Monthly Archives: March 2013

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The One With Fiat Caffé – An Experiment With Food Meditation

The other day I was out dining alone. Usually when I do that I will mind my own business, but on that occasion I couldn’t help but notice something strange at the next table. Four guys were wearing the same jersey; obviously they were from the same sports team and are of around the same age. One would think they were taking some timeout relaxing with each other after a hardcore training session. Some call it male bonding. Others see it as team camaraderie.

But no. I wish they were.

No, because all four of them were glued to their smartphones. Their eyes were aglow with the light from the little screens. They hardly notice the food in front of them, never mind their friends sitting physically right across… if only they care to look up.

Which brings to mind a recent article I read about food meditation.

In this age of smartphones and uber-connectedness, have we lost the ability to fully appreciate food? Have we got so used to eat mindlessly, that such an unhealthy habit and social rudeness (if you are not dining alone) became the norm? Became the expected?

Fiat Caffé

I pondered over this as I was having a solitary lunch at Fiat Caffé, the famed themed restaurant with menu designed by the renowned Chef David Laris. Even though I was eating alone, I was determined to practice a bit of food meditation; an eating process that focused on nothing else but what you eat and how you eat, away from distractions of screens big and small.

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The One With Tasting The High Life in Surabaya

You might have heard that recently I got published in print for the first time – a story of my culinary adventure in Surabaya, in South China Morning Post’s Spring 2013 edition of Encounters. Well, technically it is not the first time my writing is published; however this piece is written entirely in my style – instead of a structured review form – and hence is something very dear to my heart. Posted below is the full, unedited and uncondensed version of my original submission to the editor. Click here to read the published version online.

Symphony Surabaya Day 5

When you had your fill of volcanoes and waterfalls, refuel your body with some truly local and delicious Indonesian fare

It was five in the morning. White, fluffy clouds appeared to roll away from my feet, stretching across the plains towards the distant volcano. Even as the sun rose in the east, I can look skyward and still see thousands of sparkling stars.

It was the closest to heaven I have ever been, and yet all I could think of was, “God, that was a decent amount of calories I burned climbing up here”.

Symphony Surabaya Day 5

Welcome to Seruni Point, one of the few viewing points in Probolinggo in Jawa, Indonesia, where you hike up the mountain in the dead of the night armed with little more than a jacket and an energy bar. I was told that during peak seasons, from June to August each year, the view point is packed with hundreds of visitors hoping to catch the stunning sunrise, as well as the iconic postcard-view of active volcanoes Mount Bromo and Mount Semeru.

Even as I took in the incredible sight of the fogged up savanna and smoking craters, part of me was dreading the eventual (second) hike up Mount Bromo to look at the volcano in the eye. That would be another thousand calories, I told myself, and soon I will be able to enjoy a proper breakfast.

Surabaya 2013

Already the thoughts of famous Indonesian food like gado-gado (vegetable salad served with a peanut sauce dressing), ayam penyet (lightly mashed fried chicken) and rujak cingur (a mix of cow snouts, young raw mango, pineapple, cucumber, rice cake and tofu, all served in a black sauce made from fermented shrimp paste) spurred me on to complete the nature itinerary of the day.

And I did.

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The One With Yonge Piggies – A Taste Of Canadian Hot Dog In Sheung Wan

So I was at Sheung Wan one Saturday afternoon after a somewhat grueling workout, hungry for sustenance. It occurred to me that I had yet to check out Yonge Piggies (pronounced as “Young” Piggies) which is right across the street from the gym. Geographically speaking it couldn’t be any better; imagine hordes of starving gym bunnies descent upon Yonge Piggies all looking for their calorie fix. That gives a whole new meaning to “why did the bunny cross the road?, doesn’t it?

Yonge Piggies

Anyway, so in total disregard to the workout I just did (I am using that term very loosely here), this non-bunny crossed the street for lunch. It was a rainy day, so there outside stools were removed, and I had to sit inside. Not that I am complaining; I do think Yonge Piggies is the perfect spot for some people watching while you digest some Canadian street food.

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The One With Happy Valley Bar & Grill – Amazing Pub Grub In The Neighbouhood

So I missed hanging out with a certain dear friend of mine. He has been traveling, and I have been, you know, in and out of hospital (it’s a long story), so when he texted to arrange for a long overdue catch-up session, I said yes. Happy Valley Bar & Grill was my choice.

The decision was two-fold. First of all, I have been to this pub twice before, both times with different people but for the same reason – to chill. And chill we did. Happy Valley Bar & Grill has one of the largest beer selection I have seen apart from The Globe. As Happy Valley isn’t connected to any train station and is only accessible by buses and trams, we do not suffer endless crowds and was able to enjoy relatively serene surroundings… coming from a someone who resides on HK Island, that’s a rarity.

Happy Valley Bar & Grill

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