Monday, June 19, 2017

Cavalock and The Inevitable Return to Warhammer

Hah! Now this is what happens when you take on one too many hobbies. About a month ago, I decided to return to the world of miniature wargaming or the fantasy world of Warhammer to be exact. Actually it's more like the return to painting miniature figures than the gaming aspect cos gawd knows I have been playing all kinds of tabletop miniatures for the better part of my life.

Its been over two decades since I painted any miniatures and back then they were all made of heavy lead, today it's mostly plastic. That green porcelain palette is the same one since those early days of painting in the old family home. And I still suck at painting! Although it is extremely therapeutic but not a cheap hobby. It's really the new Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Skirmish rules that allow you to play a game using only a handful of miniatures that got me back into this British tabletop game. Manoeuvring your army across a terrain-laden table, charging into your opponent's figures then rolling dice to decide the outcome of each fight.

Seriously, why would anyone wanna go to Papa Rich when you can get a better serving of Nasi Lemak at Coconut Club at bout the same price? Been to the Coconut Club more than a couple of times already and the food and service have always been first rate. Introduced the joint to my gaming buddies last week and they loved it. Unfortunately they didn't get a chance to savour their famous chendol as the chef deemed that day's ingredients not worthy enough. But my friend was definitely impressed by their quality control. At least it's another reason to visit the place again with them.

So, really, am I the only guy now who has fond memories of growing up in that neighbourhood? I suppose everyone has heard or read bout the very public spat between siblings over an old house. I grew up in that area and life in the old family home with my late uncles and aunts were the absolute best days of my young life. I have walked past them Gurkha guards numerous times and was once wailing in my aunt's arms cos she wouldn't buy me a chemistry set. I remember one of the brothers would sometimes walk towards River Valley to taboa some food in the afternoon. At night, the road barriers would come down and the guards would change into their black military outfits. I guess back then everyone felt safe in that old neighbourhood.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Cavalock and The Great Corn Collective

What a crazy ass busy couple of weeks. Me Dad was down with a terrible case of food poisoning and I was back in full caregiver mode for an entire week. Daily trips to NUH and all that. Got some writing to do, Lego to build and new boardgame or rather miniatures to play. Oh yah, plus a whole buncha TV shows to catchup, believe it or not, I have yet to watch Iron Fist and last year's American Horror Story and already I'm looking forward to the new season of Fargo. You know Fargo usually has little Easter eggs tied in with previous seasons, well, unfortunately I don't remember much of the previous season anymore. Got to rely on the Internet for that. I'm not ambitious, these days I just got for little pockets of accomplishments or achievements. Hah!

Our regular hangout Suju at Mandarin Gallery is finally done with its renovation and we headed there for dinner after catching Wonder Woman on the big screen (yes, I don't watch every movie on me iPad!). Highlight of that meal has gotta be the Toumorokoshi, a ear of Japanese corn or corn cob done three ways. Grilled, raw and boiled. Raw was the star with its natural sweetness. Amazing.

Me 83-year-old Dad took these shots at Chinese Garden a couple weeks ago. He was there almost every morning staking out the nest. Pretty sure they have all flown the coup by now.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cavalock and The Early Pasta Pact

Talk about a good deal. I don't know how many of you guys out there have heard of this but I only found out a couple weeks ago (thanks Alvin and Vivien!) that Prego Italian Restaurant at Fairmont Hotel has an early bird menu from 5pm to 6pm every day of the frickin' week.

Seems like a lot of dishes from their regular menu can be found in the early bird menu and I dare say, it's pretty much the same generous portions too. At S$18 you get an antipasti and one pasta dish which is quite noteworthy when you realise just them pasta dishes are about like S$30 on the regular dinner menu.

Had a great dinner there and the joint was pretty empty too. Looking forward to another visit in the very, very near future. I suppose the timing might not be exactly convenient for working folks but the way I see it, an early dinner means more time for board gaming later in the evening!

Believe it or not, I have been on a stationery buying spree lately or to be exact, a Japanese stationery buying spree. From fancy little notebooks to erasable rubber stamps, you wouldn't believe the collection that I have amassed over the last couple months. Take this limited edition Baskins Robbins pen I spotted in Tokyu Hands Japan. I couldn't resist it. There were several different designs and damn, I could only settle for one!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cavalock and The Gathering of Friends' Shindig

I wasn't exactly enthralled by it when it first opened but believe it or not Muji Cafe has kinda become my go-to place for a cheap and satisfying Japanese cooked meal. Have been to both the Raffles City and Paragon outlets and I got to say the patrons at Paragon are definitely more interesting. Heh, always fun to eavesdrop on doctors from nearby clinics bitching about work. Anyway, the below saba fish with Japanese yuzu soy sauce was the highlight of today's lunch. Not too salty with a nice piece of Japanese radish tucked underneath.

I used to look forward to public holidays as opportunities to take a break from work but nowadays it's more of a chance to organise meet-ups with groups of friends, especially the ones with busy work schedules. This last Vesak Day break saw me at not one but two long overdue gatherings of friends. Starting with a wonderful dinner at a friend's house complete with large tasty slabs of steaks, all beautifully smoked to perfection. Ended the night with an extremely politically incorrect game of Limpeh Says. Don't usually go for party games but this was strangely satisfying. 

The next day was all fun and games at another friend's apartment. Played lots of board games like the award-winning Istanbul, Dragon and Flagon and Vast: The Crystal Caverns. Oh, how I love Vast. This is a unique asymmetric board game. Four of us have totally different roles and play by totally different rules. We are in an underground cave. One of us is the Knight who wins by killing the Dragon. The Dragon wins by escaping the cavern. The Goblin player wins by killing the Knight and the cave wins by killing everyone in it. Yes, even the Cave is an active player! 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Cavalock and The Cook Book Condition

When folks find out I read the occasional cook book, they inadvertently expect me to cook or bake but I don't, well, not as much as I like too. And they find it rather odd that I read books for fun. You'd be surprised to know that most cook books today are filled with numerous fascinating anecdotes. It's rather sad that most Singaporeans today would only pick up a book if it comes with promises of making money or getting ahead in the rat race or something equally dreary. I can never understand why everything has to do with making money. Read for fun and get to know stuff!

Like before I read My Paris Kitchen, I didn't know that the eggs in France are numbered. How cool is that?!? The story of how Momofuku Milk Bar came about is certainly inspiring. All destined for bedside reading.

Yah, been acquiring more than a couple of reading materials online strictly for our reading pleasure. This is problem when you live in a tiny little apartment and have ran out of storage space for any more books or magazines. And whatever limited space you have left, you are saving for incoming big boxes of boardgames. Hah!

An absolutely satisfying buffet dinner with the guys at Triple Three Mandarin. Tuesday night was Foie Gras Night and the guys definitely had their fill of it. What surprised me was the number of yummy spicy mentaiko dishes available. They would even drizzle mentaiko over the salt-baked fish later in the night. Always fun to meet up over the dinner table instead of a gaming table but the conversation would still steer towards topics like our early Dungeons and Dragons sessions, the latest Marvel movies and buying Lego sets. Trust me when I say a bunch of male Singaporean adults (a couple of them already fathers to teenage daughters) talking bout playing boardgames instead of playing the stock market is a rare sight indeed. Like I said earlier, never could comprehend the obsession over making money.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Cavalock and The Melon Bun Extraction

Trigger Warning!!! And this is why I love crazy food packaging. Too politically incorrect for all you SJWs out there? Heh.

By now I reckon most folks here have tried or at least heard of the popular Hattendo cream buns from Japan on sale at Tanjong Pagar Centre. Right now they got a special Melon Bun that I absolutely love. But it's still custard cream in there, not melon flavour. The melon bun part refers to the thicker, crunchier crust. It adds a wonderful texture to every bite. Only 50 cents more than the usual soft bun but worth every cent.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cavalock and The Coffee Cultural Appropriation

Having recently discovered The Coffee Academics' "globally inspired coffees" on their menu, we have been spending quite a few lazy afternoons hanging out there. So far I have tried and absolutely enjoyed the Okinawa and Manuka. The former is coffee with dark brown sugar from the Japanese island of the same name and the latter is nicely doused with pure honey from New Zealand. If you like them sweet, this is something worth checking out.

So I been reading bout "cultural appropriation" for awhile now and although there's a lot about it that I don't agree with, it got me thinking. And from thinking comes questions.

Cultural appropriation is the adoption or theft of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards, and behavior from one culture or subculture by another. It generally is applied when the subject culture is a minority culture or somehow subordinate in social, political, economic, or military status to the appropriating culture.

So is a local Asian guy with dreadlocks and Samoan tattoos guilty of cultural appropriation? Cos gawd knows, I seen a lot of them lately. How bout all them white hosts wearing local native costumes on them travel documentaries? Local kids, from one-room HDB flats, rapping like black inner city kids from Chicago? Then is our very own Matthew and the Mandarins guilty of cultural appropriation too? Is Racial Harmony Day in our schools politically correct? Are my Hawaiian shirts screaming cultural appropriation?

Perhaps the most important question of all, am I guilty here of cultural appropriation?!?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cavalock and The Poignant Potato Prognosis

If you have heard about the potato chip crisis in Japan, and maybe wondering how's it like here. Well, I dropped by Medi-ya yesterday and saw this. Doesn't look that bad. I mean there are still a couple dozen bags out there, all still at retail price. Hah! Seriously I'm guessing by the end of this week the shelves would likely be empty although I doubt if we'll see anyone hawking a pack at carousell. And then again I could be wrong but if anyone out there is willing to pay more than double its retail price, well, what can I say except there's really one born every minute. ;)

In other more upbeat news, we got new seasonal spring beer from Kirin!

This has been a pretty good gaming month and we are just like halfway through only April. New games I got and played include Conan Boardgame from Amazon. Great scenario-based miniature game. It made millions of dollars on Kickstarter and I kinda regret not getting then. The retail box I bought is only half what Kickstarter was offering. So many more cool miniatures that I'm missing.


Other amazing games I played in April were Wind The Film, Wine Rating, Cthulhu Wars, Gloomhaven, Unfair and The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game. Really enjoyed all of them. Wind The Film is a charming little Japanese card game that's a real brain burner. The below Castles of Burgundy card game is fun too and more of a resource management game if you are into that.

Wine Rating is another small Japanese card game where you are playing a wine critic and vineyard investor trying to score the most points. Simple and fun! So if anyone wants to de-stress with a game or two, let me know. I also had a blast playing the other bigger boardgames like Gloomhaven (bottom last pix) as well as Unfair but they are definitely not recommended for newbies and can even be kinda stressful cos there is a fair amount backstabbing involved.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cavalock and The Crocodile on A Rock.

The waitress opened the door, looked at us and proclaimed politely, "No English menu, menu no pictures." Another foreign couple would probably turn back but with the Baker-At-Home's limited but confident proficiency with the native tongue, we smiled and continued with our request for a table for two at this tiny inzkaya. So that's how it began for our first dinner in Shinjuku this year. It was nice eating at Uoshin again as we were at their other Tokyo outlet a couple years ago. That one was however a lot more spacious and it came with English menus.

We managed to decipher their above house specialty which was a certified crowd pleaser the last time we had it. Maki topped with tuna, sea urchin, roe and crab meat. We kinda went with almost anything that had 'fish' in the title. Hah! Luckily everything we ordered turned out great.

So what was my 83-year-old Dad doing while I was in Tokyo? Chasing crocodiles by himself in Sungei Buloh. And that's why I worry.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Cavalock and The Balmuda Toaster Acquisition

It all started a year ago when we saw this strange little toaster in Osaka. It looked almost like any other toaster on sale except a wee bit sleeker and there's something about adding water into it. And also that it costed a bomb which naturally made it all that more intriguing. We did a little research and the more we read about it, the more tempted we were to get it. Well, needless to say, that's exactly what we did this Tokyo trip! We got ourselves an award-winning Balmuda toaster!

Basically in a regular toaster, the heat dehydrates your bread, drying it up and turning it into toast but this here fancy toaster, the water turns the machine into a kinda steam oven. It keeps the toast from totally drying up while retaining much of its original texture. As it toasts, you can see alternating bursts of steam and the oven's heating elements pulsating away. You can read more about it here and here

Weekend breakfasts have now become a toasty affair home in Singapore. The toasts we had so far have been phenomenal. There are different settings for normal toasts, cheesy ones, baguettes and croissants. We'll probably try heating some croissants for breakfast next once we get our hands on some the day before.

Oh, so how we got the toaster was pretty interesting too. We hit the main stores like Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera the day after we landed but they were all sold out. Disappointed we carried on with getting other stuff on our shopping list. A couple days later we were at our favourite Tokyu Hands Shinjuku. I was checking out the gazillion kinds of different stationery there when I received a Whatspp from the Baker-At-Home who was on a lower floor kitchen section of Tokyu Hands. She had spotted a Balmuda toaster! Bought it in a heart beat and carried it back to our hotel which fortunately was just a short walk away.

Now remember Freshness Burger? The Japanese burger chain used to have a couple of outlets here before they moved out a few years ago. I miss their spamburgers! Anyway I couldn't resist dropping by one in Tokyo just for old times' sake. Damn! They sure take their lemon drinks seriously!