Monday, September 30, 2013

Selamat Medan! The journey to Siantar

Y'know, there's some saying out there that goes somewhat like you can't be friends with the competition, or about how there's no friends in the workplace.. Something along those lines.

Well, myth debunked! Or maybe it's just because I have had the good fortune to meet extremely wonderful people in my line of work, and you don't know how thankful I am for it.

Even with all the "famous blogger" jokes that this bunch of sometimes annoying but always loveable girls like to throw at me, all the time. LOL. They just like to do their very best to annoy me because it's so hard to get me to bite the bait and rise up to the occasion, and they don't ever stop trying.

It's been a good three over years since the very first time I stepped into you-know-where, hovering anxiously over stocks that were waiting to be released and snatched up like fresh meat at the market, and I swear that the first time I laid eyes on those two girls, I was totally like... OMG bitch please. Stop snatching stocks away from me! It's a cutthroat industry, you know.

I guess it came as a surprise to all of us that a few years down the road..... We All Became Friends. What a shocker, really.

Back to the gratitude bit: This bunch has been a constant source of support throughout the highs and lows, the good times and the bad. It might not seem so on the surface, but it's not all a bed of roses being "self-employed", and trying to run your own business. There are endless opportunities for wallowing in self-pity, with sky-high stress levels and plummeting account balances, sigh.

Up til today, I don't know how I landed myself in this situation, but what I do know is that I have fellow companions fighting the war and battling on with me! We laugh together, moan together, cheer one another up over bad sales figures, talk about our relationships, commiserate over ban mian and Arnold's Fried Chicken and basically are each other's appointed Aunt Agonies. Sometimes we go for three hour long suppers that end at 2AM just because we can't stop talking, lol.

And we LOVE it when happy things happen to any one of us! So we were super happy and excited to fly over to Medan, Indonesia, for the weekend, to witness Vera's wedding back in her hometown! Our first holiday together, outside of work too! Whoop whoop!

So now you know. This journey to Siantar actually began three years ago! :')

In this entry are our chronicles of Day 1, touchdown in Medan! It's nothing very coherent, but these photos are precious memories and I'd like to journal them down. There are even more photos from Day 2 (the wedding) and Day 3 (sight-seeing!) that I'll post up in later entries!


That's Min, Simin, Yingdan and Reenie for you!


Being at the airport at 10.30AM on a Saturday morning is like way too early to feel awake. But nothing stops us from being all trigger happy for the camera!

We reached Medan airport in less than three hours, brimming with enthusiasm.

Sleeeeeepy faces still! Spot the TVD outfits hehe!

But noone's gonna object to jump shot on the tarmac!!! This picture totally captures all the craziness and overexcitement! 


I really don't know why there's SO MUCH LUGGAGE for just a 3D2N trip to Medan. We exceeded our baggage limit! And there's just on the way there!

Mega and Widya picked us up at the airport, and off we started on the three hour long road trip to their hometown in Siantar.


Our pit stop for lunch thanks to our super hospitable hosts, Mega, Widya and Halim. We furiously devoured all the food!


For the urban city dwellers like us, the road to Siantar was somewhat of a sight. We drove on rough, knobbly roads through villages and kampungs, passed huge expanses of rice fields and plantations, and even once had to halt to a stop.. to allow three geese to waddle across the road! What a surreal moment.

To be honest, I was amazed that our three poised and pretty Indon girls came from such a rural area. Siantar is very very different from the bigger cities like Jarkata or Medan, and it is really like a very large kampung. There are no public transport systems available, and we had to be driven about the entire day by drivers hired for us. Kids as young as ten or eleven years old ride on motorbikes (without any helmet, mind you) to get around! None of the vehicles abide by any traffic laws and crossing the road is extremely daunting and heart-stopping.

It felt like I was thrown back twenty years in time, what with the old shophouse facades and the way everything looked as if they had not changed for the past thirty years. It was like a different universe all together. Couldn't connect our three elegant Indon taitais to this place, really. Certainly an eye-opener for all of us first-time visitors to Siantar!


Despite all that I said above though, our hosts checked us into a pretty nice hotel/resort! It's apparently one of the newer hotels in Siantar, and it was very decent!

Spent some time resting and freshening up before we were ferried off again for dinner.

More food O_O


On my side of the table: Reenie, myself, Yingdan, Mega and Halim!


And the other half: Jamie, Shimin, Simin (how confusing), Min and Widya!

Enjoyed the hearty meal over much laughter and talk, as always! We love rowdiness and great fellowship together!

It was so great to catch up with our beloved Indon girls, Vera, Mega and Widya! We don't see them as often as we would wish to, cos they're always flying back and forth between Indonesia and Singapore. And we've been talking about flying to Medan forever, so this was like.. FINALLY we did it!

As if the hospitality was not enough, our Indon hosts went out to get us some local snacks for supper, while we had convulsing-with-laughter sort of hilarious games that night!


Putu Bambu.... MY NEW LOVE. Like Tutu Kueh but with Gula Melaka and OHH SOO GOOOOD!! It was melt-in-the-mouth crazy kind of delicious.

The pancakes that look like Mee Jiang Kueh and taste somewhat similar are called Martabak Manis, and had various flavours like chocolate and cheese, peanut butter etc..


They ordered WAYYYY too much. So these snacks ended up as forfeit for our games!


Min + Min


We ended up playing Heads Up with some of our new Indon friends, and it was just tooooo funny! It's somewhat like electronic charades and you can download this app on your iPhone or iPad! This is definitely a superb ice-breaking game, all of us were just rolling on the floor with laughter after awhile HAHAHA. Ahhhh. I don't usually like to play games (too lazy because games require a lot of energy) but even I was totally engrossed in Heads Up! (And pretty good at it too, may I add)

By the time we ended the night, there were no more Martabak or Putu Bambu left. Mission accomplished! And we were dead tired from incessant laughing. Went to bed feeling super pooped but damn hyped up and excited about Vera's big day the following day!

Parts 2 and 3 to follow shortly!

PS. All photos were taken with my Olympus EPL5 17mm 1.8 and edited for that old school film effect! I know the pictures don't seem as crisp and bright as my usual, but I thought this was a fitting way to bring across a more authentic feel of Siantar, somehow.

xoxo

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Tiramisu Hero Cafe!

What transpired this weekend: The birth of a dream come true for Peggy and Aileen of The Tiramisu Hero fame.. Sir Antonio has finally found himself a permanent spot that's here to stay!

I was there for The Tiramisu Hero Cafe's grand opening, and I was just blown away with the entire space. It was done up with soooo much love and effort! Just the decor alone would be sufficient cause for a visit. I was so impressed and amazed!

The space isn't cramped by any means, but is still cozy and fun. I love the pretty upside-down suspended stepladders decorated with fairy lights! Very whimsical and pretty.

You'd also definitely notice that Sir Antonio has marked his terrority well: The walls are full of 'scribbles' and 'doodles' of our masked hero Sir Antonio, in various actions, poses, and scenes. All of them were hand drawn by Peggy and Aileen too!

Your order number comes in little wooden cylindrical block shapes. Cute!

This was one of the star attractions of The Tiramisu Hero Cafe! A huge Sir Antonio head that I'm sure is going to be super popular as a camwhore spot for every customer seriously. It's toooooo cute! And that's Yutaki, who's obviously too tall to fit under Sir Antonio's head properly HAHAHA.

I was so wow-ed by this congratulatory flower arrangement done up in the shape of Sir Antonio's head!!! Mad nice.

A mouse trap and embossed gold plate. Sir Antonio's office LOL.

Even if you don't have any urgent lavatory needs to attend to, you have to pop by the toilet, because it will probably be the prettiest toilet you've ever seen! No, seriously.

Look at all three hundred colorful balls of fluff that were painstakingly attached to the ceiling... one at a time!

Me to Aileen: Omg, the toilet is so pretty that it makes me feel like camwhoring inside!
Aileen: *laughs* Hmmmm... That's probably the reason why everyone takes so long in the toilet.

I gotta say I have to agree with that statement.

Part of the quirky interior decor.

Everyone had shitloads of fun playing with this app that was created by Aileen and her brother: You can download it from the app store, it's called "CHEEEESE"! Basically allows you to sign into a location to take either a photo or a short gif. So if anyone views the location in CHEEESE, you get to see a hilarious montage of funny videos and photos! TOO AWESOME! And it's super super funny!

With hot babes Evonne, Lao Ban Niang Peggy and Shine!

Random snap of the toy soldiers on the coffee counter.

Instax taken with Evonne's new Fuji Instax! The new Instax camera is so pretty D: Makes me want to get one too!


The kitchen was closed on the day of the grand opening, but I took a look through the menu and it's really interesting, a fusion of asian meets western, with lots of influences from all over! Can't wait to try!

And of course you can't leave without getting one of these tiramisu babies for yourself.

Yay, got to bring home my own tiramisu too! Whoopeedoo!

I LOVE this video. Especially the part where the funniest Minpoh starts dancing and shaking her bootie for me! Hehe.

Pop by The Tiramisu Hero Cafe: They're officially open!!!

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The Tiramisu Hero Cafe

121 Tyrwhitt Road (Jalan Besar)
Opening hours: 11AM-10PM


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Congratulations, The Tiramisu Hero!!!

You've come so far and grown so well. I can't begin to imagine the amount of effort that went into this, but I know that it's been a lot of sleepless nights, hard work, sweat, blood and tears for the two owners who have put in such an insane amount of love into this space.

Couldn't be happier for Peggy and Aileen, because being able to realise a lifelong dream like this is just incredible, and the feeling must be so exhilarating and surreal! And when you see the cafe for yourself, I promise you will be floored by just how amazing it is. Now, I can't wait to try the menu! :) Hehe.

Please lend Peggy and Aileen your support and pay The Tiramisu Hero Cafe a visit! I'm very sure you won't be disappointed! :') 

The Tiramisu Hero HUAT AH!!!

xoxo

Friday, September 27, 2013

ION Orchard Mobile Beauty Campaign


Attention all beauty-loving guys and girls! It's BEAUTY SEASON at Ion Orchard!

Now, ION Orchard has got to be one of my favourite shopping malls ever. It houses SO many of all my favourite brands, be it makeup, apparel, skincare, food, or even luxury brands. Doesn't hurt that it's such an insanely convenient location, just a few steps out of Orchard MRT! It's the perfect mall whenever I need my retail therapy, especially when I'm looking for new beauty products.

ION Orchard has just launched its Fall Beauty Mobile Campaign: All you need to do is log onto http://beauty.ionorchard.com to discover your favourite beauty brands and redeem 7-day samples from 15 participating brands! 

Using this app, you can redeem free sample-sized products from 15 participating brands including Apivita, Beauty by Nature, Biotherm Homme, Dr Ci:Labo, Dr Hauschka, FANCL, Kiehl’s, L’Occitane, Lab Series, Laneige, Shu Uemera, Skin Inc, VMV Hypoallergenics, Watsons and YSL Beauté. Some of these brands are my favourite brands, and I'm really excited that you now get to try these brands too!

The kind folks at ION Orchard invited a few of us down for a brunch at Jones the Grocer, before we proceeded to some of the stores for short demo sessions.
I didn't know that there was a Jones the Grocer at ION Orchard, actually :X The brunch items were really good! I tried to eat healthy so I had the yogurt with fruits, lol. But I also tried a bit of the scrambled eggs (very good!) and eggs benny (pretty decent as well) and thought everything was yummy!

With lovely Roseanne! :)

We headed down to a few stores, starting with a makeup demo at YSL! YSL is one of my favourite luxury beauty brands, for sure. I love their lip products (Rouge Volupté Shine and Rouge Pur Couture Vernis A Levres) and eyeshadow palettes (Pure Chromatics)! You need to try the amazing Touche Eclat highlighter too!

Next was a skincare demo at Api Vita, which is known for their natural ingredients. Great for sensitive skin! I'm new to Api Vita, so I can't wait to try those samples that I brought home! :) We were also introduced to Dr Hauschka and a couple of their best-selling products like the Cleansing Cream, and got to bag a few of their face, body and hair products too!

The fun part about the ION Orchard Beauty Mobile App is that you can also leave reviews of the products you've redeemed and tried via the app, and if you're lucky, you'd get to win even more samples or even full-sized products!

Some of my favourite brands which I think you ought to try are: Shu Uemura (the cleansing oil! I love it to bits and pieces!), Kiehls (Midnight Recovery Oil and Calendula Toner are my favourites), L'Occitane (they have the best smelling products), and of course YSL! ;)

Hop over to http://beauty.ionorchard.com before this campaign ends on the 29th of September! Have fun trying all the samples and products! :D

xoxo

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stellar @ 1-Altitude: New Gastronomic Menu!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Food Review

Dining with a view can't get any more magnificent, than when you're 62 storeys up high at Stellar, 1-Altitude!

I'm not really that extravagant an eater, and fine-dining isn't really in my book when it comes to eating and food, but I couldn't say no to an invitation by the kind folks at 1-Altitude to sample their new gastronomic menu! I was pretty excited about it too, because I've heard and read a lot about how amazing 1-Altitude is!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude View
1-Altitude is situated at the old OUB building, and we started our evening by travelling up 63 stories to the rooftop for cocktails and the most amazing view! We were even higher up than MBS and had a fantastic bird's eye view of the waterscape and city area!

Evonnz Ng Yina Goh
Can't miss out this beautiful dining partner of mine, Evonne! All decked out in hot pink and looking like a life-sized Barbie doll.

We admired the view for a bit before proceeding down to Stellar on the 62nd storey, where dinner was to be held.

Stellar @ 1-Altitude

With Stellar at 1-Altitude's new gastronomic menu, it was extremely hard not to be spoilt for choice: they now offer 4, 5 or 6 course tasting menus, for $95++, $120++ and $140++ respectively.

I love variety, just like any typical Singaporean out there, so if you used to think that fine-dining is not your cup of tea, it might just be because you haven't yet been to Stellar at 1-Altitude! Be warned: come on an empty stomach because you'd need every ounce of space there is for all the yummy food!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Menu

Stellar @ 1-Altitude
面包也要拍?! Lol. It's a little silly but I always love bread baskets, especially when the bread is toasty warm! :D

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Amuse Boche
We first started with the amuse bouche, to cleanse our palette! It was sake sorbet served on hamachi tatare and was deliciously light and refreshing! An good omen and fabulous start to dinner!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Scallop
Scallop ($28++)

This is definitely one of those on the must-order list! All of us savoured every single bite of this ravioli sheet that hide three juicy scallops, accompanied with pear cubes and parmesan cheese! I don't like too much cheese, but this was just nice, without being toooo cheesy. The scallops were seared to perfection and were super juicy and sweet!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Bone Marrow
Bone Marrow ($24++)

An interesting dish for those that fancy pig trotters and bone marrow, it combines braised and deboned pig trotters rolled together with pork belly, as well as a bone marrow custard. The flavours were very interesting really, but it was also quite heavy on the palate. The parsley salad with bacon bits was too sharp tasting for me though I liked the smooth bone marrow custard very much.

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Bone Marrow
Close-up of the bone marrow, it tasted just a little like steamed egg but richer and more flavourful!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Aglio Uni
Aglio Uni ($44++)

Another dish that won unanimous favour with all the diners! A portion of capellini with leek, ebi sakura and smoked sea urchin butter accompanied by two huge king prawns that were so lip-smackingly good!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Yellow Tuna Fin
Yellow Tuna Fin ($44++)

This is one of the dishes that Stellar at 1-Altitude is acclaimed for!

We were only provided with the tasting portion, which I thought was quite a generous portion already. Wood-fired yellow tuna fin and an herb-ish tasting rissoni (the grains of pasta that resemble rice): Evonne didn't like this dish but I loved the tuna! Tasted almost like the one I had in France, the texture was amazing, juicy and firm at the same time. There were some pretty exotic tasting spices in this, but on the whole, I enjoyed this dish alot for the tuna.

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Yellow Tuna Fin
Beautiful plating, too!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude
For our next course, a waitress appeared with boxes of steak knives... and asked us to pick a knife 0.0 Not too sure why we had to pick our own knives, but I suppose that's fine-dining for you?

The chef himself, Chris Millar, appeared at our table to personally do the carving of meats for us!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Chef Chris Millar
That's Chef Millar expertly slicing a rack of lamb.

Stellar @ 1-Altitude
Stellar @ 1-Altitude
Wagyu beef! D:

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Meat Platter
And here is the wonderful looking meat platter.. Are you salivating yet? Meat-lovers like me will certainly go gaga over how beautifully cooked and presented all the meat looked!

We had a platter that consisted of pork chop,Wagyu beef, Kobe beef, and lamb rack!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Meat Platter
Meat Platter 
$120++ for 3 meat selections (550g) and $140++ for 4 meat selections (720g).

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Meat Platter
Stellar @ 1-Altitude Meat Platter
Sorry for spamming so many pictures. I guess you can tell that I super loved the meat platter! And I was  particularly partial to the Wagyu beef.. So so so tender, and juicy, with that wonderfully beefy flavour! The Kobe beef paled in comparision because it was somewhat tougher and dryer. The Wagyu beef.. Words can't begin to describe how orgasmic it was D:

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Meat Platter
The meat platter also came with a generous side of greens as well as a whole lot of sauces. The foie gras sauce was SO good!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Meat Platter Sauces
Stellar @ 1-Altitude Meat Platter Sauces
Foie Gras Sauce | Morel Sauce | Café de Paris Butter | Bearnaise Sauce | Dijon & Grain Mustard

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Meat Platter
Was surreptitiously reaching out for piece after piece of Wagyu while noone was looking :P

The stellar dining experience at Stellar at 1-Altitude (pun intended) was rounded up with an incredible dessert creation that was executed right at our dining table! We watched Chef Millar as he created his work of art in front of us. It was an exquisite sight!
Stellar @ 1-Altitude Dessert
Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
We were very busy too while Chef Millar prepared the desserts: Busy with taking photos and videos! Haha

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
It was really a sight to feast upon!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
The Valrhona Chocolate Bomb melted to reveal a cake! Cool.

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
Flaming baked Alaska D: This was flame-torched "live" at the table!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Sweet Experience
Om nom nom!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude Chocolate Truffles
We ended the night with these delicious bites of chocolate truffles. Perfect!

Stellar at 1-Altitude is a place I'd certainly place on my list for a special celebration. Perfect ambience, checked. Magnificent view, checked. Visually appealing food that tasted just as good, checked! Everything was top-notch.

If there was anything that I had to nitpick on, it would be that the staff was almost TOO attentive, asking us for our opinion of every course at every opportunity. Lol. Sometimes I just want to enjoy my food in peace, you know? Nonetheless, it was a wonderful experience at Stellar at 1-Altitude!

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Stellar @ 1-Altitude

1 Raffles Place, Former OUB Building, Level 62
Tel: 6438 0410

Opening Hours: 
11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 12am (Mon – Fri); 
6pm – 12am (Sat – Sun, PH)
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Outfit of the day!
TheVelvetDolls Lattice Back Top in White
TheVelvetDolls Floral Ballerina Skorts
TheVelvetDolls Courtney Clutch in White

Love this coordinate! ;)

And don't miss out on TheVelvetDolls' huge online sale this three days from 25-27 September! We're running more discount promotions on TheVelvetDolls Facebook page too, so grab your bargains while they last!!