Crocheting: Cushion Cover In African Flower Hexagon Granny Squares

My second cushion cover. It is much smaller that the first one because I ran out of patience to crochet more granny squares needed for a bigger-sized cushion cover. I have always liked the African flower pattern and have been itching to make something with it.

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I joined all the squares hexagons on the reverse side using a single stitch, and the cushion insert has also been sewn in, so it cannot be easily removed for cleaning.

This was quite an easy one to make.

Crocheting: Cushion Cover In Solid Granny Squares

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Didn’t get around to posting a photo of my first hand-made crochet cushion cover

I was thinking about autumn when I first conceived the idea of crocheting a cushion cover.  I don’t think this has a autumn-y feel but I am pleased with how the colors turned out.  The size of this cover is for a 20″ x 20″ cushion insert.  The one from IKEA is a perfect fit for this, if you like your cushion to be soft and cuddly.

Seoul: Ricotta Cheese Salad At Cafe Mamas

On my way to Samcheong-dong to hunt for clothes (work dresses, casual tops, kimono cardigans, shoes, costume jewelry) one morning, I walked past Cafe Mamas, a popular cafe near the Cheongyecheon stream.

I have gone past this cafe many times during my trips to Seoul, but have never been in there. It is usually very crowded in the evenings with long queues forming during the weekends. In a city with so many cafes and bistros, I have always wondered what is the attraction of this place, to attract queues on a weekend when there are so many attractive options in the vicinity.

 photo IMG_2701-150530-v2__zps5qglqhmv.jpgAs there was no queue forming outside Cafe Mamas that morning, I decided to drop in for a cup of coffee.  I was quite full from eating a huge bowl of porridge at Bonjuk so I didn’t think about ordering food.  

I looked around and saw that almost every table ordered the ricotta cheese salad, and this made me very curious about the dish.  What is so special about a slab of ricotta cheese with salad leaves and bread?  To get the answer, I had to order one for myself even though I could not eat another bite of food.  Or so I thought.

 photo IMG_2700-150530-v2__zps0m8k4nlw.jpgIt was incredibly good!  The ricotta cheese was creamy, slightly sweet and flavored with lemon juice.  The chopped nuts and raisins gave it crunchy bite.  The bread was soft and delicious, and was a lovely accompaniment for the ricotta cheese. Overall, this was a simple, tasty and appetizing dish.  I mopped up everything in the bowl, including bread, tomatoes and salad leaves!  I don’t know where I found the space in my stomach to put in that extra food, but I did.  

I came home and attempted to make the lemon-flavoured ricotta cheese.  I managed to get the same flavor, but I could not get the same thick and creamy texture as Cafe Mamas.  The texture of my ricotta cheese was a little too thin and runny – not sure why but heck, it worked fine as a sandwich spread.

I looked up Cafe Mamas on the Internet and realize that they have 4-5 locations in Seoul.  I went to the one near the Cheongyecheon stream and the SK Telecom Building (exit 4 on the Euljiro-1ga subway station).  Even though I don’t usually eat Western fare whenever I am in Seoul, the ricotta cheese salad will be an exception.  I just hope it doesn’t get retired from the menu when I next visit Cafe Mamas.

Koko Coconut Ice Cream At Amoy Food Centre

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Coconut ice cream is my new favorite ice cream. This one, by Koko Coconut Ice Cream located on the second floor of Amoy Food Centre, is very good. I like the texture of the ice cream. It is smooth and creamy. I don’t like the sorbet-y version.

At $4 for 2 big scoops, served in a coconut shell, this is pretty good value for money. It also comes with a free cup of coconut water, and two toppings of your choice (ground peanut, sweet corn, gula melaka sauce, cornflakes) are free. I always pick the sweet corn and/or ground peanut!

Dstllry At 21 Media Circle

I have been to Dstllry thrice in the last couple of months, and have been meaning to blog about the place for a while.  The name is kind of weird, like where are the vowels?

Photos of Dstllry have been making its rounds on my Facebook feed and Instagram feed for a while. But I couldn’t quite figure out what sort of F&B place Dstllry was.  The only impression that I had of the place from these photos are ‘why so dark…?’   Looks hip and edgy, and I wondered if I could see what I was eating.    It was only when a friend raved about their bespoke cocktails and value-for-money omakase that I was compelled to check it out one Saturday afternoon.

Located at 21 Media Circle, Portsdown Road, Dstllry sounds like a perfect place to escape from the crowds on a Saturday afternoon. I had a bit of difficulty locating the restaurant, which is housed in a scruffy-looking building  called Infinite Studios, in the middle-of-nowhere, near Portsdown Road.  One thing for sure, the building has plenty of parking space.

 photo IMG_1727-150411-v2__zps5u2rrgqw.jpgWalking into the restaurant for the first time, I was impressed by the cool vibe and uncluttered feel of the space, largely due to the high ceilings and a dark interior.  Unlike most restaurants who feel a need to pack as many tables as possible into the space, the owner of Dstllry did not try to maximize the seating space.  Just a simple U-shape bar counter and a narrow ledge lining each of the two walls. I did not feel boxed in by the close proximity of diners huddling around the counter. 

I like the funky industrial lamps lighting up the space, and the sound system was excellent.  Wholly-appropriate background music that didn’t bounce back from the walls, creating an echoey and noisy effect.  Not surprising, given the owner’s music background.

 photo IMG_1761-150411-v2__zpssa2w82bg.jpg photo IMG_1938-150418-v2__zpsyljpoacm.jpgDstllry has a fairly small lunch menu. A couple of donburis and no cocktails.  During dinner, they serve a 10-course omakase for $100, or you can order ala-carte from the menu.  From what I gather, the omakase menu is different every month, and changes are announced on their Facebook page.   

 photo IMG_1759-150411-v2__zps05lxy0sm.jpgTheir bara-chirashi is quite popular. At $18 a bowl, it came with a generous pile of salmon and tuna, dressed in a yummy sauce, topped with ikura and dried seaweed, on top of a warm bowl of rice.  Delicious.  Love how the pearly globules of roe pops in my mouth.  I like that they give fresh wasabi, and not the stuff that comes out of a tube.  

 photo IMG_2810-150604-v2__zps9gp2v904.jpgI have also tried their bara-ramen which, as the name suggests, is raw fish in a bowl of ramen, instead of rice.  Interesting twist to the rice version.  I cannot decide which version I like better, but I think the bara-ramen may have a slight edge over the bara-chirashi, simply because I like noodles and theirs have a nice bite.

 photo IMG_1753-150411-v2__zps61tbht3x.jpgTBH tried the wagyu beef don (higher price point at $38) and thought it was quite good. Besides the rice bowls, we also tried some of their bar food – cockles and ika mentaiko – and they were great. All washed down with a number of excellent bespoke cocktails which seem pricey but are worth every penny if you are love cocktails.

 photo IMG_2099-150418-v2__zps7czu9zfr.jpgLove these fresh and tasty cockles.  May not yet be able to rival the ones at Putien and Two Chefs, but still very good, especially so when you can sip a cocktail while eating the shellfish.

 photo IMG_2806-150604-v2__zps707uh2jb.jpgGrilled ika with some mentaiko.  Good combination and the ika was grilled to perfection.

 photo IMG_2101-150418-v2__zpszxes8tye.jpgBeautiful yuzu-laced with gin concoction.  I have tried quite a number of cocktails served up by their bartender, but my favorite is still their G&T, which is one of the best that I have ever had.  Unlike the watered-down versions served in many places, this one had plenty of gin.  Be sure to order that if you are a G&T fan.  

 photo IMG_2100-150418-v2__zpsnx7k8eof.jpgAnother exotic concoction made with beer and coffee. 

We also tried their omakase.  I like that their chefs give their own creative spin to some classic Japanese dishes using local ingredients.  It has been some time since we ate the omakase, and I cannot remember what we ate now, but each dish was quite interesting.  Just do not order the omakase and expect the standard to be what you would get in a traditional Japanese restaurant.  

We will probably drop by some time soon to try their July omakase menu – some items on the menu sound very good.  

 photo IMG_2102-150418-v2__zpsrf3gquq0.jpg photo IMG_1932-150418-v2__zpsfsjtzaf5.jpgDstllry is really a fun place to chill out either with your other half, or with a group of friends, without having to dress up and watch your table manners.  It is comfortable, easy and unpretentious, and I like the communal dining concept that you get at the bar counter.  You get to see the chefs up close and personal, prepping the food that they are going to be serving you.  

I am hoping to see more of such interesting indie dining concepts sprouting up in Singapore.  

Seoul: Themed Cafe Needle Story – A Knitting Cafe In Edae

Note: NeedleStory does not seem to be at Edae.  I couldn’t see the store at this address when I last visited in 2017.

Sadly, I have been neglecting my blog of late.  After taking a short break in Seoul at the end of May, I just cannot seem to ‘restart my engine’ where many things are concerned.  I haven’t even been chasing Korean dramas!

While in Seoul, I visited a cute cafe in Edae.  It is not really a cafe, but a shop that sells yarn, wool and all sorts of knitting and crocheting things. My kind of place1  I love the concept and this would really be the type of hobby-cafe that I dream about setting up.  A place where like-minded needlework-mad people can hang out and make beautiful things together.
For some reason, crocheting, knitting and sewing do not seem to be very popular hobbies in Singapore amongst the younger generation.  Scrapbooking, yes.  I know quite a number of people who are scrapbooking-fanatics but I don’t know anyone who likes crocheting and/or knitting (besides my aunt).

 photo IMG_2579-150528-v2__zpsgext1bvb.jpg photo IMG_2576-150528-v2__zpsvztwpgs9.jpgPhildar yarn!  I was so excited to see the French brand at Needle Story.  I have never seen the brand in Singapore, and I have been toying with the idea of buying some online. I love Phildar’s wide selection of colors, which are popping bright and cheery. I wanted to grab every color that was available in the shop. Needless to say, I spent a huge amount of time deciding on the colors to bring home.

 photo IMG_2575-150528-v2__zpsdfh0utxy.jpg photo IMG_2574-150528-v2__zpsut7wvxf7.jpg photo IMG_2573-150528-v2__zps4eyas4yr.jpgI love the cushions, especially the cream lace one and the vermillion one with little puffs.  So I bought a pile of Phildar yarn from Needle Story to make a cushion, which I have just completed.

 photo IMG_2572-150528-v2__zpssosu7mt7.jpgI have tried my hand at amigurami and I suck at it.  Maybe I should try crocheting a top one of these days.  Looking at the beautiful knitwear on these models is giving me ideas.  I could try making something quite simple, something along the lines of one of these kimono tops.

 photo IMG_2577-150528-v2__zpsq8emtvkm.jpgThe cafe.  Nothing to shout about, but I like that it is quiet and a great place to relax and browse the crocheting pattern books that I bought from Needle Story.

 photo IMG_2570-150528-v2__zpsdvf7td9b.jpg photo IMG_2569-150528-v2__zpsjipwy2ej.jpgNeedle Story is a place that I must stop by on all future trips to Seoul, to stock up on Phildar yarn.  It is very easy to find, just a short walk from the Ehwa Womens University subway stop on the green line.

Directions
Alight at Ehwa Womens University subway station and leave the subway station via Exit#6. Once you exit, walk straight down the street until you see the cafe on your left.  You cannot miss it.

Seoul: On The Streets Of Garosugil

Long time away from the blog again.  I have just been feeling out of sorts the last couple of months, and spending a couple of days away in my favorite city did not seem to chase away the blues.  I think I bought Grumpiness along with me on holiday.

Despite the bout of moodiness that did not seem to go away, I managed to avoid hiding in the hotel room all day, drinking bottles of makgeolli and banana milk.  ‘Cos that was what I was tempted to do.  I met up with two friends in Seoul and took some head-shots for my charity project.

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We went to Garosugil for dinner and wandered along the streets trying to find a bright spot to take some photos.  We looked quite silly posing under street lamps and outside the shops along the streets.  This black and white one turned out really well.  

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I like this post-processed photo too.  I didn’t like the harsh colors in the original photograph and decided to soften the colors with a Lightroom filter.  I wished I had designed this blog to have a bigger space for larger photos.  

Korea: Jeongdongjin, Gangneung

Circa Nov 2010.

I was cleaning up my hard-drive and came across some old photos of my day-trip to Jeongdongjin in Gangneung Province some years back. If you are looking to incorporate a short 2-day trip out of Seoul to somewhere relaxing with the sea, a beach, lots of fresh air and seagulls, lots of seafood, Gangneung is a good choice.

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The Sun Cruise Resort at Jeongdongjin.  Perched on a cliff, the resort looks really cool.  I wouldn’t mind staying spending a night, or two, in this resort.

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View from the Hassla Art World, a place that is highly recommended if you are spending some time in Jeongdongjin.

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Interesting art installation at the Hassla Art World.

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Jeongdongjin Railway Station.  This station holds the world’s record of being the railway station that is closest to the sea.  It is a very popular spot for watching the sunrise.

Tokyo: Cafe De L’Ambre In Ginza

 photo L1000657-150220-v2__zpsmbbr7azp.jpgWe are not fans of hand-drip coffee, but we learnt that Cafe De L’Ambre’s hand-drip coffee is excellent.  Not just the coffee, the ambience is lovely too. The interior is 1980s – brown wood, dark, smoky.  You sit at a bar counter and watch them make each cup of coffee by hand, filtered through a cotton bag.   It is an interesting place to while away a couple of hours in the afternoon.

 photo IMG_0937-150223-v2__zpso3zxh5g6.jpgCafe De L’Ambre has been around for over 50 years and serves only coffee.  No juice, beer, milk, or any type of food.  Coffee is not cheap but in my view, worth the splurge if you enjoy drinking coffee.

 photo IMG_0942-150223-v2__zpsrrywul1e.jpgThis is the coffee version of sitting at a cocktail bar, watching the bartender conjure up delicious cocktails.  The barista makes every cup by hand, slowly pouring hot water into the filter bag and letting the coffee glide into a small copper pot, which he then heats up for a quick minute before pouring it into a cup and serving it to the customer.  The filter bag is a smaller and shorter version of the ones that our local coffeeshops use to make coffee. 

 photo IMG_0835-150221-v2__zpsoo1qxh01.jpgA delicious cup of hot hand-drip coffee that has well-balanced flavors.  I usually find hand-drip coffee too acidic for my liking, but not L’Ambre’s.  

 photo IMG_0843-150221-v2__zpszgjnyrzl.jpgWe also tried their cold coffee which is very good.  The coffee goes into a cocktail mixer filled with ice, then poured into a cocktail glass.  The coffee is good hot, but even better chilled. 

 photo IMG_0842-150221-v2__zps0blvyky3.jpgHow much coffee can one drink in one sitting? At least 3! We felt as though we were in a cocktail bar, tasting various alcoholic concoctions, and being wow-ed one drink after another.  

After a hot coffee, a chilled coffee, we decided to try something different.  We ordered the Blanc et Noir “Queen Amber” – sweet cold coffee with a layer of milk floating above it.  You don’t mix the milk and coffee but just sip it as it is – sweetness followed by a slight bitterness.  Simple and good, and absolutely addictive.  My husband and I had two glasses each.  

It is a good thing that coffee, even copious amounts of it, has no effect on our ability to sleep at night. 🙂  Satiated from coffee, we went back to the hotel for an afternoon nap.

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Cafe De L’Ambre
Address: Ginza 8-10-15; 81-3-3571-1551 (銀座8-10-15 Chūō, 東京都 〒104-0061) 

Opening Hours: 12pm to 7pm

FatCat Ice Cream Bar In Bedok North

I have been eating waffles for breakfast almost every weekend this month.  From time to time, I get these intense cravings for a specific type of food and spend my weekends seeking out different places to satisfy these cravings.   

So far, I rate the waffles at Creamier and Assembly Cafe to be my favorites.  I thought the ones at Wimbly Lu were quite good on their own, but the entire ice-cream-and-waffles package still lacks the oomph-factor (present in Assembly Cafe’s waffles) that would make me want to go back again, unless I am in the vicinity.  

My waffle craving brought me to the latest cafe called FatCat Ice Cream Bar in a HDB block in Bedok North.  I saw a photograph of their charcoal waffles in a friend’s Instagram, and have been wanting to check it out for a while.  I was told that there is a limited number of charcoal waffles each day, so I should get there as early as possible.  Not sure why there should be a daily limit (surely, it cannot be too difficult to get hold of charcoal powder in Singapore?) but it certainly is a good marketing move.  

 photo IMG_2068-150425-v2__zpsbvfevf3v.jpgBesides the charcoal waffles, the other option is brown butter waffles which sounded just as appealing. I decided on the charcoal waffles and two scoops of ice cream: pistachio and vanilla. I also gave in to temptation and ordered the salted egg yolk sauce.

The texture of the waffles were good – moist and fluffy, but I wished that it was crispier and could do with a bit more flavor.  I liked the pistachio ice cream and the lavender- salted caramel sauce.  The fragrance from the lavender buds lent a lovely touch to the caramel sauce.  Unfortunately, the luscious looking salted egg yolk sauce was underwhelmed by all that ice cream and salted caramel sweetness, so I wouldn’t order it again the next time.  It is like consuming all the calories in the salted egg yolk sauce but without having the pleasure of tasting it.  

Would I go back to FatCat again?  Yes, I would, whenever I have a craving for waffles and do not want to drive to Assembly Cafe.  It is a huge bonus to have a good waffle place close to home which comes with plenty of parking space.

Next, I have Little Wimbly Lu and a couple of new joints in Changi Village that I want to check out.

FatCat Ice Cream Bar
Address:  416 Bedok North Avenue 2, #01-25, Singapore 460416
Check here for opening hours.

Tokyo: Maisen Tonkatsu In Omotesando

I cannot believe that I have not heard of Maisen, this popular tonkatsu restaurant until recently! From what I have read and heard, Maisen is housed in what used to be a public bath-house, and is practically an institution in Tokyo.  My husband is a big fan of tonkatsu, just not me.  Not sure why, I love eating pork, but tonkatsu isn’t something that I am very fond of.  I was really happy to learn that Maisen serves kaki furai, deep-fried oysters, ‘cos that’s one of my favorite things to eat.

So off we went to Maisen on our first morning in Tokyo.  He gets his fried pork, I get my fried oysters, and we both get our cup of joe from Omotesando Koffee located just around the corner before that.  No disagreements there.  We read about the long queue during the lunch-hour, so we made sure to arrive 15 minutes before their opening hours at 11am.  I hate queuing for food, but I am Singaporean, and queuing for food is in our blood and this is one place that I don’t mind queueing at. 

 photo L1000320-150217-v2__zpsexivi3ci.jpgThat’s what I ordered – 5 deep fried oysters accompanied by a huge (and re-fillable) bed of cold, crisp, shredded cabbage and a bowl of miso soup.  I like to eat my kaki furai ‘neat’, that is, without any tonkatsu sauce drizzled over the luscious little golden packages of fried oysters.  I find the taste of tonkatsu sauce too heavy and it masks the flavors of the food. 

The fried oysters tasted as good as they looked.  They were bloody good.  I savored every bite with utter delight.  🙂 Plump.  Fresh.  Juicy.  And they had a slight hint of that metallic taste that comes with oysters.  The batter was very light and didn’t leave an oily aftertaste on my lips.  

 photo L1000319-150217-v2__zps4yeoxnv9.jpgMy husband ordered some special cut of pork loin that had only 5 portions a day.  I took a small bite of my husband’s pork and needless to say, it was super.  But I still prefer kaki furai.

 photo L1000308-150217-v2__zpsh4bvoi5u.jpgThat’s the interior of Maisen.  I like the high ceilings and that the windows let in lots of light into what is otherwise a rather sombre dining room decorated in the 1980s Japanese style.  I didn’t get any good shots of the dining room because the wait staff kept giving me the evil eye when I took out my camera.

This dining room is for customers who come in a group.  If you are on your own, they will probably ask you to sit at the bar counter outside.  I think we might give the bar counter a try on another visit. That area looks less sombre and more…well, fun.

 photo IMG_0587-150218-v2__zpssv3mbz0t.jpg photo IMG_0592-150218-v2__zpsejddz3f8.jpgSorrieeee! I cannot resist putting up more photos of these lovelies.  This close-up shot of the kaki furai is making me want a piece so much now.

Maisen Tonkatsu
Address: 4-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan (Omotesando Exit A2), 東京都渋谷区 神宮前4−8−5
Tel: +81 3 3470 0071
Opening Hours 11:00am-10:00pm

Directions:  Please refer to this link

Tokyo: Takano Fruit Parlour

Besides pancakes, the other two things that I really wanted to eat in Tokyo were fruit sandwiches and a fruit parfait.   Oooohh, I love sandwiches made with soft white Japanese bread and filled with fresh fruit and whipped cream.  I ate this once a very long time ago in Tokyo, and lurrrrrved it ever since.   So I researched for a fruit parlor in Tokyo but unfortunately, we left this till it was too late in the trip to squeeze a visit to one of these fruit parlors.  One of these options was the Shiseido Parlour in Ginza near our hotel, but getting a table involved a one-hour wait.  I thought this would have to be carried over to our next trip.

I was extremely fortunate to come across the Takano Fruit Parlour in Takashimaya when we were shopping for some gifts on our last full day in Tokyo.  I saw Takano’s signage near one of the escalators advertising their strawberry parfaits and the reaction was an immediate ‘let’s go now’!  Takano is located on the 5th floor of Takashimya, just a minute away from where we were.  

The Takano parlor is a simple, elegant space.  I opened the menu and got lost in it.  Too many options, and every one looked absolutely scrumptious.  I went into Takano determined to order a fruit sandwich but all thoughts of that flew out of my mind when I was visually assaulted by the beautiful photos of their parfaits in the menu. 

It took me ages to decide on something. I ended up with one of their strawberry parfaits.  I am not very fond of strawberries in general because they tend to be sour and not very tasty.  But it was the strawberry season, and Japanese strawberries are usually very sweet and fragrant.

 photo IMG_0902-150222-v2__zpsgd1lj3dq.jpgLook at my parfait!  Chockful of strawberries in a cocktail glass.  It was too pretty to eat.

 photo IMG_1850-150222-v2__zps4omgajqj.jpgI felt sorry at having to ruin the beautiful presentation with my spoon.

 photo IMG_1849-150222-v2__zpsvwjz03ed.jpgMy husband does not like eating fruit, so he chose the option that came with the least fruit.  🙂 How is it possible for anyone to not like fruit, especially Japanese fruits?

I read that the Shinjuku outlet is Takano’s flagship shop, and they have a space in one of the basement floors in Takashimya selling fruit.

Takano Fruit Parlour
Address: 3-26-11 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan. 東京都新宿区新宿3-26-11.
Tel: +81 3 5368-5147

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