Apologies for the dark and blurry photos. My DSLR doesn’t exactly fit in a suit pocket, and the dim lighting at the Amara Sanctuary on Sentosa was not so S95 friendly. This World Gourmet Summit event had one of the most interesting meals, food-wise, that I’ve had in quite a while, made even more amazing given the size of the dining crowd and the relative complexity of the courses. The meal was almost a perfectly executed banquet feast by guest Chef Michael Ginor, co-founder of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and chef/owner of LOLA, New York.
The occasion, umm… well it doesn’t really matter. It was a fête that I had the opportunity of attending instead of G. There was a long ceremony at the start involving the well-heeled in a scene that I can best describe as: the Free Masons threw a party and invited the “party
-goers from Eyes Wide Shut. This lasted well over an hour… and no food was served. Fortunately for us, we had unwittingly stood near the kitchen entrance before the start of the event and were treated to first choice of all of the mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres.
Last year’s World Gourmet Summit featured some notable personalities including a special appearance by Ferran Adrià and one very particular chef from Japan who transported everything including water for his guest stint in Singapore. The latter might sound a bit absurd, but if you’ve ever had the pleasure of dining in Japan, you might appreciate how difficult it is to reproduce those tastes and textures abroad. This year, Shinichiro Takagi, chef/owner of Zeniya had the dubious honor of presenting the cuisine and ingredients of his region during this tumultuous time in Japan.
Chef Takagi hails from Kanazawa, capital of the Ishikawa Prefecture, which, if my memory serves me correctly, is home to great seafood, historical attractions, and celebrities Hideki Matsui and “Chairman Kaga”. While this region on the western part of the main island was unaffected by the recent disasters, imports of food items from Japan has become much more strict, and as a consequence many ingredients meant for Takagi’s menu were unable to be shipped. This meant that many substitutions were used for this meal that ultimately diluted the experience of each dish.
Barbecued stingray is a relatively inexpensive and oh-so-tasty dish that is available at just about every hawker center in Singapore. I love the combination of sambal chili and flaky flesh enveloped in the fragrance of banana leaf. Perhaps because of its ubiquity in food stalls, stingray is not as commonly found in the grocery stores. This is a shame since it is surprisingly easy to cook and freezes well. While it had never crossed my mind to either cook or process a stingray, one recent weekend found me and M on a “field trip” to the Jurong Fishery Port (JFP) that led to a better appreciation of cooking this funky flat fish.
G would like to thank you for your most recent gift of the “duet” name card holder (pictured right). Yes, we are aware that as of 2009 you are now the Social Development Network (SDN), but G still fondly refers to you as SDU and may need time to get used to this new dating social service for graduates and non-graduates alike.
As you may have noticed, G is with child, but don’t worry, she’s not single! Which brings us to a matter dear to your heart – marriage. We’d also like to inform you that G has been (for the most part) happily married for 6 years and your mailers, while appreciated, are no longer necessary. Your colleagues at MCYS will also be pleased to know that we plan to have 2 babies real soon. So congratulations on Mission Accomplished for this couple (even if one of us is not a local).
W & G
Two years ago almost to the day, we were at a crossroads in our life and we made a decision together to move to Singapore. There were many reasons for the move but also an equal number of reasons not to move.
Reasons to move include (1) my family in Singapore; (2) pressure from my family to return and help with the family business because my help may not be needed in the future but it was needed then; (3) starting our own little family in Singapore; and (4) support from W’s boss who gave him the opportunity to move on better terms rather than the (significantly) crappier one offered by the local branch of a multinational company.
Reasons not to move include (1) W’s career in the US as a move would mean an invisible ceiling in terms of promotions given the distance from the head office; (2) my rising career in an industry that was almost recession proof; (3) W’s family in the US; and (4) our beautiful 2-br we had recently purchased and the independent living associated with it.
Saw this cartoon (original source), and wondered if this really is the future that our child will have to face. G and I are neither of the two “families” pictured, but somewhere in between.
Like pungent rotting eggs… one whiff can send grown men fleeing or scrambling to the nearest durian stall for a quick fix. The smell is so strong that ”No Durian” signs are posted everywhere in Singapore (and other durian-loving countries) from trains to hotels. As if the odor wasn’t enough of a warning to stay away, this proclaimed “king of fruits” also bears sharp spikes that have to be deftly bypassed in order to gain access. Depending on who you ask, the flavor of the flesh inside is like either an ambrosia or spoiled milk.
In many countries (such as Singapore), a domestic helper is vey much an integral part of the middle class family. They frequently work 7 days a week cooking, cleaning, and doubling as nannies. In fact, it’s not uncommon to have young children be just as attached to their caretaker maid as to mum and dad. For most, this arrangement works- families gain valuable time to well… do stuff, and the employed helpers earn significantly more (10x +) here than in their native countries.
Bloomberg has been posting quite a number of articles on Singapore lately, but this one caught my attention: BMW 3 Series Costs $260,000.
That’s actually in US dollars, which is roughly 5 times the cost of the equivalent model (a 335i convertible) in the US… In addition to hefty import fees, the other significant cost to automobile buyers is what is known as the Certificate of Entitlement, or COE. This is essentially a one-time fee (payable to the government of course) that entitles a person to own a car. The cost of this COE varies depending on the category of car desired and the supply/demand of certificates currently available. This enables the government to control the number of cars in Singapore (in theory). So for instance, the BMW in this article belongs in the 1600 cc and above category where the COE now is an astounding $59,000+ usd!
To put into perspective how expensive a car is to the average Singaporean… the median household income as of 2010 is $4,453 usd. Note the use of household in the official government statistics. This really does mean that typical home with multiple residents, earns $4k monthly. Anecdotally, a typical salary for a mid-level (non finance) professional might be between $3-4k per month. Even if you spent all of your salary on that BMW, it would still take over 5 years to pay it off.
Driving in Singapore can be pretty confusing with a plethora of one-way streets, winding roads, and changing street names. This however, takes the cake. Can you tell me where is Shunfu Road?