Saturday, 31 May 2014

A little bit of 1925...

Awesome deliciousness in the form of house-brewed ale and fries...
Daler & Rowney watercolour on Moleskine watercolour sketchbook
After the sketchwalk at Jalan Besar/ Lavender, I brought the hardcore gang to the newest kid on the block, The 1925 Microbrewery & Restaurant. It’s the latest watering hole establishment in the area, serving house brewed Czech-style beer.

I have mentioned their awesome coffee on my previous visit and they are still awaiting custom approval to serve their beer. However, I am a VERY fortunate sketcher today: guess who was at the pubistro (yup, I am officially coining this term) when co-owner Ivan was having a special tasting session of their ales? Yes! US! And more importantly: ME!

On my last visit, I was told of a secret ingredient in brew: Ivan drew my curiosity about a delicious ale that is infused with manuka honey. Yes, you read it right: that very healthful apian produce buzzes its way into the golden nectar. Now that’s guilt-free indulgence, in fact one might say it’s downright essential consumption. No exaggeration.

Although only eight days old (and eight days shy of a mature brew), the beautifully hued beverage was already a sensation on the tongue: light, crisp and deliciously easy on the palate, it flowed down the throat like fingers on a silken scarf.

It was a pity I was there after lunch, so I did not get to order their mains. However, it did not stop me from having a side of wasabi fries to go with the ale. The fries were yums by themselves, but I am sure there is something that would go better with the drink… we shall discover that on our subsequent visits.

I left with nary a hint of drunkenness (despite having down a full pint) and a VERY grateful palate…

I encountered a very friendly and generous co-owner, Mr Ivan Yeo, when I visited the pubistro...

USKSG - May Sketchwalk: Lavender / Jalan Besar: Art Deco Shophouses at Hamilton Road

Daler & Rowney Watercolour x Daniel Smith Watercolour on Moleskine Aquarelle Sketchbook.

I was attracted by the elegant linearity of the Art Deco style shophouses. Then I went to research on its current occupants:

濟善堂 (济善堂) was founded by businessmen from the metalworking industry. It moved to Hamilton Rd in the 1970s and has helped the elderly Jalan Besar residents since 1976. It is also a local temple that is the shrine of 济世大王, 玄天上帝 and 顺平圣侯 while the Shun Zhou (顺洲) Group is marine hardware specialist company.

I am glad that they have preserved the beautiful strictly symmetrical façade of the building.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

USKSG - May Sketchwalk: Lavender / Jalan Besar

USKSG - May Sketchwalk.
Hosted by Eve, Paul, Vincent & William.
For the month of May, USKSG will be having our sketchwalk within the vicinity of the up-and-coming hipster place of Lavender/Jalan Besar area! Meeting at 9 in the morning, outside Lavender MRT Station, at the space outside of Wendy’s (the junk food joint) and thereafter, depart and commence on our own sketch trails at 9.30. After which, the customary show-and-tell is in the afternoon at 12.30 under the shelter and outside Jalan Besar Sports Complex, opposite the shophouses along Horne Road.

Lavender, with its once-famous landmark of the Kallang Gasworks (if you are, ahem, grown-up enough to remember) used to be the sewage area of the island during its colonial past. A popular anecdote of how the place got its name, was the colonists, who simply could not withstand the pong around and in the area, so decided to christen the place ‘Lavender’ – a term associated with perfumery and laundry. Oh, how dry and ironic, the typical British wit.

Jalan Besar was part of Serangoon Road, the main transport artery of the island way back when expressways were unheard of (PIE-what?), and was the stretch what some of our grandparents might refer to as ” [sah-bey-lor (Hokkien); sah-beh-lou (Teochew); sam-mah-lou (Cantonese)].

The place, though not earmarked as a heritage site or for conservation as extensively as Little India itself, has enough history of its own. Many of the area’s buildings have been given a new lease of life, conserving its façade through grassroot business projects and businesses. The most prominent cases in point would be Kam Leng Hotel and Chye Seng Huat Hardware.

Otherwise, the spot, which had seen its hey-day in the art-deco 1930s, when New World Amusement park was all the rage, has a brilliant collection of that modern, rectilinear-styled shophouses and buildings.

Now breezing in on the location’s second wind, is a whole parade of cafés, lifestyle stores and multi-label boutiques that have lend their hands in creating the quirky, hipster vibe of the place.

Saturday, 31 May, meeting outside Wendy’s at Lavender Station (red marker, see picture attachment below), 9AM, commencing at 9.30AM and ending at 12.30PM, outside Jalan Besar Sports Complex (blue marker).

There are neither fees nor attendance taken. While there is no coaching or teaching involved, all drawing-skill levels are welcome. This sketchwalk (like all sketchwalks) is open to everyone and anyone. All you have to do is show up on time.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Happy Vesak…

Lotus at Kandang Kerbau Hospital Lotus Pond. 
(Details added indoors)
Holbein Artists’ Watercolor on Stillman & Birn Delta Hardbound
This day commemorates and celebrates the birth, enlightenment (nirvana) and passing away (Parinirvana) of the Lord Gautama Buddha all in one day. A miracle, no?

Anyway, on this day, I went on a morning walk at the Kandang Kerbau Hospital: the place of my birth. I love the lotus pond just next to it. I also love capturing the flowers in bloom in the pond. It’s quietly contemplative there and I love it.

In the midst of my sketching/painting, I suddenly thought of my paternal grandfather. Not sure why. Was it the music I was listening to, or the statuettes of Bodhisattvas that lined his residential shrine? I am not sure. I hardly know the man, except that he was my father’s father and he’s brother (my granduncle) was a sailor. Anyway, I let the thought come in and out of my contemplation as I recorded the flowers pictorially and in watercolours, before me.

Like the withered and brown ones in the pond, the man, my grandfather had passed away years ago and like the pods left standing in the sparkling green waters, his body has also gone to seed.

Happy Vesak.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

I AM having dessert, again!

I AM Cafe's signature red velvet cake with Clipper's red berry tea
Holbein Artists’ Watercolor on Stillman & Birn Delta Hardbound
After Oromo, Eve and I decided on Haji lane for a second round of cakes. Our original intended Shop Wonderland had closed for the day, so we headed to I AM instead. Miracles of miracles! There was no queue! We had the red velvet: yes, the picture above is not a prime rib dish but the cake itself - all seven layers of it.

It's good for three persons to share actually.

Oromo Coffee: Aroma Present

UCC Cafe is served at Oromo Coffee at Shaw Towers
Holbein Artists’ Watercolor on Stillman & Birn Delta Hardbound
I was introduced to coffee drinking through the brand UCC. Thus I am always excited when I spot a cafe that serves it. Oromo at Shaw Towers uses the Largo blend for its espresso drinks and a variety of other selections for serious connoisseurs to taste wit their siphon extraction.

While there with Parka and Eve, they chose to sketch the whole place while I decided to focus on the contents of the display shelf. You can see the actual shelf on Parka's sketch.

Raffles City: the City within a city

Raffles City off Carver Street, Bras Basah
Holbein Artists’ Watercolor on Stillman & Birn Delta Hardbound

I met up with fellow sketchers Parka and Eve and proceeded to sketch this scene off Carver Street at Bras Basah.

I remember Raffles City and the hotel within the compound: The then Westin Stamford and the Westin Hotel was the pride and and joy of the nation for a while. At the time of its opening, it held the reputation of being the tallest hotel in the world.

Designed by the internationally renown I. M. Pei, it was laid out and intended to be a city with a city. In its original incarnation, it had a central atrium (now occupied by Shanghai Tang, Agnes B and other boutiques) representing a metaphorical park, which opens to a tremendous skylight. The height of the triple volume space held space frames, which in turn held floodlights that faded in and out simulating cloud cast. It was a beautifully poetic space.

That graceful arena has since been replaced by economy.

A River Runs Through It

Whampoa River along the stretch by St George's Water Park
Holbein Artists’ Watercolor on Stillman & Birn Delta Hardbound

I’ve known this place forever, as in since I was born: I’ve lived in this neighbourhood and went to the school next to it and now I work near it and live so too.

Whampoa River IS a real river, or at least, it was originally a river until the municipal ‘improved’ it in to a canal and subsequently to its current incarnation as a water park. Otherwise, the body of flowing water is a tributary of the main Kallang River.

Beautiful as it is to see the emerald waters sparkle in the sun, this was the same body of water that took away one of my best friends and classmates from childhood: I remember you, Shahzali. Thank you for the memories and the rulers you’ve given me in class.
:) Cheers! Wherever you are now.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

So pretty a place: Suprette

Suprette at Kam Leng Hotel
Holbein Artists’ Watercolor on Stillman & Birn Delta Hardbound

Suprette is a compact restaurant within KamLeng Hotel and located at the up-and-coming oh-so-hip Jalan Besar district. The skilful barista serves a great cappuccino with Papa Palhetta’s fresh Terra Firma roasts.

Food wise, it is as generously portioned as it is delicious: amongst my friends and I, we had the roast spring chicken (tender, moist and well-seasoned), both versions of the burger: chicken as well as beef (both of good heft and full-flavoured patties, respectively). The mains come with a mesclun salad and free-flow shoestring fries.

Set within the comfort of a dim and cool ambience, my only gripe is having to eat out of cheap enamel crockery. There are enamel wares and then there are enamelware: quality is not mutually exclusive to the product. If they insist on the nostalgic of enamel, they should consider these brands: Falcon Enamel and Crow Canyon.

Just sayin'