Prawn Fishing

29 11 2012

Chillin’ with Team Italia – Michele R, Michele LM, Giovanni and Paolo. (This, and most photos, courtesy of my good friend Michele LM.)

OVER A week ago, I ran the second to the last event I’m organizing or have ever organized as Chair of my department’s Teambuilding Committee at the office.  Putting up these events is a lot of hardwork, but at the same time, allows me to reap a lot of intangible rewards.  The friendships I made with all of those who are part or were part of my Committee are at the top of the list.

Not being a very outdoorsy person myself, I would never be the first to volunteer an event such as prawn fishing.   But some of my Committee members were passionate about it.  As a truly democratic leader, I listened to all they had to say.

One of the best photos – if not the best – of the prawn fishing event. This was taken by one of my good good friends, Nathan, The Chef, with his Samsung Galaxy S2.

I became so intrigued I went to try it out with Vincent and Kelvin before actually staging the event.  I ended up writing my whole team a very enthusiastic e-Mail the following day, saying just how pleasantly surprised I was.  Again, coming from someone like me who would rather spend a day at the mall than somewhere even remotely related to nature or the outdoors.

As a department, we’ve done all sorts of things, with a typical participation of 200 give or take a few tens every single time.  Prawn fishing was one of those that allowed all of us to really spend time with our colleagues and friends outside the very busy working hours.  We didn’t have to run around all over Singapore so it meant we had the chance to sit back, relax a little, chat and really catch up with one another – with part of our attention still devoted to the fishing rods we’d cast in to one of two ponds dedicated to our group for the whole duration of the event.

During the hour’s worth that Vincent and I got to try it the first time, we caught a total of eight – seven big ones and one so little we just had to send it back to the waters.  Once you’ve gotten the hang of it – setting the bait in the hook, casting the hook into the water, waiting for the initial pull of a prawn’s bite, counting five seconds before giving the rod a quick, crisp flip of the wrist to secure the bite, lifting the floater halfway from the water’s surface, counting another five seconds before another quick wrist action, and lifting the rod to reveal the catch – you will be catching prawns like crazy.

Vincent and I took less than a minute for every catch we made, but it was the “unhooking” of the prawn from the bait that took a lot of the time.  We wanted to be as careful as we could because we could feel the prawn’s “pain”.  We just didn’t want to rip the bait off of it!  Too cruel, even for me,

For added excitement and spirit of competition, we awarded individual prizes to the top three biggest prawns – weighing in at 185 grams, 154 grams, and 135 grams each – and to the top three groups with the most prawns caught.  The three individual winners and the top group each went home with “champion” fishing rods, courtesy of our venue, HAI BIN PRAWNING at their Punggol outlet.  To learn more about them and prawn fishing in general, please see

One of the come-on lines in the series of teasers we released towards the day of the event was the guarantee that every participant would be able to make at least one catch.  I’ve asked around and I think we did achieve at least that.

I do highly recommend this event.

Charlie caught the biggest prawn! This giant weighed in at 185 grams!


Celebrating Aris’s first catch! Michele, Aris and the prawn, Mike, Boon Guan (our team’s Big Boss), Kiddo, and Claudio.


Michele, Ran Bi and Claudio


One of our managers, Ms. Lay Koon, and one of our Senior Engineers, Hwee Li. (Hwee Li used to lead Team Building too!)


Claudio and Ran Bi work on unhooking a catch.


My good good friend Kwang Fook trying to figure out how to outwit the prawns. Haha!


Michele must be saying, “Proud of this already? I can do better!” Hehehe…


It’s time to hit the grill!


I don’t know who looks more fierce. Haha!


With Michele and Giovanni


I guess for someone who’s not into seafood, Paolo must have had a little fun too. Here he is with his first catch.


Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved


28 11 2012

The Longchamp Parisis Men’s Cross-Body Bag in lambskin leather, trimmed with cowhide leather.

ONE OF my brothers gave me a genuine calf leather cross-body bag of French provenance that I have been wearing out like crazy (read: pinanghaharabas in the Filipino vernacular).  One lazy day, I emptied it of its contents, looked at it, and realized that I wouldn’t be able to stand to see it literally fall apart.  For purely sentimental reasons.

So what I did was reach for one of my many Kinokuniya (plastic) shopping bags – I must get at least 10 magazine titles from them every month – tumbled all of my daily essentials in and resolved that from that point hence, I would take the incarnation of a literal bagman.  A blue plastic Kinokuniya bagman.

Kinokuniya Shopping Bags

But to borrow the name of that game we used to play as kids – hide-and-seek – delight in the pleasures of natural hide and one shall find one’s self seeking to have it back.  So I had decided to get myself something I would be willing to wear out.

Before long I found myself overcoming my fear of the price tag in some of the shops here in Singapore, walked past their imposing, triumphal archways for doors, approached the first available sales associate, and in a calm voice asked, “Do you have this bag?… But in all natural leather?

Every time, my worn-out Kinokuniya (plastic) shopping bag would endure the stare before it (the stare), in all its expressionless botoxed glory, would move to me.  Often, I got a flat out “Sorry, but no.”  In a few instances, I got treated to a veritable run through of everything in the “spring summer” or “fall winter” line-up before I would just lift up once again my Kinokuniya and say, “Thanks but just like this.”

Then it was time to pay one of my Mama’s favorites a visit – Longchamp at Paragon Mall on Orchard.  For the first time in a long time, I didn’t need to ask for a sales associate’s help.  Because it was there at the top of the shelf at the back of the store, the section elevated by a short flight of steps.  I took it from its all-stainless steel display stand, got immediately captivated by the supple leather, and knew that it was the one.

The Longchamp Parisis Men’s Cross-Body Bag in lambskin leather, trimmed with cowhide leather (and goatskin leather per the sales associate) with palladium hardware.

I absolutely loved it at first sight.  Though I did find the price a bit prohibitive.  So after quite a lingering admiration, I decided to let it go.  But as with all things meant to be, I ended up losing sleep over it.

So one night when there was just simply no way of getting transported to dreamland with persistently nagging thoughts of lambskin leather, I got out of bed, showered, changed, and hopped on the Purple Line, changed to the Circle Line at Serangoon, and in minutes found myself at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands – at way past 10:00 PM.  I know the stores there close at 11:00 PM.

By 10:40 PM, the only piece they had in store was mine.  Happily so.

“LONGCHAMP” perfectly heat-stamped on to the lamskin leather, two handles in cowhide leather, enhanced by two small Russian ears, snap button enclosure also in cowhide leather.



On the back, the epic brand’s epic equestrian logo heat-stamped on to the lambskin leather.


The bag, perfectly slouchy, in the canvass bag bin at Din Tai Fung.


At the Orchard MRT Station


At the Malaysian Food Street beside Universal Studios Singapore


Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved

Chantilly in Milazzo

22 11 2012

I HAVE the utmost respect for purveyors of good food.  I guess that’s why my admiration for Ms. Sonja L. Ocampo of Cupcakes by Sonja hasn’t waned through the years.  And her shop is always on my list of must-go-to places every time I find myself back home in the Philippines.

There is always a noble purpose, a deeper meaning when someone makes edible works of art.  Think Juliette Binoche as Vianne Rocher in that 2000 film Chocolat.

So when my new friend Michele, who just started reading my blog (yey!), told me about his brother and sister-in-law’s confectionery shop in Sicily, I just have to have a look–see.  The place is called Chantilly, the name alone evokes images of deliciousness in either one or all three incarnations – the city in France, the lace it inspired, or the cream, lightly whipped, sweetened just a touch.

We were talking earlier and I wondered if Chantilly delivers worldwide.  I’ve been bitten hard by the images of the gelato, the artisanal chocolate and the wedding cake with cascading roses in blue and white.  Visit their site at

Oh my, pastry really does make this world a better place.

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved

To Spain by way of Harbourfront

22 11 2012

Calamares Plancha, Serenity Spanish Bar and Restaurant, Vivo City, Singapore

WE LOVED that dinner we had at Blu Kouzina so much that we found ourselves planning the second trip faster than anybody could say “Blu.”  But the night we did, the place was closed.  Not one to pass up on the chance to take gastronomic adventures – technically, opportunities that present themselves when the original plans fall through – we moved on to seek a suitable replacement and found ourselves not wandering far from the cuisine of the Grecian isles.

We decided on Serenity Spanish Bar & Restaurant at Vivo City.  It’s just seven stations away by train from the office, yet much like Blu Kouzina, it held a promise of cuisine that could be good we’d feel like we needed our passports to be rightfully devouring what we were having.

For starters, we rounded up a selection of Spanish tapas that teased with both their modest portions and subtle flavors.  The calamares plancha, which to me literally means grilled squid, was fresh, cooked perfectly – any longer on the fire and it would’ve been stringy – and doused in one of the definitive flavors of the Mediterranean region – extra virgin olive oil.  Patatas bravas, cubes of tenderized potatoes, deep-fried and smothered in a lightly tangy red sauce of tomatoes, paprika, chili and vinegar, with a drizzling of alioli, made a believer in me in the rightful position this tuber occupies in the culinary world.

Patatas Bravas

This was my second time breaking bread with “Team Italia”, an act rendered tangible meaning by two servings of pan con alioli – two loaves of whole bread generously dotted with pumpkin seeds, meant to be dipped in pristine alioli, a mélange of mayonnaise and garlic.

My fresh lime juice



A couple of toasts had been proposed, me with my fresh lime juice and everybody else with their Erdinger beer, before the pièce de résistance made it to the table – Paella Valenciana.  Coming from the Philippines, where arroz a la Valenciana is as common as boiling water, the “purist” in me expected a fragrant simmered short-grain rice dish, infused with the essence of saffron, cooked with meat.  When it is made with seafood, it is called paella de marisco.  Or, when both meat (like chorizo) and seafood are used, it is called mixed paella (paella mixta).  What Serenity served us was the third variant.

Serenity’s Paella Valenciana

But who would be bothered with proper names when we would rather focus on enjoying perfectly cooked plump grains of rice, suffused with the flavors of meat and the sweetness of seafood?  Especially when we have reached the bottom of the pan where everybody went searching for that layer of “toasted” rice that is essential to a good – and may I say, authentic – paella.

Dinner company – Claudio, Paolo, Giovanni, eNTeNG, Kia Leh, and Michele.


Let’s try that once more with flash!


On the purple line on the way back – Paolo, eNTeNG and Kia Leh.


Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved

Now that’s Greek to me!

22 11 2012

A portion of Greek Salad, Blu Kouzina, Bukit Timah Road, Singapore

ONLY LIFE–AFFIRMING pasta in Rome or pizza in Napoli could save that train wreck of a movie that was “Eat Pray Love”.  Not even Julia Roberts’ trademark megawatt smile – which currently headlines a huge Lancôme campaign, clearly showing it (the smile) has lost none of its charms – could do for it what loving close-ups of spaghetti could.

In my mind what those flashing scenes imprinted were a couple of truths.  The Italians do know how to make and appreciate really good food.  And they sing opera.

Lately, I’ve been fortunate enough to mingle with a group of Italians on temporary assignment here at our company’s Singapore offices.  So on the very first instance they invited me to join them for dinner, I didn’t pass up the chance.  I hopped on a cab at my block, headed to pick them up at their hotel in Clarke Quay, and all together proceeded to Bukit Timah Road at this place called Blu Kouzina: A Distinct Mediterranean Flavor.

The façade


The freshest produce on the island at the open kitchen

Michele, having been to the place at least once prior, told me the moment we stepped in that being at Blu Kouzina is like being invited to someone’s home.  I didn’t see it immediately in the open seating fronting the façade, or in the cafeteria-style layout that welcomes you at the door.  But all it took was passing through the kitchen – with an island bursting with “arrangements” of the freshest produce, the intense colors of which could inspire Caravaggio to paint – before I found myself nodding in agreement.

I took the stairs at the back, paused to admire the framed family photograph on a small table propped up at the landing, and knew I was beginning to be awash in that sense of “feeling at home”, much like how the interiors of the restaurant are awash in that distinctive shade of blue that conjures up images of the shoreline of the Santorini caldera.

A framed photo on a table on the stairs landing


I love subtle touches like this carafe of water…


…and this lamp with a votive.


Every table has at least a couple of bottles of the restaurant’s very own organic extra virgin olive oil.


Even the restaurant’s place mat brandishes the provenance of their extra virgin olive oil.


The Menu


The meal started with really good bread. Blu Kouzina is a Greek restaurant yet I think of this bread to be very much like a Tuscan loaf.


A piece of bread almost soaked in really good extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes, nothing could be better.

Usually one to delight in myself as this “excellent orderer,” I allowed Michele, Claudio, and Lia – clearly the evening’s hosts – to come up with a spread that started in pianissimo, building up in a raging crescendo to fortissimo.  It’s been over a week since this dinner yet my memory and my palate are still held captive by the roughly tumbled Greek Salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onions, Kalamata olives and green bell pepper ensconced beneath a shield of perfectly crumbly feta cheese, dressed ever so lightly in the restaurant’s signature extra virgin olive oil and organic vinegar.

The Greek Salad. I could finish one whole serving of this and still have seconds. It’s that good!


I just had to have second helpings of the salad. Nothing could be simpler than this – chunks of cucumber, halves of cherry tomatoes, crumbles of feta. Yet nothing seems to be more delicious.

The moussaka, a casserole of aubergine and ground lamb with onion and tomatoes bound with beaten eggs and finished with charred white sauce on top elicited the most restrained oohs and ahhs from me, but not before I had to ask Michele, who was serving, not to give me a huge portion in deference to the needs of all the others at the table.  To this he simply replied, “No. No.  No.  You have to get the bigger piece because you have to think about all the flavors.

The moussaka has landed!


My first portion of the moussaka. It was love at first bite!

I finished my relatively bigger portion of moussaka and must’ve transfixed my plate with a determined stare of someone who wanted to lick all the yummy bits off of the pristine dish, when Michele quipped, “If only I was at home!” which assured me that I wasn’t alone in my thought.  Propriety was the only thing that kept us from licking our plates clean.

The beef souvlaki, served on a cutting board on which were arranged wedges of fresh tomatoes, crescents of red onions, lemon, and a couple of charred bread, was divine in its tenderness even though the meat was cooked well done.  The lemon chicken sat on a shallow golden green sea of extra virgin olive oil and was delicate, both in flavor and texture.

The beef souvlaki comes on a cutting board surrounded by wedges of tomatoes, crescents of red onions, lemon and charred bread.


Michele prepares to serve the beef souvlaki.


The lemon chicken


The lemon chicken was very tender and delicate, perfect with the potatoes.


Lentil Dip


I don’t exactly remember how these are called. But these vegetable patties are just scrumptiously yummy.


Rice wrapped in vine leaves

And while the scrumptious trio of desserts we ordered was both a treat as much as an exercise in self-control, it was the rice wrapped in grape leaves (or vine leaves, as lovingly described by Lia) that haunts me to this day.

The trio of desserts starts with baklava, rich think sheets of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and slathered with honey. Delicious.


Another one of the desserts. Again, how this is called escapes me at the moment.


Greek yogurt with strawberry preserve


Trust Michele to give you yet another huge portion. Haha!

I must’ve unconsciously clapped at the end of the meal that Lia had to declare, “Good food makes you happy.  That’s why it’s important.”  And much like the sweeping motion of a piece of crusty Tuscan bread mopping up extra virgin olive oil off of his plate, Michele made a sweeping statement that I couldn’t agree more with: “Everything was delicious according to me.

For the second time that evening, I nodded in agreement and almost broke into song, a hearty rendition of ‘O Sole Mio in the opera in my head.

Good food. Great company.


Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved

Review in SMS – Skyfall

19 11 2012

The “Kick Start” issue of Esquire Singapore chose wisely to put Daniel Craig on its cover. I couldn’t think of any better celebirty to put on the cover of this international magazine’s Lion City premiere. On my Blackberry is one of a number of responses to my “Reviews in SMS”.

LIKE THE fabulous Scotch that had to be wasted, BOND is celebrating 50 years.  A lot of the vintage Bond films, I had seen as a kid but never one with Daniel Craig as 007.

Skyfall” opens with the hallmark of any Bond film – the big musical number, a feature on its own, buoyed by the voice of the generation.  This time it’s Adele.  Then a big car chase–fight scene bursts onscreen, squashing any doubt of how fitting Daniel Craig is as the world’s most famous secret agent.

I may not have seen the first two, but in Skyfall, it only took the time between Bond’s descent to his death to his resurrection in the arms of a lover, for me to see why he is now on his third outing.  His is the perfect mix of cool, cunning, and smug.

Age is the recurring theme, explicit or disguised in the witticisms or “that” poem, and coming full circle – back “home”.  It gave Bond heart, and the reason to shed some tears.

Javier Bardem was scary, his platinum blond scarier.  Judi Dench was marvelous.  And it was nice to see Ralph Fiennes.  The shot of Shanghai?  Breathtaking.





The skyline of Shanghai has been on at least a couple of the most successful movie franchises of all time – Mission Impossible, and now, James Bond. I heart Shanghai.


Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved

Review in SMS – Pitch Perfect

19 11 2012

ONCE IN a while a movie comes along that restores your faith in the fact that a celluloid treat can just be that – a treat – and not exactly an excruciating cerebral challenge that can burn all the calories from your two slices of pepperoni pizza… long before you’ve actually taken the last bite.

PITCH PERFECT, starring Anna Kendrick (to me of “Up in the Air” fame, not exactly “Twilight”) is exactly that!  Even in the age of Glee and Smash on TV, this movie still bursts with freshness and excitement, matched only by the beating of my heart, threatening to leap off of my chest.

Anna Kendrick, whose career has been part critical acclaim, part commercial sugar, is the movie’s certified star.  I didn’t think of her as a singer before, though the fullness in her sometimes chirpy voice should’ve clued me in.  The many songs bring to life the movie’s title, but nothing as much as Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” did.

Well, until they topped that with a finale song even I didn’t see coming.  It’s true about the movies, “the endings are always the best!”





Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved

A lesson in the arts and history at the price of a bowl of noodles and with the best one can find in his travels

19 11 2012

A snap shot of Bin, taking a snap shot of the very colorful Fire Station, Clarke Quay, Singapore

IT’S FUNNY how it takes hosting a visitor before I realize how much of Singapore I have been missing out on.  Don’t get me wrong, I mean, for over a year now I have had my palate tickled and my belly – protruding, I have to say – pleased by the many gustatory options on offer in the Lion City.  Even I, with my insatiable appetite that has become the stuff of legends, end a meal with a smile plastered on my face.  The insatiable satiated by the guile of mee kiajia mee kia.

So when my recent–visitor–now–very–good–friend Bin floated the idea of visiting museums, I grabbed the opportunity with the quiet fierce precision of a Miyagi-san showing Daniel-san how to imprison a fly into the grasp of the chopsticks.

After office hours on the last day of his weeks-long assignment, Bin and I went on a walking tour of the city that led us to the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) at 1 Empress Place, a five-minute walk from Raffles Place MRT Station.  Though we came on foot all the way from Clarke Quay.

Bin, on the last day of his recent short-term assignment here in Singapore, about to cross the street.


Bin by the Riverwalk


“eNTeNG, can you keep up?”


At the Parliament


“eNTeNG, put a step on it! You’re … so… slow.”


The lobby of the Asian Civilisations Museum at 1 Empress Place. The entrance is on the left. The front desk is to the right. That’s the gift shop you see straight ahead.

This was not Bin’s first time at a museum here in Singapore, national monuments and museums being within minutes from his hotel and within five to ten minutes walking distance from one another.  Actually, he has been to ACM before, only thing was, it was already about to close and the farthest he had gone was view the giant calligraphy work of the “dragon” that soon found its way (henna) tattooed on to his upper left arm.


Are you students?


I looked quizzically at the front desk personnel, felt my lips break into a half smile and turned to Bin, brows furrowed but still with a smile on.  I subtly shook my head but even before I could coyly respond with the truth but in a manner as if acknowledging an indirect compliment, Bin simply said,


No.  We’re not students.

Then the adult charge will apply.


I could’ve died in boisterous laughter at this point when I realized she didn’t really ask because I was probably young-looking.  She just wanted to make sure the right rates would be applied.  I tried very hard to keep the boisterous laughter inside, we were in a museum after all.  Haha!


But if you’re willing to wait another 32 minutes then you can avail of our half off special.


Well what do you know!  Half–off specials are no longer confined to happy hour at the bars or at some gourmet restaurant that still wants to attract the crowds late into the evening.

I couldn’t help but declare, in my admittedly booming voice sometimes,


People in the arts are really not into it for the money!  Such noble people!


Then just as quickly I realized I had to clarify one more thing lest I subject myself to be embarrassed during the museum tour.


May I take photos?

Yes, but no flash photography please.

Oh, that’s great…  I know… intense light…


I guess I must’ve embarrassed Bin a little – he turns red easily (Haha!) – that he motioned me to move away from the front desk already.  We turned around and there it was, the perfect place to burn 30 or so minutes – the museum gift shop, aptly called, the “MUSEUM LABEL.”

MUSEUM LABEL, in the tiny – okay, make that ‘cozy’ – space it occupies at the corner by the entrance, bursts in the seams with an eclectic mix of goods a lot of different people could snap up.  The many personalities that make me up wanted to snap up everything in sight.

But for my rather limited capacity to contribute to a little more altruism in this world, I decided to forego my own selfish lusting after the limited edition museum wristwatch and agreed with Bin to get a surprise and dare I say, perfectly suited present for someone.

We decided on this shirt as the perfect present for someone.


We signed the guest book at the shop. Of course!


We helped ourselves with the free brochures.

After helping ourselves to all the beautiful, well-made, free flyers and brochures on all things Singaporean museums and national heritage available on the wall opposite the shop, it was time to ring up our purchase of two half-off tickets.

We were told that the English language guided tour was about to start.  Bin and I joined and by the time we both passed by the giant dragon calligraphy, I knew we were being ushered into a world that would reveal to me Singapore’s diverse cultural roots and just how rich the island’s history is.

Armed with just my Blackberry Bold 9780, I began snapping shots and noticed that the participants in the guided tour were a veritable United Nations on its own.  I loved how the guide perked things up by throwing curve balls of questions here and there.  I could spot who were probably the A students during their time.  They could’ve raised their hands first before answering and I swear it would just be like high school all over again.

As for me, I contented myself with just soaking up all the art and the history that was surrounding me.  Though I have to admit, if the guide promised a 3 Musketeers or a Milky Way chocolate bar for every correct answer I would wrestle my through the crowd and scream at the top of my lungs.  Haha!  I have to keep reminding myself, “eNTeNG, you’re in a museum.  Show some respect!

We passed by the Southeast Asia Galleries 3. 4 & 4A and marveled at the sight of artifacts from the Philippines – the Sarimanok, the Buraq, and a set of armour.

I felt so at home.

A humongous bronze drum. “What do you think this is?” was the first of the guide’s questions.




I asked Bin if this is still observed in China and he said that it is.


The guided tour had us moving between floors. I saw this near the stairs landing and just had to have a shot. To me it has the makings of a movie poster. I’m thinking…


The Singapore Asian Civilisations Museum is proud of this piece. It is one of only five in existence in the world right now.


Bin taking a photo of the Buraq. It’s from the Philippines!


The Buraq


The Sarimanok


Explaining The Sarimanok


A set of armour in metal and other materials


Explaining the set of armour. I wondered, “who could have worn this?” The answer’s here.


By the time we finished – we closed the place that night – we took the flight of stairs all the way back to the lobby. At some point, I looked up and saw this amazing view of the Singaporean skyline through the museum windows. I couldn’t resist to take at least one shot.



Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved