Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Tea for Tech at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

I usually sit down with a cup of tea in the morning while I surf the Web for the latest tech news. Today, I sat down with three cups at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

The three Tea Cappuccinos are available at all outlets at $6.00 each for all three flavors (Chai, Scottish Breakfast and Anniversary Blend Tea). They will only be available until 25 May 2013.

The three Tea Cappuccinos are available at all outlets at S$6.00 each for all three flavors (Chai, Scottish Breakfast and Anniversary Blend Tea).

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a frothy trio of tea cappuccinos at all its outlets.

The special concoctions will only be available until 25 May 2013.

The special concoctions will only be available until 25 May 2013.

These freshly brewed tea concoctions are layered with silky milk foam and drizzled with delicious vanilla bean sauce.

(more…)

High tech cooking appliance for Mom – Tefal ActiFry Family

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Since it’s Mother’s Day today, here’s a fantastic “gadget” I came across last week that’s ideal for the busy and working Mom who cooks dinner after work.

Available from 1 June 2013 at S$459 (incl. GST).

Launch Offer: S$80 grocery voucher and local recipe book will be given away by promoters at outlets while stocks last. Available at electrical chain stores, leading department stores, selected hypermarkets and authorized dealers.

Launch Offer: S$80 grocery voucher and local recipe book will be given away by promoters at outlets while stocks last. Available at electrical chain stores, leading department stores, selected hypermarkets and authorized dealers.

French kithen appliance maker, Tefal, has launched the ActiFry in Singapore.

“This entire plate of crispy fries, 1 tablespoon of oil. Delicious with my veggie burger….This machine Tefal ActiFry has changed my life and they are not paying me to say this!” ~ Twitter post on 19 February 2013 by Oprah Winfrey, along with a picture of her meal.

Six million units of the Tefal ActiFry have been sold worldwide

The Tefal ActiFry Family 1.5kg is versatile, convenient and cooks more healthily for the health-conscious family.

The Tefal ActiFry uses 97.5% less oil than a conventional deep fryer.

The ActiFry features a ceramic-coated, scratch resistant pan, allowing users to cook a wide range of food and also aids in making easy cleaning of the utensil.

In addition, the ActiFry is equipped with an automatic stirring paddle.

So you can just throw in the rice and ingredients and let the ActiFry fry the fried rice for you, hands-free.

The patented pulsed hot air circulation system and electronic control of the heating system allow the appliance to maintain the heating temperature at a maximum of 170°C.

(more…)

Travel: Walking the streets of Kurokawa onsen village in Kumamoto

Friday, December 7th, 2012

After the hustle and bustle of the city, we drove into the mountains to spend a night at a ryokan in a quaint onsen village nestled in the valley of the Kurokawa river.

The streets wind through old houses along both sides of the river.

The streets wind through old houses along both sides of the river.

The last time we holidayed in Kyushu we had followed a package tour booked from Tokyo.

Colourful maize hung out to dry under the eaves of some of the houses.

Colourful maize hung out to dry under the eaves of some of the houses.

The coach had stopped by this quaint village in the evening and we had strolled through the peaceful streets of the dimly-lit hamlet – charmed by the local craft shops and serene ryokans lining the cobbled streets.

Stroll leisurely through the peaceful streets of Kurokawa. The face on the lantern is stylised from the Japanese hiragana character for "Fuji".

Stroll leisurely through the peaceful streets of Kurokawa. The face on the lantern is stylised from the Japanese hiragana character for “Fuji”.

The short stroll was really inadequate to soak in the atmosphere and we resolved then to come back one day to stay in one of those ryokans.

Hotels and ryokans are built along both sides of the river.

Hotels and ryokans are built along both sides of the river.

15 years later, we’re back – to the sleepy town with a river that runs through it.

A study of different textures, from the crackled paint to the stone and wood textures. This is the "banner" for a pottery shop.

A study of different textures, from the crackled paint to the stone and wood textures. This is the “banner” for a pottery shop.

It’s actually a popular destination for the Japanese themselves, either as a day trip or stopover.

"Used" bath tags hung outside a local temple for blessing.

“Used” bath tags hung outside a local temple for blessing.

For those intent on bath-hopping, you can purchase a bath tag that lets you visit the onsen baths of participating ryokans freely.

Lemonade, cider and local beer chilled naturally in water frozen from the cold temperature.

Lemonade, cider and local beer chilled naturally in water frozen from the cold temperature.

The temperature when we were there was slightly above zero, so it would have been gratifying checking out the differently landscaped onsen baths offered by the ryokans.

Shed for firewood outside one of many hot spring baths along the river.

Shed for firewood outside one of many hot spring baths along the river.

The outdoor spa at our ryokan overlooked the river so you could sip wine at a chair after you’ve been suitably warmed up by the hot spring water.

Peaceful steps leading up to one of the houses along the street.

Peaceful steps leading up to one of the houses along the street.

After that, you can partake a full Japanese kaiseki dinner served in the comfort of your room.

Two local cats watching the world go by.

Two local cats watching the world go by.

* All photos in this post were taken with a Nikon D800 DSLR and AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens.

Travel: African Safari on a Japanese mountain top in winter

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The last place you’d expect to go on an African Safari would be on a mountain on the outskirts of Beppu in Japan – as chilly winds and light snow ushered in the winter.

Different types of food was provided for feeding different types of animals.

Different types of food was provided for feeding different types of animals.

In every family holiday, you’ve got to dedicate part of the itinerary to the kids.

Handfeeding a black bear with tongs.

Handfeeding a black bear with tongs.

So we decided to check out this African Safari theme park half-an-hour’s drive from Beppu in Japan.

It’s actually the Kyushu Natural Zoological Park, with more than 1,300 animals of 70 different species, spread over some 115 ha of rolling mountain plains.

You can self-drive your car or take the bus. We took the latter because that came with the opportunity to hand-feed (or tong-feed) the animals up close from within the bus.

There's no question this lion prefers the bigger morsel holding the tongs with the tiny morsel.

There’s no question this lion prefers the bigger morsel holding the tongs with the tiny morsel.

You can still drive your own car along the same route as the bus after the bus tour, but we didn’t have time to linger, and had to give the rest of the theme park – which included a petting area for tamer animals – a miss too.

I did harbour fantasies of patting this lion on the head until he convinced me that although he may bear a slight resemblance to my golden retriever at home, he is anything but.

I did harbour fantasies of patting this lion on the head until he convinced me that although he may bear a slight resemblance to my golden retriever at home, he is anything but.

This was meant to be a treat for the kids, who love animals.

Back to more docile animals.

Back to more docile animals.

But it turned out great for the parents too, as we’ve never had the chance to feed wild animals this up close before.

Here's a smiley camel.

Here’s a smiley camel.

Perhaps it’s time for a real safari?

Not sure if these Cheetahs appreciate the impending cold season - all huddled up like. Photo taken through the grills of the safari bus.

Not sure if these Cheetahs appreciate the impending cold season – all huddled up like. Photo taken through the grills of the safari bus.

* The photos in this article were taken with a Nikon D800 and Olympus E450 SLR.

The elephant's trunk is actually rather dexterous.

The elephant’s trunk is actually rather dexterous.

Always thought that the proper attire for an African Safari were khaki shorts, not wrapped up in winter wear like this.

Always thought that the proper attire for an African Safari were khaki shorts, not wrapped up in winter wear like this.

This bully of an adult giraffe kept butting the other giraffes away to hog the food.

This bully of an adult giraffe kept butting the other giraffes away to hog the food.

Travel: Sightseeing the hells of Beppu in Oita, Japan

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Today we started our sightseeing in earnest – checking out the onsen “hells” of Beppu.

Umi Jigoku(海地獄) - or Sea Hell - is my favourite hell.

Umi Jigoku (海地獄) – or Sea Hell – is my favourite hell.

Beppu claims to be the world’s second largest hot spring water producer in terms of volume – behind the Yellowstone National Park in the USA.

The Umi Jigoku has nicely landscaped gardens aroud the hotspring ponds.

The Umi Jigoku has nicely landscaped gardens aroud the hotspring ponds.

The seaside town is a popular onsen destination in Japan – both for the regular version spas where people immerse their bodies in the healing attributes of natural hot spring water – as well as eight hot springs that can only be viewed for their striking colours and characteristics but which are not suitable for bathing in.

Each of these eight hot springs are called “hells” (地獄)because of the high temperatures and vivid colours – much like the boiling waters used to punish evil-doers for their sins – traditional Japanese and Chinese beliefs about what hell is like.

Six of the eight hells are located close to each other so you can visit them one after another before heading to the other location where the remaining two are located next to each other.

There's also a red mud hot spring pond in the Umi Jigoku.

There’s also a red mud hot spring pond in the Umi Jigoku.

The most striking onsen among those we visited must be the Umi Jigoku (海地獄) – or Sea Hell – because of the vivid turquoise colour of the hot spring water here.

It had emerged after a volcano explosion 1,200 years ago.

The Yama Jigoku (山地獄) - Mountain Hell - comprises steam spewing out of a pile of rocks.

The Yama Jigoku (山地獄) – Mountain Hell – comprises steam spewing out of a pile of rocks.

The second Jigoku we visited was the Yama Jigoku (山地獄)- or Mountain Hell – comprising hot steam emitting from a pile of rocks.

Ever stared into the mouth of a hungry hippo before? For 100 yen, you get some fresh carrots to throw inside this begging hippo at the Yama Jigoku.

Ever stared into the mouth of a hungry hippo before? For 100 yen, you get some fresh carrots to throw inside this begging hippo at the Yama Jigoku.

Though the hot spring itself is simple, it’s a favourite with the children because there were some enclosed animals on display, including a hungry hippo, some flamingoes and a bored elephant.

And here's a one-eared Llama at Yama Jigoku. Wonder who chewed up his ear.

And here’s a one-eared Llama at Yama Jigoku. Wonder who chewed up his ear.

Next was Kamado Jigoku (かまど地獄) – or Boiling Hell – because of its association with boiling water for cooking.

Bubbling boiling water at the Kamado Jigoku (かまど地獄) - or Boiling Hell.

Bubbling boiling water at the Kamado Jigoku (かまど地獄) – or Boiling Hell.

It actually comprises six pots of murky, bubbling boiling water.

An orange mud hot spring pond at the Kamado Jigoku.

An orange mud hot spring pond at the Kamado Jigoku.

After that was Oniyama Jigoku (鬼山地獄) – or Demon King Hell – which claims that the force of the steam produced here is strong enough to pull one-and-a-half train carriages.

The Oniyama Jigoku (鬼山地獄) - Demon Mountain Hell - produces steam that's strong enough to pull train carriages.

The Oniyama Jigoku (鬼山地獄) – Demon Mountain Hell – produces steam that’s strong enough to pull train carriages.

This hell also had a collection of crocodiles relishing the warm spring water.

The Oniyama Jigoku has a collection of crocodiles frolicking in warm spring water despite the cold winter.

The Oniyama Jigoku has a collection of crocodiles frolicking in warm spring water despite the cold winter.

Next was the Shiraike Jigoku (白池地獄) – or White Pond Hell – which got its name from its creamy-white hot-spring water.

The Shiraike Jigoku (白池地獄) - or White Pond Hell - also has a nice Japanese landscaped garden around it.

The Shiraike Jigoku (白池地獄) – or White Pond Hell – also has a nice Japanese landscaped garden around it.

It had a collection of tropical fishes, including a tank of deceptively-harmless-looking piranhas which were eyeing us as intently as we were eyeing them.

Piranhas lining up to watch us. This was the first time that the kids had seen live piranhas.

Piranhas at Shiraike Jigoku lining up to watch us. This was the first time that the kids had seen live piranhas.

Finally, we visited the Oniishibozu Jigoku (鬼石坊主地獄) – or Shaven Monk’s Head Hell – because the bubbles of gray mud boiling up the ponds resemble the shaven heads of monks.

The Oniishibozu Jigoku (鬼石坊主地獄) - or Shaven Monk's Head Hell - has white bubbling mud springs.

The Oniishibozu Jigoku (鬼石坊主地獄) – or Shaven Monk’s Head Hell – has white bubbling mud springs.

We had to give the final two Jigokus a miss because of time constraints – although they looked beautiful and sounded interesting in the brochures.

The Chinoike Jigoku (血の池地獄 – Blood Pond Hell) has red water while the Tatsumaki Jigoku (龍巻地獄 – Geyser Hell) has a geyser that spouts every half hour.

Along the way, we had plenty of Jigoku Mushi – food cooked using the steam and hot spring water – such as eggs and sweet potato.

As per the night before, we rounded off the day with a visit to the onsen.

* All photos in this post were taken with a Nikon D800 DSLR and AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens.

Travel: From Fukuoka airport to hot spring heaven in Beppu Hells

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

After a scrumptious meal at CoCo Ichibanya, we made another unplanned stop at the Tosu Premium Outlets before continuing towards our first night in Kyushu – Beppu.

* All photos in this post were taken with a Nikon D800 DSLR and AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens.

Window dressing for Dog Dept, one of the shops at Tosu Premium Outlets.

Window dressing for Dog Dept, one of the shops at Tosu Premium Outlets.

The town of Tosu lies at the crossroads of two major expressways of Kyushu.

Some familiar brands at the Tosu Premium Outlets.

Some familiar brands at the Tosu Premium Outlets.

One runs north-south from Fukuoka to Kumamoto and beyond, while the other runs east-west from Oita to Nagasaki.

So it’s an ideal location for Premium Outlets.

People commuting long distance from one part of Kyushu to another tend to go through Tosu and it’s so convenient to just make a quick stopover.

We’d already planned our final hotel stay in Kyushu to be in Tosu before flying out of Japan.

But since it was on our way to Beppu, we decided to take a quick preview of what the outlets had to offer.

As an outlet shopping mall, the Tosu Premium Outlets seemed pretty run-of-the-mill, with the usual  brands that we see at other similar malls.

Another unplanned stop to take a preview of the Tosu Premium Outlets.

Another unplanned stop to take a preview of the Tosu Premium Outlets.

But we’ll be taking a closer look at the end of this trip so maybe we’ll discover something special.

Miyuki - a local restaurant in Beppu whose owner doubled up as enthusiastic tour guide. This photo of its exterior was shot at ISO 6400 with little noise.

Miyuki – a local restaurant in Beppu whose owner doubled up as enthusiastic tour guide. This photo of its exterior was shot at ISO 6400 with little noise.

After Tosu, we continued our drive towards Beppu, the seaside town known for its hot springs.

Trying out the local fare - especially the Dango Jiru soup, which is made with flattened wheat flour dumplings.

Trying out the local fare – especially the Dango Jiru soup, which is made with flattened wheat flour dumplings.

Here we had a little bit of difficulty locating our hotel among the tiny and complicated streets in the area.

Checking out the shops and wares of You Me shopping centre in Beppu. Everybody recommends it - for its free parking in town.

Checking out the shops and wares of You Me shopping centre in Beppu. Everybody recommends it – for its free parking in town, from which to visit other sights.

Contemplating whether to make a stop at Uniqlo. This shot was deliberately over-exposed to get a high-key effect that puts the focus on the boy in the car and the brand.

Contemplating whether to make a stop at Uniqlo. This shot was deliberately over-exposed to get a high-key effect that puts the focus on the boy in the car and the brand.

So we asked a local who promptly got onto his motorbike to show us the way to the family-run establishment called Happy Neko – where we had booked a studio apartment complete with kitchen and launderette facilities.
Bukkake is served in the food court - here it's a legitimate and traditional Japanese dish, not a genre.

Bukkake is served in the food court – here it’s a legitimate and traditional Japanese dish, not a genre.

The Czech proprietor, Bibo, sat down with us to tell us about the places to visit, food to eat, and things to do during our 2-day stay at Beppu. He spoke perfect English.

So we headed out for dinner at a local restaurant, whose owner plied us with more brochures, travel magazines and recommendations on what to do during our stay.

The owner was a one-man-show: owner, chef, steward. He had visited Singapore before and immediately associated the Merlion with our island nation.

After dinner, we popped into the huge shopping mall in town – YouMe, before visiting the Hyotan onsen spa near where we stayed – an apt and restful end to a long day of travel.

Tomorrow, we shall visit the Beppu Hells – eight natural hot springs that tourists all over Japan come to visit.

Photo: Cinnamon rolls with raisins

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Cinnamon rolls with lotsa cinnamon, brown sugar, raisins.

Cinnamon has been attributed with a number of health benefits.

Cinnamon has been attributed with a number of health benefits.

Check out some of the health benefits of cinnamon here.

Photo: Salmon cream sauce spaghetti

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Home cooked salmon cream sauce spaghetti with chives, mixed herbs and pepper. Served with broccoli soup.

Picture taken with Leica V-Lux 3 compact digital camera in Macro mode. Handheld snapshot at f/2.8, 1/15 sec, ISO400, 25mm (35mm equiv).

Picture taken with Leica V-Lux 3 compact digital camera in Macro mode. Handheld snapshot at f/2.8, 1/15 sec, ISO400, 25mm (35mm equiv).

The Leica V-Lux 3 compact digital camera has a mean Macro mode. You can stick the lens right into the food and still get pin sharp snapshots of your favourite food.