM6.00 a pack now. I remember at one time they were priced at only RM4.00. My cousin in Melbourne, Australia calls them Foochow shortbread and she loves them so much, more than the Scottish ones, it seems.

I did buy a pack of those mooncakes, lotus paste, from a manufacturer in Johore, halal ones, selling at only RM10.00 for 4. I would not say it was great but at that price, I shall not complain.

I also bought these…

Sibu home-made mooncakes

…the other day from a shop round the corner from my house, RM3.00 for a pack of three, just RM1.00 each. They said they were home-made, somebody made them and left them there for sale.

Kids would probably love the Doraemon mould used…

Doraemon mooncake

…but they only had two types of filling – or tau sar (red bean paste) or pek tau sar (mung bean paste) and I bought the latter which I do prefer.

Yes, the pastry was indeed kind of thick…

Thick pastry

…but I did not mind – for one thing, I do enjoy eating it and for another, it sure helps to reduce the sweetness of the filling. I cannot understand why people would insist on it being paper thin as an indication of a very well-produced top quality mooncake. One would hardly be able to taste the pastry at all so much so that he or she might as well go and buy the filling and eat it straight, just like that.

These days, they have the snow skin and the agar-agar (jelly) but no, I am no fan of those. It has to be the real thing, the original, authentic mooncakes…or nothing at all.

Right now, I am not sure if I would be getting more to try – maybe I will, maybe I won’t. We’ll see! I still have a few weeks to look around to see if there are any other affordable ones available but one thing I am certain of is that I will not be buying those worth-their-weight-in-gold ones, thank you very much!

FAMOUS BAKERY (2.250418, 111.84679) is located at No. 8, Lorong Upper Lanang 29A in the Grand Height area of shops between Jalan Mantis and the aforementioned lane..

Mary’s Day…

It was Mary’s birthday last Sunday and she asked us to drop by her place

Flavours Thai Kitchen decor, outside

…for lunch.

We stopped by a florist’s shop on the way and I got her this little bouquet of roses…

Roses

…and I also gave her a pot of ulam raja seedlings…

Ulam raja

…from my garden (she asked me not too long ago if they were easy to plant) – nothing fancy, nothing expensive, just a simple gesture for the occasion but of course, it came straight from the heart. As they say, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Of course, we were glad to be a part of the celebration of her special day and arrived some ten or fifteen minutes before noon but when we saw the setting…

Flavours Thai Kitchen table setting

…I was wishing I had put on something less casual and more presentable but never mind!

Flowers and snacks

The company was great…

Mary & friends

…and I had a jolly good time chatting with Mary and her other guests and needless to say, I enjoyed the scrumptious dishes prepared by her authentic Thai chefs, Jos & Su.

True to the Foochow/Chinese tradition, there were these golden eggs…

Eggs

…served with some thick syrup that I guessed had honey in it and I loved the bihun

Hinghua bihun

…very much.

We also had the Thai pineapple rice…

Pineapple rice

…and this plate of fish fillet with fresh black pepper sauce…

Fish fillet with black pepper sauce

…and everyone was singing praises of the lime beef…

Lime beef

…that my girl and I had had the pleasure of trying once before.

I did not manage to snap a photograph of the vegetable dish – there were cauliflower and broccoli in it nor one of the platter of fruits that was served at the end.

Thank you so much for inviting us, Mary – that was so very sweet of you and a very Happy Birthday to you once again. All the best in the year ahead and may all your dreams come true. May God bless you and all your loved ones always, cheers!

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

Not too late…

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all Muslim members of my family, friends and readers…

Hari Raya greeting

Of course, by now, all the Ramadan bazaars everywhere would have come to a close and one would have to wait till next year, perhaps, to enjoy all the culinary delights that one would not be able to get normally unless one cooks one’s own, like this delightful charcoal-grilled lamb…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 1

…here…

Grill lamb leg slice

…for instance.

When my girl was home the previous weekend, my missus bought some for her to take to her school in the jungle to eat. She had it on Monday night and enjoyed it so very much, especially with its very nice mushroom and black pepper gravy…and could not wait to tell us about it.

Knowing that it would be too late by the time she would be home again (Thursday) as most of the stalls would have called it a day, I went the very next day, Tuesday, to buy some and keep for her to enjoy at a later date.

When I got there, the guy…

Adi Lamb
*That friend of his had just knocked off work and happened to drop by – I remembered him as the guy at his cousin’s or somebody’s burger stall, no longer in business for a long long time now.*

…had just started for the afternoon and was still getting his fire going though I did see some of the meat, raw, on the grill already…

Meat on the grill

…He told me I would have to wait for at least an hour and I found out that it was his last day at the bazaar, no more the following day. So, I told him I would like three of those slabs of lamb…

Menu

…and I would come back later to collect them.

When I got back around an hour later, they were done…

Meat on the grill, done

…so I was able to go home happily with my loot!

I did cut a bit…

Charcoal-grilled lamb 2

…to try myself and yes, it was indeed, really very nice.

I sure would not mind going back for more sometimes but unfortunately, the guy, Adi Lamb, he told me his name was, said he is not in this business, full time but if anyone is interested, they can contact him and place an order for say, a kilo or two or more, and he would even do home deliveries. I do not foresee hosting any home parties/dinners in the near future and I would probably not be ordering till say, Christmas or New Year or Chinese New Year next year. However, if anyone is interested, he or she can post a comment with a genuine e-mail address and I can forward to him or her Adi‘s handphone contact…or if we’re Facebook friends, you can always PM me and get the number from me there.

What I said…

My ex-student, Thaddaeus, now an RMAF Captain based in Kuantan, Pahang, tied the knot with his lovely bride, Grace…

Thaddaeus & Grace

…at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here in Sibu…

Wedding mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Sibu

…last Saturday and I was in the list of their invited guests.

I did not have many non-Chinese students in my school which was predominantly-Chinese and Thaddaeus was among the sprinkling that I had in my last Form 5 class the year I was about to retire.

What I will always remember was this incident when he came to class with an injured finger and I just asked in passing what happened. I cannot recall now whether it was a fracture or a sprain but I did give him some advice as to what he could do. It did not seem like anything much but somehow, what I said in that little show of concern touched him and left a lasting impression.

Sometime later, in one of his essays, he wrote about it and expressed his appreciation and gratitude for his teacher’s gesture, one that I did not think was of much significance. I guess it is true that we need to be aware of everything we say, no matter how trivial we may think it is, as some may take it to heart and it is a knife that cuts both ways.

Anyway, back to the wedding, in fact, I was not free that day but I made an effort to show up at the cathedral just to say congratulations to him and his wife-to-be, at that point in time, and I did stay till to witness them taking their marriage vows and the exchange of their wedding rings…

Exchange of wedding rings

…as the priest pronounced them man and wife and after the offering…

Offering

…I took my leave quietly.

There was a lunch reception at the house in the afternoon – I have no idea what went on there so I do not know if they had their traditional Iban wedding ceremony or not. I sure would love to go and watch – come to think of it, I have never witnessed one before!

Once again, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Thaddaeus & Grace, thank you so much for the invitation, and may your life together be abundantly blessed with love and happiness each passing day in the years ahead…and talking about Iban traditions, it is the Gawai Dayak Festival…

…today, the first of June…

Selamat Ari Gawai 1

…so it is a public holiday here and tomorrow as well…

Selamat Ari Gawai

I would like, therefore, to take this opportunity to wish all my relatives and friends and all my blog followers celebrating this auspicious festival, Selamat ‘Ari Gawai!

Come and go…

In Chinese (Hokkien) we say, “Oo lai oo khi,” which may be literally translated as got come, got go, something along the same line as the give and take philosophy in life.

Well, last Saturday, after the nasi Arab lunch, we went to the supermarket round the corner to browse around and I picked up some stuff that I thought would be nice for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival coming up next week – the one who would give her a lift back to town every Friday unless there are matters arising and we would have to go and pick her instead which isn’t very often so that would save us a lot of trouble and cut our travelling/my driving by half, more or less.

No, she does not charge anything but my girl would chip in when they stop at a petrol station to fill up the tank and she would give her a little something (ang pao) periodically. That was why I thought it would be nice to give her something for the forthcoming auspicious occasion that she will be celebrating to express our gratitude and appreciation for her help all these years.

True to what they say, “As you give, thus shall you receive,” and that evening just before I went for the sunset service in church, I received word from my friend, Mary, asking me to drop by her restaurant the next morning as she and her crew would like to give me this steamed kampung chicken…

Steamed kampung chicken from Flavours Thai Kitchen

…for no apparent reason, just out of the goodness and generosity of her/their hearts. Isn’t that so very sweet of them?

When I went there that morning, Sunday, I decided to tapao my girl’s favourite, their pad Thai

Flavours Thai Kitchen pad Thai

…home and those were what we had for brunch that morning before we made our way to my girl’s school in the jungle for just one more week before the two-week mid-year holidays starting right after tomorrow, Friday.

We made our way home ourselves, my missus and I and after dinner that night, I got a surprise call from my dear friend, Richard. Why, it’s that time of year again and in no time at all, he was at my house to give me some of his awesomely yummy out-of-this-world simply-the-best own-made nyonya chang (meat dumplings)…

Richard's nyonya chang

…like what he will do year after year, without fail.

I googled to check and I found out that this year, the Dragon Boat or Chang Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival will fall on the 30th of May,  Tuesday next week.

I had just had dinner but no, I could not possibly wait another day and that was why I immediately took one, unwrapped it…

Richard's nyonya chang, unwrapped

…and ate.

Boy!!! This Richard keeps getting better and better each year and this year, it was exceptionally good – none that I’ve bought in Kuching or Malacca nor those from Singapore would come anywhere close and look at all that meat in it…

Richard's nyonya chang, so much meat
*Sorry for the slightly blurry pic – the challenge of night photography with the insufficient lighting*

Thank you so so so much, Richard, and also to you, Mary & everybody at Flavours, both truly unexpected but most welcome indeed and I do believe these were special blessings for the insignificantly small gesture on my part to get a little something for my girl’s colleague for the Gawai Festival – what goes around comes around, got come, got go!

FLAVOURS THAI KITCHEN is located on the ground floor of the ORCHID HOTEL, along Brooke Drive at its junction with Jalan Tunku Osman. You can use its main entrance at the back of the hotel building (facing Brooke Drive) or go through the lobby past the reception desk if you are using its hotel entrance.

Dear daughter…

This is a new song, I think, and I really like it…

…especially the lyrics that go:
These are words that every girl should have a chance to hear
There will be love, there will be pain
There will be hope, there will be fear
And through it all, year after year
Stand or fall, I will be right here…for you

Well, last Saturday, our dear daughter insisted on taking us out to treat us to a really special lunch or the mum especially as the following day would be Mother’s Day, just that we could not go out to eat on the actual day, Sunday, as we would be on our way, sending her back to her school in the jungle.

This place…

solo on 16

…has been around for quite a while now. The guy was at this place before but it did not last very long and the place closed down. Soon after that, he opened this one and my guess is that accounts for the name – he is now flying solo and No. 16 is the shop address, No. 16, Jalan Chew Geok Lin.

Gosh!!! It sure looks like some people have been drinking…

Empty bottles

…quite a bit and this caught my eye…

Firewood

…while I was looking around the place – they probably have some wood-fired items on their menu.

I sure like this – the fact that there is no msg…

No msg/food addictive

…used in their cooking but oh dear! The food is addictive so one would want to go back again and again to eat there? LOL!!!

We ordered the pulled duck comfit, tomato and quail egg salad (RM12.90)…

solo on 16 pulled duck comfit, tomato and quail egg salad

…and the moment it was served, I noticed that there were no quail eggs. My girl loves those little things and if not for the mere mention of those in the name, I would not have ordered it. I asked the people at the helm and they went to the kitchen to ask. Eventually, we were informed that we would get the quail egg soon or at least, that was what they said. When it came…

Chicken egg

…we were quite put off, to say the least. It would take a giant quail to lay an egg this big! That was a chicken egg and if we wanted a chicken egg, we could have gone some place else (a lot cheaper) for a plate of nasi lemak or something. Tsk! Tsk! Of course, I just kept quiet about it and let it pass as the ladies do not like me making a scene in public. Well, to give credit where credit is due, the salad was quite good, with or without the egg.

Another reason why I would not have ordered that salad if not for the quail egg was that I ordered their duck comfit for myself as my main course. Then they came and said it was not available, salmon was not available as well, my missus wanted the squid and it was not available either. Good grief!!! What on earth was going on? You want to open a classy upscale café, one that is more inclined towards fine dining and most everything on your menu is not available. Probably we caught them on a bad day or else how on earth would they be able to last this long?

In the end, my missus simply settled for this pork belly with rice (RM25.90)…

solo on 16 pork belly with rice

…dish instead. I did try a bit of the meat and thought it was very good except that the skin was hard and rubbery and not chewable, not crackling crusty at all, so we had to cut it out and leave it by the side of the plate.

I had the pork ribs (RM19.90)…

solo on 16 pork ribs

…which was very good too…

solo on 16 pork ribs, cross-section

…but no, it was not as good as the lovely ones we used to enjoy so much a few doors away but unfortunately, those people there had called it a day sometime ago.

My girl had their chicken chop (RM19.90)…

solo on 16 chicken chop 1

…and yes, we thought it was nice…

solo on 16 chicken chop 2

…and did enjoy it.

All in all, I would say it was a good lunch but as we were leaving, my girl said that she would not want to go to these places serving western food anymore as she would not be able to eat the stuff that she would like such as the pastas or anything with bread or wheat flour and would rather go some place serving ASEAN or Asian cuisines instead. Sometimes, it does get her down, missing all the things she loves and having to stick to her gluten-free diet. Well, it sure looks like we would not be coming back here again then or at least, not for a while, a very long while…and yes, we do miss the very nice Japanese place that we loved a lot – it used to be here at this exact same shop.

solo on 16 is located at No. 16, Jalan Chew Geok Lin, next door to the bank at the end of the block and right across the road from the bank would be the Tua Pek Kong Temple and its 7-storey pagoda.