Instant Sunday: REWARD YOURSELF

Ah, Sunday.

I love Sundays. I also hate Sundays when it reaches 5pm. WHY CAN’T SUNDAYS BE A WEEK LONG?!

Sundays are reserved for a walk in the beautiful park with your dog, for a picnic in nature or a drink out in some swanky cafes over overpriced everything with friends. Sundays are for happy. Sundays are hardly ever wrong to begin with. Sundays are for comfort food and cheat days. I can go on and on about Sundays. Did I mention Sundays are for comfort food?

My Sundays, barring times where I have events or activities or places to go, are mainly for enjoying the quiet morning without my alarm demanding my attention, then to be awaken by my alarm-dog barking at 8am sharp, to having a series of “CAYLY! NO! KEEP QUIET!” from across the house, to my sister opening my parents’ room door for my dog to go in, to my dog scratching the door to come out, to me pulling my dog up onto my bed, to my dog trying to wrestle with my hand because apparently she decides her own play time, to yet another “NO! CAYLY! NAUGHTY GIRL!” to me getting up grudgingly and throwing her dirty looks to which she takes as “BATH TIME!” and jumped off the bed like an olympic diver waiting eagerly for me at the stairs to bring her to the groomers, to me grunting and making my way to the bathroom and fast forward to when she’s at the groomers and now there’s peace and quiet in the house. By this time I’m mostly hungry and need something quick.

What better way to reward yourself than to have comfort food? I know, my headline sounds like wallet-digging, money-spending kinda reward but no. This post doesn’t need that. My sort of reward comes in packets or boxes in supermarkets. I’m talking mac and cheese. The instant kind.

Well, I’m not exactly promoting health food here. I’m far from being the health food kinda girl. Girl’s gotta have what she’s gotta have, ya know? So, seriously, if you are disgusted with anything that comes with the word instant, then you should instantly leave this blog. Or if you’re gonna leave nasty comments, read DISCLAIMER: NOT HEALTH FOOD ENTHUSIAST HERE. TAKE YOUR CONCERNS ELSEWHERE. INSTANTLY. ahaha. I have overdone that one.

I have tried a few instant mac and cheeses including the KRAFT ones that they are well known for. I have found my favourite in the limited selection that we have here. Introducing San Remo La Pasta Macaroni Cheese, photographed amateurly by yours truly. This is such an unflattering picture.

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4 side serves? THAT’s A LIE!!

If you’re asking in your head why didn’t I make some myself instead of choosing the instant option, well, I live in a small town called Muar. (And Public Service Announcement (hereinafter referred to as “PSA”): Muar is not in JB, Muar is nowhere near JB, and Johore has many other districts other than JB. We are closer to Melaka than JB and please do not give me that OH MY GAD YOU CAME ALL THE WAY TO KL FOR THIS? well yeah, it takes almost the same amount of time going either way). Muar isn’t exactly stocked with many options and the only cheese we have are those we can pronounce. Therefore, mac and cheese from scratch? That’s a no go.

I’m not gonna go into details on the nutrition value or the fat contents or any of the health concerns in this pack. It’s there on the back of the packet if you ever decide to browse the supermarket aisle and come across it. I’m gonna go about how good it is, how you can make it better and how not to embarrass yourself cooking instant mac and cheese. Because I have.

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I should hire professional photographers on standby next. This is a shame. 

For starters, follow the instructions on the back of the packet. I tried to make it the first time with my peranakan agak-agak attitude, and to say the least, it did not go well at all. Agak-agak and westernised food do not mix. Second tip: I know it says low fat milk on the packet but full cream milk tends to work best for that rich flavor and satisfaction. You will only get disappointment with low fat milk. And I mean are you really that concerned on having low fat milk with instant mac and cheese. The irony, though.

Third most important tip: DO NOT and I repeat, emphasise DO NOT USE HL MILK. It gives a really odd taste. This first time I made this, HL milk kinda ruined the whole experience for me. It was so notoriously bad I stayed away from any sort of cheese based meal for a whole month before I attempt another shot at this. HL milk with this mac and cheese is more gangsta than Mr. Big.

htb1tnn3mpxxxxbsxpxxq6xxfxxxf Said Mr. Big in question, accurate to size. 

Common sense would dictate you do not yogurt it as well in case you’re wondering whether you can yogurt it as a healthier option. And again, this isn’t exactly your go to meal to think about healthier options.

Tip 4: Stir it up constantly. The packet says let it simmer and stir occasionally but really you need to be constantly stirring and checking it especially at the end where it’s almost reduced to a gravy because it will burn. Fast. That’s not a good taste either.

I like to add a little umph of cheese to my mac and cheese so I add a few mozarella pieces and stir them together till it melts into a smooth beautiful golden concoction with a side of pasta. Or if you are the kind that likes to have mouthfuls of stringy mozarella, put the blocks in and let them heat do their job.

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This isn’t a promotion for healthy. No greens in sight. Also, on a more relevant note, you have to let it simmer while stirring till it’s this dry to be a successful mac and cheese maker. Patience, young macawan.

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And voila! You got yourself a week’s worth of comfort food that you have to run treadmills for. Now isn’t that a beautiful yellow?

How does it taste like? Heaven. I’m a big cheese fan, not the connoisseur kind, the everything cheese I will eat kind. It will get a little rich for people who are not used to creams or cheesy meals, and this cheese taste nothing like the fake cheese they use in KFC’s cheesy wedges. I mean this may be fake as well, but its better than the fake fake. KRAFT’s to me taste like that fake fake and this is a tat bit better at fake. If done precisely according to the instructions, the macaroni is al dente and just the right amount of bite. All of it is coated richly with cheese without being too overwhelming. It’s a Sunday meal you don’t have to fork out a chicken set price just to get it as side dish with.  Hearty and overall satisfying. Comfort food ma, right?

That shall conclude the rant on instant mac and cheese. I really need to write stuff with more substance.

Having mine with a side of iZombie, how has your weekend been going?

Alicia.

ALTHEA Korea: Malaysia

Caution: This post could result in damage to your bank account.

Anddddd yet another post. Teehee.

By now I guess you would realise I don’t intend to stick to only writing about Singapore. Or food. Or travel. Singapore was a one time thing that might appear again in the future, but enough of Singapore for now. AM I RITE??

Backtracking to a 17-year-old me, just fresh out of school and off to National Service camp. It was fun times with days on end training in water sports under the blazing afternoon sun. Blazing afternoon sun also means sun damage to my skin causing dark spots and pigmentation that will take a very long time to go away. I should have listened to my mum when she nagged me about sunscreen. (This part has no relevance at all to the rest of the post.)

It wasn’t till 2 years ago that I started to wander into the world of cosmetics. Particularly Korean skincare aka K-beauty. I sunk into that rabbit hole faster than you can pronounce Sulwhasoo. I have normal skin (which a lot of articles dub us the luckiest people on the planet…but I thought everyone had the same skin) with it occasionally being dry. I took it for granted since my skin hardly gave me any problems. Pimples and zits were special occasion troublemakers that only appear when I least want them. (This part neither.)

There are only certain Korean brands that are available as retail outlets in Malaysia. The more popular ones like The Face Shop (infamous for being incorrectly associated to The Body Shop…they fooled me for sure), Skinfood, Elianto and Innisfree who joined the market only a few years back eventhough it has been in existence since 2000 in Korea (that’s 17 years!). Don’t bash me for not including all of it. I’m not very up to trend on what’s new and about. Korea, being the Mecca of all new and innovative skincare certainly did not bring its share to the shores of Malaysia until maybe years later. So it was tough times for me.

Althea however offers the online alternative to obtaining some of the brands that you cannot find in retail outlets here. Prices are several Ringgit cheaper than existing stores. With the addition of occasional promotions like Brand Day where you get a 15% off plus free gifts, or during special holidays like Christmas, prices normally come down to way cheaper than retail stores. Their products are authentic and shipped from Korea itself, so you get the freshest batch of the bunch.

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Their packaging is pretty amazing too. That fuchsia will have you running like a coyote to the front door before your postman can ring the bell. 

Housed in a soft pink box, opening it feels like a surprise present you already know you’re getting. The box is sturdy and can hold rough throws and handling because we all know what goes on even to fragile-labelled items…ehem. Do not expect it to block bullets or catch a grenade for you. Be assured though that through my experiences purchasing from Althea every item came pristine and well-packaged, including glass bottles. Only the pink outer box would suffer from dents and tears but usually nothing too major.

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Althea has upgraded from a promise to a guarantee. Free shipping only applies to RM99 and above, and I told you it looks like a present to yourself.

There are downsides as well to shopping on Althea where availability of products aren’t sufficient to satisfy avid Korean skincare addicts. They do not offer full range of products and some brands featured on their site only has one best-selling item. The wait time is also hard to bear, considering that it was shipped from Korea instead of a warehouse in Malaysia. Took me 5 whole days of agitated over-clicking the tracking link before it arrives. All is well, all is well.

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We all secretly love this part best. 

So, what did I buy from Althea this time?

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Primera Miracle Seed Essence and Elizavecca Gold CF-Nest White Bomb Eye Cream.

I’ve used the Primera Essence before and I love it. I could only find it on Althea as of today except if I use sites like Gmarket or Koreamart which I absolutely have no confidence in, not because it’s shady but I just don’t know what goes on in these sites. People have used it successfully before so no shade. Plus once there’s shipping fees my face immediately goes meh.

Again, Althea does not carry the whole range from Primera but at least they have this one. That Elivdsbiheihfa fancylongname eye cream is a new product I’ve been meaning to try and need I say I’m quite a sucker for packaging. Pig bomb wearing a mask leh where else can you find designs like that except for Korea? I think Asia countries in general have mastered the art of packaging and the ability to constantly make people hand in their cash voluntarily for no apparent reason except for a cartoon of a pig bomb.

Althea Malaysia website: http://my.althea.kr/

Also available in Singapore and the Philippines (as far as Google search result shows).

I’ll post a separate review on both items once I have used them to sufficiently form an opinion so stay tuned! If you want to read la.

This post is not sponsored. I wish it was.

Alicia.

 

 

Dancing Crab, Singapore

Adorable name, good food.

If anyone were to ask me what my favourite food is, I have long decided that it would be crabs. The crustacean.

Had a long weekend during the Thaipusam holiday, so I took the opportunity to visit a close friend in Singapore. Long story short, I am from Muar, almost only 3 hours away from Singapore by car, but I decided to take a flight from KL instead. Which means I drove 2 hours to KL to catch a one hour flight because I wanted to go Changi Airport. It wasn’t hailed as one of the best airports in the world for nothing, right?! I needed to see what the hype was about. Enough of that anyway.

We went for dinner on the first night, settling with Dancing Crab after some steamboat place on the rooftop of Vivo City had a massive one hour wait. But let me just say are all Singaporean restaurants awesome or what? That steamboat place has a free manicure service while you wait for your turn. WHO DOES THAT?! Call me a jakun but I have never been handed a FREE manicure service while I wait for my turn to eat. USING OPI PRODUCTS OK. Singapore no cut cost one.

We ended up in Dancing Crab anyway because we were freaking hungry and though the manicure was tempting, food was a must to grumbling, growling bellies. Still had to wait, but at least they have a nice seating corner and a wait time of only 15 minutes, which according to that friend was the shortest wait time for a popular place. EVER. Singaporeans queue for everything apparently.

The ambience was nice, the decor immaculate. They had fake crabs on the roof and a net decor around the restaurant to prove just how serious they are in this business. Prices here are on the higher range, but don’t ask me about how much everything was. My friend paid for the meal. Teehee.

We ordered a Sampler Platter and two Sri Lankan crab set or something to that effect. I left the ordering to my friend. I was just waiting to eat like a vulture.

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 They call it a Sampler Platter, but they may have served giants before. 

The Sampler Platter comes with a corn bread, some Calamari rings, fried mushrooms, cauliflower and lady’s finger, two crab cakes and six fried chicken wings and drummets with accompanying sauces. Everything was pretty good, but the sauce takes the cake. It was so delicious we dipped everything in it and ordered two extras.

Then, the highlight came.

IMG_20170209_201838.jpg Two huge Sri Lankan crabs in their mild signature Dancing Crab sauce accompanied by prawns, clams, corn and some other bits of no recollection. Crabs can get lonely on a huge table.

Imagine my delight when this dish arrived. I could hardly contain myself. If you’re wondering why are there no plates that’s because it was not served on one. They pour it on the table in all its glory without the unnecessary constraints of a plate people use in civilised environment. Because you don’t need one when it comes to crabs. Tables are lined with new plastic each time for hygiene purposes and common sense.

This. Is. The. Best. Sri. Lankan. Crab. I. Have. Ever. Tasted. The BEST. Not the best way of cooking it but the freshest, most luxurious bite into sweet, thick meat that falls right off the exoskeleton (see ma, I know my biology). Every crevices are filled with huge chunks of meat you can pull right out and it remains intact with all the sweet, sweet revenge on that one baby crab that pinched you on the beach some day in your past. The taste is pure buttery goodness with a firm yet soft bite that is utterly satisfying. Every moment with that crab was a head shaking, eyes closing, saliva inducing moment for someone as passionate about crabs as me. The crustacean. Albeit being a ‘mild’ variant, the chilli was as spicy as your grandma’s sambal belacan when she made it with a temper. So be warned that a mild is a spicy, and a ‘spicy’ is probably tongue-numbing.

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Look Ma! I made a claw! 

Forgive my dirty fingers and very shiny happy face of delight at my claw being intact. My point is, it was that fresh. My other point is they have plastic bibs that you can choose not to wear if you want your wife or your mum (shame) to give you perfect dagger stares and a whole lot of nyeh nyeh nyeh the next few days. Put the bib on and protect your dignity. Everyone was doing it it wasn’t weird.

And that concludes the best treat of a meal I have ever had in Singapore. Recommended? Definitely. Will go again? Yes, if Papa’s paying. Will I go with my own money? Ehh…probably, if I have money to spare and a will power to not buy all the skincare in the world for at least half a year.

Till next time then!

Alicia.