Sunday, November 27, 2016

Eleven Things You MUST do in Mauritius!

A few months ago, AirAsia X launched thrice-weekly direct flights to Mauritius. The island is awesome, but hasn't really been on many travelers radars - so we thought we'd dig through our photo archives and write a bit about what the island has to offer. So without further ado, here's our Eleven Things you MUST do in Mauritius!

Note: Our time spent in Mauritius was in 2011 (five years ago), so some of these may be a little outdated. But we hope it helps you anyway!

#1: Stay at a Beach Resort

Many hotel resorts will try to sell you an "All-Inclusive" package where everything is included - breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. In my opinion, unless you plan on never leaving the hotel, go for the "half board" package instead - this is basically the all inclusive package without drinks and lunch at a significant discount. Taking this package gives you the flexibility of, you know, actually going out to visit the island without feeling like you're 'wasting money.' Typically, both packages will also include health club and gym usage, and free basic water sports such as sailing, glass bottom boat, snorkeling, water skii'ing and para-sailing. You'll need to pay for things like spa/massage and scuba diving, though.

I visited two hotels during my stay in the island.

Le Meridien:
- The Good: Service is good, people are friendly, the breakfast buffet is awesome and overlooks the swimming pool/beach. At nights there are also a couple of pretty good restaurants. Free internet access in the rooms.
- The Not-so-Good: Beach is a bit small, hotel is a bit old, and the free water sports are quite limited (only snorkeling and glass bottom boat).

The Intercontinental:
- The Good: All their rooms overlook the beach, and are very nicely designed. Comprehensive free water sports, and the restaurants are also awesome. There are also live bands at nights, and there are more activities such as a Sega dance on weekends.
- The not-so-good: Breakfast restaurant doesn't have much choice and the layout/design of the buffet is kind of rubbish. Also, you need to pay for internet in the rooms, which is really "WTF" considering that they provide free wifi in the lobby. TV is an "internet" based system that sucks.

#2: Visit a Public Beach

As you might expect, almost the entire island is full of beaches - only the south-western area (which has no coral reefs) has cliffs and rocks instead of sand. What you probably wouldn't expect, however, is that Mauritius beaches are, to be honest, not really that nice. In my opinion, we have our own beaches like Redang and Perhentian that are way better.

The biggest difference is that because of the weather, it's very pleasant to relax on the beach in Mauritius. You don't get that "hot and sticky" feeling that you get on Malaysian beaches - the wind is cooling and refreshing.

#3: Visit a Sugar Factory.

80% of the island is planted with sugar cane - this is because Mauritius has basically only 4 industries: sugar, textiles, tourism (and some financial services). so somebody had a bright idea of combining sugar and tourism by converting an old sugar factory into a museum of sorts. It mixes a lot of information of Mauritius history as well, if you're into that sort of thing.

#4: Hang out at Caudan Waterfront

Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius. They've converted part of the port into a commercial centre with restaurants, shopping centres and cafe's - it's a nice place to hang out at night, although even on weekends it pretty much dies by 11-ish pm.

#5: Watch the Sega

The Sega is the 'national' Mauritian dance. I don't actually know how authentic this is, seeing as it was in a hotel, but here are the pictures anyway!

#6: Go sightseeing - Trou Aux Cerfs

Located in Curepipe, somewhere in the middle-ish of the island, is the volcano crater of Trou Aux Cerfs. Of course, there isn't exactly that much to do here ... just sightseeing and taking photos!

#7: Go sightseeing - Old buildings and Churches

These are dotted all around the island and perfect stops to stretch your legs if you're on a road trip.

#8: Go sightseeing at Chamarel

Chamarel is the name of an area - there's two main attractions here: a 100metre waterfall (that apparently grows a lot bigger than in this picture during the rainy season), and a mound of multi-colored dirt, caused by different metal oxides, called the chamarel seven coloured earths.

#9: Scuba Doo

We don't know how good or bad the Scuba scene is (cos we don't dive), but we did try scuba-doo instead, which is a motorized scuba scooter. Was pretty fun!

#10: Swimming with dolphins.

That's me. swimming with dolphins. Do I need to say any more? I managed to chase a group of ~10 dolphins down and touch one of their tail fins!

#11: Casela Nature Park

There's a bunch of things to do in this park. There's a mini zoo where you can see birds and animals, a mini petting zoo area where you can feed deer, chickens, goats and turkeys, and a pond for catch and release tilapia fishing. You can go on safari, or you can go on safari on segway, or on quad bike, or even walk with lions! You could easily spend an entire day here and not be bored.

If you've got any questions or updates or if you know anything that's changed in the last few years, do let us know in the comments below!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Roasted Nuts (with different varieties of flavors)

New exploration in our kitchen. Let our journey begin with roasted nuts exploration.

Below are our creations hopefully it'll inspire you. Hope you all will love these recipe.

Honey Butter Roasted Nuts

4 cups of Nuts / Seeds
40g Butter
2 tablespoons Honey
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
0.25 teaspoon All Spice / Cinnamon (Optional)

1. Pre-heat Oven to 150°C Fan Mode or 160°C Top Bottom Mode.
2. Heat the Butter and Honey in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it’s bubbling.
3. Turn off the heat and add the Nuts to the pan. Toss the Nuts around in the Honey Butter with a spoon until they’re coated.
4. Sprinkle Sugar and half of the Salt on the Honey Butter Nuts, followed by tossing to coat well. Work quickly while the honey is still warm and viscous.
5. Spread the Coated Nuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Use more than one cookie sheet if necessary.
6. Put in the oven and roast the nuts for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir the nuts every five to 10 minutes as they cook.
7. Remove from the oven when the Nuts look golden.
8. Sprinkle them with the remainder of the Salt and leave them to fully cool before storing.

Mild Spicy Roasted Nuts

4 cups of Nuts / Seeds
40g Olive Oil
0.5 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
0.5 teaspoon Garlic Powder
0.5 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Salt
0.25 teaspoon All Spice / Cinnamon (Optional)

1. Pre-heat Oven to 160°C Fan Mode or 170°C Top Bottom Mode.
2. Measure all dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Pour the nuts in a big bowl, drizzle the Olive Oil and give it a toss until it's even.
4. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mixed dried ingredients and give it a toss until it's even. Repeat until all the dry ingredients are mixed in.
5. Spread the Coated Nuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Use more than one cookie sheet if necessary.
6. Put in the oven and roast the nuts for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir the nuts every five to 10 minutes as they cook.
7. Remove from the oven when the Nuts look golden.
8. Leave them to fully cool before storing.

Below are the mixture of nuts that we've tried.

Mix 1: Cashew Nuts (1 Cup), Brazilian Nuts (1 Cup), Walnuts (1 Cup), Melon Seeds (1 Cup)
Mix 2: Cashew Nuts (2 Cup), Walnuts (1 Cup), Macadamia Nuts (1 Cup)

Some Extra Tips Below:
- Tossing nuts with Honey and a Sugar coating before roasting them gives the nuts a shell-like glaze. These nuts are sweeter and crunchier than traditional honey-roasted nuts.
- Use the same methods with any other nuts or a mixture of nuts. Smaller nuts might not take as long to roast, so keep your eye on them and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Friday, September 30, 2016

Pound Cake Recipe (with different varieties of flavors)

200g Plain Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
200g Butter
150g Sugar
4 Eggs
60ml to 70ml of Milk (to replace with below desire flavor)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Step By Step
1. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Sift Flour with Baking Powder and put aside.
3. Preheat oven at 165°C and line baking pan with baking paper.
4. Add in eggs beating until smooth and creamy.
5. Add in Vanilla and beat till well combine.
6. Add Sifted Flour and Baking Powder and mix until will combine.
7. Add in orange juice and zest, beat till well combine.
8. Add Sifted Flour and Baking Powder and mix until will combine.
9. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 50mins or until when insert a cake tester it comes out clean.

Some Extra Tips Below:
- The cake taste and is more moist after 24 hours.

Below are my creations hopefully it'll inspire you. Hope you all will love this recipe.

Orange Pound Cake
60ml to 70ml of Orange Juice (Replace with original recipe Milk)
1 Large Orange Zest

Click here for our blog page Baking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hipster Singaporean food at Sinpopo Brand - Katong / Joo Chiat.

With dozens of restaurants and cafés popping up around Singapore seemingly almost daily, eateries can sometimes tend to feel a little generic - after all, a burger joint is a burger joint is a burger joint, no? It takes quite a bit of differentiation and something special to get stand out of the crowd - which is what Sinpopo Brand is trying to do with its hipster, retro take on Singapore-Malaysian food favorites!

Sinpopo Brand

There's a bunch of interesting-sounding drinks - for example, Fake Bird's Nest and Longan Slushie - which we skip in favor of a childhood favorite a little closer to our hearts - the Sng Muay Pop ($5). It's essentially kat chai suen mui Mark-II: lime, bits of sour plum frozen in sour ice balls, plopped into sweetened soda water, and is actually pretty damn good.

Sinpopo Brand Sng Muay Pop

The Crab Wantons ($8) were a decent, if less than epiphanic starter. The the house dip was flavourful, and the wantons were nice and crispy, but were just missing a little depth of flavour.

Sinpopo Brand Crab Wantons

For our main course we went with the house special - Nasi Lemak for Two ($25), with free flow sambal (and presumably rice). The rice itself was a little mushy and underwhelming, which disappointed a little; The accompaniments ranged from utterly delicious (har cheong kai wings), so-so-lah (luncheon meat crisps, sambal fishballs, potatoes in curry) to "meh" (rojak slaw). Overall the set was pretty nice, but we weren't so sure if it's something we'd crave for in the future.

Sinpopo Brand Nasi Lemak For Two

With advancement in age comes a reduction in stomach capacity and a shrinking sweet tooth; so we only tried one dessert - the Gula Melaka Cake ($7). The cake has really simple execution - it's just a sponge cake with a layer of gula melaka glazing, but the balance of flavours and textures is sublime. Definitely a nice, sweet and satisfying end to the meal.

Sinpopo Brand Gula Melaka Cake

At just over $25 a person, we thought that the food was pretty reasonably priced (this is a restaurant/cafe after all). Food wasn't perfect, but it was good enough at the price point that we'll certainly come back to try some of the other items on the menu - the Sliced Wagyu Horfun sounds particularly interesting!

Sinpopo Brand is at 458 Joo Chiat Rd, S 427671; reservations not accepted. Non-halal.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Broccoli with Egg Gravy (Wat Tan a.k.a. 滑蛋)

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 head diced Garlic
2 florets Broccoli
1 tablespoon of Filtered Water
125ml Filtered Water (Optional: Chicken Stock, Vegetable Stock)
1 teaspoon Corn Flour
0.5 teaspoon Salt
0.5 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Worcester Sauce
1 teaspoon Fish Sauce
2 teaspoons Shaoxin Wine
Dash of White Pepper
1 beaten whole egg (Optional: 1 whole Egg White only)

Part 1: Heat pan then add Vegetable Oil. Pick up the pan and carefully swirl it to coat the bottom and sides. Add the Garlic and stir them until fragrant. Add Broccoli and 1 tablespoon of Filtered Water, cover and cook. Stir-fry until the broccoli is bright colored or until cooked. Dish the cooked broccoli into the serving plate, if possible leave the cooked garlic in the pan.

Part 2: Using the same pan. Pour in the mixed Filtered Water & Corn Flour, bring it to a simmer. Add all the seasoning (Salt, Sugar, Worcester Sauce, Fish Sauce, Shaoxin Wine, White Pepper), stir and let it simmer down.

Lastly, remove pan from heat and slowly drizzle in beaten egg, stirring gently with a fork in a clockwise motion. Pour egg gravy over Broccoli.

Below are my creations of varieties hopefully it'll inspire you. Hope you all will love this recipe.

Broccoli, Wolf-berries with Egg Gravy
1 tablespoon dried Wolf-berries

Add into Part 2 before adding all the seasoning.

Broccoli, Carrots with Egg Gravy
1 handful of sliced Carrot

Add into Part 1 together with the Broccoli.

Click here for our blog page Cooking Recipes - Chinese Cuisine for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Oriental Club at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore (Club Lounge)!

In December last year (yes ... this post is almost eight months late 😰) the darling and I celebrated a birthday with a staycation at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore's Ocean Grand Room. It was a gorgeous, comfortable room with an amazing view of the Singapore Flyer, MBS and the Gardens by the Bay.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore Ocean Grand Room View

Our room also came with Club Lounge access - at the contemporary-oriental-decor'ed Oriental Club on the 19th floor. We thought the lounge was pretty gorgeous - with dark wood and woody accents everywhere, and cheongsam-clad waitresses providing a splash of oriental flair.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge
Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge

The view is a little underwhelming, to be honest ... even at night when the lights come on.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge

The main benefits of having access to the Oriental Club (other than having a nice place with comfortable sofas to lounge around and relax in) are:

👉 Private check-in and check-out at the Oriental Club Lounge
👉 Champagne breakfast and afternoon tea, and all-day soft beverages
👉 Evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres

There's a huge range drinks-wise - sparkling & still water, juices & soft drinks, assorted beers, premium TWG teas, champagne and a collection of spirits and liqueurs. As we don't drink we can't comment on how good (or bad) the booze was, but the rest of the range was great - especially the teas.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge Beverages and Drinks
Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge Beverages and Drinks
Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge Beverages and Drinks

The afternoon tea and evening hors d'ouevres both have a surprisingly substantial spread of food. Nowhere near as substantial as a proper high tea or buffet dinner, of course, but with enough variety of hot food, cakes, pastries and other sweets to feed you for the entire afternoon / evening.

Cocktails & certain alcoholic drinks are complimentary during evening cocktail hours.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge High Tea and Cocktails
Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge High Tea and Cocktails

After a good night's sleep, you have the option to have your breakfast at the Oriental Club - which you should most certainly take advantage of in order to avoid the crazily overcrowded main restaurant. Helps that the breakfast spread is pretty damn good - hot food, cold cuts, juices and pastries - plus a nice made-to-order menu! We ordered Eggs Benedict and the Singapore Wanton Noodle Soup, both of which were well executed.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge Breakfast
Mandarin Oriental Singapore Oriental Club Lounge Breakfast

So is access to the Oriental Club worth the money? It's a bit hard to say. If you're in the city for a holiday or for business/work, you'd likely be out of the hotel for most of the day, so you wouldn't really be able to take advantage of the benefits anyways. But on the other hand if you're pampering yourself to a rest & relax staycation then we would definitely highly recommend it. Two thumbs up!