I don’t know. Maybe it’s on a par with a really awful Malaysian place off Bourke which thinks thick fingers of raw eggplant improve this famous soup dish.

I should have known better. I ate in the hotel. Yeah, yeah. Don’t tell me. And this was after having a bad food start to the day here. Fifteen minutes after Carlton City‘s patisserie was supposed to be open, it was closed. The desk called for somebody to come and man it, who took our order but then made somebody else’s first, which meant we had to cancel ours, a taxi being booked.

This is a new hotel and is already highly ranked on tripadvisor, but I have my doubts. Or perhaps the issue is that being a businessman’s hotel, you have to be a businessman to appreciate it. Why would their restaurant, The Plate, do laksa so badly? Horribly sweet, even after adding a large dose of chilli, luke warm, noodles chopped into bits; and prawns in their shell. Seriously? Somebody local read this and tell me it’s normal in Singapore. It surely ain’t so in Australia. And if it is normal, does that mean the locals eat the shells? Truly, if I’d ordered this in Switzerland I still would have been surprised at how bad it was. Yes, THAT bad.

Of course, in a normal laksa eatery, you would have been bitching about the five bucks down the drain. But this is a five star hotel, so it was $25. I’m so irritated even though it was my own fault failing such a basic IQ test.

I’ve found an Australian coffee shop nearby. Excuse me, it’s recovery time….

Our flight to Singapore with Swiss Airlines had a retro touch – I can’t remember the last time I ate such bad food on a plane, but I’m inclined to measure it in decades. It was all the more of a culture shock to end up at Candlenut for our first meal in Singapore. As soon as the food hit the table I realised what a fine thing Manny had done talking me into this trip.

Here’s some of what we ordered:

Nonya at Candlenut

Nonya at Candlenut

I can only assure you that the quality of the photo is inversely proportional to the quality of the food. You can see proper pictures on their site. In the fore ground is Mum’s curry, Candlenut’s rendition of Nonya chicken and potato curry. In all we ordered:

Candlenut Satay 10
Grilled spiced marinated meat skewers served with rich homemade
pineapple peanut sauce, cucumbers & red onions

Sambal Kacang Petai 14
Stir fried stinky petai beans w tamarind and chilli sambal, crispy shallots

Crispy Pork Belly 16
w mustard greens, sambal chincalok

Mum’s Curry 14
This curry is so demanded by friends and family that it has become a must have at every
special occasion. Fresh local chicken red curry with potatoes & kaffir lime leaf

Wok-Fried Gula Melaka King Prawns 24
Coconut butter sauce infused w gula melaka, lemongrass & roasted coconut,
fresh herbs & chilli

The only thing that disappointed in the least were the prawns. Two huge prawns presented with head and tail, but otherwise ready to eat, I thought were over-cooked. To me the test was in the cutlery available on the table. Everything was supposed to be in size and tenderness accessible with forks and spoons. This dish required a knife. I ended up eating it with my fingers. I have to say that Manny did not agree with my thoughts on this, although he agreed that it needed a knife. But surely any prawn which requires such effort to cut through is overcooked?

Satay is one of the things you go to Singapore for and we are heading to a specialist satay hawker centre while we are here, so much as these were lovely and I’d be happy to eat them for the rest of my life, it won’t surprise me if I get better! The pork belly was done to perfection, crunchy outside, soft inside. At Asian Gourmet, home of Nonya Chicken in Adelaide, the meat is served on the bone. This was a slightly posh, because boneless, version, but posh is fine as long as it keeps to the spirit and taste of a dish and this does. Of course the meat is from the thigh not the breast. I’d go back just for this, but alas I also want to order everything else on the menu.

Ah, to be back in a part of the world where they cook vegetables well. The beans were wonderful, but again, all the vegetable dishes called to be eaten. I can’t help thinking we may go back to Candlenut tonight instead of a hawkers’ market.

Sambal Kacang Petai

Sambal Kacang Petai

Room for dessert? Absolutely not. Okay, after some discussion with the staff. Perhaps we could fit in a small dessert between us.

Buah Keluak 14
Rich and earthy buah keluak ice cream, made with
80% Valhrona chocolate -
on a bed of salted caramel, chocolate crumble & chilli specks,
topped with warm milk chocolate espuma

Another dish that deserves a better picture…but being a chocolate pleb, this may have been wasted on me. Next visit I’ll have my eye on the Banana Caramel Pudding. I will report.

Buah Keluak

Buah Keluak

The bill: $127 SD. 94CHF. $100US. $111AUD. Like a lot of restaurants in Singapore – look for the ++ sign – this includes service and taxes added to the prices you see on the menu. Note that we ate too much for two, and also had one of the most expensive dishes on the menu. We had one beer and one pot of tea.

I came back from Australia this year with a lot of rather garish (by my standards, at least) print dresses. It prompted me into doing something I’d been thinking about for ages. Using bits and pieces of left over yarn to make small, light shoulder-coverers. It just goes to show what sort of summer it’s been here that I’ve had the time to knit seven of them.

My everyday cardigan collection.

My everyday cardigan collection.

From left to right:

Bouton D’or Caraibes Turquoise
Sandnes Garn Mini Duett 55% cotton 45% wool
Rowan Glace Red
Louet MerLin Sports Weight Goldilocks
Handmaiden Cashmere silk Purple
Jade Sapphire cashmere silk bought as red, clearly orange
Rowan Calmer green

Pattern: All Year Cardigan by Taiga Hilliard.
Yarn See above.
Modifications The pattern is my template, but that is, indeed, the point of the designer, so modifications are not only in order, but positively expected. I haven’t done anything very adventurous with those I’ve so far finished, but since they were prompted by busy prints, I thought simple was best. I’ve finish off the edges in garter stitch, 3/2 rib, 1/1 rib, stocking stitch. All of them have a gauge of about 19 st/4 inches; in the case of most of the yarns this means they make a nice drapey fabric. The major exception is Rowan Calmer, which was knitted exactly to gauge and is a much tighter fabric.
Thoughts I thoroughly recommend the pattern, if you are looking for a template rather than a precise specific look, such as Wispy. I’m not suggesting this lacks as a pattern, only that it permits you to take it wherever you like. I’ve worn all of these a lot, which I guess means the idea works. I can pack several of them in a suitcase and they weigh all of a few hundred grams between them. Needless to say, these can be knitted as long as short as you like, and being constructed top down means little fretting about amounts of yarn. The least yarn I had was about 360m of the Handmaiden.

Everyday cardigan in Jade Sappphire cashmere/silk.

Everyday cardigan in Jade Sappphire cashmere/silk.

More on the yarns.

(1) I hate knitting with pure cotton, being yet to find one that’s nice to the touch. The Bouton D’or was discontinued and it’s easy to understand why. Glace is no fun to knit but at least the end result is okay to wear.
(2) I picked up the Sandnes Garn Mini Duett in Stockholm a couple of months ago. It was a pleasure to knit with – I guess it is pretty much the same as Rowan’s Wool Cotton. I’m hoping it wears well, but it feels too nice and soft to have such expectations.
(3) I love MerLin, it is such a shame Louet discontinued it. The combination of wool and linen works really well. This is the only one of the seven versions of this that has my unconditional enthusiasm.
(4) The Handmaiden cashmere silk is going to look awful soon, but a delight to knit. I hate the striped effect, I might add. Exactly why I steer clear of hand dyed less than solid effects.
(5) The Jade Sapphire is solid in colour, also a joy to knit and wear. It looks like it might be a little more robust than the Handmaiden, but it hasn’t been taken out as much, so it’s a bit early to tell.

Everyday cardie in Rowan Glace

Everyday cardie in Rowan Glace

Have you ever had this flavour?

Coffee-strawberry-mint-chocolate-oreos-cinnamon-watermelon-mango-pistachio-dark chocolate with ginger-

So, you’ve set up your gelato bar. The lease, the refrigeration, the staff etc. Oh yeah. And the icecream scoop. I mean, that’s the big expense, isn’t it? So you buy the one and whatever the customer asks for, they get the icecream I’ve just described above or some variation of it. They may or may not swish the scoop around in a bit of dirty water for a while first, which strikes me as even worse.

Not good enough, icecream bars. Go the extra yard. Buy the extra scoopers. That means you, Movenpick.

I was reminded of The Coodabeens as I was cooking lunch today – their expression ‘Not Good Enough’. I’ve decided I need a category of that name.

Take, as my first for instance, those cafes that think if the toast looks like toast, it’s toast, so they only bother with the side of the bread the customer can see.

It’s bizarre how many of these eating establishments are in denial. They will ask if everything is okay – that’s the time where you have to say ‘yes’ because they’ve never learnt how to respond to any other answer. But you persevere, nonetheless, with the notion that you’d want your toast toasted on both sides. ‘But it is’ they reply. Now you show it to them. The nice brown crunchy top side – maybe grilled, not toasted, if you are at a trendy place – and then the other side. Soft and white like it’s been wearing Blockout for the whole of its life. Seriously. And they will still argue.

Not good enough, eating establishments. Go the extra step. Toast both sides.

Outside drinking in Geneva.

Good on the Geneva council for trying to stop drinking outside on Rue de L’Ecole de Medecine. It’s horrible living next to groups of people getting pissed and being dicks. Switzerland has a very simple approach to noise. It’s not social, it’s anti-social.

So the idea that the drinkers are going to stage a demonstration tonight is pathetic. Go home. Get pissed. Quietly so that other people around you can have their lives.

The thing I find most interesting about the situation as it unfolds – the young drinkers who think, seriously, that they ‘made’ this street, which means it used to be somewhere they didn’t want to go and therefore didn’t exist – is the very idea that there is ‘nothing for young people to do in Geneva’. There is no ‘night life’ in Geneva.

What a pathetic definition of nightlife. Geneva is the most amazing place for culture. It still has ten or so independent cinemas – though, alas, they struggle. It has many theatre groups. It has much live music of all kinds. It has opera. It has bridge clubs. Chess clubs. Reading groups. Acting groups. Knitting groups. You can tango outside on the side of the lake. Or rollerskate if that’s more your thing. I’ve never seen a place with so much stuff you can do at night relative to population. You can go to bed early enough to get up in the morning. Mornings are beautiful in Geneva.

But the only thing that actually defines ‘night life’ for ‘young people’ and this seems to include, say, thirty year olds, so people who used to have jobs and children and the commensurate life, is getting hugely pissed outside other people’s residences and being really loud and offensive about it. That is apparently their definition of what fun should be. I might add, that one of their justifications for ruining the lives of people who try to live on the streets they turn into pisspots is that it’s ‘known’ that this is what they are, so people ‘choose’ to live there. That argument would be bollocks anywhere, but especially in Geneva where there is often no choice about where to live.

I wish the residents of the area nothing but the best of luck in their ongoing battle to make their district livable again. I hope our area does the same.

I was overwhelmed last night by Carlos, a Spanish speaker we had a drink with. Words per minute? A thousand? It was all just a blur and it had nothing to do with the Mojito. It reminded me of the Speedy Gonzales joke.

Speedy to his girlfriend: You’re going to love this, didn’t you?

Well, I think I’ve solved it, why everything is sped up.

It’s the siesta, isn’t it? A couple of hours’ snooze each day and they spend the rest of it trying to catch up.


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