Archive for December, 2010

I love being home. The best thing is that it hasn’t been ALL.THAT.HOT. Perhaps it’s due to the monsoon season. The days are balmy, and it tends to rain in the evenings. I love it. The family and I spent Christmas back in Batu Pahat at my uncle’s home. Everytime I see an uncle from my dad’s side, I get a little “jolted” by the similarities between them and my late papa. This time around I saw my eldest uncle, and he looked frail, and my thoughts immediately veered to my father. It’s not like it is a bad thing, I get a little glimpse of papa here and there.


Of course, being in Malaysia means EATING. Funnily enough, either my tastebuds have changed, or I’ve just been to all the wrong places. Food doesn’t seem as good. With the exception of  THE Best Soto In The World in Batu Pahat, no other food came close. I swear I must have mumbled OMG Sedap, or OMG damn nice or something else along those lines while I was slurping the soto.


I’ll let the pictures do the talking 😉



Indian Rojak at Kedai Makanan Om, Taman Emas, Batu Pahat. YUMS.





Indian mee goreng at Kedai Makanan Om, Taman Emas, Batu Pahat. I used to eat at this then stall (now shop) when it was at Gunung Soga, and it tastes about the same as it used to, except, back then you could find pieces of sotong (squid) in it! Of course, with rising prices these days, I’d be lucky to find any seafood in there.




THE BEST soto in the whole wide world. If you tell me that there’s another place that sells better soto than this, then I say you’re wrong. Soto doesn’t get any better than this. The broth is thick and oh-so-flavourful, and the chunks of beef are tender and just about melts in your mouth. This place also sells lontong and laksa Johor, but since it was only me and my sister eating that day, we couldn’t order lots to share. You can also find other drool worthy Johorean delicacies at this stall called Warung Mat Marican that is just by the roundabout. This stall has earned the moniker BP Hilton due to it’s sometimes higher-than-average prices 😀 But I don’t mind paying a little more, because I’ve never found another place that sells soto, laksa, lontong or tauhu sumbat this drool worthy!




Chili pan mee from Super Kitchen, Kota Damansara. Quite good.




My brother-in-law’s favourite butter & kaya toast from a nondescript kopitiam in Ayer Hitam, Johor.




The shop was almost closed when we got there, but they still served us. Ah, I wonder if these old-style kopitiams will remain for years to come, or will they all turn into those fashionably modern airconditioned, franchised “kopitiams” that try to replicate kopitiams of yore and are a dime a dozen, springing up like mushrooms all over town?




Ayer (Air) Hitam in Johor, haven for house deco items and wedding related paraphernalia.



For some strange reason, one can also get soft toys in Ayer Hitam for really cheap!



That would be me pottering about in a nursery. Ahh, I wish I had a landed property with a nice big garden.



You see that spiky palm tree in the pot? That’s a cycas plant. Papa used to be crazy over this plant. We had loads of them back home in our family house in Batu Pahat. It fetches quite a high price and is supposedly a good-luck plant.



I was admiring a heliconia plant. I happen to know quite a number of plant names simply because my dad was in this line when he was still alive. In fact, he used to drill the names of plants into us when we were little, and sometimes, we would rattle them off “Hey pa look! Lots of dracaena/lantana/petunias growing here” *smug face*




The family picking out pots and mama getting all wide eyed and excited at the variety of plants. She has such green fingers, just like my dad. Our apartment balcony is filled with plants, and they are all thriving. I even have kaffir lime and cili padi growing healthily!




I absolutely LOVE this plant, water hyacinth or Bunga Kiambang. Aren’t they the prettiest things you have seen?





Ok, I don’t know what this flower is called, but it’s so pretty, and has that retro feel about it.


And of course, our national flower, the hibiscus.



So, as you can see, I’m having a pretty good time back home. There truly is no place like home 🙂

Read Full Post »

Blessed X’mas

Christmas, isn’t Christmas till it happens in your heart…..


And this year, I may be home for Christmas, but the house is “empty”. The spark, the livewire that has always been my father isn’t around anymore. I hope it is way merrier up there pa. I miss you.


Happy Christmas dear readers. It’s a time for family. Not presents, not clothes, not friends. It should be about family. Always.



Read Full Post »

The Surprise Visit

So this was a surprise that was brewing for the past few months.


I had already bought my ticket back home to Malaysia for December, but told the family that I’d only be back in February. It caused quite a bit of tantrums I heard 😛 Someone was grumbling that I “didn’t care” and what not, especially since she was getting married, but teehee, I’M HOME in Malaysia now. Turned up at the door, and saw a sick sister’s sleepy eyes go ROUND, and the mom’s jaw dropped, and the other sister was literally at a loss for words for the next 5 minutes or so.


And then I got bear hugs from mom and we chatted for a bit and I walloped a Ramly Burger Special even though I wasn’t hungry. Ahhhh, I how I love it. Almost midnight and all the shops were open, everything was abuzz.


I am still very jetlagged though. I took a flight from Bologna to Frankfurt, where I had to wait for about 2 hours. And then from Frankfurt to Bangkok, where I had to transit for about 45 minutes, and finally from Bangkok to KL. Boy I’m beat.


I’ve got so many things planned, pastry classes, cake deco classes, doctor’s visit, hairdresser’s visit, dentist’s visit. I had wanted to go out and buy me some kaya toast today, but the not so little sister is sick, so I had to cook her some porridge, and made fusili pasta with olives for the other sister for lunch.


Dear other sister, please get well soon so we can all go out to eat all that glorious food.


Speaking of which, I think I’m getting ill too. My throat is scratchy and my head feels heavy. Please God, don’t let me get sick. Not now. *crosses fingers*

Read Full Post »

Lookie lookie at what I found at the supermarket opposite my house.

Yes, they’re rambutan !! The pack said that they’re from Vietnam though. I wonder why they don’t come from Malaysia. I usually giggle silently when I see rambutans in the supermarkets here because they’re ALWAYS brown, almost black; basically rambutan we would throw away without batting an eye back home. I remember how I laughed my head off when I was staying with my aunt in London and I saw a basket of BLACK rambutans at the grocers opposite her house. Well these that I saw today weren’t too bad. Dark red, turning brown, but still they’re not wholly brown.

These “ramboutan” comes nicely packaged in packets of about 5, and cost EUR3.99 per pack, or if you look closely at the price tag, EUR19.95 per kg!!

And next to the rambutan, were these:

Carambola! Or more popularly known in Malaysia as Starfruit or belimbing, in Malay. And these babies are from Malaysia! It’s spelt as Malesia in Italian. I forgot to take a picture of the price tag, but I remember it was around 10EUR per kg. And each packet contains 3 starfruit, thus costing about 4EUR per pack.

Oh how my heart swelled with pride 😉

Read Full Post »

The city is looking quite pretty at night. Christmas decorations are up everywhere. There are buskers all around playing Christmas music. Window displays are extravagant and keeping up with the holiday theme, all glittery and eye-catching. I caught myself walking with a whimsical smile plastered on my face, and that sometimes elusive feeling of “Wow, I’m actually living in Italy” resurfaced for a brief moment.

I’ve seen this “Sphinx” before, and his poor little Cocker Spaniel. That poor little dog only has a little sweater on in freezing temperatures, and still, it sits perfectly still, only blinking almost piteously at passers-by. I really wanted to drop a coin for the guy, but seeing him use that poor little dog made me feel kinda pissed. Maybe I should just buy a chew toy for the dog and drop it for the dog instead. Hmmmph.

*Sighs dreamily about going to a ball in a beautiful Max Mara dress*

Winter wedding, anyone?

White baby, check. Black baby, check. Asian baby, check. Even the baby dolls are all Christmassy.

The inside of a bar. In Italy, a bar is where you order coffee and other hot drinks. Not the bar/disco/nightclub that you would normally imagine. After about an hour walking in the cold, I went to the bar and ordered a hot chocolate. If you look carefully, you can spot me in the picture 😉 As I sipped on the hot chocolate, and the delicious, thick concoction warmed me up, I thought, perhaps this is what they mean by La Dolce Vita.

Read Full Post »

Only in Italy do you find things like these at your local supermarket, in the children’s stationery section no less!

"Campione Sex Appeal" (Sex Appeal Champion)


Italy, oh Italy!

Read Full Post »

Remember my dinner party for almost 20? I had wanted to make a dessert that was fuss free and easy, considering the fact that I had to dedicate more time to my other more complicated dishes. I searched online and found this recipe by Nigella Lawson. Easy. Chocolate. Pistachios. No bake. No sweat. I couldn’t find another reason NOT to make this.

Apologies for the less than sharp pictures. I had guests around and had to cut the blocks as quick as possible without people judging me for my (nasty?) habit of taking pictures of my food. And on hindsight, I should have used a non-serrated knife to cut out the fudge, as the serrated knife left jagged marks on the fudge squares.

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge


340 grams 70% dark chocolate OR 340 grams semisweet chocolate, chopped*

1 can (340 ml) sweetened condensed milk

Pinch of salt

1 cup shelled pistachios




1. Melt the chopped chocolate, condensed milk and salt in a heavy based pan on a low heat.

2. Put the nuts into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into both big and little pieces.

3. Add the nuts to the melted chocolate and condensed milk and stir well to mix.

4. Pour this mixture into a 9-inch square foil tray(grease tray slightly with butter to ease removal later on) smoothing the top.

5. Sprinkle some smaller pieces on the top for garnish if you like.

 6. Let the fudge cool and then refrigerate until set. You can then cut into small pieces approximately 3/4 by 1 3/4 inches or cutting 8 by 8 lines in the tin to give 64 pieces.

 7. Once cut you can keep it in the freezer, no need to thaw just eat straight away.


I am not such a huge fan of chocolate, I eat it occasionally but I don’t go crazy over it, but this chocolate fudge made me crave for MORE. It went down quite well with the guests, and also pairs well with vanilla ice cream. The hubs and I even had to wrestle fight ration the last piece. I think it all boils down to the quality of chocolate that you use.

*Use the best quality chocolate that you can get your hands on. I used Lindt 70% dark chocolate. Of course, I needn’t say more about Lindt. But please, if you have to use some cheapo, dodgy chocolate to make this, please, take my advice and go look for another dessert to make, just not this.

Also, I assume that the pistachios in Nigella’s recipe are supposed to be unsalted, but since I only had salted ones at hand, I threw in only a tiny pinch of salt for flavour.

Wrapped in clear bags and tied with a nice festive ribbon, these make great little gifts especially around festive seasons. Or if you want to suck up to your boss.

EDITED: I made a new batch and cut the squares using a non-serrated knife. They look much nicer now 🙂

Read Full Post »

Hello Winter

It is 1st December. First day of the last month of the year. Can you all say WHOAAA?

It has been snowing in Modena, and I am as pleased as punch. Granted, the whole of Italy comes to a standstill when it snows, I like the calm clean feeling that snow gives. I just hope that it doesn’t become one of those freak winters with blizzards that happened in Europe last year. Also, I read that it has been made mandatory for all cars on the road in Modena to be fitted with snow tyres or chains when there is snow or ice on the ground. Coming from a tropical country, I do not know whether similar rules apply to other towns/states. But I find it really amusing that the notice should come right smack at the beginning of winter and not during summer or even autumn, when people would have been more prepared and informed, and tyre shops (gommistas) would have had plenty of notice to stock up. I read that most tyre shops have run out of stock, and people who place orders now would have to wait for weeks for stocks to arrive! Being in Italy, weeks actually means months. As such, I wouldn’t dare drive as our car isn’t fitted with snow tyres. The hubs has never gotten snow tyres as he usually escapes winter and goes home to Malaysia for his annual holiday, and doesn’t see the need to get them changed.

The picture above was taken from my room when it had just started snowing.

Not shown in the picture is me craning my neck out of the window and trying to catch some snowflakes on my tongue. 😛 Did you know that all snowflakes are hexagonal in shape and no two snowflakes are ever identical? 😉

Read Full Post »