How to elevate your RM10 coffee-drinking culture to another level

Sometimes we pay RM10++ for a cup of coffee. Not often, but sometimes when we’re feeling rich and indulgent and recession is a figment of our imaginations. Then we become one of those whom we dislike for the sake of disliking, them who seemed too cavalier with their private funds. If we were to be honest with ourselves, it was envy speaking.

Let’s face it – in this economy, a RM10++ cuppa is a luxury. So if you’re smart, you’d better know the basics of your coffee to get your money worth. Then you wouldn’t be screwed by ignorant baristas who don’t know better (part-timers), don’t know enough or worse, don’t give a damn.

It pisses the shit out of me when I’m handed burnt-tasting latte and the barista tells me that nothing is wrong with the espresso. I’d like a fresh cuppa please, for my friend as well as hers has the same burnt taste. After three tries, I gave up and pretended to be satisfied so the proprietor and barista wouldn’t look fed up. Also, I’m practising patience.

I am no coffee expert, just your average consumer who has downed enough cuppas to know what they like or do not like. Or if the coffee’s not right or way off. I don’t know enough to tell you why it’s off, I just know what a regular latte, cappuccino or flat white is supposed to taste like.

Though after attending Università del Caffé della Malesia‘s Coffee Appreciation workshop, I understood (sort of) why a cuppa could be off. So many reasons, from human error to machine error. Some in-your-face obvious and some not so apparent.

Either way if you’re like me: enjoy coffee, want to know why your cuppa is ends up good or bad but don’t want to know everything, then the UCD Malaysia Coffee Appreciation class is for you. 2 hours of knowledge, latte art fun and free-flow Illy cappuccino… hard to say no to that! RM99 per pax on 11th May 2013, find out more at their website.

Or you could join Thirstmag.com‘s contest to win your entry to UDC’s Coffee Tasting Workshop on 20th April 2013. Good luck!

Pervy doctor

I was quite unwell last week so off I went to the doctor’s.

Never been to this one at Seapark before but what the heck.

Middle-aged doctor with funny eyes, took his stethoscope and proceeded to listen to my breathing… in, out, in out…

… all across my chest. A couple inches more and he might as well check to see if I was physically suitable for breast feeding.

I’ve been to doctors before but never had one who was so unnecessarily thorough with the stethoscope.

Didn’t make a scene though. Was more amused than upset.

Have you had extra attention from the doctor before? What did you do about it?

Job fairs and what not

Sometime this week, I’ll be on duty at a job fair somewhere. It’s only for one day as I’ve things to do during the weekend.

Theoretically it’s not too bad; you get to get out of the office for the day and be paid to do so. You get to meet and talk to people, some you hope would end up as your colleagues. As such job fairs seem to target fresh graduates, you get to meet the bright minds and future of our nations.

Har har, yeah right. You and I know that it isn’t really like that.

I didn’t have such a bad time last year, mostly because I had real awesome company. It was also a good experience so I know what to expect this year. I mean, I’d never attended any such job fairs in my life and didn’t have much experience getting jobs from on-line job portals or fairs. So I didn’t know who would make an effort to go there.

I do have one story to share from last year’s experience.

So there I was, attending to questions about what the company does, what we do, what I do etc. For every person that comes to our booth, we’d ask standard questions; are you a graduate, what are you doing now, what would you like to do and so on. It’s the only way to quickly gauge where you’d put their CVs – to call, to put aside or to KIV.

A girl in her mid-20s came along, looked through our information board and handed me her CV. I smiled and asked, what are you doing now? She gave a looooong dramatic sigh and said, “haiyah you read lah, I been repeating myself the whole day already.”

No prizes for guessing which box I put her CV in.

So if you’re around Midvalley on Friday, come say hi.

It’s St Patrick’s month, Guinness up!

Last year’s GAB’s-hosted St Patrick’s was pretty much a blast. This year the Irish madness continues with a 3-day citywide celebration from March 15 – 17th!

St Patrick's Celebration Malaysia - March More Fun
#marchmorefun hahahahahahahah

There are lots of awesome Guinness-related deals and promos at participating outlets, check out the Guinness Facebook page for info. I’ll be doing the pub crawl on a bus, will let you guys know how it goes*!

*depends on sobriety

Chinese New Year 2013, best one yet!

It was a good, loooooong Chinese New Year break. Guess I was more mentally burned-out than thought! I spent most of it in Batu Pahat, did nothing much but shut down, chill and refocus.

Well that’s the grown-up stuff. Let’s go back to the simple joy of posting photos and commenting on them.

Like most festivals, the Lunar New Year celebrations focuses on strengthening family ties. One of the most important traditions is the tuan nian fan, translated as reunion meal. This year we had our favourite braised cabbage dish, steamed pomfret and pig’s stomach soup. She bought two dishes from a restaurant but I prefer the homecooked stuff 😉

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - reunion dinner
Served with warm white rice, mmmm

I spent a lot of time with the kid; rather inevitable as we had her this CNY. Many hours went into annoying the s- out of her, making her imitate silly actions and edging her to do sillier stunts. It was fun to get her reaction, I suppose. She wasn’t very pleased but I take comfort in that she’ll not remember any of this when she grows up.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - the kid
Look ma, I’m almost camwhoring!

First day of CNY is always at my grandparents’ for lunch and to receive the odd angpau. This year I only had one of those ‘get married, don’t have to give you angpau‘ remarks. Being older, it doesn’t bother me; bring it on even if it really makes you happy!

Having said that, I’m happy that my family on both sides are really cool about these sort of things. Some gave, some didn’t. I’m good with both – after all if you wanted to give me angpau, I’d be extremely stupid not to accept, right?? Heh…

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - with grandparents
My grandparents!

Oh look, I have permed hair again. You know why? So I don’t have to comb my hair for 1.5 years, yay!

Not sure why but my grandparents always cater for nasi beriani with ayam masak merah or rendang for our CNY lunch. It’s becoming our tradition.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - first day lunch

On the 2nd day of CNY, we always eat with my Dad’s side of the family. This year was our family’s turn to host, and we had:

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - feast
Spot the pig

Batu Pahat has changed quite a fair bit. I don’t go back much and everytime I do, there’s something different at every corner. Back in my days, young people would leave for KL, JB or Singapore to study, work and eventually stay there. From what I see, a lot more younger folks are staying in Batu Pahat, making their mark.

Like this one in Taman Bukit Pasir, I think it’s friggin’ awesome!

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - spotted Facebook's new venture
Say what you will about creativity…

We went to Kluang for my Dad’s annual CNY get-together with his friends. This year it was subdued as a family friend was not feeling all that super. Still there was food, drinks, talk, laughter and the best homemade yee sang.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - lou yee sang
Toss toss toss for health and prosperity!

We had dim sum with grandparents before my sister left for KL. Batu Pahat’s dim sum isn’t all that great but a nice change from our usual lontong, nasi lemak, economy noodles etc.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - breakfast with grandparents

After reading that Huai Bin’s grandmother’s house was robbed, I took my grandma to the bank to deposit her CNY gains. Even spooked her a bit to be more aware of her surroundings, crime is everywhere!

Then we went to the Kuan Yin temple as she’s the praying type.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - lanterns at temple
Lanterns at the temple

Sometimes I wonder if people really pray when they seem to be praying, or do it for the sake of doing it. I wonder what they’re thinking. What are they wishing for?

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - praying kid

If you believe in some Chinese astrology, your year of birth might say that you are fan Tai Sui – literally translated as ‘offending the Grand Duke of Jupiter’ for this year of the Snake. If you’re one of the unlucky sods to fan Tai Sui this year, the stars and universe says that you should expect a rough year ahead.

Now, I don’t believe in it (odd, seeing where I used to work) but a lot of people do. So they do all sorts of things to try appease the Tai Sui, which to me is funny because Jupiter is a planet.

But they do it all in the name of wanting to protect their loved ones, and we should be grateful for keepers of tradition.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - keepers of tradition
Donating to appease the Tai Sui

I didn’t see a lot of friends this time round, only Melissa and friends from YBF. We visited Bhante Sumana as we do every CNY and this year, finally had a group photo taken.

Still the funniest, wittiest, sharpest, most logical, down-to-earth monk I know.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - with Bhante Sumana

It seemed that on my long CNY break, everyone else was on break as well. I didn’t manage to eat some of my favourite Batu Pahat food, no one wanted to work!

The night before I came back to KL, we had dinner at the Batu Pahat riverside hawker centre. I’ve been eating there since I was a kid, it’s my must-go whenever I return to BP.

I love the big main road, Jalan Rahmat that leads to the riverside. The hill in the background, the old shophouses and dusk make it so picturesque.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - Jalan Rahmat in Batu Pahat

We are Fuzhou lang so we eat Fuzhou noodles! If you don’t know what it is, basically it’s like Hokkien noodles plus a touch of vinegar. At least that’s how it’s done in Batu Pahat, not sure about other Fuzhou populated areas in Malaysia. I think this guy make his own noodles, it has a tad more bite than the usual fat yellow noodles for Hokkien mee.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - Batu Pahat Fuzhou noodles
Batu Pahat Fuzhou noodles

Not forgetting one of my favourite Batu Pahat to-eat, grilled stingray! The way we have it here is to grill it and drown the fish with ‘cili boh’ (chilli paste). If you know where I can get this type of grilled stingray in KL, please let me know!

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - Batu Pahat grilled stingray
Mmm stingray is so good!

I also got to eat some lontong before I came back. This was at our favourite in Taman Maju (I think). We stopped going to the one at the roundabout near TIGS because it was too chaotic and inconsistent, even though it was touted the best in town.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - lontong
Lontong in Taman Maju

While having breakfast at Sri Gading with my grandparents, I spent about 2 minutes wondering why the rust on roofs have different patterns…

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - rusty roofs in Sri Gading
So, why?

A couple doors from my aunt’s sundry shop is this old-style barber. At first I was fascinated by the DIY A4 self-written sign, so I took this photo. I wanted to take another one but the barber turned around and saw me.

So I scurried back to the car.

Suanie's Chinese New Year 2013 - old style barber in Sri Gading

That was my CNY in Batu Pahat in a blog post. Almost wished I didn’t have to come back, but remembered the two bottles of pinot gris in my fridge waiting for my return, heh. I hope you have had a most enjoyable holiday too!

My Mom + birthday + Groupon = happiness

Short version: Had surprise birthday parties for Mom two years in a row with Groupons.

Long version: I’m not sure why (maybe it’s a psychological thing that no one is interested in) but I go on a group buying spree come every December and January. It so happens they lay out the good stuff in these two months. Or at least the deals that I find useful anyway.

It also so happens that with the help of my family members, we managed to organise surprise birthday dos for my mom two years in a row now, all thanks to Groupon.

How? As aforementioned, they have the good deals come end/beginning of the year and I can’t help but to buy them. Only then I think of a use for them.

Last year, it was a good deal for the then newly opened Trattoria Il Porcellino at Menara Hap Seng. I had a lovely dining experience at its pork-free counterpart, the Trattoria Cucina Italiana at Rohas Perkasa, so decided to check out this pork-friendly version.

Great choice! Good food, wine and service – my mom was duly and pleasantly surprised, fantastic!

Mom's surprise birthday do 2012
My mom’s surprise birthday do in 2012

By the way, do check out Trattoria Il Porcellino at Menara Hap Seng for good ol’ comforting Italian food at decent prices. The last time I was there, they still dish out the complimentary chocolate vodka at the end of the meal.

This year, it was Ayamas’ xth anniversary and the deal was 2 roasted chicken for almost half the price.

I know, I know… from delectable Italian cuisine to mass roasted chicken… how the mighty seems to have fallen…

But not quite! We decided to make a home party out of it, and we had the pleasure of relatives to join us in this surprise do.

So I contributed the 2 roasted chickens and creamy mashed potatoes, recipe from The Pioneer Woman. That means butter, cream, butter, butter, milk, cream and more butter. If you’re wondering why your arse seemed bigger after eating it, well that’s why… and a whole block of cream cheese.

Absolutely Sinful Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Before covering the top with butter and more butter

But we only live once, and getting older with fears of clotted arteries means that I’ll never make creamy mashed potatoes that way again, even though it was possibly the most delicious creamy mashed potatoes I’d ever had.

I think I used up 3/4 block of butter for it.

So I got ready the chicken, potatoes and ready-to-mix salad, and my sister the domestic goddess came up with everything else.

Mostly homecooked goodies

… pasta salad, pasta in bolognese sauce, tuna sushi, chicken liver pate with toasted French bread, pumpkin soup, konyaku jelly with fruits. Everything homemade, all done in one night.

Sometimes I don’t think we came from the same mother.

Mom was again surprised and happy, yay! I asked if she was pretending to be surprised just to layan us but she denied it. In civilised societies, you don’t ask your mom if she was lying through her teeth just so you can prove a non-valid point. So I didn’t.

Mom's surprise birthday do 2013
Surprise birthday do 2013

I wonder what next year’s Groupon deal will be. That magic unicorn ride would have been really awesome #justsaying

Day 6 of Chinese New Year 2013

Ohai! I can’t adequately describe how awesome it is to be on a long-ish break and not working. Let’s look at today’s timeline:

7am: Alarm rings. Hits snooze button.

7.45am: Woke up ‘cos suddenly realised that I might be late for breakfast with my grandparents. Wake the rest of the family up. Get ready to go out.

9am: Breakfast with grandparents, yay!

10.30am: Got home, YouTubed Teletubbies for the kid.

11am: Sudden toothache, writhe in pain. Downed 2 Neurofen.

11.30am: Roll around in bed in pain.

12pm: Asked Dad to help buy me more Neurofen.

12.10pm: Dad came back with more Neurofen. Downed another 2.

12.30pm: Entertained the kid with more Teletubbies.

1pm: Massive toothache pain eases, yay! Rolls around in bed some more.

2pm: Half-heartedly edits photos from CNY celebrations while watching a Taiwanese concert thingy with Dad.

2.30pm: Feeling generous and decided to reload Mom’s mobile prepaid. Spent the next 30 mins learning how the M2U and Maxis instant reload thingy work.

3pm: Feeling damn awesome for not having to work today.

3.10pm: Decided to write this blog post.

So far so superb. I suspect the rest of the day will be better!! 😀

Okay going back to really doing nothing much now. Bye!