Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

I was completely engrossed in the third of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, when my 13 year old son (K) reached out for my right hand and tucked a pen between my fingers. He was trying to get my attention away from the book, but I was unreservedly enthralled by the adventure of Daniel Sempere and Fermín Romero de Torres that I hadn’t the clue that my boy got me to leave my signature on a piece of paper he had been holding all the time.

That evening, while preparing for dinner, K came up to me, and here’s our conversation …

K: Mama, so finally we are going to Japan!

Me: Huh? What are you talking about? When?

K: Ha ha … you promised to bring me to Japan.

Me: Say what? I never promised anything …

K (with a cheeky grin): Too late, Mama….you just did; this afternoon while you were so buried in your book. See, here …

He showed me a small piece of paper which was neatly handwritten with a sworn statement or an oath, swearing my promise to bring him to Japan for a holiday. My jaw dropped and my eyes goggled reading the troth with my signature on it, dated 1st May, 2014. I wanted to take the paper from his hand and ripped it off and thrashed it but he was too swift for me. He has the signed oath carefully hidden under lock and key to this day!

All things Japanese

K loves Sushi, all kinds of Sushi (and ramen). When he had his braces removed in July 2014, the first thing he requested was ~ yes ~ Sushi!! What else??

And here’s his portion! For a 13-year old, that’s one BIG portion and he walloped all 36 maki-zushi or nori-maki + uramaki + nigiri-zushi!!

Sakura Restaurant, Leuven

 

Kuching 2015

It doesn’t matter in which continent we are headed to, this young lad would sniff his way to a Sushi bar or resto anywhere in the vicinity. 

Sakae Sushi, Kuching, Sarawak

Summer 2016

When Pokémon Go was initially released in some countries in July 2016, K was adamant to download the App on his smartphone asap. His summer hols last year saw him so carried away with the new game craze and, boy was I glad that it was over in August during our annual family Summer Hols in the Provence in South France. I asked him why he was not ‘catching’ his Pokémons anymore. He said the holiday home we stayed in, sucked. The internet connection was so bad, ie almost no wifi and the place we stayed was rather deserted with no ‘active’ or ‘new’ Pokémons to catch. And so the game faded to oblivion, sooner than expected, much to his parents’ relief. Whew!

This was the photo he took in Carpentras, South France, to remind himself of the game that came and went …

Hand-painted boulder of Pikachu, Carpentras, South France



Christmas 2016

When my younger sister came to visit us recently, she spent Christmas and New Year with us. My boys have always been very thrilled to have their youngest Aunt around. For K, that would mean visiting places of interests and doing things out of the norm. Yup, we went to Paris for 5 days! Christmas Markets are BIG in Paris, especially along the mega long Avenue des Champs-Élysées, however, it was the Christmas Market near the Eiffel Tower that bewitched K!

Christmas Market near the Eiffel Tower, Paris


While sipping the warm Parisian Glühwein (vin chaud) and munching hot roasted chestnuts and admiring the magnificent wrought iron lattice tower from near; yes, very, very near, K was captivated by one of the booths a few steps down. The open booth was manned by one person, who seemed to be an Artist, but he was no ordinary Artist or Painter. He drew names and translated them from Roman to either Japanese or Korean. 
Guess what K chose to have his name translated into? 

No marks for guessing. Japanese…. Of course!!


By the way, the ideographic meaning of K’s name is translated to mean, Good Health and Happiness. The picture is now framed and hanged in his room next to his bed. As for his mother, she’s hoping that each morning, her son wakes up to the rising sun and the spring bird singing to good health and happiness 🙂

February 2017

K turned 16 on the last day of Feb this year. He had also been invited to a Sweet Sixteen celebration of friends who became 16 in January. When his turn came, he hinted on a small do. For me, a special cake for a 16-year old should do the trick.

Now, what cake should I order for my 16-year old?

K likes to construct things. His legos kept from yesteryears are being used at the max during school holidays. The most recent construction was a sweets or candy vending machine. I thought that was one of his coolest constructions. He made a slot machine type lego construction making sure that only the size (and weight) of a 2 Euro coin could vend a sweet or candy out from the ‘machine’ he made. And seriously? It worked! Anything less than 2 Euro would not ‘spit out’ any candy. So you can tell he’s thinking BIG, monetarily speaking, too! 😉

Hmmmm… I thought a Lego Cake would be a fantastic idea!

Looking for the person to make the cake was not a problem. He’s a colleague (CP) who works in the same building as I. Last year, CP was nominated and won the vote to represent our Region at our Company’s Got Talent Show. He’s a self-taught (hobby) baker who learns his tips and tricks of cake baking and decorating from watching the YouTube Channels. 

I lunched out with CP one lunch break and asked if he was willing to take my offer. It was the early week of February and we still had time until the actual birthday on 28th Feb. I discussed if it was possible for him to make a Lego Cake for a 16 year old. No probs, he said

A few days later, I kinda changed my mind about the lego theme and thought of a Book Cake. Why? Because K does not like reading and a Book Cake was a subtle message to him. To make it a more special book, I was thinking of getting 2 edible images (made from wafer) of him when he was a baby and one of him, now, hence at ages 0 and 16. I was quite excited about the idea but I thought it was rather selfish of me not to ask the birthday boy what he actually wanted. After all, it’s his birthday and not mine. BUT, I wanted it to be a surprise …

Again, my mind went back to the Lego Cake. Lego? Book? Humph! What’s it going to be??? Help!!

The calendar days went by one by one and I had not even finalized the theme of the cake to CP. The theme is important for him to check if he has sufficient inventory to come up with the final result, otherwise, he needs time to shop for the items

On the other hand, February was also a busy month for both CP and I at work due to the Budget and I was not sure if there was going to be a cake at all

That would be very sad, indeed … 😦

The Clock Ticked …

3 weekends in February had passed by. Still no concrete decision made. 

Then I told myself, “If I can’t decide this myself, the best help line is the person who knows best” And that person happened to be the Birthday Boy himself. 

On the evening of 22nd Feb, I asked K if there was going to be a cake for his birthday, would a Lego Cake be his thing. He said, “ No way! That’s too childish.” Er ….. okay. The Lego Cake theme was scrapped. I did not even bring up the Book Cake theme when he mumbled something about Japan!

Okey Dokey! Got it! Why didn’t I think of it at first ??? I was probably focusing too much on his past and what I want him to do, rather than what he wants. 

And by the way, I had the answer all the while. K wants to go to Japan! So of course, it has got to be something Japan-related.

And here it was! The best Sushi Cake (minus the chopsticks) for a mighty happy 16-year old. Happy 16th Birthday, K!


K wanted chocolate cake and he got the most scrumptious chocolate cake. Your wish is my command, my boy, but only for this time. The magic wand would not work after 28th Feb 😉



The nori-maki and nigiri-zushi nesting on top of the cake were filled with cake pops, cut from the bumped topside of the main cake, hence, there was no wastage at all. CP did a fantastic job in skillfully molding the icing fondants to a 3-D cake with nori-makis and nigiri-zushi’s complete with wasabe and gari (sushi ginger).


CP had the weekend of 25th and 26th Feb to complete the Sushi Cake and the Cake was delivered exactly on the day I requested, on 27th Feb.  K shared his cakes with some of his good friends and I shared some with my girlfriends. Everyone thumbed up to the tasty choclatey Sushi Cake


I’m glad I’ve made a special someone happy. It’s not Japan, but very close 😉

More Sushi 🍣 

I took a day off on 28th Feb coinciding with the school’s carnival break. I brought K to one of his favourite Sushi restos to celebrate his 16th birthday, thus concluding a plethora of Sushi and ramen bingings.

Sikinoya, Leuven


If you don’t already know …

25th March is a special day, too, because it was the date given to me by my gynaecologist 16 years ago. She estimated my baby would be born full term on 25th March. She was not totally wrong, because, baby K arrived almost 4 weeks too soon! You can read about his special birth on this post, “A special day that does not occur every year“.
 

K with his ukulele singing Ed Sheeran’s songs

Good Health and Happiness, my boy. God bless *heart*

Cheers! 

It has been a bit more than a month ago when we had an exclusive all-girl weekend getaway. It was meant to be a fun-filled and stress-free weekend for 7 girls for a getaway with great food, quality bonding, lots of laughs and just having the best time ever. Oooops… forgot baby Z, the only XY-chromosome in our girly group! 😀

On 5th Nov, I have posted Part 1 of our weekend getaway to (O)Porto, the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. By the way, Portugal’s famous port wine is named for Porto, and Portugal, is one of the world’s most beautiful countries! 

Oh dear, it has been 3 weeks since, and Part 2 was still not out … hmmmm

I’m sure the girls were wondering, and I was right. Last week I met up with X for lunch and here’s our conversation:

X (curious): When is part 2 of our trip going to be ready, or have you decided to stop…?

D: Definitely not stopping. In the pipeline … 😉

X: Ha ha …. I thought you have decided to stop !

D (smiling): Nope, am collating the photos first and that’s one big hold-up! The App I’m using jumbled up my photos and they are not in chronological order anymore and mind you, I have more than 10k photos on my iPhone! Argghhh …

X: My condolences to you, then …

D (grinning): Humph! 

Pre-Mortem 

With the majority of us working and/or travelling, AO volunteered to do a research on Porto a week before our ETD. She had BIG plans for us 7 girls and her baby. It sounded just too good, but was it doable? The main point of discussion was whether Duoro Valley was a go or no go in our Weekend getaway. Places of interests and links were attached in an email for us to revert with our feedback.

While X and G had replied, here was my feedback –

Hi ya’ll !

Hey AO, a massive thanks for the great research, indeed. Well done, charbor! I was re-reading your message and noted that getting to the villages would take at least 2.5 hours. That means to and from the villages would take 5 hours and that’s just the travel part and not taking into account the actual time spent there. We would easily lose three-quarters of a day just to get there and back. It’s a pity because I would love to visit the breathtaking Duoro Valley, but due to time pressure (short weekend et al), with a heavy heart, I’ll give this visit a miss. I’m sure Porto city has a lot to offer especially so when it’s a first time for most of us. Oh by the way, I just checked the weather forecast and it’s not looking great, It’ll be 17 to 18 deg C with 60% to 70% chance of rain!!! Hope the forecast is wrong ! So it looks like X, G and I are saying “no” to Duoro Valley. Not sure about C, O and AM. Anyway, since you and AM will be staying a day longer, hence, am assuming you girls will be going on Sunday, if we’re not going in a group, right?. And if you’re going, don’t forget to share your experience with us after the trip, k? 

Cheers and counting down to our Porto trip!!

D

So the road trip plan to Duoro Valley was dumped, as C and O were also not keen, due to time constraints. That meant, AO and AM, the last girls to leave Porto, would be going on Sunday, right?

Erm … afraid not… 

Just a day or two before our departure, AO, the littlest, but feistiest girl in our group (Lolz!) decided a last minute change in plan, i.e. to go on with the trip to Duoro Valley, with or without the group not on Sunday but on the day of our ETA in Porto! The reason for the change in schedule was because of …

 …This !!!

Sunday, 23rd Oct was to be the bleakest of all days. Cold and wet at 14 deg C! Driving along the winding roads to Duoro Valley under a heavy downpour would appear to be too dangerous, so it would definitely be a no go on Sunday to Duoro Valley … BUT… feisty AO was determined to make that trip!

Now the question(s): Did AO go to Duoro Valley or not and if she did, who came along? 

I left the office at almost 9 pm the evening before the trip. I was absolutely knackered and dog-tired; hence I was 100% looking forward to an easy and stress-free weekend with the girls and a baby …

Bem-vindo ao porto! Welcome to Porto!

We left Brussels Airport at 10:50 and arrived at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport at 12:20. As soon as we touched down, our group had to split into two! Yup, the trip to Duoro Valley was decided at the last minute and AO managed to ‘lure’ a victim and who izzit?

The group that left to Duoro Valley took a rented car whilst the group that headed straight for the city took the Metro. Before we said our temporary goodbyes, we wanted everyone to meet for dinner together. We suggested and agreed to meet at the hotel lobby around 7pm, all 7 girls and a baby!

Did we make it? That’s the question … 😉

By the way, it was C who volunteered to accompany AO and baby Z and she was happy to be the ‘chauffeur’ for the entire journey up the wine growing valley of Duoro

The 5 of us had initially wanted to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel. We queued on the taxi stand, but it was just hopeless because there were 5 of us. The cabbie allowed max 4 passengers per trip. A minivan-type taxi would be perfect but they didn’t appear very often, so we changed our strategy and went for the Metro instead. 

The journey to the city centre took about 35 minutes and a single fare was Eur 1.80. For the first time, we needed to buy the Andante ticket which included the 0.60 cent rechargeable Andante card

Taking the metro is by far the cheapest and quickest way to get to the city but I remembered well we had to wait for about 40 minutes for the metro train to start moving. We had lost precious time playing the waiting game .. 

Porto Trindade Hotel

Trindade station is the 15th stop from the airport. The hotel was not an obvious find as the sign was virtually non-existent. We had to cross the road from the Metro and walked uphill all the way to the hotel while at the same time, dragging our luggage. It was probably a blessing in disguise that AO and baby Z didn’t have to go through the gruelling walk that afternoon. 

Goodness gracious!  It was almost 3 pm and we had not had our lunch. Before we checked in our rooms, X asked the receptionist where we could eat the famous Porto signature dish, francesinha. Without a smile on his face, he gave us the name of the restaurant (Café Santiago) and to remember the landmark “Coliseu do Porto“. The restaurant’s just opposite the theatre which is a local landmark and a leading venue for music and cultural events in Porto. Oh-Kay… with a landmark in mind, we shouldn’t get lost, right? 

If I remembered well, I didn’t recall we being greeted by a friendly receptionist. I would describe the staff as professional rather than friendly, except for one super friendly barman, whom we got acquainted with that evening when we redeemed our welcome drink at the bar. He was very helpful and went the extra mile to give us tips on places to visit during our stay in Porto.

When we checked-in into our rooms, we had only 10 minutes to orientate ourselves in our respective room, after which we had  to gather at the lobby and left the hotel in search for that mysterious francesinha

It was not an easy peasy search for that specific Café because we still had to acquaint and orientate ourselves with the city and her surroundings. 

Avenida dos Aliados

From our hotel, we started at the monumental central avenue, Avenida dos Aliados, aka Porto’s ‘reception room’ right in the heart of the city.

It’s a lively avenue during the day, but what a pity the skies were quite grey and it was quite chilly that afternoon as well. The avenue would have been a great place for a relaxing promenade, but of course we did not miss a photo opportunity next to the statue of D. Pedro IV on a horse. He was a symbol of courage and affection for the people of Porto. Behind us in the distance was the City Hall of Porto, situated at the top of Aliados Avenue, at the heart of downtown.


We could not dilly-dally too long there as time was the essence. In hindsight, it’s unfortunate that our group was splitted into two. We came as one and we should have stayed as one. With two splitted groups, timing became a challenge. We hadn’t the clue if C, AO and baby Z had the rented car and/ or if they had started the journey direction Duoro. We could only hope and pray that the 2 girls and a baby were danger-free and fine. Therefore, the only right way to do was to respect our agreed timeline prior to our going separate ways. 

And by the way, we still have not found the landmark the hotel receptionist was directing us to, so we walked and we walked and we walked …

The Quest For Francesinha 

In order not to have too many people doing the same thing, G and X were the map readers or navigators.  Girls being girls, little arguments and banterings were the norm. One said north, the other said south. So we walked and walked and walked until we came to Porto’s lively shopping street, Rua Santa Catarina. Part of the street is closed to traffic, making it a mostly-pedestrianised shopping street. Well of course we did not stop there to shop (not yet) BUT we had a closed glimpse of the most renowned “Harry Potter‘s” Café Majestic.  

Harry Potter

Yup! Will talk about that in a bit, because the priority quest then was to monitor the landmark, Coliseu do Porto and our francesinha !!!!

And we finally found the landmark!!!

Yay!!


Café Santiago 

If this café was recommended by staff at our hotel, then it must be good. It was full house when we arrived, so it’s a good sign that it must be more than good 😉

We had to wait for a vacant table. What made it more difficult was we were with 5 people. First of all, 5 is an odd number and 5 were too many to get a table in a packed café, so we waited …

We finally got a table meant for 4, so we had to squeeze one of the girls. When the waiter brought the menu card to us, I goggled at the photos of the menu. Only 2 shades of colours: yellow/brown and orange! Where are the greens? Reds? Purples? Whites?


I suddenly felt constipated gawking at the photos. To be honest, that’s not my kind of food, but, hey we walked more than 10,000 steps just to experience a typical Porto dish, so game on!

Francesinha is one of the most typical dishes in Porto. It’s a type of sandwich (toasted bread) stuffed with different layers of meats (cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage, beef steak) and covered with cheeses and then oven-grilled until the cheeses just slightly melted. The sandwich sits on a spicy tomato-beer sauce, which secret recipe will never be revealed… well, that did not bother me, because I would not be craving for francesinha in a long while …

We ordered 3 different items on the menu and shared those amongst the 5 of us. We had to be careful not to eat too much as we promised to meet for dinner, all 7 girls and a baby that evening.

By the way, I was glad I got to try the infamous francesinha. For me, it’s once bitten, twice shy. Don’t get me wrong, it was a tasty dish, but it was way too heavy for my liking. I think the other girls shared the same sentiment as I did, right charbors? 😉

São Bento Railway Station

After the heavy late ‘lunch’ of francesinha, we were in dire need of more walks. Our next stop was worth the stop. It was a railway station but it was not just an ordinary one. São Bento is the oldest and is claimed to be the most beautiful railway station with its 20,000 dazzling blue-and-white Moorish tile panels, known as azulejos. The painted tiles on the walls illustrate the evolution of transport in the area, as well as depicting scenes of the history of Portugal. 

Oh by the way, we were lucky to be entertained by the local military orchestra that afternoon 😀



Churches and Cathedrals 

It’s amazing to see how many churches and cathedrals in quite close proximity with each other in the centre of the city. We have probably been to most of the churches, which looked amazing on the façade as well as the interior. 

It was good to have those peaceful and silent moments once in a while after the fast pacings and stresses of the day to recharge our batteries 😉


Birthday Girl

The clock ticked and we were wondering about AO, C and baby Z. Before we headed back to our hotel, we stopped at a pastry shop in the hope of buying a cake for birthday girl, AO, as a surprise, however, the cake shop ran out of cakes. Instead, we agreed unanimously to go for 7 mini cakes (mix of chocolate, passion fruits, raspberries and mangos) at a Specialty Cake Shop on the way back to our hotel. 

Two weeks before our departure to Porto, 6 girls were discussing about giving AO a birthday surprise. In a way, it was good that AO was not around when we planned the small do later in one of our rooms. 

Going back to the hotel was more civilised as we had internet connection and free wifi. X and AO were in contact with one another to get more information about their ETA at the hotel. 

When the 2 girls and the baby finally arrived, the 7 mini cakes were lighted from the candles which G brought with her, and we sang the birthday song in unison while greeting the birthday girl. 

Happy (belated) birthday, AO


2 Girls And A Baby

We were glad to see C, AO and baby Z again after 6 hours or so of separation. Surely there were lots of stories to tell. If not, then what happened in Duoro remained in Duoro 😉

And most certainly the 2 girls managed to know each other a bit more, too. What those 2 girls had gone through were completely different than what the 5 of us had experienced that afternoon. It’s like the clash of 5 ‘city’ girls vs 2 ‘country’ lasses. Lol

However, when C shared with us some of the photos, we could see why the Duoro Valley is called the enchanted valley with her magical landscapes. There’s no wonder why this cultural landscape is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO

While the 5 ‘city’ girls had their tastes of francesinha, the 2 ‘country’ lasses had a go with Portugal’s most renowned pastry, pastel de nata (Portuguese egg tart pastry). C, with the golden heart, bought some grapes and a bottle of local Duoro red wine that she would later share with us. Obrigada, C!


Full Quorum Dinner @ Restaurant Antunes

Like Café Santiago, Restaurant Antunes was recommended by staff at our hotel. According to the receptionist, the restaurant served local Portuguese cuisines, hence, were not to be missed. Booking was essential, so the hotel staff made a reservation for us. 

The restaurant’s located behind the Metro Station (across from our hotel). It didn’t look much from the street, however, when we got inside, it was packed to full capacity as the locals patronise the restaurant daily. 

Oh boy, it was 8 pm and the francesinha and the mini birthday cake were not fully digested in my tummy and there we were, dining again! I ordered for a fish menu (grilled hake with baked potatoes … yes, boring …) and so did C, G, O and AM whilst X and AO eyed for the roasted pork shank. 

And guess what? THE star of the evening was actually the roasted pork shank, the iconic Pernil de Porco, which was the house specialty. It was unlike anything I have ever seen. The pork shank was HUGE, man!  It was actually very good, 100 times better than my tasteless hake 😦

Good choice, X and AO (Y)

We ordered sardines as starter, which were excellent and we also enjoyed the couvert. I’m glad we were recommended Restaurant Antunes because for me, it was a Portuguese eating experience. The service was fast and excellent even though the waiter spoke limited English. Somehow we managed to understand and communicate with no problem 😀

If I were to go to Restaurant Antunes again, I would go there with an empty stomach and order their Pernil de Porco

Good thing that there’s someone in our group who’s a meat eater, so we could see what’s on each other’s plate. The culprit will know who I am referring to here 😉

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and went straight to the bar to redeem our welcome drink. I had their red Port Wine. What else ?! 😀

I think we must have hit the sack at almost 1 am. It was going to be another long day the next day …

Mercado do Bolhão (Porto’s Colorful Market)

After a stuffed and almost dog-tired day the day before, we gathered at the hotel lobby at 9.30 am (after a scrumptious buffet brekkie with a fair choice of cold and warm dishes). AO and baby Z missed the headcount that morning as AO had to return the 24-hour rented car that brought the 2 girls and a baby to Duoro Valley. While waiting for AO, the 6 of us walked to the nearby Trindade Church to have a peaceful and quiet moment. 

When we got out of the church, G, the ‘navigator’ and timekeeper, shepherded us to Mercado do Bolhão, which is considered to be Porto’s most colourful market located in the heart of the city. The exuberant market is found in a 2-tier, rather old building. The market opens daily from 7am until 5pm except Saturday when the traders called it a day at 1pm. Sunday is a day of rest.

The Bolhão market is not a very big market, unlike the markets I have been to in the Provence (South of France). Nevertheless, it has its own charm as everything traded at the market was locally produced from fresh fruits, breads to household items. 

All of us bought some souvenirs to remind us of our stay in Porto. AM was, undoubtedly, the happiest girl on the planet as she bought oodles of fridge magnets to add on to her colossal collection of magnets. Lol


We adjourned to a Café in the marketplace spotted by G, of course 😉

In less than 30 minutes, AO and baby Z joined us. And we were full quorum again …

Now off we strode to the meeting point of the Yellow Bus!

Hurry girls ….!!!

Yellow Bus Hop-On-Hop-Off (HOHO)

A week before our ETD from Brussels to Porto, AO volunteered to order 7 HOHO Porto Vintage tickets online for us. It’s cheaper buying online at Eur 11.70 per tix as opposed to Eur 13 buying at location. 

Our tickets were valid for a day and we could HOHO in Porto as many times we wanted anywhere along the Porto bus tour routes, which were either the Purple or the Orange route/ line. The Porto Vintage included free access with wine tasting to Espaço Porto Cruz, which, unfortunately we did not use, due to a few non-drinkers in our group plus time constraints. 

By the way, we were supposed to take the Purple Line that morning with the aim to go to Matosinhos, but somehow, we boarded the wrong line, the Orange route. 

Wrong line or not, I thought that was a blessing in disguise. To be honest, I’m not a sea person so I did not mind missing the trip to Matosinhos, although one or two girls might be disappointed… Well, we knew when travelling in a group of 7 double X-chromosomes, there’re bound to be some ‘negotiable’ contretemps. Anywhow, Matosinhos was the less recommended place than the other side of the riverbank, Vila Nova de Gaia, or simply Gaia by the friendly barman at our hotel. That, I remembered 😉

For me, I know I would be back to Porto and I could visit all the places I have missed. It’s not the end of the world 😉

Ribeira and Porto River Bank

It was 12.30 pm and the stop at Ribeira was just perfect. Excellent timing for our midday lunch. 

The old town, centered at Ribeira, was built on the hills overlooking the Douro River. I absolutely adore the long promenade along the Duoro riverbank. In fact, the site is listed as World Heritage protected by UNESCO, and represents the famous postcard image of the city. 

The Cais da Ribeira (the Quay of Ribeira) is the soul of Porto, where one can climb aboard one of the many typical boats and take a mini cruise down the river. We had thought of taking a cruise but had to quit the idea because of time pressure. 

I loved the look of the charming pastel houses stacked like blocks of Lego and the narrow medieval streets and seedy alleyways, and of course the spellbinding Dom Luis Bridge. 


We found a nice restaurant on a hilly slope but with 7 and a half people, finding a table was almost near to impossible in a touristic area if pre-booking was not done. Anyway we waited like predators 😀

C double-checked with the waiter and he promised to set up a table for us as soon as a group of people left. 

When we finally got a table after waiting for some 15 to 20 minutes, everyone sighed with relief.

Phew

After the more than positive review of the sardines we had at Restaurant Antunes, we ordered them again as our starter. They were so moreish and finger lickin’ good 🙂

Before the Porto trip, I have heard a lot about Bacalhau (dried and salted cod) dishes, which are common in Portugal, but have never tried it. Out of curiosity, 5 girls went for the house specialty bacalhau dish, recommended by the waiter. AO went for the squid dish with tomato rice and X, for the pan-fried salmon. 

The verdict? 

I would rather have 20 sardines on my plate than that one piece of bloody hard, chewy and salty cod fish! I was totally disappointed, and so were some of the girls…

In hindsight, I should have ordered that salmon 😦  Drooling …! 

X, I want you as my personal food advisor. Lol!


On the other side of the riverbank, I saw the famous Sandeman Porto Wine Cellars, which wine I have used in my cooking or just drink it as apéritif. Too bad, we did not do the wine tasting tour. Well, I’m even more determined now to return to Porto 😉

Palácio da Bolsa

After the amazing time we had at Ribeira and the riverbank, we took a walk to Palácio da Bolsa, literally translated as Stock Exchange Palace.

Our visit to the Palace was probably one of the most memorable and flattering moments. 7 girls and a baby were standing at the cashier counter waiting to pay the entrance tickets and guided tour. Guess what? The friendly Portuguese girl thought we were students and charged us student rate which had a 50% discount! Wow! That’s amazing innit … we looked like students *feeling flattered*

When the 40-minute tour started, we met the girl again. She was our bi-lingual guide who spoke in both Portuguese and English.  

I’m not sure about the rest of the girls, but I wasn’t really paying attention to the guide’s stories.

I was busy taking photos, of the floors, ceilings, walls, doors, pillars and what have you. I could see there’s a great mix of architectural styles and decorative arts and the highlight of the Palace was undoubtedly, the Arab Room. I felt as if I was transported into One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. The room is decorated in exotic Moorish Revival style. It was breathtakingly spectacular with all the golds and glitters! Simply Wow!


Porto Cathedral (Se Catedral)

After the Arabian Nights’ tour, the girls were debating to either climb the 240 steps of the 75.6 metres high Torre dos Clérigos (Clérigos‘ tall bell Tower) adjacent to Igreja dos Clérigos (Church of the Clergymen) or climbed a few steps up to Porto Cathedral. 

We agreed to go for the latter, as some of the girls were showing signs of exhaustion. Porto is a very hilly city, by the way. Which reminded me of Rome.

With Romanesque roots, the Porto Cathedral has undergone many changes throughout the centuries. What’s lovely from the square in front of the Cathedral was the panoramic views of the city. There you could view in a distance the Torre dos Clérigos, which we had to forego, most unfortunately…


Livraria Lello – Finding Harry Potter in Porto

We did not climb the Clérigos‘ tall bell Tower, but we definitely walked across the plaza to the most enchanting bookstore in the world, the Livraria Lello Porto. Does it remind you of a scene in a Harry Potter movie? 

Did you know that this spellbinding and unique bookstore inspired the Harry Potter’s library in Hogwarts?

Did you know that J.K Rowling lived in Porto teaching English in the early 1990s and that rumor has it that her inspiration to write Harry Potter began at Livraria Lello?

I did not, until I entered the bookstore. Wow!!

It’s not a big bookstore but the stunning interior and the exquisite swirling stairway with its red-carpeted steps and banisters, impressive mouldings and wooden walls did not prevent tourists from taking non-stop photos. It’s simply dreamy and eye-catching!

Oh by the way, there’s an entrance fee of Eur 3 which is fully redeemable if you buy a book. I bought 2 books, not Harry Potter. Ha ha ha …


Remember Café Majestic which I linked to Harry Potter earlier in this post? 

J. K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone while spending countless hours in local cafés, one of which was Café Majestic along the lively and busy Rua de Santa Catarina.

Ponte de Dom Luís I (The Dom Luís I Bridge)

It had been a very, very long day for all of us: walking, a bit of shopping, window shopping, sightseeing, eating, more walkings, etc. Poor baby Z  was in dire need of a nappy change, hence, AO and baby Z returned to the hotel whilst the 6 of us adjourned for coffee/tea at a nearby Café in the vicinity of the magnificent bookstore. 

And then, it started to rain! 

We had planned to meet for dinner on the other side of Duoro River, all 7 of us and a baby. In order for the 6 of us to get to the other side of the riverbank, we had to crossover walking the double-decked metal arch bridge, the Dom Luis I bridge, that spans the Douro River between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. 

Due to time constraints, 6 very headstrong girls braved the heavy downpour and walked the bridge’s top deck from Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. It was a 5 km walk. None of us thought of stopping or thinking of giving up and going back to the hotel. We just walked on wearing the skimpiest and most lightweight disposable ponchos. Only G and AM had umbrellas with them. I could feel my shoes ‘flooded’ with water. It was an uncomfortable feeling; wet and squidgy, and my pants from knee down were totally drenched. So was my hair. I just hoped not to get sick, that’s all.

And we walked on and on and on …

It was a blessing in disguise (again) for AO and baby Z. It would definitely not be a comfortable walk for both mama and baby, that’s for sure.

 

The night scenes of the bridge and the views of the Duoro River dividing Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia were breathtakingly magnificent. 

By the way, Porto’s iconic bridge was completed in 1886 by a student of Gustave Eiffel, best known for the world-famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.

After the seemingly long and unending walk to the other side of the bridge, we were not famished but we just wanted to sit down in a dry place and enjoy some light and fresh seafood.

We found a lively seafood restaurant, Duoro Velho


AO and baby Z uber’d their way comfortably from the hotel to meet us at the restaurant. It was good to see them again and gorgeous baby Z slept through the entire evening at the restaurant closed to his mama’s chest swaddled in his baby carrier.

We spoiled ourselves rotten, stuffed with barbecued seafood and chicken dishes; our last meal together in Porto. Oh by the way, the sardines were huge and not as nice as the tiny ones we had at Restaurant Antunes and Ribeira

We had probably spent a good deal of time at the restaurant because I could feel my pants gotten drier as well as my hair, except for my feet and shoes!  Couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel, though. 

With 7 of us, we took 2 taxis, while AO did a test check on prices of the one uber’d and the other normal. AO, baby Z, X and D uber’d their way back to the hotel in one cab paying a total of Eur 3.80 which was almost 50% cheaper than the normal taxi taken by G, C, AM and O.

Good to know (Y)

Pyjama Party @ Room 702

It was good to be back in the hotel, or to be more precise, my hotel room.  I’m sure the other girls felt the same way. It has been a while and my room was so immaculate, meaning the presence of housekeeping was there. Brilliant!

C invited us for a nightcap of one of Duoro’s local red wines which she got while spending time at the wine growing valley of Duoro on the first day with AO and baby Z

It was a good wine. Thanks heaps, C! Thanks for sharing the wine with us. Hugs xxx


No worries, no one was tipsy. There was only one bottle and 7 glasses of whom 2 had to decline the offer for obvious reasons 😉

The evening was still young and we played a ‘game’ initiated by C.

And the game went like this …


Nah …. what happened in Room 702 remained in Room 702…

Hint: We got to know each other (even) better  and thanks heaps, O, for sharing with us the ‘scary’ story 😉

And for the … Erm … sorry, my lips are sealed . Shhhh…!!!

It was our last night in Porto together, all 7 girls and a baby, and we hit the sack at 2 am in the morning !

Blue-Black: The Winning Colour!

Sunday, 23rd Oct. 5 girls were flying back to Brussels.

Strange but true, 5 girls met that morning at the buffet breakfast wearing, uncannily, the same colour tops. Blue! And – honestly – it wasn’t  pre-planned.

That colour was to become the magic moment of the day!


X‘s son, DJC is a professional footballer playing for one of Belgium’s First Division Pro League decorated clubs, Club Brugge that dons the  Blue-Black home kit. 

And even stranger and truer, the team had a match while we were flying that afternoon, against one of their major rivals, Anderlecht. 

And the result? 2 – 1 for Club Brugge. Awesome! 

The Last 2 Girls And A Baby

The girls said their goodbyes at the hotel, leaving 2 girls and a baby behind. 

It was a lovely Sunday day and Matosinhos was explored and the girls’ boxes were ticked.

And I made sure to buy a port wine at the airport. It was a 20-year old Tawny Port. One of the finests 😀

Goodbye Porto, see you next time!

The 5 girls parted ways at Brussels airport only to be reunited for quick lunches at work weeks.

And life goes on as usual …

Carpe Diem, girls! 

Cheers!

At the of age of 17, he wrote his first Science book, “Schitterend!” (Brilliant!) about the Universe and the theory of Evolution. He was 18 and the youngest nominee for the Eureka. At age 21, he published his second book, “Fantastisch!” (Fantastic!) on Evolution and Neuroscience. Fantastic! was also nominated for the Eureka. By age 25, he became the author of 3 Science Books and had invented a new food model for his patients to slow down ageing and reduce the risk of ageing-related diseases. This achievement won him the title of ‘Person of the year‘ in his home country, Belgium.

 

Dr Kris Verburgh is the author of one of the most controversial books, “De Voedselzandloper” (The Food Hourglass), which is available in 9 languages.





As you can see on the coverpage of the book, the 2 triangles interlocking at the pointed tips are quick summaries of 2 pyramids (“hourglass”).  One pointing up with its hierarchical strata of foods which we should consume more of and the top half tapering downwards indicating foods we should eat less of. Not many University Professors are in agreement with Dr Verburgh’s theory. As a result, he had to resign from the University he graduated with magna cum laude.

 

I did not buy Dr Kris Verburgh’s “Science” book, but I bought “De Voedselzandloperkookboek” (The Hourglass Cookbook), authored by Pauline Weuring based on the young doctor’s scientific theory of nutrition in slowing down the signs of ageing through what we eat, and losing weight in the process.




 

By the way, there is a catch. According to Dr Verburgh, he says, diets do not work and what does is educating oneself about what to eat with knowledge that is readily available. What we eat determines how fast we age. Basically, discovering thefountain of youth‘ is to avoid the typical diseases of ageing, which is anything from loss of eyesight to heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer or osteoporosis. 

 

Quotes from Kris Verburgh, MD

 

If you want to have the health benefits of healthy food, you have to do it your whole life. Not just for a period of time, but always

 

We can add more than 10 years to our lives if we know what foods to eat and which ones to avoid. That would keep us healthy well into our eighties

 

Ageing is a very complex process. We know that the rate of ageing is influenced by our genes and our environment and more specifically by how and what we eat. Powerful interventions that slow down the ageing process will come to see light in the coming decades. For now, the most potent tool at our disposal to impact the rate of ageing is our diet“.

 

Cakes and sweets should be replaced by dark chocolate and nuts

 

The Food Hourglass will show you how to immediately identify what is healthy and unhealthy food, and how to replace unhealthy foods with alternatives“.

 

 

Fountain of Youth

 

When I flipped through the pages of The Hourglass Cookbook, I saw a cake recipe!!! What’s a cake doing there? I exclaimed!

 

But then I realised it’s not an ordinary cake. It’s a cake recipe based on Dr Verburgh’s “fountain of youth” theory. Very interesting indeed.  No sugar. No flour. No butter. No milk.  Erm…how to make a cake without all the basic essentials?  Well, of course, the young doctor has the answer and the result? 

 

This! 



 

I made this healthy Banana Bread or Cake and was surprised at how moist and delicious the cake remained on the day of baking and subsequently. Anyway, the cake was gone in less than 48 hours! It was really light. I have made the cake twice already and was very pleased with the result both times.



 

Due to copyright, I am not listing the measurements of the cake. If you really want the recipe, leave your comment with a valid email address and I will get back to you personally or for readers who know me, please pm me😉


The ingredients used in the recipe are as following –

  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Eggs
  • Almond meal or flour *
  • Baking soda
  • A pinch of Salt

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven
  2. Combine the mashed bananas and dates in a bowl
  3. Beat the eggs with salt until light and fluffy 
  4. Fold in the almond meal or flour and baking soda
  5. Grease the cake tin with some baking spray
  6. Pour in the batter and bake in the pre-heated oven
  7. The banana bread is cooked when a toothpick pricked in the middle of the cake comes out clean
  8. Cool the cake on a cooling rack before cutting

*Almond meal or flour is a result of ground almond nuts (with or without skins respectively) which is the healthier option to a normal cake flour



 

Note: For more variations, you may want to add pure chocolate chips or chopped pecan nuts

 

Obviously the sweet taste from the cake came from the bananas and dates.  Very natural and healthy options, indeed. 







 

Oh by the way, I think I’m feeling young already.  Yay! Ha ha…!

 

According to Wikipedia, a popular Flemish TV chef said his diabetes is stabilized due to the Food Hourglass theory and he claims to have lost almost 8 kg (17 pounds) as a result.

 

Honestly, I am fascinated by the theory, but I have some issues. I do love a good steak with fries, an oven-baked pizza, a bowl of spagbol with lots of grated mozzarella, cupcakes/ muffins, cakes (chiffon, pound, Sarawak kek lapis), and the “bad” list goes on….

 

Oops! There goes my fountain of youth! LOL!

 

BUT… I will not stop baking this light and gorgeous Banana Bread.

 

I’m linking this post to the Little Thumbs Up (March 2015 – BANANA) event organised by Zoe (Bake for Happy Kids)and Mui (my little favourite DIY) and hosted by Faeez of BitterSweetSpicy.

 



 

Homemade Mondays week 123 hosted by Sarah of Frugal by Choice, Cheap by NecessityAubrey of Homegrown & Healthy and Kelly from The Sustainable Couple 

Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking



Cook-Your-Books #21 @ Kitchen Flavours 



Tasty Tuesdays with HonestMum



Have a great week!

Cheers!

With its 31 days, December to me is the “shortest” month of the year. There are a million and one things to do, or rather, rush in the last month of the year. My checklist is endless…juggling between my office work and house work are the craziest challenges ever 😦

Probably the most difficult task is getting the right Christmas gift for that someone as it takes a lot of time and energy. Yes, no kidding here. I hope the recipients this year will un-wrap the packages with lots of “oohs” and “aahhs”.

Well, last Christmas, I received a rather special gift. It was an “oohh” alright 😉

It was a book – to be more precise – a lime green cookbook!  The author is Leemei Tan.  Her name sounded rather Malaysian or Singaporean.  I was extremely curious and delved directly into the Introduction page of the cookbook.

Bingo!

The author IS a Malaysian. I had no clue that Leemei Tan had a blog: My Cooking Hut. I checked it out almost immediately the next morning.  And there’s that lime green recipe book again: Lemongrass and Ginger: Vibrant Asian Recipes 😀

By the way, I had a Dutch translated version: Citroengras & Gember – heerlijke Aziatische recepten.

1. Baked spiced chix 

Page 95 looked extremely inviting! I was mesmeric!

2. Baked spiced chix 

I flipped through the pages several times over and I kept coming back to page 95.  I was bewitched, so to speak. 😀

So, almost a year later (YES!), last weekend, I made this dish. Oops…I have been procrastinating again, haven’t I?!

According to the author, this is a superb, tasty and simple dish originated from the Baba-Nyonya. The Worcestershire sauce used in the dipping sauce is an example of the Colonial influences in the Malaysian cuisine.

Here’s my version of the Nyonya Chicken, which I baked, rather than fry them ;-).  This makes a great side dish for Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, however, we had this as our main dish served with steamed white rice and stir-fried brussels sprouts and carrots.

3. Baked spiced chix 

Oh by the way, I have also made some minor changes to the recipe according to my personal taste. These are highlighted in blue italics.

Ingredients –

  • 1 kg drumsticks ( I bought  a packet of 11 drumsticks weighing at 1.2 kg)
  • 5 shallots (I used 4)
  • 5 cloves garlic (this was not in the recipe)
  • 1 Tbsp coriander powder (I used ½ Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp corn flour
  • 2 tsp honey (I used 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 ¼ tsp coarse sea salt ( I used the Himalayan sea salt, to taste)
  • 2 cm fresh ginger (I love ginger, hence, I used a bit more)
  • Freshly milled black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder (this was not in the recipe)
  • 5 dl sunflower oil (I used a little drizzle of corn or vegetable oil for baking)

Dipping Sauce –

  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 red chili (I used chili powder)
  • Juice of 1 lime (I did not have lime in the my pantry, hence, I used lemon)

Method  –

Please note the original recipe calls for frying the drumsticks. I baked mine. Below are points I have adapted using the original recipe with some changes to accommodate the baking method.

  1. Blend the shallots, garlic and ginger to a smooth paste. Spoon the paste into a large bowl. Add the powders – coriander, cumin, turmeric, chili, the egg yolk, corn flour, honey, freshly milled black pepper and coarse sea salt. Mix and combine the mixture. Coat the drumsticks with the mixed paste. Cover with a cling film and marinate the drumsticks for at least 4 hours or better still, overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C
  3. Remove the drumsticks from the fridge and let the marinated meat stand for at least 15 – 30 minutes at room temperature. 
  4. Lay the marinated meat in a single layer in a large shallow roasting pan. Bake for 20 to 25 mins until they are tender and clear fluid appears when pierced with a skewer into the thickest part of the meat.
  5. Serve immediately with steamed white rice and drizzle some of the dipping sauce. Simply divine!

 

A picture is worth a thousand words…

4. Baked spiced chix_marinate 5. Baked spiced chix

6. Baked spiced chix+rice+veg

7. Baked spice chix_platter

This dish may not be a typical one served at Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas lunch – but hey – don’t we normally associate Christmas with baked or roasted birds or poultry with the amalgamation of herbs and spices?

This dish is as Christmas as it can be 😉

I am linking this special Christmas edition to the following events –

The December Cooking with Herbs Challenge…AND Christmas Spices!  hosted by Karen Burns-Booth of  Lavender and Lovage

Cooking-with-Herbs-300x252

Cook-Your-Books#7  hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

 Cook Your Books

Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads – Thinking, Reading, Photographing

Weekend Cooking

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Cheers!

A Summer in Saint Rémy-de-Provence

A Summer in Saint Rémy-de-Provence

As if there are no other holiday destinations – but really – we have been to France, in particular, southern France so many times that we could memorize some places along the road and highway quite well. Although we do not tend to visit the same place twice, we seemed to be re-visiting Saint Rémy-de-Provence quite often, at least four times since 2006!

We enjoyed the lovely Mediterranean temperatures that were not overly hot (August), the colours, the smell, la cuisine provençale (the Provencal dishes) and the many walking trails.

Last summer, I spiced up our Provencal holiday with this simple dish, which was… erm… planned at the eleventh hour

Baba's chicken curry with chickpeas served with stir fried chinese cabbage and steamed basmati rice

Baba’s chicken curry with chickpeas served with stir fried chinese cabbage and steamed basmati rice

The spice that bites the dust?

Well, almost 🙂

Actually, I got 4 packets of Baba ’s curry powder (2 meat curry powder and 2 fish curry powder) from a girlfriend who was going back to Kuching for her holiday and at the same time planning to replenish her kitchen pantry with new inventories. Lucky girl (if you are reading this post, kam sia, my dear):-D

Well, a month more to shelf life was not that bad. We left for Saint Rémy-de-Provence in the 2nd week of August and the curry powder expired in September. Perfect timing so to speak!

The White House

For the subsequent 2 weeks, we stayed in a lovely holiday cottage, owned by an English couple – La Maison Blanche (The White House). By the way, there were and are many English speaking ‘locals’ in Saint Rémy-de-Provence 😀

3. Baba's curry_La Maison Blanche

This was the kitchen that became my Provencal domain last summer *wink*

4. Baba's curry_French kitchen

While the guys were watching the 2012 Summer Olympics on the telly, the lady of the house (ahem!) slogged away in the kitchen with her creative throw-in-the-pot chicken curry soup dish. LOL!

WYSIWYG

That’s right, what you see is what you get!

These were the main ingredients I used to cook my curry dish.

5a. Baba's curry_ingredients15b. Baba's curry_ingredients2

You need the following –

(Serves 4-6)

4 chicken breasts (ca 695 gm)

2 small packets Baba’s meat curry powder

8 potatoes, halved

1 onion, chopped

Garlic – I used 4 cloves, minced with coarse sea salt

4 cm piece ginger, grated

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise

3 cloves

6 dried chillies

2 green cardamoms, crushed

1 tsp fennel seeds

Curry leaves (I used the dried ones)

1 tomato (chopped)

Salt, to taste ( I also added 2 chicken stock cubes)

Black pepper, to taste (not in the picture)

1 can chickpeas

Cooking oil (I used olive oil)

2 x 125 gm tub plain yoghurt (not in the picture) – I did not use coconut milk

Water

If you are wondering – yes – the spices ‘followed’ us all the way on the road for some 975 km! As I said earlier, it was a “planned but last minute packing” 😉

Method –

Very simple. Sauté the chopped onion, minced garlic and grated ginger until fragrant; add in the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, cardamoms and fennel seeds, stir frying for one minute before adding the chicken slices, yoghurt and chopped tomatoes. Add water, chickpeas, potatoes, dried chillies, salt and pepper to taste and finally the curry powder.

6. Baba's curry_curry mix

Mix well to combine the curried mixture. Simmer until the chicken pieces and potatoes are cooked and season to taste before serving. As you can see, my Provencal curry was not made the traditional way as far as sight (visual) is concerned, but the taste was 100% curry. My guys like their curries a bit soupy. I served the curry with steamed basmati rice and stir fried Chinese cabbage with green chillies and sun-dried tomatoes.

7a Baba's curry_curry chix soup7b. Baba's curry_closed-up

7c. Baba's curry_chix curry + basmati rice + chinese cabbage

By the way, curry has never tasted so good. I daresay, it was YUMMY 😉

Market Day

I love Wednesdays at Saint Rémy-de-Provence because it’s market day!!

The colours, the smell and the sights were just amazing….

8a. Wednesday  Market St Remy de Provence_Lavender8b. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Straw bags8c. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Garlics8d. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Confituur8e. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Fruits8f. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Spices8g. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Wines8h. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Cheeses8i. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Savon de Marseille8j. Wednesday Market St Remy de Provence_Canned drinks craftworkPicture 339 (Large)Wed mkt at St Remy de Provence_porky

Oh by the way, did you know that Saint-Rémy-de-Provence was the birthplace of Michel de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus, the 16th century author of prophecies? We visited his birthplace which was not far from the Market square.

9a. St Remy de Provence_Nostradamus19b. St Remy de Provence_Nostradamus2

The Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh was voluntarily confined and treated in the Asylum of Saint-Paul de Mausole, near Saint-Rémy. It was here that he painted the two most remarkable works: Starry Night and Self Portrait.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Vincent Van Gogh's Starry nights

During our many visits to the Provence, we have followed the trails of Vincent Van Gogh (including Arles). It was a real eye opener for us. We started to appreciate the man and his works even more.

Mossy Fountain with a spicy end

After spending the entire morning until slightly after noon at the Wednesday Market, we were famished. We drove to Salon-de-Provence, about 32km from Saint Rémy. The most striking landmark – which cannot be missed – in Salon-de-Provence is the Fontaine Moussue (Mossy Fountain), which is the real mascot of the town. Tourists and locals, especially children would throng around the fountain, which looked like a giant moss-covered mushroom 😀

11. Salon-de-Provence_Mossy Fountain

We did not walk very far and sat ourselves at a table for four on the terrace of a nearby restaurant. Strangely, we did not realize that the restaurant was not French. I guess we were too hungry to gallivant any further. The resto– can you believe this – was Indian?! I was over the moon 😀

For a price tag of Eur 20 per person, our meal included a starter, main course and dessert.

12a. Salon-de-Provence_Starter_Veg Pakora, lamb & chix samosas12b. Salon-de-Provence_Main_Lamb tikka12c. Salon-de-Provence_Lamb tikka on the plateLicking our platters cleaned

Conclusion: We licked our platters clean. A bargain meal, worth every penny 😛

A spicy Hat trick

Oh no, not again!

But, oh YES – this post would not be captioned “spicy” summer for nothing. Our curry treats for three consecutive days!

I bought some baguettes, sliced and served them with the leftover curry.

My husband and I had these –

Freshly baked baguettes

Freshly baked baguettes

Sliced baguette - soft and fresh

Sliced baguette – soft and fresh

Leftover curry with sliced baguette - a marriage made in heaven :-P

Leftover curry with sliced baguette – a marriage made in heaven 😛

My sons had equally delicious leftover curry meals, which I added  cooked instant noodles, hard boiled eggs, stir-fried french beans, chopped tomatoes and roasted chicken slices.

My younger son's plate

My younger son’s plate

My older son loves a soupy noodle :-D

My older son loves a soupy noodle 😀

This was one “spicy” summer adventure that will not be easily forgotten 😀

I am submitting this entry to Little Thumbs Up event with the theme “CURRY”, hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats well in Flanders, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite D.I.Y.

Photobucket

By the way, I DID have some free moments.  While the boys patronised the swimming pool almost every day, I read Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s, fantastically intelligent literary thriller, The Angel’s Game. The year before, I read his mind-boggling, complex and absorbing novel, The Shadow of the Wind.  A talented writer.  I was totally gripped and could not put down reading his novels. If you like Dan Brown’s novels, you will like Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s 😉

A Summer in Saint Rémy-de-Provence. The boys enjoying a dip in the pool - EVERYDAY!

A Summer in Saint Rémy-de-Provence. The boys enjoying a dip in the pool – EVERYDAY!

By the way, I finished reading this book in one week ;-)

By the way, I finished reading this book in one week 😉

Have a great weekend.

Cheers!

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