All posts by alvinology

Alvin is the founder and editor of Alvinology.com, one of the top content sites in Singapore since 2007 and also the co-founder of Asia361.com, a content portal covering Asia and beyond.

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Rediscover what makes Chinese New Year special with Google

Chinese New Year is a busy time of the year for Singapore.

A look at the top related searches on Google shows just how busy: Singaporeans are planning celebrations with traditional treats like “Pineapple tart”, “Yusheng” and activities like “Chingay 2014”.

Most Searched Chinese New Year Related Searches in Singapore
1.    Chingay 20142.    Pineapple tart recipe3.    Abalone

4.    Horse

5.    Feng Shui 2014

6.    Chinese New Year

7.    Chinatown Singapore

8.    Lunar calendar 2014

9.    Yusheng recipe

10.  Egg tart recipe

 How many of these search terms did you contribute?

In between cooking for the big family reunion, visiting relatives, and stuffing lucky red packets, preparing for Chinese New Year can feel overwhelming. Google has launched an interesting microsite with lots of tips and tricks to help with the preparations at Google.com/ChineseNewYear.

Here are some tips for how you can use Google as you ring in the year of the horse:

●        Reunion meal prep: Google Search is the first place many turn to for recipe ideas. But let’s say you don’t like certain ingredients, like chives in your dumplings—you can type in [dumplings recipe -chives], and you can take those out of your results. After you’ve picked a recipe you like, you can keep track of all the ingredients you need to buy with Google Keep, which is a bit like sticky notes for your phone. Not sure how to fold dumplings? Search for videos by expert chefs on YouTube to brush up on your cooking technique. You can also share your recipes with friends and family on Google Docs.

●        Visiting relatives: Visiting three relatives in one day might seem daunting, but it’s not a problem if you have Google Now set up on your Android or iPhone. Google Now will automatically remind you of when you need to leave so you can beat the traffic and get the best routes, either by driving or by public transportation. If you’re driving, Google Maps will give you turn-by-turn directions spoken out loud so you can focus on the road ahead.

●        Send greetings abroad: Greet your friends and family face to face, even if you can’t be in the same room. Google Hangouts allows you to have video conversations with up to ten people at the same time, so you can chat to your cousin from Australia and your aunt in Canada all at once.

●        Remember those magic moments: Back up the photos you take on your phone using Google+ Auto Backup so you won’t ever lose those photos again.

Happy Horse Year everyone! I am looking forward to better luck, better fortune and more rewarding experiences in the year ahead. 🙂

30 Minute Cookin’ with Celebrity Chef Eric Teo and Panasonic

A few weeks back, I was invited by Panasonic Singapore to do a sharing session on food photography and blogging at celebrity Chef Eric Teo’s Studio in Henderson.

Group photo
Group photo
A glimpse of Chef Eric Teo's work station
A glimpse of Chef Eric Teo’s work station
Media coverages on Chef Teo adorned the wall of his studio
Media coverages on Chef Teo adorned the wall of his studio
Some of Chef Teo's various award wins and trophies
Some of Chef Teo’s various award wins and trophies
Chef Teo's super bling bling robe
Chef Teo’s super bling bling robe

If you are interested to find out more on my presentation, the deck is available here (Food Photography and Blogging Basics from Alvin Lim):

Other than me sharing on photography tips using the awesome Panasonic Lumix GX7, the highlight of the day was the cooking demonstration by Chef Teo:

Chef Teo at work
Chef Teo at work
Chef Teo frying the mushrooms
Chef Teo frying the mushrooms
Chef Teo plating
Chef Teo plating
Chef Eric Teo's mixed mushroom fried with beer batter
Chef Eric Teo’s mixed mushroom fried with beer batter
Take pictures!
Take pictures!
Black tofu from black soya beans
Black tofu from black soya beans
Pouring the blended black tofu into little cups
Pouring the blended black tofu into little cups
Cooking prawns
Cooking prawns
Chef Teo working on scallops
Chef Teo working on scallops
It's just stir-fried seafood and red pepper, but Chef Teo cooked them so beautifully everyone present could not wait to taste them
It’s just stir-fried seafood and red pepper, but Chef Teo cooked them so beautifully everyone present could not wait to taste them
Adding the seafood into the tofu cups
Adding the seafood into the tofu cups
Chef Eric Teo's black tofu with seafood
Chef Eric Teo’s black tofu with seafood – my favourite dish for the day 
Moving on to the last dish - sambal fried rice
Moving on to the last dish – sambal fried rice
Chef Teo joked that experts only add the eggs right at the end
Chef Teo joked that experts only add the eggs right at the end
Close-up on the beautiful rice grains
Close-up on the beautiful rice grains
Plating the fried rice
Plating the fried rice
Chef Eric Teo's sambal fried rice
Chef Eric Teo’s sambal fried rice

You can view all the photos I took at the event with the Panasonic Lumix GX7 in this public facebook album.

The event was organised by local production company, Rolleyes. Teaming up with six renowned local chefs, Rolleyes seeks to make gourmet home cooking a reality for their viewers through their new 30 Minute Cookin’ series:

In each episode, viewers are shown how to achieve two to three-course meals within 30 minutes. Chef Teo’s demonstration is as part of this programme.

Visit 30 Minute Cookin' for more details
Visit 30 Minute Cookin’ for more details

You can watch Chef Teo’s cooking demonstrations as well as more from other  renowned chefs via the official website for 30 Minute Cookin’. 🙂

Early Lunar New Year Dinner with Park Hotel Group (百樂酒店集團)

A few weeks earlier, Rachel and I attended a Chinese New Year tasting session at Park Palace (樂宮) Restaurant,Grand Park City Hall.

The tasting menu
The tasting menu

We get to sampled some of their signature dishes, specially prepared for the festive season, including their Imperial Five Treasures Golden Shunde Yu Sheng (S$888++) which impressed us the most.

The chef preparing the yu sheng layout
The chef preparing the yu sheng layout

The S$888 price tag is pretty steep, but you pay for the best. The luxurious dish boasts five prized treasures of the sea – Abalone, Lobster, Geoduck Clam, Salmon and Hamachi, topped with Caviar and Fish Roe plated in the shape of cherry blossoms – representing the blossoming and reaping of fruits of success in the new year.

Adding gold flakes
Adding gold flakes
The lobster looks on...
The lobster looks on…

In place of the traditional salad of radish, carrots, pickled ginger and pomelo, crispy fried vermicelli is meticulously arranged in the shape of cherry blossoms, and vibrantly embellished with slender slices of ginger, spring onions, crunchy capsicums, finely grounded peanuts as well as crispy silver fish for that extra crunch.

The table is set for tossing!
The table is set for tossing!

This culinary treat is tossed in a special concoction of fragrant peanut oil and premium soya sauce – boasting a refreshing twist with none of the cloying sweetness that may overwhelm the palate, while allowing the freshness and original taste of the seafood and vegetables to shine through. A feast for the eyes as it is for the taste buds – this exquisite offering was heavenly!

Adding the seafood
Adding the seafood
Ready?
Ready?
And here we go!!!
And here we go!!!
Ready to eat (these were nicely plated and sent to our tables by the wait staff)
Ready to eat (these were nicely plated and sent to our tables by the wait staff)

I love yu sheng and it is the one dish that I really look forward to every Chinese New Year. I have sampled lots of yu sheng, from the most traditional to east-meet-west fusions and  this is one of the best so far.

Is your taste-buds and five senses titillated?

Note that order of the Imperial Five Treasures Golden Shunde Yu Sheng must be made at least seven days in advance.

For a less extravagant experience, Park Palace also offers a Hamachi & Silver Fish Golden Shunde Yu Sheng  (S$88++), featuring two types of fishes.

Another dish we sampled was the Auspicious Harvest Pen Cai with Nourishing Pig Trotters. This dish is available in two sizes: S$298nett (6 pax) or S$488nett (10 pax).

Fortune-filled Reunion Pen Cai with Pig Trotters
Fortune-filled Reunion Pen Cai with Pig Trotters

Pen Cai are perfect for family dining.

The Pen Cai at Park Palace takes more than five hours to simmer in the stove and features three layers of 18 luxuriant ingredients and decadent flavours served communal-style in a festive casserole hot pot.

Overflowing with good stuff...
Overflowing with good stuff…

Other than Pig Trotters, this pot of prosperity is also replete with Sliced Abalone, Sea Cucumber, Whole Conpoy, Prawn Balls, Roasted Duck, Roasted Pork Belly, Soya Chicken, Fatt Choy, Black Mushroom, Lotus Root, Broccoli, Radish, Beancurd Skin, Gingko Nut and Black Fungus with quality stock in a casserole pot.

First of three servings I had from the Pen Cai
First of three servings I had from the Pen Cai

A la carte
$270++ (Six persons)
$443++ (10 persons)

Takeaway
$298nett (Six persons)
$488nett (10 persons)

Other dishes we tried:

Imperial Whole Roasted Suckling Pig
Imperial Whole Roasted Suckling Pig
I love their suckling pig - good stuff!
I love their suckling pig – good stuff!
Oven-baked Imperial Sucking Pig with Lemongrass
Oven-baked Imperial Sucking Pig with Lemongrass
Double-boiled Pot of Fortune with Superior Shark's Fin, Chicken and Wanton
Double-boiled Pot of Fortune with Superior Shark’s Fin, Chicken and Wanton
Auspicious Lobster Gems in Dual Style
Auspicious Lobster Gems in Dual Style
Half of the lobster is sautéed with lily bulbs, wood fungus and asparagus while the other half is deep-fried with cheese
Half of the lobster is sautéed with lily bulbs, wood fungus and asparagus while the other half is deep-fried with cheese
Fried Durian Prawns of Happiness and Abundance (presented by Open House, Grand Park Orchard)
Fried Durian Prawns of Happiness and Abundance (presented by Open House, Grand Park Orchard)
Close-up of the prawn - this dish is unique and is definitely a conversation opener, but I found the durian sort of covered the taste of everything else. Durian lovers should love this though.
Close-up of the prawn – this dish is unique and is definitely a conversation opener, but I found the strong durian fragrance covered the taste of  everything. Durian lovers should love this though.
Prosperous Eight Treasures Lotus Leaf Rice (Presented by Brizo Restaurant & Bar, Park Hotel Clark Quay)
Prosperous Eight Treasures Lotus Leaf Rice (Presented by Brizo Restaurant & Bar, Park Hotel Clark Quay)
Close-up of the rice
Close-up of the rice
Golden Ingots of Fortune - Crispy Puree Durian Fritters served with a side of fruit cocktail
Golden Ingots of Fortune – Crispy Puree Durian Fritters served with a side of fruit cocktail
Close-up of the ingot
Close-up of the ingot
Crispy on the outside, juicy in the centre - nice
Crispy on the outside, juicy in the centre – nice

Here are the Chinese New Year dining options available at Park Palace:

Auspicious Harvest Pen Cai Set Dinner (Grand Ballroom)
30 January
S$558++ (for six persons)
comprising Auspicious Harvest Pen Cai with Pig Trotters, Prosperity Salmon Yu Sheng, Braised Shark Fin’s Broth with Fish Maw & Crab Meat, Steamed Live Soon Hock with Light Soya Sauce, Stewed Ee-fu Noodles with Chives, Chilled Mango Cream with Sago & Pomelo, Pan-fried Nian Gao with Shredded Coconut.

S$858++ (for 10 persons)
comprising Auspicious Harvest Pen Cai with Pig Trotters, Prosperity Salmon Yu Sheng, Braised Shark Fin’s Broth with Dried Assorted Seafood & Bamboo Piths, Steamed Live Sea Garoupa with Light Soya Sauce, Fried Glutinious Rice with Preserved Meat & Chinese Sausage, Chilled Apricot with Sea Coconut, Almond Seeds & Red Dates, Pan-fried Nian Gao with Shredded Coconut.

Lunar New Year Prosperity Set Menus
Eight different Set Menus available:

    • S$78++ per person (a maximum of two persons)
    • S$288++ per table of four
    • S$438++ per table of six
    • S$588++ per table of eight
    • S$788++ to $2388++* per table of 10

*Orders to be made at least one day in advance
* Enjoy a complimentary bottle of house wine per table with booking of ten tables or more (ten pax per table)

Speciality Dishes : Double-boiled Pot of Fortune with Superior Shark’s Fin, Chicken & Wanton; Auspicious Lobster Gems in Dual Style – Live Lobster sautéed with Fresh Lily Bulbs, Asparagus & Wolfberries, surrounded with Deep-fried Cheese Lobster Balls; Durian Ingots of Good Fortune; Spicy Crispy Chicken with Garlic; Roasted Whole Suckling Pig; and many more.

Takeaway options for those who prefer to dine at home:

For enquiries and reservations, please call 6432 5543 or email parkpalace.gpch@parkhotelgroup.com.

GRAND PARK CITY HALL
10 Coleman Street Singapore 179809 Tel: (65) 6432 5888
Park Palace (樂宮) Restaurant, Level 2

Usher in the year of the Horse with BBC’s exciting line-up of programmes and festive favourites!

This Chinese New Year holiday, BBC will be featuring a series of special holiday programmes, all day, from 31st January till 2nd February 2014, on the following BBC channels – BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Entertainment, and CBeebies (available on Starhub channels in Singapore).

I have 5 sets of BBC CBeebies Chinese New Year red packets to giveaway! To win them, simply LIKE my facebook page or FOLLOW me on Twitter and PM me with your name, contact number, email and mailing address to send the red packets to. The first five persons to do so before 9am tomorrow (25 Jan) will be the winners. 

More on the BBC programmes: 

Go back to where Chinese New Year started with BBC Knowledge (Starhub Channel 407) by taking an in-depth look into Beijing: Biography of an Imperial Capital. Also, take a peek into the driving forces of one the world’s largest economies with China on 4 Wheels and Gok Wan: Made in China.

Learn tips and tricks to preparing easy and delicious Chinese cuisine with fashion stylist Gok Wan in Gok Cooks Chinese on BBC Lifestyle (Starhub Channel 432). Craving for something different? Follow Rachel Khoo into her home kitchen in Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachel Khoo, where she teaches you how to whip up simple and rich French cuisine.

Lose yourself in the magical world of Arabia on BBC Entertainment (Starhub Channel 521), with the Sinbad (series 1) marathon.

Get your little ones in the mood for arts and crafts with a Mister Maker (series 3) marathon and the first episode of the new series of Mister Maker Around the World on CBeebies (Starhub Channel 303). Join Sarah & Duck as the little girl and her duck friend go on their adventures and try to solve problems that they encounter along the way. Ever wondered how the rest of the world celebrated Chinese New Year? Let’s Celebrate shows you how.

[25 Jan 2014, UPDATE]

The five winners are:

  • Koh Hui Chen
  • Keith Tan
  • Lim Xinyi
  • Adlena Wong
  • Val Lim

Congratulations and happy new year! 

New Haircut and Hair Colour for 2014

To usher in 2014, I got a new haircut at my regular salon, Naoki Yoshihara by Ash and coloured my hair to a lighter tint of brown:

I blogged about this japanese salon at Liang Court previouslyYou can visit their official facebook page to find out more about them. 

I will be turning 34 this year in October… I need to feel young again. The hair colour seems to help. Friends whom I had not seen for a while all commented that I look younger, fresher or trendier.

This feels good, even though my waistline is expanding, my hair is thinning and I feel less capable of taking on and conquering the world with each passing year.

With Chinese New Year round the corner, might be a good time to change your hairstyle or try something different to surprise your relatives and loved ones when house visiting? 🙂

If you are thinking of popping by Naoki Yoshihara by Ash, please note the following festive period changes:

18th Jan 2014 – 28th Jan 2014: there will be a 30% increase on the total bill.
29th Jan 2014 and 30th Jan 2014: there will be a 50% increase on the total bill.

During the Chinese New  Year period, operation hours are:

30th Jan 2014: 10.30am to 3.00pm
31st Jan 2014 to 6th Feb 2014: Closed
Normal operation hours will resume from 7th Feb.
10.30am to 8.30pm (Closed on every Tues)

Winners for Grimbergen Christmas Gift Sets Giveaway

And the three lucky winners for my Grimbergen Christmas Gift Sets Giveaway are:

Congratulations to Lucas Lam, Wesley Lim Yipeng and Tan Keith! The PR for Grimbergen beer will be contacting you shortly on the prize collection details.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Remember, do stay tuned to Alvinology.com for more giveaway to come for this festive period!