My 4th Lo Hei! (yes sir! i'm counting 4 in this sterile island state)
It is a Singapore dish that is traditionally served during Chinese New Year festivities. Families (in my case, officemates) gather together and toss up for a good fortune ahead. The higher you toss, the more luck you have.
The dish is basically a chop suey of achara-like ingredients. The non-chef in me couldn't identify the mix of shredded vegetables, sauces and other condiments. So, I consulted Mr. Wiki:
"The Singapore-originated Yusheng (Lo-hei) had fish served with daikon (white radish), carrots, red pepper (capsicum), turnips, red pickled ginger, sun-dried oranges, daun limau nipis (key lime leaves), Chinese parsley, chilli, jellyfish, chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, Chinese shrimp crackers (or fried dried shrimp), five spice powder, and other ingredients, laced with a sauce using plum sauce, rice vinegar, kumquat paste and sesame oil, for a total of 27 ingredients.Originally, the dish used raw mackerel, although in deference to the popular wishes of customers, salmon was later offered as an alternative due to the growing popularity of Salmon." - from Wikipedia
Weird blend! You're like nibbling plastic strands. Pickle-like with some sweet after-taste. But with my fortune at stake, I tossed as high as I could.
Eating was a different matter. My Pinoy palate was just too picky.
I have 2 cheat days in a week. I choose Saturday and Sunday because I want them to be self-serving. Cheating should be delectably fun.
With my friend Shendee, my inner Anthony Bourdain (just the eating part) was unleashed.
Last Saturday, we had a quiet (and dark!) dinner at Amici in Holland Village. A cozy Italian restaurant which, that night, offered an enticing 1-for-1 promotion. We just got out of the treadmill running for good 5K (finished mine for 30 mins and 16 secs haha!), so we easily became suckers for the promo.
We ordered 4 for the price of 2.
I ordered Fettuccine Alla Russa (fettuccine with smoked salmon and caviar served in vodka cream sauce) and Pizza 4 Formaggi (baked with four different kinds of cheese − gorgonzola, buffalo mozzarella, scamorza and ricotta − and topped with tomatoes).
Fettuccine Alla Russa
Pizza 4 Formaggi
Shendee had Gnocchi Alla Frutti di Mari (dumpling-like potato pasta with seafood in tomato sauce) and Pizza Stagioni (fresh cut wild mushrooms, Parma ham, pepperoni, seafood, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese).
True to my tag as the resident alcoholic, I had 2 glasses of Chardonnay (an acidic Australian and a fruity Chilean).
One of the best Italian restaurants I have tried in SG. Bit pricy sans the promo.
On Sunday, we trooped to Little India for some piquant fix (perhaps hang over from friday's yoga). Indian cuisine is known for its abundant use of herbs and spices. A strong aroma of curry greeted us as we entered Banana Leaf Apolo. The place was casual with an interesting mix of caucasian tourists, local Chinese and Indian workers.
We had the standard chicken curry, mutton grilled in charcoal, spicy sotong (cooked like the Pinoy adobong pusit) and bryani rice.
Tangy food was spelled M-O-R-E R-I-C-E. Sad to lose the battle. Raising the white flag meant two helpings of bryani drowned by 2 cans of Coke light.
Great zesty burp. Food was cheap. Definitely worth the additional minutes on the treadmill.
Everything is falling into places. Not random, but proper places.
The second week (of the first month of the new decade) ended on a high note. Barring any last-minute fickles, I may cap January at 138%. Great start to a promising year.
It wasn't all charts and dollar signs though. I tried something new this week.
A friend invited me to a free 2-week program in a newly-opened yoga studio near the office. First, I was hesitant. Not really into those things. Might get bored. I would rather be eating metals than doing some stretching and balancing acts. But guess, I am just too positive about this year that I am willing to try new things and venture into unchartered territories.
I arrived at the studio 3o minutes ahead of schedule. Curse to be an early bird! Got to engage in some shallow chit-chats. But it was difficult not to be smitten by their coolness. Good sign! Nirvana seemed to be within reach. People were just too light and chill.
They were cool but the room wasn't. It was heated to 40 degrees and I was sweating like a pig, panting like a lost puppy. This for 90 minutes?
But as we progressed into different ways of breathing (okay, puffing and wheezing!) and balancing (er, shaking?), I got deeper into stillness and tranquility. Heavily huffing. Legs and arms vigorously trembling. I could feel I was releasing some negative energy. Bad vibes gone. I was serenity. All in harmony.
I wasn't in trance. I was letting go of stress and throwing away anxiety. I have never breathed that deep and stretched that much. And I wasn't a perfect sight. Wobbly awkward and all.
Nevertheless, it was a great experience. Taking in so much oxygen was invigorating. Breath is spirit. The act of breathing is living.
I heaved a sigh of relief as I bade goodbye to a lackluster 2009. A year of a few hits and a lot of misses - missteps, mistakes, misdeeds. Dang! The year wasn't probably dull. I was.
I am not going to do a year-ender to a bland past. It will only leave a bad taste. A better way to embrace a new decade is to completely let go of old baggage. Face the future with much confidence, hope and passion.
Loud and clear. I will be passionate in 2010.
Having that oomph and extra pizzazz. Spice in a meal. Zing in a bite. Tingle in a touch.