Monthly Archives: April 2011

Eden Sanctuary

Andrew: I read about Eden Sanctuary last year on a food blog and was tremendously fascinated by the concept behind it of ‘food with flowers’ (which was how the blog I read promoted it). However, we never really got down to it until last week, when Dearie volunteered to plan our dates so that I could just relax and enjoy myself after my long work day. (Thanks a lot Dearie!) She did even more extensive research on Eden Sanctuary and strongly recommended that we go there. It was definitely not easy to get there and not cheap as well (we had to go past at least 3 ERP gantries!).

Was it worth it? We’ll let the pictures and our verbose descriptions (mostly Jasmine’s, heh) tell the story!

IMG_9935Dearie with the herb garden behind her

 

IMG_9938The herb garden

Andrew: The place is actually rather small, but both of us appreciated the unique decor, especially the many rows of fresh herbs grown in pots placed by the window!

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Jasmine: Andrew’s attempt at an artsy shot of the lighting, along with his attempt at a poem: "The humongous ball hung from the ceiling/ as if overlooking the customers"
(Andrew: I didn’t know my description was that quote-worthy. Heh.)

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Jasmine: Eden Sanctuary is based on the principle of colour cuisine. For a full rundown of what that entails, you can visit this site, but basically it means that food can be categorised by colour, and different colour groups yield different health benefits. The Rainbow Salad (so named because it contains all the colour groups) was one of my favourite items of the evening as every ingredient was fresh. In particular, the mandarin orange slices were outstandingly sweet and bursting with juice.

Andrew: I enjoyed this salad a lot too. The fruity dressing was lovely and greatly enhanced by the very fresh lettuce. It was light and appetizing!

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Jasmine: We weren’t quite as fond of our other starter, the pumpkin soup. It was meant to be a creamless version for the health-conscious, but unfortunately the soup ended up tasting like strained pumpkin or pumpkin puree, and the copious amounts of black pepper we sprinkled onto it did little to mask the taste.

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Andrew: We got the waiter to take us a photo, but decided that we also wanted to play around with our latest tripod, hence the shot below :)  IMG_9944

Jasmine: The butterfly blue pea tea seemed so unusual, and the inky indigo hue was perfectly enhanced by the clear glass serving set. Sadly it looked better than it tasted, as the pea aftertaste produced too much cognitive dissonance in me (i.e. peas belong in stew, not tea) and  tasted somewhat unpleasant, especially after it became lukewarm. I gave up after two teensy glasses and reverted to drinking iced water instead.

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Andrew: This tea didn’t quite do it for me. It had too much of an ‘organic’ taste to it and it felt weird too drinking something that was blue in colour. *shudder* Ironically, I ended up drinking more cups of this than Jasmine did as I realised that it was quite a good palate cleanser in between dishes.

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Jasmine: I quite enjoyed the polenta with sauteed mushroom. This is supposed to be a dish of Italian origin but I had never once come across it though I’ve been to Italy twice and backpacked half a dozen cities there. Believe it or not, it was Andrew who introduced me to it last year. In Singapore. Anyhow, I actually had to check out Wikipedia so that I could tell you:

1. The cornmeal was finely ground but not too dense, so you could still detect individual grains crumbling away when you were chowing down. (Little of that bloated feeling of heaviness that results from carb overdose.)

2. The abovementioned texture of the polenta paired well with the mushrooms, which were savoury and woodsy.

3. Although polenta is regarded as a peasant dish, the ingredients and presentation really upgraded this to something suitable for a modern gourmand. I love it when simple, homespun dishes are done to perfection with the freshest ingredients!

Andrew: Other than the polenta, we also ordered the balsamic strawberry beef. By the time I got to this dish, I was experiencing lettuce overload already and I was wishing that I had my usual unhealthy side-dishes of fries and boiled vegetables to satiate my hunger. Heh.

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Balsamic strawberry beef

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Andrew: The dish was alright, but I didn’t feel that it was great. The tastes didn’t quite meld together and at times and the basalmic taste wore off very quickly after each bite, meaning that it was ultimately just a piece of beef with a brief taste of baslmic vinegar and strawberries. The strawberries didn’t really add much to the taste of the beef, hence making them seem to be purely decorative. With the exception of the usual unhealthy sides, I can’t see how this dish is really much more healthy than the usual mushroom steak.

Jasmine: I’m not much of a desserts person (give me a bag of chips and I’m in Ruffles heaven), but you cannot visit Eden Sanctuary without sampling some of their cakes! At the reasonable price of $2 for a petite dessert and $5 for three, it’s pretty easy on your wallets too.

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Modena mousse

Jasmine: The bittersweet taste of vinegar and cream made for a nice, zingy palate cleanser.

Andrew: When Jasmine told me that this was a vinegar mousse, I was apprehensive and didn’t really want to try it. However, all it took was one bite and I was won over. This is truly a mousse like no other. I have never tasted such a unique blend of that savoury-sour with milky-sweetness. The texture was just right and the portion size was perfect for enjoying right after a heavy meal. IMG_9955

Hibiscus cheese filo

Jasmine: This was, for me, the stand-out dish I would come back for. And indeed, after two weeks, my mind still wanders back occasionally to this hibiscus cheese filo.

The whole dessert is pre-frozen, and only upon ordering is the filo pastry baked, not fried, at 250 degrees (a random and completely useless fact, but I just had to show off the research I did, heh). This means that the outsides are flaky and warm, but the insides are still cool. As for the hibiscus cheese puree itself, it was almost like eating ice cream because the consistency was smooth and the cream cheese itself was very mild, and the whole puree derived much of its icy sweet flavour from the strawberries and hibiscus. The perfect meal topper!

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Andrew: I’m not one who really loves filo pastry, I wasn’t as won over by it as Jasmine was. I much prefer cakes or mousse like desserts. Nonetheless, this was definitely not a bad dessert at all and I did enjoy it too. The hibiscus puree was like nothing I’d ever tasted before and its cheesy texture and taste was perfectly complemented by the sweet and tangy taste of the frozen strawberries inside.

Not every dish at Eden Sanctuary were show-stoppers, but I must say that it has been one of the most unconventional or unique meals we’ve ever had. We ordered quite a considerable amount and the bill came up to about 65, which is reasonable for restaurants of this range. Would I come back again? Just for the desserts. None of the main courses really wow-ed me, but there are many strongly recommended ones on food review sites, so we might return just for that!

Cheap Eats week!

Jasmine: Andrew and I recently embarked on a campaign to find good food at low prices! Here are some $10 and under spots:

Malacca House at 313 Somerset

Jasmine: We treated ourselves to an array of hawker food including kueh pie ti and chicken rice balls!
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Andrew: I wasn’t expecting much, given that there was only one other family in the restaurant when we entered and it seemed like another one of those substandard chain restaurants like HK cafes. However, the food was actually not too bad. The chicken rice balls were quite tasty and rather addictive! It was a bit too little for me though, so the kueh pie tee helped.

Anatolia

Jasmine: My beloved Anatolia! This is comfort food for me. I usually order the set meal solely for the lentil soup and butter rice, and depend upon Andrew to finish off the mains (typically beef or chicken stew) for me.

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Andrew: I do like the lentil soup here too, though Dearie often finishes most of it when we order the set. I kinda grew bored of the set meal after a while though so I’ve started to experiment with the other dishes but the other dishes aren’t as value for money as compared to the set.

I decided to try the menemen this time with the special rice consisting of almonds, raisins and peanuts (which we didn’t take a photo of). The menemen was good – egg fried with tomatoes and green peppers – but it did seem like something one could easily make at home.

Saizeriya at Liang Court

Jasmine: Upon Pei’s recommendation, we checked out Saizeriya, which sells Italian food at fast food prices (risotto for $5.80, anyone?) at Liang Court. This was one of the few restaurants that actually boasted a full house at the otherwise-deserted ghost town that is Liang Court on a Sunday evening.

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Jasmine: I tried a seafood gratin (Penguin wasn’t really in favour of it) which was decently baked and sufficiently flavoured although the serving was barely enough, even for me, as it was only one layer of pasta thick. Andrew found our mains “filling but not fulfilling”, but benchmarking this against other pasta places of the same price range i.e. Pastamania, Delifrance, I rated Saizeria a 7/10 for variety, quality and of course, price.

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Andrew: I wasn’t too impressed with my risotto, but of course, like Dearie said, we adjust our expectations according to the prices. We also ordered garlic bread (2.20 for 4 pieces) which was quite decent. Another plus point about this place – you can order a free flow drink which allows you to choose from their very wide range of beverages from Milo to gassy drinks and iced teas. 🙂

Jazzy’s Mini-Album

Jasmine: After watching countless YouTube videos, I decided to take the plunge and make my very first album. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with it, but I wanted to create plenty of spaces for journalling (believe it or not, there are 34 blank spaces that you can write on in this album!).

Andrew: I recall Dearie being first inspired by an album which she saw at Scraplicious, after we walked past the store three times in an hour. All it took was just that short 5 minute observation to inspire her great album, which I thought was much better than the one we saw at Scraplicious! Heh. Her mum said that she should be making these instead of her other scraps which you’ve seen on this blog. I concur!

Jasmine: I suspect Mum says so because these are smaller and therefore more space-saving than my usual 12” x 12” layouts.

The front cover

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A close-up

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The first two pages. I hid this mini-book in the envelope, and the two pink tags on the right-hand page are leftovers from a class.

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A mini-book is stashed away in the brown envelope

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Apart from the two recycled envelopes and 7Gypsies book covers, my base papers were all from the amazing Hollywood Vogue collection by Webster’s Pages- my absolute papercrafting brand as the papers are full of vintage details, lovely colours and lend themselves very well to fussy cutting (where you cut out individual design elements and re-arrange them)! Ok. End of commercial.

The next two pages.

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I cut out this ‘30s-styled aeroplane (below) and used glossy accents on it to give it a shiny, raised effect.

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Andrew: I would have said this is my favourite page due to the aeroplane. However, its pink hue detracts from any manliness whatsoever. Heh. The other page is more manly in terms of its colour (peach and black & white) and motifs (more angular shapes like stars), but it still contains some of the ostentatious elements like chandeliers and side-profiles silhouettes of female figurines that unfortunately make it once again a girly page. Heh. IMG_9918

Jasmine: The card that the pocket contains (above) can also be pulled out. This is the back. I stamped a birdcage on it, and the purple raffia is from the 1st anniversary bouquet that Andrew gave me last year. (Unfortunately, in her zeal to move house, my mother threw away all the other lovely rice papers that I had collected in the course of our courtship.)

The next two pages. (The right-hand “page” is actually Mills’ wedding envelope. I cut it down to size, and with the leftover I made the pocket that you’ve seen in previous photos- the one with the aeroplane on it.)

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I sprayed this page with purple Glimmer Mist (below) over a stencil. Here’s a detail shot:

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I cut this “mini book cover” (above, right) from the back of the packaging that my full-size book cover came wrapped in, then put glossy accents on it for a 3-D effect. There are six tiny pages in there, waiting to be filled up:)

The envelope’s fashioned to be like a drawer, from which you can pull another card out.

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These next two pages are my favourite. They’re pretty simple but I love the muted greens and pinks (always a long-time favourite colour combi of mine- so much so that it was the colour code for the vintage-themed birthday bash I threw when I turned 21. Which was only a couple weeks ago, actually. Heh.) (Andrew: Hmmm. *Skeptical look*)

Anyhow, when you turn the envelope/ page, the envelope can also be opened from the top… IMG_9911

… To reveal an eight-page book (below)

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The card on the following page can also be removed- this is the back.

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Next two pages! The page with the corsetry seemed like such a simple idea but trying to blindly estimate where to punch the holes (I’ve never been one for precision) was killer. I also made the three coloured tags from bits of packaging and class remnants.

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If anyone’s wondering, I used the same Martha Steward Doily Lace punch throughout this album to achieve the scalloped edges, even on the brown envelope, which was also from a friend.

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There are two pages in the envelope, held together by a heart-shaped brad which Mum salvaged from my brother’s discard pile.

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I glued on a circle to conceal a tear in the envelope. The two butterflies were punched with a Martha Stewart punch which conveniently came with stamps which I used on top of the punch-out.

And we have the final page:

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This is how thick my mini album was.

IMG_9933Not that thick at all

Two things that were vital to the making of this album:

1. My Tim Holtz distress ink in Spun Sugar (which is that cotton-candy pink hue that I sponged on all the page borders and even the pink envelope, to give it abit more dimension)

2. Tissue tapes (also known as washi tapes), which are decorative yet functional. I got the huge purple and thin olive green ones from Paper Market, and the music notes/ dictionary tapes online (these are actually Tim Holtz too, but I didn’t want to commit to the full 16feet roll, so I just got these at 40cents per yard on Etsy!).

And of course, one last pic with my first album ever! (It opens up like an accordion rather than a traditional bound book, which is why you need the tissue tape to fasten the pages together.)

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Biennale at National Museum

Andrew: In spite of our bad experiences with the Biennale thus far, Dearie and I decided to give it one last shot with the exhibition at National Museum (actually I ‘tricked’ her into going by telling her about the dress exhibition, knowing that there was no way she would turn down a dress exhibition! Heh.)

Jasmine: Hmph! And may I just point out that Andrew made us proceed to the Biennale first, where we spent almost two hours, as opposed to our paltry fifteen minutes at the dress exhibition.

Andrew: Although this was the least advertised venue out of all the venues, it was ironically the one we enjoyed the most and the most thought provoking of all!

Here are some of our favorite pieces:

Compound by Somheap Pich

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Andrew: ‘Compound’ is the first exhibit that you see upon entering the museum and I felt it was perfectly placed. The photo doesn’t do justice to its architectural grandeur. I really liked the mix of modernity and tradition in using rattan to create a modern architectural structure.

Flooded MacDonalds by Flex (Copenhagen, Denmark)

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Andrew: Our experience at the previous two Biennale exhibitions left us apprehensive about video pieces and we often left after 2 minutes of each video installation (except for the twins one). This piece had us sitting down and discussing its implications for almost 15 minutes.

In this piece, the artists recreate a MacDonalds stall and flood it, responding to the “apocalyptic language in the mass media, as well as humorously evoking the threat of climate change.” Dearie and I both had rather different interpretations of it.

I understood and appreciated the piece through its conscious replication of famous apocalyptic scenes in movies and saw many uncanny parallels within that MacDonalds stall and human landscape. There were many shots of a huge Ronald MacDonalds collapsing as the flood waters rose and that brought back memories of the Statue of Liberty being destroyed in many apocalypse movies. There were also shots of flood-waters ‘washing’ into the seats of MacDonalds, which looked a lot like a seashore being flooded. I saw this film as a parody of the over-dramatized apocalyptic imagery employed by movies. Interestingly enough, the film was completely silent, making it even more eerie and haunting than the stirring soundtracks of many apocalyptic films.

Jasmine: I was quite captivated by the director’s take on waste caused by over-consumption, which was quite evident in several scenes where the deluge of water was littered with Macdonald’s paraphernalia. This seemed to resemble the amount of waste caused by human excess.  Numerous slow-motion, underwater shots were used. The floating debris gliding past the camera was reminiscent of space, which is also a gravity-less environment, so I read that as  a visual metaphor for the exporting of waste into outer space.

stored in a jar: monsoon, drowning fish, colour of water, and the floating world, 2011-11 by Tiffany Chung (Ho Chih Minh)


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Andrew: One thing we really liked about this exhibition was that the pieces were actually aesthetically pleasing and good to look at. Most contemporary art prides itself on being disgusting, shocking and off-putting, but this piece was alluring and it drew you in. I spent so much time just walking around the ‘floating island’, appreciating the intricacy of detail and immersing in Chung’s utopia.

This was actually meant to be Tiffanny Chung’s creation of an alternative model of urban development, where ‘floating life’ is the way of life. I really liked the attention, not just to aesthetic detail, but to the scientific detail (like how the water pumps and pipes would be arranged, where the buoys would be etc.).

Jasmine: Although "beautiful" is a rather cliched word to use, there’s no better way to describe this piece.  One issue that I often encounter with contemporary "art" is the lack of artisanal merit or craftsmanship in the piece. Chung’s piece, however, drew me in without requiring over-elaborate  explanations or shock tactics.

In addition to being well-made and well-conceived, the piece was also well-displayed. Everything worked together to create the effect of surreally floating islands, from the spot lighting which cut through the glass surfaces and threw some interesting shadows on the floor, to the wires which suspended the glass in midair.

‘Spring and Autumn’ series, 2004-10, Shao Yinong & Muchen

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Andrew: This was another beautiful piece with many war-time currencies woven onto black cloth. The weaving was so fine and the lighting was perfect in highlighting the subtle shades of colour and shadows in the dollar note design. Apparently these notes were created using traditional Suzhou embroidery techniques, to suggest the ‘fragile nature of political and economic power’. These notes were obsolete bank notes from different countries and periods, which carry symbolic images of leaders, heroes and mythical figures. While the artists wanted to highlight the fragility of power, they also ironically created a very captivating piece which conveyed a great sense of awe.

Jasmine: Another interpretation I had of the piece was that it intended to elevate currency, which we normally deem as a base and mundane transactionary tool, to the status of high art, by rendering it in intricate embroidery and fine metallic threads to create the impression of something precious and valuable.

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Andrew: I just liked the symbolism of this piece a lot. It was supposed to show how status was symbolized by how ‘high’ you were in the residential building. Scaria also intended to critique how the buildings in New Delhi seemed to be designed more to impress others for their ‘ingenuity and specularity rather than functiong as a living space.’

The use of a spiral staircase was indeed intelligent in highlighting that as spiral staircases are purely aesthetic and have no additional ‘functionality’ as compared to usual staircases. (Jasmine: I would have to gently disagree here dear; spiral staircases are often used to save space in cramped quarters. See for instance lighthouses or shophouses.) Putting it as a spiral staircase also adds to that sense of ‘exposing’ the structure as every individual unit is seen and every unit is revealed as being the same. In fact, looking into the unit, you will notice there’s nothing in side at all, it’s all empty. It was a visually appealing and engaging piece as I found myself wanting to walk around the piece and peek through the various windows. (Jasmine: Another feature of the spiral staircase is that it doesn’t require any weight-bearing support from surrounding walls. Aesthetics aside, the artist may have chosen a spiral staircase as it provides viewers with a 360-degree view that a normal staircase wouldn’t.)

Story lines By Beat Streuli

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Andrew: This was another video installation which I thought was very successful. I generally have no patience for video installations which merely show people walking or various landscapes with no discernible storyline, but I thought that this video installation was very thoughtfully crafted. There were 3 screens on which scenes of street life in New York and Singapore were projected. The expressions on the individuals were varied, yet all so revealing, drawing you in and inviting you to think about what might be on their minds. It was also fun to notice the little things that make Singapore Singapore, like the design of the railings, memorable colours of our SBS buses etc.

Daiso Challenge

Andrew: Ever since Jasmine got addicted, oops, I mean interested in scrapbooking, P.S. has become our usual meeting spot, especially after long days for me. Another shop that Jasmine loves to go to, besides the obvious Paper Market and Made with Love (both branches), is Daiso. I must admit that I am quite amazed by the range of products that can go for $2 there – from food items to make-up to crockery and various gift wrap/packaging. (Jasmine: You are omitting the entire crafts section, dear.)

Anyway, to make our trips to P.S. more bearable, Jasmine came up with this interesting idea for us to do a Daiso challenge!

The challenge: Buy a $2 gift for our other half from Daiso. Rule: No food item.

We finally found time to do this during the March holidays.

So, here’s what we bought for each other:

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Jasmine: Andrew blessed me with this rack of ribbon festooned with musical notes for my scrapbooking! Scrapbooking doesn’t always have to be expensive…

Andrew: Yes, I ended up with the default option which I knew Jasmine would use. As for choosing a design she would like, I actually tailed her and looked at which designs she was focusing on. In the end, I still ended up picking one that she was apprehensive about (a red polka dotted ribbon) and had to ask her which exact one she wanted. So much for a challenge eh…

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Jasmine: And I bought Andrew a tripod stand!We have been talking about getting a tripod since we love to take pictures but don’t like asking people to help us do so. Andrew has tried numerous times to position his camera awkwardly on some ledge or other in pursuit of a good self-shot. Anyway, we came across this tripod stand in the most timely way! I was racking my brain for a suitable gift when we just happened to walk past it! It was actually the first and only item that I picked up (barely three minutes after stepping into the store), and after that I happily sauntered off to the crafts section while waiting for Andrew to make his pick.

Andrew: Yes, this was indeed a good pick for us since we often don’t trust waiters to take good photos for us. Look at this:

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Either under or over-exposed

We have made good use of this tripod since then as you’ll see in our entry later on Two Fat Men. 🙂

Yay! What a fun (and stressful) challenge!