Friday, March 22, 2013
I found that a great way to really dive into a culture is to learn how to cook the food - so a while back, I signed up for a class with Cookery Magic, run by the amazing Ruqxana. The class was taught in her outdoor kitchen in her home on the East side of Singapore and it was truly hands on. This first class was a Thai class and I learned so much about the ingredients and techniques involved, that I felt that I could easily apply them to dishes beyond the ones we prepared. Ruqxana teaches not only Thai, but Singaporean, Malaysian, Peranakan and Indian cooking. Since she is originally from the Gujarat state of India, I thought it would be great to learn Indian cooking from her, and indeed, she offered a class based on recipes from her grandmother. So, when Chris and a couple of friends decided to take a class on a Sunday afternoon, we went for her grandmother's recipes. It was fantastic, and the fact that it was our private class made it really outstanding. Once again, I learned so much about Indian cooking and the technique of using the wonderful Indian spices, that it seems as though I can apply what we learned to many different dishes. Maybe Malaysian will be next....
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Well, we were finally treated to a ride on the Singapore Flyer, thanks to our dear friends, Christy and Regan. The attraction is the world's largest observation wheel at 165 meters tall, and the views of the city from our private pod were spectacular. We had reserved the pod for cocktail hour, at 6:30 in the evening, which in Singapore, is when the day's sunlight starts dimming. It was lovely, and is definitely the way to go.
Monday, March 18, 2013
|Lucy, Ralph and Milo|
Before I get going on a series of human escapades around town, I thought I'd post a picture of Lucy Blue and her Singapore buddies, Ralph and Milo. These kids and their humans have a standing date on Thursday mornings to walk from the hood through East Coast Park to a Starbucks for coffee - well, the humans have coffee. We thought it was high time that we got a picture of the gang - tried to take one with humans as well, but the dog-only picture looked much better!
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I first saw the big POTTERY sign when we were in a large park section of Western Singapore for a dog hash. The directions took us past green expanses of new tech parks with an occasional lifeless office building and then moved beyond to a road bordered by open space, across from the sign. Didn't even think about it. Later, I learned that the sign points the way to a family-run pottery business, Thow Kwang Industry, which is home to one of the last surviving dragon kilns or “Long Yao” in Singapore. The kiln, a 6-meter long clay structure (my estimate), was built in the 1940s and was taken over by the current owners, the Tan family, in the 1960s. They've expanded to include a warehouse store where the family's pottery and ceramics from China are sold, and where they hold pottery classes. So, last Sunday, I took a trip over to that part of town and spent at least two hours there, totally awed by the place. I have never seen so much ceramics in one location - vases, statues, bowls, plates figurines. We witnessed a large kiln in operation, heated by an open fire, when we first got there. The dragon kiln was dormant, but imposing with its long snout, a chimney at one end and small brick opening at the other. Due to Singapore's penchant for progress and development, its existence, as many traditional entities in the country, is threatened. The "lifeless office building" mentioned earlier is part of a "Clean Tech Park" and is the way of the future in this part of Singapore. Let's hope the dragon kiln survives the area's transformation.
|The dragon kiln|
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
It all started for me last Thursday, when I went to Little India, to have a Salwaar kameez made (a South Asian dress and pants ensemble). After delivering the fabric to a seamstress at Tekka Market, I wandered over to Campbell Lane to find a Ganesh for a friend. While I was in a shop there, the cows arrived, in a large, open farm truck - very large cows, at least one bull, actually. They had arrived to celebrate Pongal, The Tamil Thanksgiving of good harvests. Pongal originated in South India, but today expands to several countries where Tamils have migrated. In Singapore, for example, it is one of the largest Hindu festivals celebrated considering the large population of Tamils. It officially lasts four days, beginning on the 10th Tamil month, known as Thai, which falls in mid-January every year. Today was the third day, Mattu Pongal, when homage is paid to cattle for ploughing the fields and providing milk. Wherever Pongal is celebrated, this is the day when the cows are bathed and pampered and decorated, all in the spirit of showing reverence. Campbell Lane, a Little India focal point for shopping had been transformed into a pedestrian-only street and lined with stands selling fruit, vegetables, flower garlands, cooking pots and stalks of bamboo. A small outdoor auditorium was set up, next to the livestock pens, where dances and skits were performed. We happened to be there when several school groups were enjoying the spectacle. It started to rain. Then it poured. It didn't matter.
I first saw one of these in Sri Lanka, I think I had seen them in Singapore before, and then picked one up at Tekka Market. It's shaped like a large pear with a bumpy rind, kind of has the taste and texture of a cross between a cucumber and a zucchini. Soaks up flavors around it like a sponge. Just stir-fried it with garlic, chile padi and oyster sauce, and leeks and shiitake and a green veggie also unnamed, but I don't care. The guy at Tekka only knew the Chinese name for it, the chef in Sri Lanka called it a gourd squash, and then I googled it and came up with chayote, which supposedly originated in Central America. I'm stumped, but it tasted great!
|Chris and the Dr. Birute|
|A gibbon at feeding time|
Due to our good fortune, we were really late motoring back to Rimba Camp, where we were staying. As night descended on the canopy, we stood on the bow, looked backwards and watched a lightening show on the horizon. A great day.
|Our home in the jungle|