Friday, July 30, 2010

The World beneath your feet

The wonderful thing about blogging is that it opens your eyes to details, to beauty to even things beneath your feet. Was walking along an old stretch of Chinatown houses and came across some beautiful designs on the floor. Though you can tell it was kind of worn down, it was nevertheless very pretty.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mont Blanc (chestnut cake)

I had lunch at Tampopo restaurant at Liang Court recently and couldn't help noticing the beautiful swirls of cream on top of a Mont Blanc cake at the glass counter . It wasn't listed in the menu so I waved the waiter over and ordered it for dessert. Though I've come across visuals of the Mont Blanc cake in Japanese cake books, I've yet to try one. The Japanese named this creation after Mount Mont Blanc (White Mountain) the highest peak of the Alps in Europe.

It was yummy and tastes as good as it looks. A crusty base with a secret chocolate heart amidst a custard filling and of course swirls of delicious chestnut puree cream on top of it all. What's not to love. A decadent treat at $6 but oh what pleasure ! Heard that you can also order it from the Tampopo Deli at the basement of Liang Court.

Tampopo Deli
177 River Valley road
#B1-16 Liang Court

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Children Little Museum

At 42 Bussorah Street, just next to the Sultan's Mosque is the Children Little Museum, a place that houses lots of beautiful memories for those who grew up in the 60's and 70's.

At the ground floor, vintage adult finds are up for sale while the Children's Little Museum is just a few flights of stairs up. For 2 dollars, you can have a fun time reminiscing about those good ole days in a remarkably compact and well designed space, where every inch is put to good use.
There is an old barber corner complete with a blue, red and white candy stripe light pole, a vintage hair setter as well as vintage jars of old hair jel and oil, all neatly stacked on a glass shelf. Brian Richmond, an iconic figure of the era related to me how guys would come into a barber shop holding a picture of Rock Hudson or Cary Grant, asking the barbers to give them the same look. They would nod their head in agreement and yet gave the same old style as they had given the past few times which looked nothing like Rock Hudson or Cary Grant. At the other corner of the museum was a bookshop filled with all the stationery of the era - fountain pens, bottles of refillable permanent blue black and Royal Blue ink, made in China sharpeners in the shape of cherubic kids, trophies, houses and giraffes as well as old school alphabet erasers and Venus pencils. Bookshops then were always fun to visit. In today's world, bookshops take on a different meaning for some kids, a place that is overstocked with assessment papers and books. A sense of dread for some.

There's also an old school facade which reminded me of little village schools back then. My mum who was a teacher in the 60's and 70's had a short teaching stint in a village school in Nee Soon (today's Yishun) . The principal was a nice and simple man and parents had no qualms of having their children caned if they misbehaved. I once went along with my mum to school during open house and had quite a culture shock. A vast difference indeed from my city school. And outside the school facade at the museum was an exhibit of a hawker stall selling the ever popular ice ball which was made of ice and rose syrup. To slurp and suck an ice ball was a simple joy for kids back then and hygiene was never an issue. And if toys are up your alley, the "mama" toy shop display was quite a blast with rows of toys guns, swords, plastic dolls, tintoys and even little cards from the highly popular Man from Uncle TV series.

Good use was also made of the the celings and walls with rocking horses, racing cars, prams and bicycles of the different eras stacked as overhead displays. And right in the middle of the museum, a movie box with peep holes at different corners. In those days, a few cents will get you a screening of little movie clips and animations. Simple life, simple pleasures.

A charming place indeed, highly recommended for a walk down memory lane.
Children Little Museun
42 Busorrah Street

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hello Mr Gollywog

He's a face that you will hardly come across in toy shops these days. Popularised by Enid Blyton stories, Mr Gollywog was popular years back in the 60's and 70's especially in England but today, this toy is deemed derogatary to the blacks. Couldn't resist snapping his picture as he beckons me to buy him in a vintage shop. I love his outfit. Black and white will never go out of style.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A modern twist to classic Chinese brands

Axe brand oil - Feel the power

Tiger balm - a cool cat remedy

3 hands cooling water - triple the power

Nin Jiom (Hong Kong) Chuan Bei Pi Pa Gao - grandma's favourite remedy

Po Chai pills - Daddy cool

A set of invitations from one of Singapore's premiere night spot, Zouk caught my eye ! It was a fun and funky twist on traditional household brands of Chinese remedies. I always enjoyed the uniqueness of Chinese branding and this series of ads puts a smile on my face !

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Geisha in a cup

Have you seen a Geisha in a cup ? Literally staring out at you from the bottom of the tea cup as you savour the last drop of your fragrant tea. If you do, please don't get spooked and drop the tea cup.
These images are called lithophanes and it originated from a Greek word meaning "light in stone", or to "appear in stone". Lithophanes are porcelain castings which at first look appear to be nothing more than uneven surfaces forming a vague picture. But if you hold a lithophane to the light, you will be amazed by the three dimensional picture which appears with incredible depth, detail and beauty. Some historians have argued that lithophanes were developed by the Europeans while some say they date back all the way to the Chinese Tang dynasty. In Japan, lithophanes feature Geisha girls and are known as dragonware. Many were made right after WW2 in the 50's and early 60's and were popularly used for trading with the GIs stationed in the US bases.

I bought a set of these "dragonware" from a second hand dealer except mine came without dragons on the exterior. Instead it features the scenery of a Japanese village with pagodas and a view of Mount Fuji. It was almost Chinoiserie in style.
But what is striking and fascinating is the lithophane of the Geisha girl at the base of the cup, smiling most demurely. Collector's forums actually highlight the range of geisha girls in dragonware from the most rare to the most common. Apparently, the most rare ones that command ever increasing prices are that of nude Geisha girls. No wonder they were popular with the GIs.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wearable old school

Updating "old school" can be fun too. The iconic Queen Elizabeth stamp is a true classic that I love to wear. Here she is , framed in a little brooch as well as encased in a little pendant. A wearable stamp. Modern nostalgia.