A well-assembled birthday

Andrew: As much as we complain about the unbearable heat in Singapore, it seems like Dearie and I enjoy spending our birthdays outdoors. We celebrated mine last year at Mt. Faber and Dearie’s last year at Batam. This year, knowing how much driving and crowds tire me out, Dearie decided to plan a restful date for me, out of the city and a ‘one-stop’ date, where we only have to be at one location.

As compared to last year where Dearie accidentally blurted out during a date that we would go to Mt. Faber, she managed to keep her secret much better this year, keeping me in suspense by continually asking me if I’d rather she cook or we go out.

(Jasmine: I was honestly leaning towards cooking for Andrew, but my mother and sister talked me out of it. I guess they thought that would make his birthday unforgettable… for all the wrong reasons.)

Andrew: Picked her up from school at 5 after her debate and she told me that our stop for today would be Hort Park. I was immediately happy as I love going to parks! The drive there took longer than expected, due to my unfamiliarity with the route. When we eventually arrived, Dearie whipped out a sheet of paper:

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It looks like a menu, doesn’t it? But instead of descriptions of dishes under the ‘starters’, ‘mains’ or ‘desserts’, it was excerpts taken from various food blogs. Knowing how much I love food blogs, Dearie had assembled a menu of food reviews for me.

She asked me to guess where we were having dinner, which frankly was kind of a duh question, given that there was only one restaurant at Hort Park – the Thai restaurant, KHA. (Jasmine: Cheh… Couldn’t you have played along?) We had spoken about this restaurant before and said that we should come and dine at the outdoor al fresco area, and Dearie had thoughtfully planned this out for me. 🙂 I knew she had more up her sleeve when she lugged a huge plastic bag out along with her as we made our way to the restaurant.

Some random shots while we waited for the kitchen to be open:

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The weather was really cooling yesterday, such that I could even wear my long-sleeve shirt and skinny tie comfortably while seated outdoors.

We had totally not planned this, but Dearie and I were perfectly colour coordinated yesterday – both in black and white! I’m sure Dearie would claim though that wearing exactly the same colours is not being colour coodinated.

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Complimentary champagne on the house for birthdays

We decided to pamper ourselves too and order mocktails! To put it more accurately, I decided to pamper myself and Dearie obliged. Thanks Dearie! 🙂

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Our mocktails: Makmuang spark (fresh mango, fresh mint leaves, fresh lime juice and mango juice) and Dragon eye (lychee, fresh mint leaves, lychee juice and mango juice) along with our starter of rice crackers with curry dip

Both mocktails were very refreshing, but the Dragon Eye was considerably better than the Makmuang spark. The fruity flavours were more distinct and varied as compared to the Makmuang where the mango taste overwhelmed the lime and mint flavours. The fresh mango used wasn’t sweet enough too, hence it had a very ‘bland’ mango taste to it. The crackers were delicious though!

We made our orders (referring to the food reviews Dearie had printed out) and as we were waiting for the food to arrive, Dearie whipped out the next surprise – my birthday card:

IMG_8702Yes, I had to piece together my birthday card.

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The cardboard on which I assembled the jigsaw had the words ‘I am the backing’.

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Finally completed!

Turns out Dearie got this while she was in the UK! She had been planning my birthday for such a long time. Aww…

IMG_8708Cheers to Dearie for the great planning! 🙂

Shortly after I finished the jigsaw, all our food arrived!

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Here’s what we had…

Our starters:

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Tod Hua Plee (deep fried banana flower, sweet chilli sauce)

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Tod man poo (thai crab and prawn cakes, green mango salad yoghurt, sweet chilli sauce)

Our soup:

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Tom yum gong (hot and sour king prawn broth, lemongrass)

Our main course:

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Kheaw wan gai (green chicken curry with drumstick and poached chicken wonton, apple and pea eggplants, coconut salad)

Our favourite dish was hands down the fried banana flower, just because of how unique and yet simple it was. The hints of banana taste went well with the very crispy, robust batter and the tangy sweet chilli sauce. Dearie generally liked deep fried food too, hence this was the dish was gobbled down the fastest.

The crab cakes were good too, though lacking the novelty-factor of the banana flowers. You could tell that they really used fresh crabmeat as every bite had hints of that crabby sweetness. The yoghurt didn’t really add much to the overall flavour though and I frankly thought it was mayonnaise if I hadn’t checked the menu again to write this post.

Tom Yum Soup was average. The green curry was super spicy, but it went extremely well with the jasmine rice they gave. Dearie surprisingly had 3 servings of rice! (Jasmine: It was two servings dear, and small ones at that. Heh.) The spiciness of the curry though started to make me sweat and that was when I became slightly uncomfortable with the outdoor setting.

We were both so stuffed after dinner, but we had to try their grilled mango based on the good reviews that Dearie had printed out:

IMG_8723 Caramel ma muang suk (grilled mango cheek and lime, passion fruit sorbet, mango sauce)

The mango was great, but I really didn’t like the passion fruit sorbet! Way too sour for me. Dearie loved it though.

So, as we were sitting there after the dessert, even more stuffed. The music suddenly stopped and I told Dearie, “Ah, this is much better. So peaceful and quiet” – when all of a sudden, the birthday song came out and the waiter came by with my birthday cake! Dearie had sneakily done this while I was in the toilet!

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And it wasn’t a normal cake! It was a Shiseido brandy cake from the pop-up store outside TANGS from weeks ago! It’s amazing how Dearie ‘assembled’ the birthday celebration together from various shopping trips running up to my birthday. (Jasmine: Hey dear! Assembling your birthday plans is just like putting together a jigsaw puzzle! I’m such a genius.) The cake was very well done, but the brandy taste was way too strong. A small slice was sufficient to knock us out! Heh.

(Jasmine: Andrew heading to the toilet was the moment I’d been waiting for. And thankfully, he took quite awhile to come back too 😛 A waiter helped me unwrap the cake (it was encased in airtight plastic and foil to keep it moist), cut it and stash it. Then he hovered around (behind Andrew, but still a comfortable distance from our table) until I signalled to him to serve the cake.)

Andrew: After our elaborate and hearty dinner, we took a nice stroll in Hort Park. It was very quiet and serene, as if we were the only two people in the entire park. We had some fun at the playgrounds, figuring out the laws of physics and balance and trying out some ‘exercise’ equipment for old people before heading back to the car for the moment I’d been waiting for – the gift giving!

And while Dearie had done a good job in keeping the birthday celebration a secret, I immediately guessed what present she had got me based on intuition and of course, by seeing the shape of it!

IMG_8727Take a moment to admire Dearie’s specially designed wrapping paper. She took a whole 5 minutes to explain the design concept to me, but I really can’t remember much, except that it was supposed to play on the concept of the Mondrian squares and create the impression of 3D.

(Jasmine: Sigh… When I was explaining, I noticed Andrew’s hand inching towards the side of the parcel, trying furtively to pluck at the sticky tape. So much for being attentive.

The addition of curvilinear lines and forms were supposed to question the structural rigidity of Mondrian squares whilst the circular shapes were meant to resemble puzzle pieces, echoing the puzzle theme of the jigsaw card and “menu” pieced together from various food blogs just like a puzzle. Never mind.)

Andrew: My present! A new pair of sneakers from PF-Flyers!

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I had been looking for a new, casual pair of shoes for a long time to wear with jeans on weekends. We had eyed this pair in TANGS a few weeks back, but I was too stingy to buy it. Dearie actually went and got it for me anyway! Thanks a lot Dearie!

(Jasmine: I had a couple of options in mind for Andrew’s present, including Vibram barefoot running shoes (which I brought him to try on but he didn’t like how they didn’t offer enough support), but both of us thought that this pair of sneakers looked really good on him- sporty and youthful without trying too hard.

I spent a whole month engaging in “psychological warfare”, talking him out of buying the shoes i.e. it was not worth the money, we should look for cheaper alternatives. Imagine how horrified I was when Andrew suggested going back to TANGS to buy the sneakers and some hand cream. Yes, his inner shopaholic is really beginning to emerge.)

Andrew: Although I was really tired from the day at work, I really did enjoy myself, just enjoying the peace and calm of Hort Park and spending time with the woman I love. Thanks Dearie for making this birthday so meaningful for me through your meticulous and thoughtful planning! I love you 🙂

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