Monday, September 26, 2016

Cavalock and The September Step Back

Oh wow, time really kinda flies when you are ... sorta ... having fun. I may have left the rat race but September has been almost back-to-back full of activities. I am still trying my best to play all the games I bought at Gen Con last month. Fortunately all the games I bought and played so far have been amazing. I think the only game left unplayed is the social deduction game Codenames Pictures. So if anyone wants to play that, just let me know. It's really shines if you are playing in a big group, at least six people. Seriously, why aren't more people playing board games?!?

Anyway, birthday lunch earlier this month at Odette was as good as I expected it to be. That was fantastic. The recent Speech Bubble exhibition at the National Library on local comic books had a few of my comic books on display. I mean, original local comic books that I wrote a lifetime ago. Something I'll always be proud of no matter what. Then a couple weekends ago, I was at Marina Bay Sands attending the local Comic Convention that led to an impromptu 1km dash to capture Lapras. I simply followed the mass of zombies to Gardens by the Bay and found the blue critter. The crowd is crazy! It was like some kinda smartphone-wielding zombie apocalypse!

This past week was pretty memorable too. A couple days in sleepy Sri, Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur just like the last time. I'm really starting to like this quiet little town. Cheap and good is the only way to describe my less than S$3 breakfast of delicious pork kway teow soup at the no-fuss alley way hawker stall. Lots of fatsssss, not something we ever see back home. I wonder what kinda health warnings he'll have to display at his stall if he's in Singapore.

Finally did some exploring around the neighbourhood after that and immediately spotted where my lunch later was gonna be, Been too long since I had some good ol' nasi kandar. Less than S$4 for that mountain-of-madness-on-a-plate. Then less than three hours after I landed back home, it was time for The Magnificent Seven movie with the guys, followed by a madcap midnight car ride across the island to catch you-know-what. Was simply too exhausted from the KL trip so I dropped out halfway but happy with my first Blastoise and Lickitung. *Whew*

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Cavalock and The Classic Diner Yearning

It's the weekend and a month since I got back from the U.S. and a part of me is really missing the cheap, sinful meals that were so readily available there. A couple of years ago when we were in Indianapolis for Gen Con, our regular breakfast was this bagel joint but it's gone now and it's taken by ... (wait for it)... a gym! Fortunately our Gen Con hotel this year was nearer to the local Steak 'n Shake diner. Yah, it looks just like one them classic American diners you see on TV and in the movies. Right down to the grizzled waitresses calling folks 'honey'. Well, that's where we settled most of our breakfasts and the occasional dinner, they are open 24 hours.

I miss the above greasy breakfast plate so much. Probably not the healthiest thing to have in the morning but it's so sinfully good plus a hot cup of joe. There's also the extremely tempting 'all-you-can-eat' pancakes for only USD3.99. The burger I had for dinner was pretty good too except for the fries. The salt and vinegar fries I had was perhaps the saltiest pile of fries I had ever shoved into my mouth! Besides that unfortunate experience, their garlic burger is really fantastic too if you like garlic as much as I do.

Topped dinner off with a nice cup of Oreo mint cookie milkshake. Well, would had been nice if it came in one them tall glasses like in the menu. They got all kinds of shakes to choose from. A diner experience ain't complete without a milkshake.

No trip to the U.S. is complete without grabbing this off their pharmacy shelves. The Downers  sleeping pills I picked up the last time were no longer around so I tried these instead. Yup! Really knocks you out like before. Once again, it says 'non-habit forming' on the box so you know it's definitely safe! ;)

Two years later, I still don't understand why we can't buy this off the shelf here in Singapore. If the authorities are afraid someone is gonna OD on it but you can OD on aspirin too right? If someone seriously wants to OD, that individual can OD on just about any other legal drug presently on sale in the market. So what's the real reason we can't find these Benzos on sale here? If you take a closer look, this new one is 50mg, twice the dosage of the last pack I bought two years ago.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Cavalock and The Cider Finder

Ever since I was a kid, I have always had a hard-on for cider, good ol' apple cider. I remember drinking so much of when I was less than 10 years old until I threw up and was subsequently banned from it. Yah, I didn't exactly have a typical childhood by local standards, something I really wasn't aware of until recently but that's another story for another day. Anyway the ban's been lifted for awhile now so imagine how excited I was when I spotted this at (where else?) Meidi-Ya supermarket last week. Not bad, packs a wee bit more punch than your regular apple jam.

I also had the opportunity to drop by The Beast recently and of cos, I couldn't resist a bottle of American Woodchuck Hard Cider. Cider from the U.S. is just so much better than those bottles of orc swill from Australia or the U.K. masquerading as apple cider.

And speaking of booze, here's an offer from Meidi-Ya that caught my attention. Foam-making gadgets for your beer are pretty common when I was in Japan. No idea how foamy a head you'll get but feel free to give it a shot if you are into Japanese beer.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Cavalock and The Random Breakfast Routine

It ain't exactly Breakfast at Tiffany's but I really enjoyed my breakfasts in New York. And if you are staying right next to Rockefeller Center, you just gotta drop by Bouchon Bakery. Went down for an early breakfast and it was as good as I had read and expected it to be. Was there when the door opened and there wasn't much of a crowd but I would expect it to be crowded later in the day. Couldn't really think of a better way to greet the day.

Since 2003, Bouchon Bakery has been Chef Thomas Keller’s unique take on a French boulangerie, offering sandwiches, quiches, soups, and salads, as well as a wide range of artisanal viennoiseries, confections, pastries, tarts, and cookies both French and American in influence.

I said it before, travelling alone in New York with (almost) no plans at all was a blast. When I wasn't having breakfast at Bouchon, I simply figured I'll eat at whatever place I walk up to that morning that I liked. Well, the Pret A Manger cafe was my pick while strolling down the avenue heading towards a McDonalds' while actively looking for a Dunkin' Donuts. Yah, breakfast can be as complicated as I want it to be. Sat by the glass window with my almond croissant, coffee and a tub of berries, just watching the morning office crowd go by. And of cos, WhatsApp-ing with people back in Singapore. Which reminds me, something I found out during this trip. Dunno how accurate it is but apparently if you are getting the T-Mobile SIM card in New York, it's gonna be more expensive there than getting it in other states. Or maybe just ask for the USD30 plan if they offer you a more expensive one, if that makes any sense.

My nights in NewYork were pretty straightforward. Afraid I didn't really had time to paint the town red if you know what I mean. A quick dinner then it's back to the hotel room before 8pm to (finally!) catch 'live' telecasts of WWE Monday Night Raw and Tuesday night's Smackdown Live. :)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cavalock and The Famers' Market Foray

A Farmers' Market in the middle of Rockefeller Center in New York City! As early as 8am, they were already setting up All right, I know the photos could've been a lot better with close-ups and all but I was absolutely enthralled by the fruits, veggies and home-baked goods. My only regret is after buying all them board games from Gen Con, I had no luggage space left for any of the fresh fruits and I don't trust myself or anyone else with hand carrying anything as fragile as a peach.

Well, I did managed to grab a small can of homemade maple syrup from the farmer's market for the baker-at-home. We haven't had a chance to try it yet so we'll see. 

So yah, my hotel was just across the road from Rockefeller Center. Great location with an equally impressive view right in the heart of it all. Came with a nice little balcony too but it might be ... kinda pretentious to be out there. The photos below might appear claustrophobic, with the buildings so close to each other but it doesn't. In fact there's this closed vibrancy or vibe that just makes the city come alive, know what I'm saying?

Heh, a couple of other things I like about my room. In bed with a special visitor and they got a water cooler with empty bottles outside the room just for guests.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cavalock and The New York State of Mind

There I was, sitting by the fountain by myself in the park, enjoying a Nathan's hotdog, just opposite the Apple store in Fifth Avenue when an extended family of Indian tourists descended upon me and unceremoniously evicted me from my spot. About a dozen of them just swarmed around me, as if I was invisible, absolutely no regard for personal space while I was having my lunch and started posing, snapping pix right in my face. Hey, this is New York, I could be some crazy homeless dude packing some heat! Believe it or not, that was the only (man-made) negative experience I had during my entire two-week long U.S. trip. There was a major technical Delta flight glitch that affected thousands of travellers but that's a story for another day. But seriously, with hordes of unruly China and Indian tourists overrunning landmarks across the globe, I just don't know what to say. Well, I actually do but I shouldn't say such things online. 

Anyway, this solo trip to New York was invigorating on so many levels. It is simply amazing when you get to just chill by yourself, no plans at all, relax and do whatever you feel like in the middle of New York. So naturally I made my way from Fifth Avenue to Times Square to finally visit that famous New York geek tourist attraction called Midtown Comics. Heard and read about the place for the longest time, glad I finally got to visit this incredible comic book shop. Urgh! The day I was leaving NYC, Batman writer Scott Snyder was supposed to visit the store that evening for an autograph session.

On my walk back to my hotel, I sneaked into Lady M Cake Boutique along 40th Street for an afternoon break. Is it just me or does it look a lot greener than the one we have back home? Not bad but was a little too chewy, was kinda expecting it to be softer. What was interesting was me seated between a Russian couple on my left and a Japanese couple on my right. Not tourists but judging from their conversations and opened laptop, I'm guessing they live and work in the Big Apple.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cavalock and The JFK Shake Shack Connection

If there's ever a go-to meal in New York for me, it's got to be this, Shake Shack at JFK Terminal 4. I don't bother looking for it in the city anymore. Met my friend at the airport as we waited for our connecting flight to Indianapolis, we made a natural beeline to the Shake Shack there and I guess we were so hungry that we forgot what a Shroom Burger was. Yes, it's a mushroom burger but it's also a MUSHROOM burger. A huge crisp-fried cheesy portobello mushroom instead of any beef patty. We forgot what it was but it still tasted absolutely great especially after flying halfway across the world.

And on my way back home, a delicious SmokeShack to end my 2-week gaming odyssey in the US. Now part of me would like to have them open an outlet here but if they do, that's like one less thing to look forward to if I'm ever back there.

Well, if anyone's interested, you can read a little about my Gen Con experience over at HereBeGeeks website. In the meantime, here's my haul of new board games from Indianapolis. Now, I'm not even showing the ton of gaming accessories and expansions to existing games that I bought. So why would I buy them there and carry them all the way back home? Cos the shops here in Singapore would often jerk up the price ridiculously high, like a USD20 game would cost around SGD50.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cavalock Returns To Indianapolis & New York

Hey, I'm back after two weeks in Indianapolis and New York, not that anyone misses me I'm sure. Just like two years ago in August, I was attending Gen Con 2016 in Indianapolis, the biggest boardgame convention in the free world. If you read some of my older posts, you'll know that I'm a huge analog gamer. I have over 50 boardgames and a gazillion cards and miniatures games in my tiny apartment. Gen Con was a blast and I had so much fun, playing and buying the latest boardgames.

I must admit I was kinda apprehensive bout traveling to the U.S. after reading and watching Trump's rise to power. For awhile, I told myself this is not unlike Jesse Owens going to compete in Nazi Germany during the Berlin Olympics. Hey, Indy's Governor is Trump's running mate right? So you never can tell how the locals are going to react to four Asian guys suddenly showing up in their midst.

Fortunately there were no ugly or racist encounters and almost everyone I met was extremely generous and friendly. Alright, more on those games in a future post. And now I ask the question I always ask when I'm back from an overseas trip. Why can't we have this dish/meal here?!? Delicious pulled pork sandwiches. Had it the last time I was in Indy and I was really looking forward to this. It's just pulled pork meat in a naked bun. Nothing fancy, no weird dressings or toppings, just a simple pork sandwich. That glorious tender meat in a soft bun, why can't we have it here? I know preparing the meat takes time plus you need a proper BBQ smoker and all that but come on, other more "complicated" food joints with crazier, bigger kitchenware have opened up here.

Now since everyone's talking about it and playing the game, I thought I'll just share my experience on playing Pokemon Go overseas. My friend helped install the app in my iPhone while we were in the U.S. a few days before it was (finally) available in Singapore, so I had a tiny head start in catching a handful of Pokemon. Wow, J.W. Marriott is Drowzee central. Caught almost a hundred of them while staying there. I also managed to bag the exclusive North America Pokemon, Tauros right in my hotel room.

Then I was alone in New York where I trekked across midtown. That's the layout of Central Park down there. Best experience was the ride back to JFK Airport. Afternoon traffic was bad and that meant slowing down at every intersection, giving me time to catch half a dozen Pokemons in the back of of ride as well as winning one gym fight! Total different Pokemons caught in the U.S. = 75, levelled up to 15 before coming home.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cavalock and The Comfort Food Extinction

So we actually joined the masses in checking out Japanese Food Town, that new row of specialty Japanese restaurants at Wisma Atria. Strolled pass Nabe Seizan and was promptly seduced by the lunch wagyu dashi set meal. We are huge fans of dashi and have never been able to find a good meal here since having it in Japan. Now with it's Japanese Michelin-star lineage, Japanese chefs, ingredients and limited to only 10 lunch sets a day, how could we say 'no'?

Yah, it's a little pricy at S$38 a meal but we really enjoyed it. The Japanese chef came out and described the meal for us. Not often you get this kinda personal touch. Extremely tender beef and the best part was pouring the dashi broth into the rice. Absolutely loved it.

And then came the dessert. Just when we thought the meal couldn't get any better. Another Japanese (pastry?) chef introduced us to an all Japanese-ingredient creation. Sugar pudding with pineapple from Okinawa and Japanese white wine jelly.

Aaarggh!!! What did I ever do to deserve this? What did I ever do to the Michelin Guide that they had to come ruin my comfort food? Now there's no way I'm ever gonna get to eat my favourite bak chor mee thanks to them getting getting a Michelin Star. Yah, of cos they deserve it, it's crazy vinegary good! But with queues starting as early as 9am in the morning and stretching to well over an hour, ain't no way I'm be slurping any of their mee pok noodles anytime soon. Gone are the days when I would drop by for an early dinner at a little after 5pm when I'm done with cleaning the apartment and stand in line for maybe 20 minutes top. And no, if you don't know where they are, I ain't saying.

And now this. Looks like it's catching on! More wash pole patriots!