Monday, January 30, 2012

Mysore Curry House

One more food post.... 8)

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I noticed this place while renovation was ongoing end of last year. Wanted to go when they opened but with school term starting and Chinese New Year just around the corner, we just couldn't find the time. But today, after all the celebrations and the tiredness which is still hanging around, dinner was here. The place is located along Jalan Pegawai, in two of the 'not-so-new-now'shop houses.

It was empty when we arrived. I guess maybe due to one festivity just winding down and school starting, everyone is trying to get into the normal routine. So eating outlets are not so busy.

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They had this vegetarian banana leaf rice restaurant opening offer at RM5.60. All of us had that but I ordered their chicken and mutton masala. The waitress didn't show us the menu, which I thought they should. We just didn't know what else there was to order. Food is just okay, not spectacular. I've taken better. I wasn't bowled over by the flavours. Anyway, I think Alor Setar might not be ready for such an outlet. This is still a place where 'nasi kandar' reigns, even though I think they are preposterously priced these days. Bro recently had nasi kandar and he was shocked that one piece of chicken and some vegetables with the rice came up to RM12! I generally steer clear of it nasi kandar these days cos I don't want get shocked by their prices anymore.

I hope the restaurant can survive here. It'd be nice to have different kinds of restaurant offering different types of food. Right now, it's hard to find dining experiences other than the local tastes here, unless you count the franchised ones. But this is Alor Setar, where perceptions of food is still rather colored along ethnic lines.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pasta Mania

Now, if you call a place Pasta Mania it's only fair to expect great pasta, since the signage gives an impression of a place which specializes in pasta. We've walked past this place quite often in our forays to Gurney Plaza in Penang. Somehow we never did stopped by. However, this time around, we were quite tired and wanted to go home as soon as possible. As we didn't fancy any of the outlets at the makan area on the ground floor, we decided to give the place a try.

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Son was still thinking about the Carbonara that he had missed at Vintage Bulgaria and when he saw Carbonara on the menu, he immediately ordered it. The place wasn't as busy as the other eating outlets nearby and after taking a few mouthfuls, I could see why.

The carbonara was heavy, it tasted like it came from the can or bottle. The turkey bacon and other stuff in it didn't taste fresh enough. I actually found some of them chewy.... but there was a generous amount of meats. one can only take a few mouthfuls before giving up. 

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Daughter and I each ordered their set meals. Each was supposed to come with fried chicken. One look at the fried chicken when her order came told me that they were over fried. And true enough, the chicken pieces were hard and dry. The spaghetti wasn't spectacular. The soup came with the set meal. It wasn't too bad.... taken hot. But once it cools down, it gets a little gooey, I think.

I ordered a different set from Daughter's but the spaghetti that was supposed to come never did. Instead, I got another Carbonara... I didn't send it back as I had already waited rather long and everyone else had almost finished their food. Service is poor. The waiters got confused even though the outlet was the least busiest there. 

The saving grace for Pasta Mania was their pizza. I guess that's one dish that can't go very wrong, especially a thin crust pizza. Overall, this place disappoints. By the way, food was served on plastic plates, not quite befitting of their facade..... As for the 2 spaghetti orders, I think the ones that I can cook up in my own kitchen probably taste better.

Pasta Mania... Well, it certainly didn't create any mania in me (or all of us for that matter) for their pasta offerings. Been going round eating quite a bit lately... think we'll give this food escapades a short break. Anyway, Saturday classes beckons too, first term exams, and a season of exam results beckons too....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Vintage Bulgaria Revisited

It's still CNY season. we ended up in Penang again cos we had something to do there. It was quite late when we found our way to the hotel through the heavy traffic. We actually wanted to go for dinner at Ingolf's Kneipe German Restaurant but since only seats at the bar were available and we were told that the wait might be long, we decided to give Vintage Bulgaria, which was its next door neighbour, another go since our last visit there was quite a pleasant one.

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This time we tried their Mixed Sausage Platter, made up of pork and beef spiced sausages, grilled spiced minced pork and beef and smoked sausages. The pork sausages seemed nicer than the beef ones. The sauce was light enough not to smother the taste of the sausages. The mashed potato that came with it is one of the nicer ones I have taken. It has a nice aroma to it, not too heavy. But sausages taste almost the same after a while. And that's why we feel one might be better off with the real stuff than go with the 'processed' ones.

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Baby Pork Ribs... the photo above does not do justice to its taste though. Lighting wasn't great for shots and we were hungry. If you like pork, this is one of the places to go. The ribs were roasted tender to taste. It was moist. And they beat the roast ribs that we've had at TGIF or Tony Romas. I guess food in a franchise outlet loses some of its quality because there is no personal touch of the owner. Throughout our meal there, the owner of Vintage Bulgaria could be seen moving among the patrons.

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The side dish to go with the ribs. I am a potato person and I liked the potatoes. They were soft and sweet, just right. I think I won't mind having it for the main meal.

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Orley Wraps... basically cheese wrapped in bacon, skewered and grilled so that you can pick it up and eat it like the satay. Bacon always goes well with cheese and this one is no different. Orley Wraps is supposed to be an appetizer but we ordered it for Daughter as we knew that the portions for the other orders would be more than enough to go around.

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Seafood spaghetti... my kids are spaghetti fans. Son had actually wanted to order the Carbonara (cos they liked it from the previous visit) but we talked him out of it. Seafood apparently referred to fish only cos Son said there were chunks of salmon and 'don't know what other fish meat' in it. I tried some and found the sauce to be rather nice; maybe it's the wine sauce in it but I found it to be light minus the overpowering tomato paste taste that one sometimes gets.

Overall we found the dining experience to be still pleasant enough even though it's the second time we've visited it in the span of a month.

Friday, January 27, 2012

For Every New Year

When I was a kid, on Chinese New Year's Eve, Mom would cook up a storm and we'd have a family makan. Family meant just our immediate family. Then in the evening, or sometimes the next day, Dad would bring us to visit our paternal grandparents. There would also be visits to my grandparents on Mom's side. Chinese New Year is different for my kids. Their every New Year  celebration has been spent at their grandparents' (except once for Son). The prevalence of 'migration' due to work and better opportunities of my generation has somewhat contributed to this different experience for my children. 

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Years gone by... we're all in our midlife now. CNY is still a time we get together, though often one or two of us might not be able to make it due to distance. These days we tend to have our makan together at the restaurant as Mom is getting along in years.

The passing of F-I-L too has also made us realise that every gathering is precious now. This year we had ours at Michelin Star again. Food was actually better than last year's. Tables had been set when we arrived, with names attached to the tables. I saw quite a few familiar names.... The other reunion dinner was a home cooked one as M-I-L still wanted to cook. 

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The kids got to play together, with cousins from both sides; and collect their angpows too. I guess for most kids those two are the major highlights. It was so for me at that age too. I guess certain things don't change that much. 

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And firecrackers... the whole town basically lit up as midnight drew nearer. If you want an ear into what might qualify as absolute noise pollution, you get it on that one night.... your hear cackling, cracking, popping, whooshing, whistling, booms, explosions, sizzles.... And your eyes get to feast on all kinds of colours popping up here and there, like magic, in the sky, appearing and disappearing in colourful trails of light and smoke; a panaromic view cos everywhere you turn, you see them. Whole neighborhoods literally came out to view the spectacular displays of fireworks. Lanterns were released into the sky too; though this year I felt there were fewer. Last year, the effects of Disney's Tangled left the sky very dotted with floating lights. My kids and their cousins had a fun time.... scoring a few firsts for themselves too. Their childhood is not as carefree as mine.... they don't get the chance as we did year after year as we were growing up, even just to light the firecrackers. 

These days, CNY is more 'work' than play for me cos most of the time is spent chasing after this or that... kids and everyday mundane tasks like clearing up. But in all that, they were interspersed with things that make life meaningful.... conversations, interactions... those things that serve to strengthen bonds and give meaning to life. You know, there are points in our lives when some of us might feel that we want to get away from all the hassles associated with festive seasons; clogged highways, packed eating places, constant need to be on the feet because the kids (and the older ones) cannot wait, etc, etc. So some of us would very much like to opt to go somewhere quiet to take a break from all the preoccupation and demands that come with this chasing of our career, wealth... And that is why we should have celebrations such as CNY, to give us no excuse for not making it home, for the family reunion. For many of us, it takes the demand of duty to get us there, even though we know our parents would very much want us to be there with them... Think of the times our parents were there for us each time we needed them when we were kids.... Today, many of us can't do the same......

Most of us are back to our normal routine by now... I supposed too it's okay to say that the feeling of getting together often times is no less exhilarating than a trip somewhere. 8) Am thankful for this one more CNY. The dragon has entered.... 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

E-Textbooks and PPSMI

Apple in education. Going by what they have done to tablet computing, I think education, especially the learning experience will probably be seeing a shift.

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And this is one reason why the soon to be dead PPSMI (teaching of Math and Science in English) should remain, or at least parents and students be given a choice of the medium of instruction. I downloaded the samples of the e-textbooks that they put up in the Store and if these are to be a peek of what is to come, education as we know will change.

From my own experience, I have found the educational apps to be of great help in teaching my kids. During Son's time, we had to be where the computer was but still back then, technology complimented, aided in the teaching and made learning more fun.

Then came the iPad. The apps with educational values were simply awesome. When Spirit and Rover were on Mars, the NASA app made it so easy for me to show the kids the pics of the surface. If you wanted to teach about the constellations, there are so many apps available. All you need to do is just hold your iPad to the sky and you get a guide, real time. I can even show things that I only had some inkling. If skills used to be reflected in how much knowledge you can retain and use, I guess skill now would be how well you know what tools are available and how to use them.

Enter the e-textbooks. You get videos, personal tutors and a touch screen to try out certain tasks. The learner gets instant feedback. And with upgrades which seem to be a practice today, books will never quite go out of date.... and this is where PPSMI benefits; though one might say that if the MBMMBI works, it'll get the same results too.

Still, if our kids are no good in English, they lose out. At the moment, I think it's hard to imagine our local publishers coming out with e-textbooks of this quality. I read through the intro of the recently released e-textbooks in the App Store. The end product is a collaboration of many - researchers, teachers, videographers, graphic designers, etc, etc. And that also means that digital textbooks will now enable a rather efficient delivery system where information can get to the students...... from the scientists, top notch people in their respective fields. And we'll be incapacitated by our lack of language. 

English is important. It does not mean that we turn our back on our national language if we seem overzealous in trying get it to be used as much as possible. Our English standard is bad now. That is a fact.  For now, English is a language of knowledge. Master it and a whole world of knowledge opens up. And that is what the e-textbooks has shown too.... There'll be many good quality instructional books which our kids will be missing out. Seems such a pity that our policy makers don't quite see that. 20 years ago, there was still quite a big group who could handle materials in English. Today, the group is getting smaller. But perhaps too, we are happier being the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand, trying to convince ourselves that we are doing okay.... Woe to us!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hang Tuah No More....

I remember the figure of Hang Tuah adorning the entrance to our National Muzeum during my last visit there a couple of years ago. For as long as I can remember, Hang Tuah has been central figure in the history of Malacca. And now, Prof Khoo Kay Kim has come out to say that he is a myth. He and his 4 sidekicks apparently did not exist. And neither did Hang Li Po... the wife of Sultan Mansur Syah; of that famed marriage of the most prosperous Malacca Sultan to the princess from the Chinese Empire which was supposed to have elevated the status of Malacca. I supposed now that the good Prof and his team of learned historians have done their studies, the history of the Peranakan might also be undergoing some changes too, since the descendants of Hang Li Po were supposed to have 'created' the Peranakans. 

I supposed then, too since records aren't too clear about Parameswara, could we safely assume that the first ruler of Malacca was a Hindu? Or perhaps too, the stories of early Malacca were folklores? Sometimes one gets the feel that there is too much politics in everything. Politics make things murky. Did Hang Tuah exist? If he did, does it matter if he had been Chinese? Malaysians deserve to know their heritage. Malacca could have been an early model of peaceful racial existence...... one of which we can be proud of. The fact that early stories never mentioned his race... we could learn a few things from there about integration.

So now, would we be told that the colonial historians had something to do with this error of Hang Tuah's existence? Why are we making our kids learn history? Is it to pass exams or to inculcate a certain pride or even to draw lessons from the events of the past? Or is it just to set the young brains onto a certain path? ...brain washing. A new syllabus for history is supposed to be implemented in the next 2 years or so. Will the new syllabus be focussing more on the history of the indigenous people.... the Sengoi, Negritos, Jakun, Orang Asli..... those original settlers on this land? Or will those too continue to be forgotten? Will we be reading about the Penans? 

We've seen efforts to wipe out history by changing street names, demolishing old schools for development and thus ensuring their old name dies with that act. We have a university where race plays a pivotal role in entrance. We have a civil service almost devoid of other races at the top level. History is supposed to teach the future generation that man can go very wrong very often.... The atrocities committed by the Ku Klux Klan against the blacks, Adolf Hitler and his Aryan supremacy, the Indian caste system.... yet we seem not to be teaching our young how to be good a good insan in the truest sense. We use race, religion, ideologies to streamline people to achieve our own selfish ambition. 

Prof Khoo and Prof Zainal Kling were my former lecturers. Suffice to say, not all academicians are made of the stuff of Aziz Bari. And if one wonders why the Malaysian education system cannot seem to rise to its former glory.... look no further. Instead of challenging the the minds of tomorrow to question and inquire, these (supposedly) learned academicians issue statements like politicians, expecting everyone to accept it unquestioningly... History ought to  to be rewritten to correct facts.... not for any other reasons. If it's done with the latter as the main objective, then we will be doomed cos we will never do things right. And that is another lesson from history.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is This A Lemon?

This came from my 'lemon' tree or what we thought was a lemon tree. It smelled lemony but did not have the normal lemon look. It's been growing for months on the tree. We finally decided to cut it down cos it looked really ugly.... they looked like gnarled hands.

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And when we cut it opened, there wasn't any of the usual lemon insides either..... 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Vintage Bulgarian Restaurant & Bar

Bulgarian food! This is a first for us. 

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This unobtrusive restaurant is located along a row of shophouses in Jln Sg Kelian, Tanjung Bungah.

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Decor is rustic, even charming in a way. Nice place to go pak-tor. And throughout our dinner there, we noticed that there were more young couples than families. It could be a mistimed observation. 8)

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This is one of their signature dishes. Traditional Sizzling Platter with grilled pork, chicken, smoked pork sausages, capsicum, onions, mushroom and tomatoes. The meats are tender. The sauce compliments them well. The waiter said this is a serving for one. I think he meant one big meat eater. Two can comfortably fill their stomachs with this... if you add a side dish with it.

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Spaghetti Carbonara with pork bacon and mushroom. The sauce is creamy, very nice. This is one of the better spaghetti carbonara we've tried. My kids enjoyed this very much.

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The picture says it all... Crown Roast Pork Rib. Served with mashed potato, the ribs are roasted really tender. Roast meat can be quite tough sometimes. Other Half says roast pork beats other meats any time. I tend to agree... This is a serving for two persons. 

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On their menu, they call this Chocolate Soup. It is served with ice-cream and Son chose vanilla to go with it. LOL! Both kids immediately said it looked like a glass of Milo drink when it was served. It's tasted like chocolate milk drink to me... At RM14.00, I think it's not worth the money spent. The menu says it's a strange delicious dessert.... I beg to differ!

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Cream brûlée. Yet another dessert we ordered. It's basically custard at the bottom and a hard layer of hardened caramel on top of it. Hard and soft; I guess the contrast gives this dessert a nice taste. But then again, desserts are almost the same everywhere... they're sweet. The strawberry went to my girl. As usual she said it's sweet.... it wasn't. I think her taste buds are sour bias. At RM12.00, I think there are many other places where you can get decent desserts for less. 

But Vintage Bulgaria is quite a nice place for a meal. Might go back there again for a second visit, but I'll probably be giving their desserts a miss.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Queens Food Market

This is at Queensbay Mall in Penang. This food market offers a range of food, mostly which you can find at hawker stalls. I guess it's supposed to provide hawker dining in a mall setting... away from the hot sun and humid feel.

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Chuk with yu-tiao, or porridge with yu-char-kway. Actually it's more of a broth than porridge. It's always nice to have yu-char-kway dipped into chuk. It's that sort of meal that is both light and soothing; not so heavy on the stomach. It's actually more suitable for breakfast but I had it for lunch.

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Other Half's hot plate noodles. These noodles are prepared factory line style. Everything is prepared, all one needs to do is just throw everything onto the hot plate, wait for the required time and you have a meal ready. Taste is consistent.

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Dry wanton mee. For RM3, I added the wanton dish to the order. The wanton had chilli paste on it. Taste wise it takes some getting used to. The mee was rather dry, a little extra gravy would have made a lot of difference.

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Always the curry fan, this was Son's order. The food looked appetizing enough. But Son said it wasn't spicy at all. The curry was not spectacular, he said the potato was too soft for his liking. But I think it would have suited me.... one man's food is another's poison. LOL!

A weekend out.... of a week that has felt like an exceedingly long one for us all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Work.....

For the first time in many years, I actually find myself numbed at the beginning of my work year... numbed cos it's just so pointless to hope for the better. Anyway, public examination results seem to indicate that we're doing very okay. We've just had the best PMR results for a while. Other indicators seem to tell us that things are okay...

I taught vocabulary and tenses to a Form 5 class yesterday.... and one word which I taught was hurricane. Along with it I told them stories of how hurricanes can force us to be supermen and women, even brought them half way round the world to New Orleans apart from our ASEAN neighbour, the Philippines who often gets pummeled in full ferocity. And today when I walked into my class and asked them whether they knew the word hurricane... I had to ask 15 students before I landed on the one and only student in the whole class who knew that it was ribut taufan. And this brings me to this point... You can bring a horse to the water, but you can't make the horse drink. That is the state of many of our students today.... Being the early part of the year means resolutions are still strong.... I am predicting that a few will start missing classes and school in 3 months... when everything gets too daunting again or when they feel that they aren't getting anywhere where school work is concerned.....and they'll just be another statistics.

Resources... human resources are probably the most valuable resource in any setting. It's a matter of getting the right people. Good leaders will probably be the most important prerequisite. Next of course will be the worker.... Yet, we waste so much of our resources on mindless ramblings.... One hears lots of sounds, noises.... clanging away. These days, people ramble incessantly more than do the actual work. Throw in the cloak of religious piety, what you get are wannabes of all sorts.

I just came out from a Form 1 class where I gave them 6 super short situations. They only needed to simplify those situations with the key words which I gave as well. 80 minutes later, I discovered that more than half can't even copy properly let alone read. Corrections after corrections they did... on the same exercise. One thing I observed though, the kids who did their primary schooling in Chinese vernacular schools were neater and more conscientious in doing their corrections. The national school kids had very unpolished work ethics. Bear in mind though that both groups are weak.... the only telling difference is their attitude towards work. And that is telling too about the human resources responsible in educating both groups, don't you think? So much for all this boasting about how great our education system is.

And leadership.... Up the hierarchy, one actually gets to hear those in position of authorities daring to verbalize preferences which benefits them, personally..... with no understanding of what it means to be a leader at all!  And these same people have no qualms abort screaming at a student for showing a hair; many pots are calling the kettles black, thinking that they are pure, not realising that they too are soot-marked. Passing the buck, making demands because they see it fit......these are products of our education system. A lot of talk but very little substance of the talk... the listener tends to develop headaches which can be quite debilitating. Encouraging hypocrisy????

Wanting and seeking personal relevance, yet not willing to be of real relevance. A lot of schooling, giving a pseudo feel of a lot of education taking place but actually very little learning takes place. The human resource we have now..... many are the products of this too much, too little......

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This Journey

Life is a journey.... what sort of journey we make it to be depends on so many factors. Like every physical journey that we are so familiar with, this journey into life contains its own sets of adventures, discoveries and often feelings which borders both euphoria and  sadness. 

Imagine walking on this path where you are joined by many others like you. Everyone walking on this same path and its byways but all leading to the same destination. And along the way, sometimes you form partnerships, bonds, groups... these help you as you move long but while you may walk together, that journey still has to be completed by everyone. No quitting.

Sometimes journeying together, there is great fun. But sometimes you get the opposite. When our boy was very young, going places with him was fun. There was always something new and interesting to share with him. You see, we had gone quite a bit of our own journeys when we had him. There was just so much we wanted to share with him. Then as the moods swings of the teens dawned, it became a little more difficult. But we've stuck by him... Weathered some storms with him... and the journeying is still going on. Families are supposed to do that, stay together... be that support. Friends too, if they're the right ones, on this path in our journey of life.

Then as I looked around... I see too each of us trying to find our relevance. This thought came to me this morning..... No matter how much relevance we try to find in our lives... Many are actually irrelevant. Even the word irrelevance is only 2 alphabets away from relevance. All that seeking, be it via wealth, fame, recognition,  authority, etc, etc... they become irrelevant eventually. The why is quite obvious.

So what is relevant? I guess it's squarely to the Philosopher's words.... to remember our Creator at all times, to enjoy our journey so that we won't say that we've not lived. Relationships.... everything else will come to naught... be they possessions, youth, beauty, might....can't seem to think of anything that remains relevant in the end except for the relationships that we have in the end.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Delicious

Delicious... that's the name of the place, another one of those makan places in Straits Quay. We have not been there for a while. We had actually wanted to go to this Bulgarian restaurant in Tanjung Bungah but it wasn't opened when we got there. So we ended up here...

 

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Straits Quay has 'matured' a bit since our last visit, well at least the berthing area. It used to be empty. Imagine this as your parking lot! Kinda nice to be able to walk out from your apartment and hop onto one of these and go for a ride along the coast.

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Anyway, Delicious is a restaurant with a simple but nice decor. The first sight that greeted us when we got in was a fridge full of tempting looking deserts. The place was quite full when we got there as it was lunch time. I thought that augured well for us. What is popular can't go very wrong.


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I ordered their pan fried cod on ratatouille... wanted to find out how ratatouille tasted like ever since I watched the animated movie some time back. The cod was okay. But I've tasted better ones. I like the taste of cod but this one didn't have that 'lemak' taste that I like. Just 10 sen short of RM50, I am not sure if I will come back for this.

 

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We also tried their 3-tiered grill mix of chicken breast, mutton, beef, sausages and salad. Mutton was my favorite. It was tender and succulent. The beef was just okay. This comes at RM99.90. Serving was good enough for two big eaters.

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Salad was light and nice. We liked the salad dressing.

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Onion soup baked with cheese and bread. It was soothing. I think being extra hungry made it all the more enjoyable, especially for Daughter and I; since it was the starter.

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Tried this for desert, Applicious Pie. All of us agreed that that pie 'crust' was nice. Actually, the crust tasted more like bread than the usual tart crust. And that made it nice.

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This is the other desert, Maple Walnut Tart. Every bite of the tart had walnuts. Both came with ice-creams which as usual goes well down well with the pie and tart. Both were more than enough for us. 

One thing I noticed after paying the bill was the taxes... eating out at such places also means paying a hefty service and government tax. I think the service tax is fine. The government tax? Our personal tax structure is still rather high.... and dining out like this reminds me that Inflation is everywhere and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. These days we pay more for less, we may earn more but it translates to very little real purchasing power. And that perhaps is also indication that the modern economic models have failed us.... and an indication too that the powers that are not doing a good job.

As for Delicious, the restaurant... I think they offer a menu with a different 'nomenclature' than the norm. Food is okay, not exceptional as in they really stand out but alright. It's still a good experience, though. The view of the sea is really nice.

And one more thing... this is the first post where everything is done from my iPad and iPhone. Quite cool.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Facebook, The Matrix and Skynet

FaceBook needs no introduction. The Matrix is a 1999 sci-fi, futuristic movie while Skynet is the AI in the movie Terminator which went against its human creators and tried to destroy them. So what do these 3 have in common? 

We live in an increasingly connected world. Social networking, right up from those Friendster days to the current FB wildfire has connected us 24/7. Many of us live our lives on FB. We create our FB moments. We even let everyone on our list know where we've checked in, who we are with.

We knowingly and unknowingly try to keep up. With more laid bare, the pressure builds too. Keeping up with the Joneses used to be limited by a boundary that can be seen. FB (and other social networking sites) erase those boundaries. And so, you find people actually trying to create those FB moments. A friend told me a joke about how some people spend more time trying to pose for a photo to be put up on FB than actually try to enjoy the place or the people. 

Another person I know noted how foul and harsh languages are finding their way to the public domain, published for all to see. Quarrels between a teen and his parents and foul words used to vent their anger on their teachers have all been put up for all to see. Whatever happened to family and self honor? I guess these days, most think it's pretty cool to be seen as rebellious. 

We seem so connected yet seem so unable often, to hold 'eyeball' conversations. Some of us have over a 1000 friends on our list. I remember going through the FB of a young man who committed suicide not too long ago. In the days and hours before his final act, he put up his intent on FB. So many friends, yet none seemed to take time to seek him out. In fact, more seemed to be spurring him on. I guess people don't take people seriously on FB. 

The connectivity has also served to numb us further from thinking more; from realizing how temporal and empty life can be.... that there is a void in our heart. We move from one comment to another, one event to the next. We look at photos of travels made, food eaten, events carried out.... and we long for them. Slowly we are sucked into trying to keep up or ceate our own reality distortion field. And some day, perhaps when we find it too hard to cope, we will willingly give up our liberty and ability to think and choose to substitute it with our wishful reality...... and live in the matrix. Lost souls we may be but many of us will opt for that because it'll feel like a more pleasant existence, free of cares and worries.

So will we be like the Israelites who asked God to give them a king. They insisted even though God warned them the King would take a lot from them. That was how Saul came into the picture. Would we, give up the liberty of mind in exchange for a blissful existence like the one in The Matrix? And guess who will be the Skynet? You got it..... harmless social networking sites could well be on their way to being the next superpower. They will own us..... with everything gone digital, it's not hard to see that our lives have been digitalized. And digital lives can be manipulated.... can take a cue from the movie The Net (Sandra Bullock). 

iCloud, Dropbox, Boxee and so on.... each one entices us to trust them to keep our documents, images, files, everything that can be digitalized. They remove the need for us to be responsible for our own stuff. And we gladly surrender our privacy for that convenience, to have things done for us, for someone to organize our lives.... We surrender a bit of ourselves in eCh instance in exchange for the things we want..... and come to think of it, that's life. We spend a life bartering this for that.....

Here's to 2012!