Monday, September 12, 2011


Was rummaging through the shelves of my favourite second hand book store in Bras Basah complex and a  hard cover book with a beautiful illustration caught my eye. A Table in Provence, Classic Recipes from the South of France was published in 1987 and chronicles Lesile Forbes ' culinary odyssey of Provence, in the kitchens of the people she met - gourmets, grandmothers, shop keepers and vine growers. Handwritten in manuscript and illustrated through the most charming drawings, it shows what makes southern French food so memorable - " terra cotta pots of basil and fennel, bundles of wild thyme, savory and rosemary from warm hilltops, bottles of fruity olive oil, ropes of white garlic and baskets of thumb nail-sizes clams." From truffle hunting in the Luberon to the rich variety of Provencal bread, from calissons, a famous almond and melon sweet meat to the most luscious recipes featuring aubergines, zucchinis, pumpkins and olives. All these paint a most inviting attraction to visit Provence for its beautiful countryside and to taste its rich produce. 
Is Provence as lovely as she had described ?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Agnetha and Frida


Love the handmade dolls I bought in Bangkok. I couldn't quite decide what to call them till someone commented on their eye shadow. Think I shall call them Agnetha and Frida after the girls from ABBA. They had the loveliest eye shadow in blue and purple as it was the rage back in the late 70's. It would not be possible to have a Beatles reunion but if ABBA were to have a get together concert one more time, it would be a blast !

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Four areas in Chinatown were given conservation status on 7 July 1989. They are the areas of Kreta Ayer, Telok Ayer, Bukit Pasoh and Tanjong Pagar. These consist mainly of 2 -3 storey shophouses of transitional, late and Art Deco shophouse style. Most of the buildings have been restored to its former glory but the thriving activites and way of life that I used to remember as a child have long been gone.

In September 1983, 500 street hawkers were removed from Chinatown's streets and many went into the Kreta Ayer Complex, but many other unlicensed ones disappeared from the scene.

The removal of rent control since the early 1990s has also forced many traditional businesses out of the old shophouses and in its place comes advertising agencies, marketing firms, lawyers' offices, pubs and restaurants. 

Singapore's Chinatown is uncharacteristic of many Chinatowns elsewhere in the world. Clean and organised with offices and many shops selling tourist souvenirs. I miss the Chinatown that my mum and grandma used to go. The authorities certainly did well in terms of the cleaning up but sadly, the soul and spirit of most of the traditional enterprise got cleaned out as well.  

Enamel ware from China

Bought some Chinese enamel ware today from an old couple who had a little make shift stall at one of Chinatown's five foot way. They were selling off all sorts of Chinese enamel ware which were quite common in the 70s and 80s but are less so today. The old couple used to have a shop years back and these were their left over supplies. Somehow I appreciated the flower motifs on the enamel trays . It is quite common to see the bright red ones in some traditional Chinese wedding shops but these were more subtle. My black and white majie in those days used enamel ware very often, the larger trays for making the pink and white tang yuen as well as for drying food in the sun while the smaller ones were for steaming tou fu, fish and ribs. Seeing them makes me remember those days very fondly.


Received a box of Grand Hyatt mezza nine mooncakes the other day that were really unusual.  Little pieces of mooncakes in the shapes of Chinese chess pieces, laid over a tray and over a Chinese chess board. It was a real shame to have to eat it so I whipped out my camera for some shots of how beautiful it looked before passing it around to be devoured.