All I want is

28th Ramadan

Thirty-one years ago on this date, my parents got married. I got teary at work today thinking about it. I hate that my parents never got to have anything beyond 20 years together. It breaks my heart that my father is alone.

I dreamed of my mother last night. She came back. She looked exactly the same. Even in the dream she had been dead, so I was surprised that she was looking exactly the same. I exclaimed, “But it’s been 11 years! How do you look the same?!” She just smiled.

This was the twelfth Ramadan without her. Every year it gets easier/every year it gets worse.

Put the grenade pin in your hand

25th Ramadan

Yesterday I broke out my bottle of fancy olive oil that I bought in Cinque Terre in 2013 to make aglio e olio. Aglio e olio doesn’t need fancy olive oil, but I’d run out of regular olive oil and I really wanted aglio e olio. MM my former Italian teacher/friend type person told me I should use that oil only for salads so I could really taste the fanciness. I’ve yet to crave for a homemade salad since I bought the oil…but I always want pasta…

It’s Sunday night. I have a dull headache. And it’s very, very hot and sticky in here. There is no travel-related post today because I am tired. But there is this.

We move offices tomorrow. I’m already stressed out.

You know what? Crazy Canadian COO wanted to designate seats in the new office. She wanted to control who sits where and most importantly, with whom. I know she hates it that certain people are sitting close together in the current office. She had gone so far as to write everyone’s names on pieces of tape that she pasted on the desks. Because she thinks we are all a bunch of kindergarteners who needed to be told where to sit. Luckily the CTO found the whole thing utterly ridiculous and rejected the idea and ripped out all the tape. It’s nice to see at least one of the founders still has a spine.

I’m counting down till Vietnam. Just three weeks to go. I’ve scheduled for a different kind of massage every day for five of the six days I’m there and I can’t wait for some small Vietnamese women to knead away the stress of the last six months from my body.

What I ate in London

18th Ramadan

As promised – a post about my recent travels! And as usual, we start with the food! This will be torture for me as I am fasting, but a promise is a promise!

Ordinarily I do a single food post for the entire trip, but because I spent a considerably longer time in one place on this trip than I did on my other trips – plus I ate A LOT in the UK (natch) – I will make a separate post for Scotland, otherwise we’re gonna be here for quiiiite a while!

1. Brioche Burger

I read about this burger joint whilst researching halal eateries in London. Even in Singapore there are no exclusive burger joints that are halal (save for fast food places). So I was thrilled to find this and made it our mission to seek it out for dinner on our first day in London.

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I was too excited and hungry to take a more decent photo so this will have to do. I had the Betty Boop, which according to the website consists of “two 3oz beef patties, American cheese, crispy chicken rashers, caramelised onions, gherkin, lettuce, tomato with secret sauce and our super soft brioche”, with a side of Rustic Chips.

It was marvellous. The brioche really was soft. The beef patty was well-seasoned and cooked to medium perfection. I only didn’t like the so-called caramelised onions. I’m a fan of caramelised onions and make them often. These were no caramelised onions. You can see in the photo they’re still dark pink. Proper caramelised onions are brown. Onions take forever to caramelise though so I sort of get it. But still. I was promised caramelised onions and didn’t get any. Womp womp.

The Rustic Chips were nice and crispy. No complaints there. I preferred SK’s Chilli Chips though, which were the same chips I had but with peppers and onions and chilli sauce added to it. I ate more of those than mine. Oops.

My friend SK’s burger was the lamb burger (not pictured) since he’s Hindu and doesn’t eat beef. He was right that it wasn’t seasoned enough but it really wasn’t bad or anything. He didn’t want to finish the bun for some reason and I ate it for him. I’m a monster.

2. Borough Market

If you follow me on Instagram or FB (no chance I’ll link to them here though, ha!) you would have seen multiple posts and mentions of these balls of amazeballs. I’m talking about these doughnuts from a famous bakery called Bread Ahead, located in the legendary Borough Market. I’m not usually a fan of doughnuts as I’ve never had a really good one. But I’d heard so much about these ones that they were #1 on my List of Things To Eat in London. Yes, I had a list. I made a beeline for the stall the second we stepped foot in Borough Market and promptly ordered the lemon curd and the creme caramel & salted honeycomb.

1LI mean, can you blame me?

I bit into the caramel one at the wrong angle on my second bite and it exploded. I had caramel cream dripping down my chin on to my top and I looked ridiculous but I didn’t care. I was in heaven. The doughnut was light and chewy; the custard (both kinds) really filled up the doughnuts and was not so sweet, just perfect. Pure bliss!

They had five flavours on that day and I immediately went to get the other three to take home – the vanilla custard, the regular caramel sans honeycomb, and the chocolate custard with glorious chocolate bits up in it (cacao nibs maybe?). At £2.50 each it meant I had paid a total of £12.50 for five doughnuts – that’s about $26 Singapore dollars! But considering how delicious they were and how happy I was, it was well worth it!

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I’d go to London again just for these doughnuts. They are truly, truly special. Yeah, I guess I like doughnuts now!

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It makes me angry when people call them macaroons instead of macarons. Gah. My belly was full of doughnuts but I couldn’t resist. I had the blue one, which was earl grey, and a salted caramel. Simply splendid.

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SK had a sangria and a duck confit sandwich. I could only stare longingly at it as it wasn’t halal. He said it was heavenly. It sure smelled it!

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I got myself a slab of Rocky Road from this stall, which I didn’t break into until I got home to Singapore. I wish I had tasted it earlier so I could have bought more. I almost finished the entire thing in one sitting!

Suddenly it was lunchtime. We had been roaming around Borough Market since the time it opened at 10am, so about three hours.  We didn’t even realise it. And we were famished as if all the snacks and samples we had weren’t actual food. Haha. So we headed to a fancy chippy called Fish. Their regular fish and chips of course had to be beer-battered, rendering it inedible for me, so I ordered the tuna burger.

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It was sadly nothing to shout about. The bun was a little hard and the tuna fell apart within minutes. The chips were just okay. I wish we had gone and got fish wraps from Applebee’s instead (no, not the American chain). The queue was ridunkulously long which was why we chose to head to Fish. Major regret, I tell you.

After lunch we walked around Borough Market some more, reluctant to leave. After a few minutes admiring the fruit displays and taking eleventy pictures of them, I hovered near the stall selling yummy-looking watermelon and watermelon juice, debating whether or not I wanted to shell out £1 for a slice of watermelon. The guy must have read my mind for he offered me a slice, free of charge! Hahaha. Bless him.

3. Smack Deli

It’s day 3 in London and there is more food to stuff my face with! Huzzah!

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You can tell that this was another of those “omg, I just want to eat this NOW!” photos. Hehe. I had the California, which consisted of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado mayo with lime, and chives. I really wish I had ordered the Mexican. Don’t get me wrong. This tasted really light and fresh, but it lacked a certain kick. Also, the portion is way too small for £9. It finished so fast for me and I promise I ate slowly! I was sad. AND! The courgette fries were limp. Not crispy at all. What was that all about?!

My friend SV – also known as my favourite German – ordered a whole lobster, champion that he is. It took him ages to get all the flesh out but he was so very gleeful. Me, I have no patience for that sort of thing!

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Afterwards it drizzled and we wanted to be inside so we popped into a tea place. No clue where this was. It was tea. I dunno. SV is much more into tea than I am. I had some ice blended berry concoction and there was just too much of it.

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For dinner it was another item on my list to cross off – Moroccan Fish Stall in Portobello. We took the bus here, we walked, we almost got lost. But it was going to be worth it. The photos and description I’ve read of this place…oi. The stall operates from a van on the side of the road. Fuss-free eating. I had read to get there “early”, no time specified. We got there at 5ish. That’s okay, right?

Wrong. “Fish finish,” the dude told me after seeing us eye the menu written on his van. My heart sank. The next day was Sunday and they close on Sundays. I had zero chances to eat here. *sigh* So all I could do was snap a picture of the van for future reference and walk away, dejected. When I come back to London eating here will take precedence over anywhere else.

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Maramia Cafe

SV and I continued our search for dinner along the street and stumbled upon an empty Palestinian restaurant. The emptiness didn’t seem convincing but by now we were desperate and hangry and were willing to give it a try.

15L2To our utmost surprise our respective dishes surpassed all expectations. My grilled chicken was crispy and flavourful. SV’s chicken breast was just as good. And not that I can’t live without rice but seeing rice on my platter perked me up. Haha. Asians, amirite?

4. Pret a Manger picnic in Hyde Park

We’d spent the morning on a walking tour of the touristy places of London and were exhausted by 1pm. We didn’t feel like forking out much money so we eventually decided on grabbing a couple of sandwiches from Pret. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t good either. Oh well. Kept us sated. And it did give us the energy to play with squirrels (SV and SK), do somersaults (SV) and laugh her head off (me).

16LStax Diner

That night SK and I got back on our (my) halal burger trail. Man, I’d be in major trouble if I lived in London!

17LI had hoped that my burger would blow me away, but the beef patty was lacking in salt. The “housemade hot sauce” tasted just like regular BBQ sauce to me, which I haaate. Plus, the beef bacon strips were burned! Not impressed. Brioche Burger is better.

5. Poppies

This is one of my biggest regrets in life. We headed into Poppies for fish and chips when we were mere steps away from Camden Market, aka food haven. I’d been to Camden Market three years ago. I knew they had many, many, many food stalls. Interesting food at not so steep prices, too. Why oh why did that not occur to me until we had stuffed our bellies full of mediocre fish and chips and couldn’t eat anymore WHYYYYYYYYYY???!!!

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20LThis was hardly it. There was so much more food. I think I was too depressed to snap more pics. Haha.

Et voilà! All the things I ate in London! As you can see London is a foodie mecca and I can’t wait until I get to go again!

Idealism sits in prison

11th Ramadan

I’m back.

Maybe.

Though I haven’t really been gone. have I? I’ve popped my head in here and there.

…but mostly to write something really cryptic and post a music video alongside it. Which isn’t really blogging.

I’ve missed writing my trip recaps. I stopped after Bulgaria/Greece/Italy last year and never picked it up again. Since then I’ve gone on a few other trips – Indonesia, Japan, and a few weeks ago I got back from the most fabulous trip to the UK. And even though I’m under no obligation to talk about them, I feel bad that they are not talked about, and that the photos I took are hidden in my hard drive rather than shared with the 3.3 actual readers that I have. :)

So this is a vow to myself, the Universe, and the 3.3 readers – I will strive to get those posts out. On a weekly basis perhaps? Pretty sure I still wouldn’t be done by the time my next trip comes along (Vietnam in August) but at least I’d be trying, right?

This bit right here is a personal update. There’s been an upheaval in these parts lately. I’m not ready to talk about it, but it is very real and very scary. It happened, is happening, and will happen. I am happy about one part of it and beyond devastated about the rest of it. But c’est la vie and until I’m ready, this is all I’ll say about it.

It is Ramadan day 11 and all is going well.

And I’ll cry and you’ll cry and we’ll cry until the rain turns black

This song, this specific version, has got my loins burning. Holy shit, Paolo Nutini. You are sexy as all get out.

I downloaded his album ages ago but I didn’t give it a proper listen. I was alllll about my Hozier then. (Still am. Not gonna lie. But I’ve managed to put that sexy beast aside for a moment to allow this sexy beast in.) And then in Scotland I found out that Paolo Nutini is Scottish, not English as I previously thought, and then I started hearing him everywhere. I took him back to Singapore and here he is now, living and thriving. He’s fantastic.

I’ve been out sick the last two days from a fever that began last Friday and came back on and off. I got sick on day 3 of my UK trip. Cough and cold that lasted one and a half weeks. And now I’m sick again. Oy vey. I’ve enjoyed staying home though, I must say, even if my stupid LadyBoss* kept texting and emailing and basically made me do work even though I was running a 38C fever. The bitch.

*I got a new boss in January in the form of a deranged, sadistic, evil spawn of Satan Canadian woman. I hate her.

QUESTION:

What do you do when you want to teach someone a lesson by cutting off all contact with them but you also know that cutting off contact with them might actually kill you?

What’s more important – that they learn to live without you or that you never have to learn to live without them?