Sunday, 22 February 2015

2015 Chinese New Year Snack Favourites

The greatest thing about Chinese New Year - besides getting to see your relatives, staying up all night watching funny movies and playing games with your cousins, collecting ang baos, and soaking in the marvellous air of festivity - is the SNACKS!

Here are my top five favourites for #CNY2015 lol

Do note that they may not include my all-time favourites in general, just the ones that I liked most out of what was available to me this year :)

#5: Coffee Love Letters


So, Love Letters are very common CNY snacks in Asia and they're basically thin biscuit rolls that are super crispy and shatter in your mouth when you take a bite.

I quite like them because of their delicious eggy flavour and how light and crackle-y they are, but these coffee ones just introduce a whole new dimension of Love Letter enjoyment.

You get the same yumminess of the thin biscuit, but with a delightfully strong coffee flavour and aroma. And you know its legit when the ingredients used were actually real coffee powder brewed in hot water instead of some nasty artificial coffee flavouring.

A cool twist on a traditional classic which turned out really well. A+!

#4: Orange Gummy Candy


Not gonna lie, this one's more of a favourite due to its novelty factor instead of the actual taste and quality of the food.

Some genius came up with the idea of moulding orange gummy candies into separate little wedges and assembling them into a cute orange shape. Small, adorable and fun to hold in your hands pretending that they're mandarin oranges haha. Very festive indeed!

Taste wise, they can be rather addictive but tragically the batch my family got this year was rock hard and not the most pleasant.

I probably also love them due to my childhood memories, where I'd go to my relatives' house and just devour like five in one sitting. Back then they were so blissfully soft and chewy, juicy on the inside and coated with sinfully tasty pure sugar on the outside. It was like I'd discovered a drug lol. Good times :)

#3: Prawn Rolls


Prawn rolls - or hae bee hiam, which means dried spicy shrimp - are probably one of my all-time fave savoury snacks. The spicy filling is encased by layers of light biscuit which crackles delectably in your mouth.

Most prawn rolls have a decent kick to it, but I've tried some that were so wildly spicy that I honestly couldn't eat more than one at a time without my tongue being set on fire. They're THAT hot!

I also love how they look like tiny versions of spring rolls teehee. But way more crunchy and AWESOME.

#2: Iced Gems


Ahhh yes, another childhood love for me.

I don't know about you but I'm sure a large portion of Singaporeans would agree when I say that these cute and colourful little treats just SCREAM childhood memories.

Besides looking absolutely fabulous - the vibrant colours have filled me with glee ever since i was a kid - they simply taste great. Biscuit is crumbly and super delicious, and the sugary dollops of icing give it a fantastic dose of sweetness and an unbeatable crunch.

I kinda stopped eating them when I grew to a certain age and my parents stopped buying them coz after all, they're not the easiest snacks to find. If I'm not wrong, NTUC doesn't even sell them and if NTUC doesn't sell something, good luck trying to find it hahaha. But anyways I was reintroduced to them when I used them as toppings for my froyo during one of my many visits to Sogurt, and since then I've just been hooked like nobody's business.

I love love LOVE them.

Pssst...try looking for them at neighbourhood marketplaces and the traditional family owned stores!

#1: Tapioca Chips

And finally, my number one favourite CNY snack EVER and quite possibly one of my all-time favourite snacks in general. Salty, crispy, IRRESISTIBLY delicious tapioca chips.

Embarrassingly enough, I devoured the whole lot of it before I thought of writing this post so lo and behold...there are not original photographs of it hahaha. You may click here for some Google images of it...my sincerest apologies lol

Anyway, there's not much to say about them except that I'd gladly shove them down my gullet even after my throat is just completely destroyed by how heaty it is and I'm practically drowning in deep fryer grease.

Tapioca chips have such a unique flavour and the way they have that extra bite...you know it's true love when you don't mind feeling the numbness from what seems like an intense jaw workout every time you indulge in this heavenly snack.

And now, here are some honourable mentions!

Ji Dan Gao


Also known as kuih bahulu, these steamed egg cakes were a firm favourite of mine since I was a kid, they're just so simple and yummy! The shape is absolutely adorable too.

Sadly, this year's batch turned out to be hard, CRUNCHY and pretty gross actually, instead of soft and fluffy like any decent cake should be. For that I had to deduct 800 points from its score coz besides being quite horrid to chew, half the fun of eating ji dan gao is squishing it with your fingers and enjoying the wonderful sponginess of it. Nevertheless, the butter, egg and sugar combo still creates a pleasant taste sensation!

Hello Kitty Pineapple Tarts


These weren't particularly outstanding for me in terms of taste coz I'm personally not a big fan of pineapple tarts (collective gasp from the audience), but just one look at them and you already know why I had to include them on this list.

Who can resist such overwhelming cuteness?! They were actually brought over by some of my relatives from all the way at Alor Setah, Kedah in Malaysia. Seriously though...way too cute. Perfect gift idea for any Hello Kitty lover too!



That concludes my list of CNY snack favourites! What are yours? :)

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Suite Life in Guangzhou Part 2: Food on our First Day!

Wednesday, 24th December 2014
Panyu (Guangzhou, China)

Finally at the hotel at about 7AM, we check into our marvellous rooms and quickly get settled down (Settle Down by The 1975 is a grrreat song, i highly recommend it).

I popped into the shower and stood under the waterfall of close to boiling temperatures because it was a particularly freezing cold morning and, as it turns out, the jumpers and jackets I had packed were clearly not thick enough.


This is downright embarrassing to admit but, tragically I do not have any photos of the gorgeous hotel room at all because

1. I was completely exhausted when we first arrived and all I wanted to do was leap into the bouncy bed with very inviting, crisp white linens and snooze my head off.

2. Throughout the entire duration of my stay (which was three nights, if i remember correctly), I was a lazy piece of shit who procrastinated the simple task of snapping a few pics of the place and on Friday morning, we were off to a different hotel all the way over at Hengqin.

-_-

Here's a mirror selfie, however. Coz we all know that I'll always make time for those...


Isn't the bathroom just lovely?! And it's way bigger than what you can see in just the above picture, too.

Also, here are the cute ass toiletries:


UGH aren't they adorable?!!

And they smell AMAZING, too.


Alrighty so after taking a bath in which I practically boiled myself in the hope of retaining some much needed heat after I stepped out of the shower and into the unforgiving draught, I plonked myself onto the bed and had a very lovely slumber indeed.


This little handkerchief bird thingy was resting atop my pillow, how cute is that??


I woke up at about 6PM (oops, what happened to just trying to take a baby nap HA HA) and devoured the breakfast my mum had bought from McDonald's earlier that day when we were at Baiyun Airport.


Mcdonald's big breakfast! Scrambled eggs, chicken sausage patty, and English muffins with strawberry jam.

Pretty sure this is a standard menu item across all Macca's around the world haha. But it's still really cool to see the subtle differences! Like the box which is made of cardboard instead of Singapore's styrofoam version. And the packaging for their salt and pepper. Oh and correct me if I'm wrong but I think SG provides grape jam instead of strawberry? Heh


This one's interesting.

As you can see, it's a pretty large wrap which for whatever unknown reason happens to be green in colour.

And inside of it...


Turkey bacon, you tiao (dough fritters) and strips of omelette.

I was a little thrown off by the combination at first but I gotta say, these Chinese people are on to something good. It tasted pretty freaking delicious, much thanks to all the yummy fillings as well as the smokey BBQ sauce that was also within the wrap. Best of all, it was really filling teehee


Special shout-out to this little beauty right here.

You know how in the previous China post I raved on about how much I loved the soybean milk they served on Singapore Airlines? Well, nothing in the entire universe would've prepared me for THIS.

Initially I thought it was a cup of hot coffee that came with the McBreakfast set, but my mum told me that it was actually soybean milk.

"Great!", I thought. I freaking love soybean milk now, as it turns out.

So I took a little whiff of it and much to the delight of my senses, there was a spectacular aroma on top of the usual soybean scent. One that was faintly familiar, yet something that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

I took a little sip, and I swear, I PINKY swear, I almost fell over from how AMAZING that shit was.

Like, literally. I am not kidding right now.

While my tastebuds were having the absolute time of their lives, I continued being baffled by what that familiar aroma and flavour was. Something that was reminiscent of my childhood, in fact!

Thank goodness my mum was there to dispel my confusion by saying that it was actually special 红枣 (hong zao) or red date brewed soybean!

(taken from the McDonald's China website)

OH!!!!!! MY!!!!!!!!! GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Red dates featured prominently throughout my early childhood in the form of cheng tng and home brewed soups. Those were the only dishes I'd eat which included red dates and I never would've imagined they'd taste so ridonkulously good swirled into soybean milk! Oh my~~~

It was like discovering a new wonder of the world, really. HAHA ok perhaps I'm exaggerating a little but, damn. It really tasted fantastic!

Apparently people in China are very big on incorporating red dates in their foods, coz I also spotted some red date flavoured yogurt which seemed to be a hot favourite among both young and old (i'm assuming because they don't have a lot of teeth lol).

Try it for yourself if possible!! It really tastes grrreat :))

Alrighty then so that concludes me raving about how wonderful and life-changing hong zao soybean milk was for me lmao

After our 6PM "breakfast", we headed over to the circus (!!) which was some crazily good fun but there's a whole tonne of pictures so I'll save that for the next post.

Here's our post-circus dindin~!


Crunchy and delicious black fungus yet again! This one was tossed with some red chillies as you can see, giving it a pretty powerful kick.


BBQ chicken wings! It doesn't look too special but the marinade was KILLER. It smelled soooo good and I almost collapsed to the ground as the heavenly aroma taunted me while the meat was still too piping hot to eat.

Served with little fried potato chunks! Which could've tasted better in my opinion, but they were rather soggy :\


Sizzling claypot of Thai glass noodles looking very tantalising indeed.

Tragically they threw in way too much lemongrass and while my mum loved it, it proved to be a tad too overpowering for me and I couldn't bear to eat more than one mouthful at a time without having to cleanse my tastebuds with copious amounts of water :(

Hey, the prawns were terrific though! Super fresh and juicy :)

And now, arguably the highlight of the entire meal...


Spaghetti bolognese!!

I know, I know. Who the hell goes to China to eat ITALIAN food, right?

Well, this was one of my favourite dishes to have back in 2009-2010 when I was actually living in Guangzhou, at this very hotel in fact.

And it's no regular plate of spag bol, it's A+. ++++++++!!

Meat sauce is incredible and flavoured just PERFECTLY with all the best herbs and spices available, tossed in fresh, quality meat and veggies. Abundance of cheese, of course. And would you look at how gorgeous the bacon strips are?!

Amazing, really. So good :'))


Complimentary fruits at the end of our meal. I thought that white and green slice was pear but I took a bite and it turned out to be guava...

I love guava juice like crazy but that was my first time actually eating the actual fruit and...it tastes horrid??! I don't know man maybe that was just a ~bad fruit~ (lol im so punny) but it was almost completely tasteless with a gigantic sour aftertaste at the end and just...NO.

***

But yeah that comes to the end of China post #2 and I don't know about you but I am hella excited for the upcoming ones. Just thinking about all those memories is getting me so PUMPED!! Sorry if the posts so far have been a bit bland teehee but they're only going to get better and better, I promise!

In fact, the next post in this series is gonna be about our trip to the circus!! Hooray!!!!!!!!

I already started editing the pictures and trust me guys, you are going to be BLOWN AWAY by the sheer awesomeness of it all.

I'll see you guys real soon!!

xoxo

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Puppy Love

How I wish I could be able to blog on a more frequent basis instead of just one post per week, with what little precious free time I have during the weekend when I'm not out spending time with my family (whom i barely get to see anymore, this is just ridiculous) or trying to crawl my way out of a ginormous metaphorical mountain of assignments and submission deadlines.

Truth be told, blogging really does bring me so much joy and it can even be considered a form of therapy for me. But with that being said, it also takes a whole lot of time and energy for me to whip up just one fairly straightforward post.

And I simply do not have the luxury of time OR energy during the school week, because every single day my energy just gets completely sapped out of me when I get home some time in the evening. I'm done with my quota of activities, both physical and mental, and I've had my fair share of social interactions so much so that I don't even feel like talking to anyone anymore for the rest of the night.

Sounds pretty tragic, but I'm actually having a blast most of the time. Tired but happy :))


No "proper post" this week - my apologies - coz I've got submissions for three straight days starting tomorrow and I need to bust my ass and get shit done, but here are some criminally adorable puppy pictures I took this week when I headed to two different pet shops two days in a row.

Enjoy!


Ughhhhh they are just so cute I can't.


Siblings!! Look at the fat puff bodies and short legs oh my god


BUTT


Cuties squished against the glass. I just love it when they rest their head on each other's bodies :'))


Omg shout-out to this cutie right here whom I had a real connection with. When I walked over to his glass cubicle he just stood up and stared right into my soul, I shit you not. I then placed my hand delicately on the glass and he jumped up excitedly, clawing at it and repeatedly trying to "touch" me with his paws!

AWWWWWWWWWWWWWW~!!

But the moment I whipped out my phone to take a pic of the beautiful moment he turned around and was like, bitch please lol.


Fatty potatoes snuggled up against each other UGH. The cuteness is unbearable D;


And here we have another shy one with the cutest little watermelon chew toy hehe.


Ciao for now!

Hopefully I'll be back real soon with a China post, or at least something haha

Lotsa love~~

xoxo

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Food Wrap-Up: D'Good Cafe + Earle Swensens

My plan is to try and alternate between my Guangzhou "Suite Life" posts and normal posts of my everyday life. Which is just as well coz most of the China posts take me ages upon ages to write lol.

In the meantime, please enjoy this short wrap-up of some food pics and stories taken last week!

***

Met up with my darling angel Azra last Friday for some tea and a much needed heart to heart talk.

A photo posted by ★ Renae Cheng | 佳琪 (@renaecjc) on

I've always wanted to visit D'Good coz it just seems so freaking cool. I mean seriously tho, it has like THREE storeys, a bunch of pretty outdoor areas for you to sit down with your friends and chillax over some good coffee, and just the coolest decor and concept in general.

Sadly it has always been too crowded and I never got the chance to experience the full swagginess of it all...until now!

Oh my god, I am about to scream. Did you know they have a freaking ELEVATOR within the cafe to transport you up and down the three floors?! I WAS SO EXCITED I ALMOST PEED INSIDE OF IT. It's marvellous, really. Very high tech and rocket-like. You MUST try it out for yourself, you MUST!!


Anyways here's the food that my baby boo and I got <3

Azra got some waffles, which is pretty much a staple dish at any café you happen to stumble upon in Singapore, but not just plain ol' regular waffles though. She got Sweet Potato Waffles, oh my goodness, how fab is that? There's chunks of real, delicious and nutrient-packed purple sweet potatoes baked right into the pretty slab of waffle yumminess, and it's topped off with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Doesn't get much better than that, right? WRONG. There's also an adorable little cup of maple syrup for you to drizzle all over this plate of absolute dessert perfection. YUM YUMMMMM.

I was initially planning on getting a small dessert plus a nice coffee but I was pretty famished so I went with a new item called Ham & Cheese French Toast instead. Sounds freaking delicious, right?! I was delighted to see how gorgeous the presentation was. You may think that the portion is rather measly since it's just two small French toast sandwiches, but I was in fact so stuffed by the end of it that I could barely finish it all! The bread is actually hella thick, pleasantly dense and chewy, and overall just freaking DELICIOUS.


Definitely a surprise which threw me off at first...besides a sliver of yummy ham and gooey melted cheese, there's also blueberry jam sandwiched in between the delectable chunks of bread! Never in my life would I think of creating this combo myself, but in all honesty it wound up tasting rather fantastic and I really did love it. Plus, the jam they used was of evident quality and aside from tasting awesome, contained plenty of real blueberry chunks. A+!

After one super satisfying meal and a lovely chatting session, Azra and I made our way to this gorgeous swing set at the side of the café floor we were at and just basked in the glorious sunlight, whimsical surroundings and most of all, each other's company. Absolute bliss, really ❤

A photo posted by ★ Renae Cheng | 佳琪 (@renaecjc) on


Love this girl so much :'))

***

The next day I went out for my weekly din-din session with the fam~ ♡

We headed to VivoCity (BOOOOOOO!! i almost burst into tears when my mum announced that it was her chosen destination for that week because I.HATE.GOING THERE!!!!!!!! no particular reason other than that i've probably been there an estimated TWELVE BILLION TIMES in the past six months, and honestly i'm not just sick of it, i have developed some sort of PHOBIA. DISGUSTING, UGHHHH) and had dinz at Earle Swensens because my sister was craving their Cottage Pie!

The swaggy thing about Earle Swensens as compared to the regular Swensens, which y'all know that I've loved like crazy since I was a lil kid, is that all of the mains come with unlimited visits to their salad bar.

The not-so-swaggy thing, however, is the prices :\

Yeah well I guess you gotta pay for the classy ambience and whatnot. Oh well! Just make sure to get your money's worth of the salad bar buffet, huh?


I wasn't feeling particularly hungry so I only made one trip to the salad bar...yes, I know! I'm very ashamed ok!!

Anyway I got some chopped fruit salad (cute and lovely to look at but a little too tangy for my liking), some grilled chicken breast salad (they used the shitty kind of lettuce which is pretty low but i grabbed lots and lots of yummy chicken strips so yay me lol) topped off with alfalfa sprouts and mango dressing (they have a whole assortment of salad dressings but mango sounded the most exotic so i had to try that!), and just a whole heaping of my favourite offering and what I feel to be the only dish from the salad bar worth getting...PESTO PASTA SALAD <3 With plenty of capsicum and red bell pepper strips...YUM!!

Also topped it off with croutons, bacon bits and plenty of parmesan cheese. Hooray!

And here's my sister's buffet plate...


I laughed so hard when I first saw it lmao. My dear baby sis, what are you doing eating a plate of yellow carbs and nothing else?! Baby corns are adorable though, I'll give you that.


And here's her delightful little kids meal plate. The omelette is so ridiculously soft and fluffy, it's like I can almost feel it from looking at the picture, you know?! The warm, fluffy egg goodness envelops oodles of heavenly melted cheese that just oozes out when you slice the omelette open...divine, really.

Yes, I stole a couple mouthfuls of it from my sister, don't judge me.

Oh yeah, my sis was pretty bummed out that she couldn't get the cottage pie she was craving for coz apparently Earle Swensens changed their menu recently. Quite sad but at least there were a number of new additions which seemed rather swell...


like this one!

My Mexican chicken wrap :D

I'm assuming that they mean the chicken wrap is in the style of Mexican cuisine and not that they used Mexican chickens in the wrap lol. Please laugh at my joke thanks...

Anyways, it was pretty yumzz with lots of rich flavours. Chicken chunks were abundant and well marinated, there were lots of chopped onions and assorted bell peppers which I really appreciate because I just LOVE their flavours, and the sweet, smokey sauce it came with was fab as well.

I'm absolutely crazy about Swensen's hot US chips (try them dipped into their tartar sauce...SO good!!), but these potato wedges aren't so bad either! Really crispy and fresh (shout-out to restaurants which actually prepare dishes like these on order so i'm not made to eat some stale and soggy ass fries/wedges...) and I really want some right now...

POTATOES ARE LOVE <3


Here's my dad's smoked duck aglio olio! Isn't it freaking gorgeous? I don't know man I love seeing those grill lines on meat lol is that weird.

Sadly I didn't get to try it coz my precious stomach space was already occupied by the free-flow salads and my yummy chicken wrap (and stealing from my sister's plate lol) but I could smell the generous slabs of duck meat from across the table and it was DIVINE.

And last but not least...

My sister was sifting through her mini mountain of crisps when she saw this cute lil puffy one which had a hollow crack in it lol. Apparently I was so excited by it at the time I rushed to take a photo of it with my phone (PLEASE DON'T JUDGE ME LOL special looking chips make me happy ok?!) but the first shot turned out blurry as hell while the second one was beautiful and in focus.


So I decided to make this collage of the focus switch lmao.

YA LIKE DAT SHIT?!!

Photography, man. Art. Beautiful. Yes.

Ok bye.