The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Friday, December 27, 2013

A year long wait for the more exciting sequel is already agonising enough. But what made it even harder to endure is that the ending wasn't what I expected it to be. Yes, I was referring to The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug which finally reveals who & how the dragon looks like, hibernating in Erebor for years with mountainous gold.

In Desolation of Smaug, we get to see more elves in action as Thorin's group travels pass Thranduil's Hall in order to reach Lake Town. Orlando Bloom fans, unite! He reprises his role again as Legolas, looking gorgeous with platinum blonde hair & strikingly blue eyes. In my opinion, he looked a little mature in this film compared to his similar role 10 years ago, which doesn't sit too well wit the idea of ageless elves. I still remember gushing over Bloom appears in each scene just because he looks so boyishly handsome. Now no longer but still hot nonetheless. After all, there's still Kili to swoon over despite being vertically challenged XD.

I wouldn't bother giving you a gist of the story. Otherwise, it would rob the excitement of watching it yourself. This kind of movie is best enjoyed with your own eyes rather than living it through the eyes of others. There are several new additions to the film which are not found in the book. Peter Jackson defended his actions against critics about the need to expand the Tolkien's works for a more immersive & better understanding of Middle Earth.

I'd have to agree in some way when it comes to film adaptation of literary works. The 2-3 hour length of each film is crucial to capture the essence of the book, something that filmmakers can't afford to waste every minute. In contrast, a book involves imagination from the readers & each individual interpret Tolkien's literature in different manner at their own pace. Hence, no one blames each other for their own Middle Earth whereas filmmakers feel the pressure of recreating that universe ideal to Tolkien's fans.

Glad that those new twist to the plot turns out pretty exciting, thus jacking up the whole interest level on certain characters' development. Just to tease you guys, look out for Kili & Tauriel. Meanwhile, the rest of the movie is awesome so please don't ever miss it.

Pic courtesy of

The Heirs

Friday, December 13, 2013

Recently, I've caught on the kdrama bug again & couldn't keep my eyes away from this new drama starring Lee Min Ho & Park Shin Hye. The title drama title is 상속자들 or loosely translated as "The Heirs" or "The Inheritors".

The drama started airing on 9 October in Korea on SBS channel, Wednesday & Thursday at 10pm (Korean time). Scheduled for 20 episodes, the story follows a group of privileged, rich & elite high school students who are groomed to succeed their families' business empires. On the surface, these students may have everything under control except their love lives - family, relationship, friendship. Things turn topsy turvy when chaebol heir, Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho) fell in love with lower class girl, Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye) & later entangled in a love triangle with Choi Young Do (Kim Woo Bin).

The series' main theme of forbidden love between a rich lad & a poor girl bears a lot of resemblance to Min Ho's previous work, Boys Over Flowers but takes on a more realistic storytelling approach. While I enjoyed both Boys Over Flowers & The Heirs for its entertaining elements, I preferred the former for its stronger female protagonist. It irked me that modern Korean society still dwells in the age old traditions that favours male dominance & portraying females as weaker beings. I was especially annoyed by the writer penning Eun Sang's character as someone who gets pushed around & being told what to do by her boyfriend, Kim Tan. In these days, women are equally capable compared to men.

Personally, I thought the plot was developing rather well at a decent pace; introducing significant characters at the right time. Not to forget the beautifully shot scenes in US on summer love really does tug the heartstring. Who can ever forget the scene at the almond farm when Kim Tan looks up to Eun-sang with tearful, lost puppy eyes while drenched by water sprinklers? Poor boy.

As the series progresses, instead of allowing sufficient airtime for each character's story unfold, the writer opted to focus more on Kim Tan-Eun Sang's tormented love story. No doubt the couple forms the core of the series, other equally crucial side stories lack development, leaving much to be desired with 2 episodes wasted. After watching yesterday's finale episode, it was just as I predicted that the writer rushed to tie up the loose ends in 1 hour. It almost felt like some of the characters had a 360° attitude change within a short span just so the plot could go in favour of the main couple. And c'mon, why only start building on the intimate romance between Kim Won (Choi Jin Hyuk) & Jeon Hyun Joo (Im Joo Eun) towards the last episode??

Overall, I believe this series is enjoying high ratings due its stellar casts' great performance & popularity. It's their fantastic acting skills that filled up the gaps in the lacklustre script. Otherwise, it would be a boring piece to follow through. Nevertheless, The Heirs was still an entertaining watch despite all its flaws. After all, the casts are fine looking men & women - a definite eye candy feast! Yum...

Jobless (again) yet a new chapter awaits

Friday, December 06, 2013

I could barely believe that today was my last day of working at my current company. Serving two months was agonising, more so the workload that I intend to complete or pass on to someone else, just keeps flowing in like a burst water pipe. For the first time in my working life, no one bothers to have a proper handover session. Yes, you read it right. NO ONE. Not even my own boss.

So, how did I endure the last 2 months? I continued to work my ass off as if I didn't tender my resignation at all. Even to the extend of covering a portion of next year's project. And my boss didn't even bother to take over those tasks until my very last day. Can you imagine staying in the office until 8pm on your last working day? Unbelievable!

Now I'm sitting here happily blogging about this with a sense of relief that I'm finally off the hook. I look forward to my less stressful days ahead as I focus on developing skills in areas of interest that is close to my heart. No doubt the thought of being jobless again while worrying about necessary expenses still linger. But, this is part & parcel of sacrificing something in order to focus on building what I'm truly passionate about.

I've been told that I hop in between jobs too often, which I shamefully admit it. Although I enjoy being a marketer, the companies I worked for, sadly, does not believe in marketing initiatives. As an individual, why would I want to be involved with an organisation (being insulted, belittled, yet expected to work non-stop) when they do not value marketing itself? What more people like me in this area of expertise? After all, marketers are spenders & they're hired to spend efficiently & bring extra returns. Above all of that, the situation worsened when I had a cynical boss with an identity crisis, whom I couldn't trust. The next question remains, do you want to work for someone who asks you to jump into the cliff first when he/she smells trouble?

Many people told me countless times that I just have to accept & deal with the problems if I want to continue staying in a corporate environment. I guess I've lost the battle again in dealing with a bunch of pretentious people who lacks integrity & expertise, yet still able to leave a life outside work full of lies & deceit. God bless you! Karma will soon come.

I've finally realised that I'm not the type who works for people. I'm pretty sure of myself that I should be self employed. Hence, I've decided to pursue my passion seriously without turning back. Definitely not jumping into the business bandwagon as of yet but I'm making plans. I'll still search for a job & work until I'm ready. Wish me luck!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Another anticipated sequel for the year end holidays has finally released! Having watched The Hunger Games last year without any prior knowledge of the story kept me wanting for more. It's quite a "torture" to wait for 1 year later for the movie to be released. So, is it really worth the wait? I'd like to believe so. After all, I refused to read the trilogy books for fear of spoilers.

For the record, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire picks up where the first movie left off whereby Katniss Everdeen & Peeta Mellark return home after winning the 74th Hunger Games. President Snow threatens Katniss to convince everyone that her actions during the games were out of genuine love for Peeta. Later, Snow announced a Third Quarter Quell whereby tributes are selected from previous victors. When Katniss & Haymitch was picked to represent District 12, Peeta volunteered to take Haymitch's place.

The development gets better this time as more characters are introduced into a more complex plot. Pace is quicker hence it almost kept me at the edge of the seat most of the time. Of course, Sam Calflin as Finnick Odair is no doubt an eye candy throughout the 2-hour movie. *drools* Although he buffed up for the film, Calflin's face looked chiseled & slightly hollowed, as if he lost some weight in the process. I need more Finnick in the 3rd movie considering I fancy Liam Hemsworth less.

A great watch for sure so don't miss this out. Otherwise, you wouldn't understand how the heck the 3 parts piece up together when the 3rd instalment is released next year. After all, The Hunger Games is one of the must-watch year end holiday movie.

Pic courtesy of

More than meets the eye

Friday, November 29, 2013

In case you didn't know, I tendered my resignation & is close to completing my 2 months notice at my current company. Just barely a week before my last day, my GM's secretary suddenly confided to me about her hidden feelings for the Key Account Manager (KAM). No, don't get me wrong. I didn't mean that she had a crush on the manager. She was expressing her dissatisfaction about the KAM because the latter seemed to be taking advantage of their office friendship to obtain corporate information.

Honestly, I was surprised by her willingness to share her inner thoughts about the KAM with me because she is the type who is extra cautious with her words. In the office, she is infamous for being nasty woman who doesn't hesitate speaking her mind off. We chatted for almost 2 hours today; the topic revolving around the same person & the secretary wasn't afraid to reveal her true colours. To put it nicely, she needed a friend to hear out her disappointment that she somehow felt betrayed for trusting & helping out the KAM. On a negative note, the secretary is no different from other staffs in the office merely looking for someone to bitch about another.

I was baffled that she decided to say many things to me now when I'm about to leave in a week's time. Many questions popped up in my head after today's incident. Was she genuinely upset that she needed a friend to lend an ear? Why am I only her friend now when we've known each other as co-workers for 1 year? Or was she taking advantage of me to backstab the KAM much to her desire, knowing that I won't be bothered to report it to the KAM, since I am leaving already?

I was skeptical about the secretary's behaviour & chose my words carefully too. Perhaps my hunch is right. Whichever the truth is, I didn't give a damn about how unethical the KAM is. I've already known that she was making use of my kindness all this while but I gave in mainly because we were colleagues with benefits. As for the secretary, she is probably truthful about her thoughts. Nevertheless, this is incident has taught me a great lesson. A lot of people you meet in the corporate world is certainly more than meets the eye. It is very important to choose your words wisely or risk getting yourself into serious trouble.

Canapes Escape

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Canapes are one of my favourites whenever I dine at hotel buffets. Imagine my joy when At 19 Culinary Studio planned for a Canapes Escape class. When I received the recipe, I was slightly disappointed that bread stick will be taught in class. In my dictionary, I never considered bread stick as canapes because canapes essentially have garnish sitting on top of shaped stale bread or puff pastry. Besides bread stick, we will be making seafood vol-au-vent, potato cakes & chicken burger.

We started preparing the bread dough first since it require longer completion time. To make mini burger bun, we mixed all the dry ingredients (plain flour, yeast, sugar & milk powder) using a dough hook in a bowl. Salt is added later to prevent spoiling the yeast if added earlier. Next, we added in eggs, milk & cold water, adjusting the mixer to slow speed & allow it to combine well for 10 mins. Butter is then added with fast speed setting for 5 mins.

The dough is proved for 15-20 mins. We shaped the dough & left it to proof for another 15-20 mins. See how huge the dough has grown just in over 20 mins.

The dough is baked for about 25-30 mins until nicely browned. The burger bun is left aside to cool & ready to use. Similarly, we prepared the dough for the bread stick first before moving on to the next recipe. The difference between a burger bun dough & bread stick dough is the absence of egg & butter in the latter. Hence, the bread stick dough will be more elastic compared to its counterpart. After the bread stick dough is ready, we cut it into strips & twirl so that it turns out curly when baked. Bread stick requires about 15-30 mins of baking.

Next, we started working on the 2nd recipe - seafood vol-au-vent which means seafood enclosed in a small hollow case of puff pastry. Vol-au-vent is usually filled with savoury ingredients but sweet fillings is possible too. For seafood, we picked squid & shrimp by cutting them into cubes. The cubes are then stirred together with sauteed garlic in butter. Cream is added then letting it simmer until the sauce thickens. We switched off the gas & allow the seafood to cool. Meanwhile, we cut the puff pastry using different size moulds. The cut puff pastry is stacked to form a hollow case, followed by a brush of egg yolk to promote a nice golden brown coating. Bake them at 180°C for 20 mins. We started scooping the seafood into the puff pastry, filling up the hollow space.

Our 2nd last recipe of the day is the chicken burger. We only need to prepare the patty since the burger bun was completed earlier. All that is required to make the patty is ground chicken, chopped parsley, onions, garlic, salt, ground black pepper & egg. Egg is added to the ground chicken & blended together until smooth. Once done, the blended chicken mix is combined with parsley, sauteed onions & garlic while adding salt & pepper to taste. We also mix in some capers to give a richer taste to the patty. The mixture is shaped into 4 1/2-inch thick patties which will be grilled over medium heat for 8-10 mins when covered. As soon as the patty is done, we started assembling the mini chicken burger.

Lastly, we continued with the potato cakes recipe. The potatoes were scrubbed before boiling them in lightly salted water. Once cooked, we grated them & mashed it with other ingredients - shallot, red chili, spring onion & coriander leaves. We formed the mash potatoes into patties which is then dredge in flour, eggs & crumbs. The patties is to be cooked in a non-stick pan for 2-3 mins until golden brown. For a lesser oil alternative, the patties can be baked in the oven.

There you have it, 4 different recipes to tantalise your personal taste buds. The one thing I didn't fancy is that the portion which was taught wasn't exactly mini size, in which defeats the purpose of calling the dishes as canapes. Oh well, as long the recipes tasted great & it's all that matters. The rest boils down to lots & lots of practice.

Thor: The Dark World

Friday, November 08, 2013

After the first instalment, the fans are left wanting more of the legendary Norse god, Thor played by the uber sexy & muscular Chris Hemsworth. As soon as you see random people posting fan gags dedicated to Thor & Loki, this insane fan fad is signalling the arrival of the sequel.

How did this sequel fare compared to the first movie? Definitely better, though not great. I like how the screenwriters inject more layers & try to add complexity to the rather thin storyline. Forget about the logic & science behind the plot because it'll never be answered. Despite the nonsense, the characters are still as lovable & the actions scenes are equally convincing so I just couldn't find major faults with this sequel.

There's a brief moment of skinship, if that's your reason for watching. Hemsworth bares his godly body to all you giggly females. I noticed some father figure there - the kind of body shape that develops among men who have recently became fathers. Common men usually become wider but Hemsworth seems bulkier/fatter than the first movie. Just my two cents. He still looks gorgeous.

Now the real star power here is none other than Loki aka Tom Hiddleston. Gah!! His entertaining prowess skyrockets in this movie. It's no wonder the world is obsessed with him, not to mention women's ovaries exploding at the sight of him. Search his name on YouTube & see for yourself his witty charm, & his love for impressions & dancing. Even I couldn't get enough of his acting. If only he would appear in the third movie but that wouldn't make sense, right?

I'm not gonna reveal any detail of the story. I must say it's predictable but it would be more fun to watch it yourself. Makes more sense to embrace all that is offered in Marvel Universe.

Pic courtesy of

Courage & exams

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

I was driving to work this morning as usual when the topic on exams was discussed on radio caught my attention. Apparently, SPM starts today & the radio announcers were giving words of encouragement to all the exam candidates who are sitting the first paper this morning. Those words did ring a bell - no matter what your fears are, you'll still have to go through the process. As long as there was effort put in, you'll be able to come out of it just fine with no regrets.

During the half hour drive, it made me ponder about my similar experience exactly 10 years ago. Those exam moments were nerve-wrecking at that time but it baffles me that I have no recall of how hard I slogged during my preparation. I just couldn't comprehend how on earth I breeze through SPM & managed to bag 7As in my credentials.

Then, I realised that no matter how difficult those times were, somehow I managed to find the courage to endure the entire process. The best part was coming out of hardship feeling ever stronger than before & reaping the benefits. The coming months will be trying times for me as I will be out of job for a while. I keep telling myself to be persistent & stay strong no matter the obstacles which lie ahead. If I feel strongly passionate about my dream, I should stop dreaming but focus to pursue it. Never mind about what others say as long the steps taken were well thought out. After all, everyone starts off on a bumpy road before succeeding at a later stage. All I need now is a little luck...

Special ID

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I was at JB 2 days ago with WL for a short trip to do my hair while he went to visit his customers. Since we didn't anything much to do on Thursday night, we decided to watch Special ID starring Donnie Yen at MBO, KSL Mall.

This is by far the worse Chinese movie I've ever watched in the cinema. It's a pity because the action scenes were awesome, yet lacked a strong storyline. The plots were messy & all I can ever remember is everyone fighting each other.

I shall not elaborate further as I didn't really enjoyed the movie except the action scenes. Even then, those scenes became rather draggy as it seemed to go on a never ending ride. I wouldn't recommend this movie if you are looking for something more solid. It does leave much to be desired.

Pic courtesy of

Escape Plan

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The October month is not exactly the right timing to visit the cinema unless you're a fan of horror movies. It's the month of Halloween & scary, creepy movies are aplenty. Among the plethora of horror flicks, Escape Plan stood out from the rest. Since WL & I needed a quick fix for our day-to-day work stress, this movie seems like the best bet.

Front lined by 2 Hollywood action stars of yesteryears, Escape Plan at first did sounded like another Expendables-styled movie. After 30 mins of the movie, I have concluded that the plot is indeed a bit more intelligent than their recent works. In summary, Stallone took on the role of Ray Breslin, a former prosecutor who owns a security firm specialised in testing the reliability of maximum security prisons. His approach is rather unusual - he chooses to spend time in prison to study the designs & guards' habits in order to know & exploit their weaknesses. This in turn will help Breslin to escape without any issues.

When Breslin & his partner were offered a multi-million deal to test a top-secret prison & conclude if it is escape-proof, the former agreed immediately without any suspicions even though the T&C of the offer was against his personal rules. Things turned awry when Breslin was drugged & his tracking microchip forcefully removed, leaving his team unable to track his whereabouts. Upon regaining consciousness, he realised that he has arrived the top-secret prison & began his usual tactics to escape the prison. However, his initial plans failed & he almost gave up since the prison is highly guarded without any access to the view outside.

Breslin befriended fellow inmate Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarnegger) & together with other inmates, plotted an escape plan out of their cell. While the film's intention to showcase that our action heroes (Stallone & Schwarzenegger) still have their star power, the flow of the storyline ain't too bad. At least I don't have to cringe seeing their huge muscles bulging from their aging bodies.

Nevertheless, I have to salute these men for their efforts to maintain their shapes & look the part for the movie. Stallone is having more lines to say, which is a good thing. Otherwise, it is a pain to see him pulling off his signature face just like in Rambo - droopy eyes with the lips twisted to one side. Indeed entertaining on its own so it's safe to get your tickets for this movie. Just expect a showcase of explosions & gun fires, not forgetting that Schwarzenegger will always have the "Terminator" in his blood.

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Self-interview: 1st Year Reflection

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Interviewer: Today marks the 1st anniversary of your tenure in this company. How are you feeling?
Me: Relieved! It has been a long journey & it felt like forever. Never in my mind I would've thought of surviving here for 1 year. But I did!

Interviewer: Oh, my. Sounds bad. Any learnings that you would like to share?
Me: After switching jobs for the 3rd time, I'd realised that the working attitude of most people are pretty much the same. Selfish, ignorant, backstabber, shoe name it. The only difference in this company is that most people are hired for all the wrong reasons because they were never competent enough for the job, to begin with. Most new hires were based on relationships with the GM & his own biased judgement. As a result, tasks & projects were never executed nor accomplished properly because these people live by the principle, NATO. No action, talk only.

Interviewer: I share your sentiments. Let's talk about something more positive. How about sharing some of your achievements?
Me: Well, I did felt proud that I have managed to launch a pretty successful integrated campaign (in my company's context) which resulted in good sales. I reckon my competitors started taking note of our efforts & couldn't bear sitting down, doing nothing. They have obviously amped up their activities & were more aggressive than ever. Sadly, there is no way I can ever match up to them in terms of sizeable activities due limited budget. At least, I'd dare say that I've tried my very best & the campaign did bear fruit; much thanks to some of my colleagues.

Interviewer: Congratulations! That's good for you. Tell me, what are your future plans?
Me: Honestly, I don't think I have a strong reason to stay anymore. I am pretty exhausted, having to work 12 hours a day. The usual working hours is not enough for me to accomplish my planned task for the day. Either I stay longer in the office or I bring the work & continue at home. A lot of people tells me that work can never be completed, otherwise the company will go out of business. In reality, it's never easy tuning out from work especially being in this company. The reason is simple: my department or should I say most departments are short of manpower, hence each staff is expected to take up extra roles without questions. Moreover, the system used within the company is rather manual which makes it completing each task more daunting & less efficient.

Interviewer: Every company has their fair share of problems when it comes to internal procedures. Is there any aspect that would motivate you to stay longer?
Me: Unfortunately, no. New hires like me do bring in experiences & knowledge from past jobs with good intention to improve the current workflow, not to mention building the fundamentals that should exist in each company. There are a handful of colleagues who are less responsive towards adhering to basic, proper workflow to ensure the least smooth operation of the company. The mindset seems to be lacking far behind in terms of staying competitive; still stuck in age-old mentality. How do you expect these group of people function properly when they are not even meeting the basic requirement? Don't even hope to increase their productivity with higher level skills training. It takes two to tango - even if I'm a willing party to guide them, the effort will be put to waste if the receiving party is reluctant. In conclusion, money is not always the motivational factor to retain people like me. At my level, I'm also seeking to fulfill my psychological needs.

Interviewer: Oh my, that sounds serious. How about staying put for the sake of your department? You mentioned that your department is lacking manpower too.
Me: There is an underlying problem within the department too & it is unhealthy. I'm not trying to backstab anyone but only speaking from the heart of the experiences I've went through for the past 1 year. When you have a superior who instructs either one of you to perform a task, which could potentially affect the job security of other colleagues (without consensus & prior investigation by HR), this shows that the superior does not think through the consequences of the act. A sign of abusing power to get what he/she wants to go his/her way. My superior also betrayed my trust for her because she did not or refused to live by her words. I knew that I could no longer stay because you'll never know what are her underlying motives. I'm not expecting her to be pure, but she's certainly not a person integrity.

Interviewer: This sounds disturbing. You might need to be extra careful. Meanwhile, you should start looking for a job. Have you found one yet so far?
Me: I'm still actively looking out until the right one comes along. But I definitely can't bear staying here so I have decided to leave real soon. On the other hand, I've been wanting to pursue my other interests & I'm seriously looking into the options.

Interviewer: And what would that be?
Me: It's a secret & I'm not gonna reveal anything until things are finalised. :D

Interviewer: Good luck & all the best to you in whatever plans you have there.
Me: Thanks! I do need that~ :)

2 Guns

Sunday, September 29, 2013

As summer in the US comes to a close, we see less interesting movies premiering in the cinemas. Nevertheless, WL & I still needed our occasional dose of movies as entertainment. Given the freedom to choose, I picked 2 Guns for our movie outing.

Two A-list Hollywood actors, Denzel Washington & Mark Wahlberg frontlines the movie as undercover DEA agent, Trench & undercover Naval Intelligence Officer, Stigman respectively. Neither of them are aware that they are going undercover with individual motives. When their attempt to infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel & recover millions of dollars took a wrong turn, they are suddenly disavowed by their own superiors. Even people from each team were sent to "do whatever is necessary" to silence both agents.

I'm sure the rest of the scenes are pretty predictable with gun shots, car chases & vulgarity ensued when both agents survived the earlier attack. The movie seemed enjoyable at first because there are many witty one liners (even though vulgar) which are hilarious. However, the fun factor quickly diminished because character development & storyline is weak. It is rather disturbing to see the men (in the movies) acting particular violent.

In general, the movie is enjoyable in its own way but I don't think I can't stand another movie with similar antics. Movies with similar characteristics is surely soulless & lacks many substance to keep the audience glued for the next hour. If I were you, I wouldn't even bother about paying for the tickets to watch.

Pic courtesy of

Passionate About Pastries

Sunday, September 15, 2013

In the month of September, one class organised by At 19 Culinary Studio caught my attention - Passionate About Pastries. The subject matter speaks volume of my great interest & undying love for pastries. I booked my seat immediately without hesitation. It turned out the instructor will only be teaching 2 recipes for the day. Oh well... *shrugs*

The first pastry is called banana & apple turnover. First, we lined the baking tray with parchment paper & preheated the oven to 180°C. Then, we started preparing the filling by mixing together chopped apples, bananas, lemons & cinnamon powder. Sugar is omitted until the last step before the scooping the filling into the pastry. This is to apples oxidizing too quickly & juice seeping out from the apples too quickly.

Next, we mixed the sugar & orange rind in a separate bowl. On a floured surface, we rolled out the square puff pastry. Now is the time to combine the orange sugar mix with the fruit fillings prepared earlier. Small scoops of filling is placed in the centre of the rolled puff pastry & folded diagonally to one corner, making a triangular turnover. To seal the edges, we pressed the puff pastry firmly or for a neater finishing, we can use a fork to do the trick. Once all the puff pastry is filled up, they are placed on the baking tray. Each pastry is brushed with egg yolk & orange sugar for the extra glaze & crunch.

Finally, bake the puff pastry for 15-20 mins until puffed & well browned. Let the pastry cool on the wire rack.

The next recipe is cheese, thyme & wild mushroom tart. What a long name! Let's just call it mushroom tart. As usual, the over is preheated to 180°C while the baking tray is lined with parchment paper. Then, we washed & sliced the mushroom thinly. The sliced mushroom is then sauteed with chopped garlic, dried thyme & some olive oil. While stirring, add in Worchester sauce & some lemon juice. Follow up with salt & pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

Similarly, the puff pastry square is rolled on a floured surface. Scoop some mushroom topping into the centre. Pinch the side edge of the pastry to form a tart shape. Sprinkle some thyme & cheddar cheese on top, finishing off with some drizzle of olive oil over the topping. Brush the side of the pastry with egg yolk & bake them for 15-20 mins until well browned.

The banana-apple turnover is looks good & taste delicious but a little sweet so there's room for tweaking to suit my taste buds. Honestly, I wasn't too thrilled about the presentation for mushroom tart. Most of us failed to form a perfect tart shape using the method taught by the instructor. As a result, the tart ended up looking like a pillow. It would've been neater if we insert the pastry into tart shells/tin. Taste wise, I wouldn't opt for for cheddar cheese as topping because it's too salty & overpower the mushroom. I will need to look for another recipe.

The Wolverine

Thursday, August 08, 2013

After the last spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009, I least expected at the studios will likely make another movie focused on Wolverine's tale. Then along came this poster & movie trailer, I was definitely caught by surprise. Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Logan aka Wolverine again the Japanese saga of the comic.

The story unfolds with a quick flashback during World War II when Logan rescued an officer named Yashida from the atomic bombing blast in Nagasaki. In present day, Logan is living as a hermit while being trying to escape the tormenting hallucinations of Jean Grey whom he was forced to kill in X-Men: The Last Stand. He was located by a mutant working for Yashida, now a CEO of a technological corporation. Yashida, who has been battling cancer for years wants Logan to see him so that he can repay his life debt.

Yashida offers to strip off Logan's immortality which he views as a curse as he witness everyone he loves dies throughout his life. Logan refuses but the plot gets thicker as he is obligated to protect Yashida's granddaughter,  Mariko. The pace of the movie slows down as it focuses on the relationship between Logan & Mariko. The relationship seemed unnatural & sadly, I didn't feel the chemistry between the two characters. Somehow it felt rather awkward pairing up the two, even though it was written as such in the comic book.

Nevertheless, I will not deny that Hugh Jackman's portrayal of Wolverine is solid & entertaining. The slow & boring pace aside, one aspect worth taking note is how sexy Hugh Jackman's body is at his age! At 44, his physique is impressive & more buffed compared to previous X-Men films, considering the amount of effort to pack in the muscles. Honestly, I was a little disappointed with the screenplay even though I was convinced Hugh Jackman is capable of bringing out the character well in a solo movie. It takes two to tango - a good movie still needs a good script & great actors to succeed.

Look out for a short clip in the mid-credits scene before you decide to leave immediately. I will not reveal the details but it surely leaves hints to next year's X-Men movie.

Pic courtesy of

Rubbish talk

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's been a long time since I last blogged about work. Not that I fancy reminding myself about incidences that happened in the office once I'm comfortably seated at home. But I just couldn't refrain myself from the desperate need to vent out my frustration.

I stayed up late on Sunday night to prepare the slide for our presentation to the GM as I was away for a vacation. We presented our deck after lunch & that's where the frustration began. Instead of allowing us to present & explain straight to the point, we stopped at slide 3 & got a free 30 minute counselling session from the GM on lessons in life. Gosh, I seriously didn't need this!

Of course, he never thinks twice about making sure everyone is aware of his seniority by trying show off how superior he is. He started lecturing us on sales numbers which were irrelevant to our presentation deck. When we couldn't answer some of the questions, he took the opportunity to mock us even though the questions were irrelevant. That is downright insulting...

We tried to be rationale by presenting facts & figures to prove the need for certain plans to be executed, he discarded it as poor representation of the target market. He had obviously displayed his distrust in research study. Wow, he can be so dumb~

I was literally fuming mad when the session ended because it shouldn't have lasted for 2 hours. I purposely skipped lunch to complete the deck & even prepared some P&L calculations. He didn't even lay eyes on it as I reckoned he has short attention span & he couldn't bear staring at numbers a little longer. He'd probably develop allergies from it. =P

Unexpectedly, he called me in for another round of lecturing when he was about to leave. He kept on emphasising the need to be more aggressive in my marketing executions & putting pressure to execute more, even if certain activities bring loss to the P&L. He even pledged to dismiss those sales personnel who impedes my marketing plans. His skin is so thick that he didn't realised the main obstacle was him from the beginning.

In the end, I came out of his room disbelieving almost 90% of his words. I just know him too well since the day he lectured & put the blame on me. He's well-fitted as an infamous NATO member when he arrogantly took up the responsibility of managing freezers, when finally he took ownership of his work. Just because the top management is pressuring him to not cut any marketing budgets & he conveniently puts the blame on our incompetency to plan more marketing activities.

Honestly, how can you entrust the company & expect growth when he lacks integrity & principles? What's more, he's a boastful man who certainly has a mismatch between his job title & his competency level. Who cares if he has lots of experience? All words that ever escape his mouth are utter rubbish. How long more can I serve the company with such leader who deserves no respect? =(

World War Z

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The moment I laid eyes on the poster, I thought the movie is a spin-off sequel to War of the Worlds. Upon reading the synopsis, it was clear to me that World War Z is a zombie movie.

Just to give you a gist of the movie before you head off to watch in the cinema. The protagonist, Gerry Lane starring Brad Pitt who is a former United Nations investigator was tasked to find out the cause & solution to stop the zombie-like pandemic. Or he risk losing his family.

Time is crucial as the global population is rampantly turning into zombies. The plot is pretty similar to Resident Evil, so there is nothing to shout about. I'd have to give credits to the movie for its entertainment factor because it can be pretty tensed & teeth-gritting witnessing Gerry's character going through a close escape from zombies in order to find out the solution. But beneath all that excitement, the movie is nothing more than that. Don't expect to find your questions answered.

Pic courtesy of

Man of Steel

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Another Superman movie? The thought of seeing the superhero with his red underpants in action makes you barf out yesterday's dinner? Fret not. This Superman movie is unlike any other you have seen; that's if you watched previous portrayal by Christopher Reeve & Brandon Routh. This movie started off at Krypton & how planet came to an end while Kal-El, son of Jor-El was sent to Earth.

The plot adopts a non-chronological storytelling - switching present time with the past when Kal-El aka Clark Kent was a kid who grew up under the care of the Kent family. The first hour of the movie is a little slow as it build the story at its own pace. It was more of portraying Clark Kent's emotional journey of growing up while keeping his powers in silence. What's different here is that he met his love interest, Lois Lane way before he joined the Daily Planet as a reporter.

The movie starts to pick up a little towards the last hour when the battle began between Clark Kent/Superman & General Zod's team. It may seem exciting at first but eventually the fight scenes got boring because it was dragged longer than necessary. That 10-15 minutes battle scenes almost felt like fillers, giving hints that the director didn't have anymore compelling scenes to include in the movie.

In conclusion, the movie was not fantastic but it's not bad either. Just not really my cup of tea. There is still some entertaining value in it though, as Henry Cahill is indeed an eye candy with his yummylicious bod. What are you waiting for, gals? XD

Pic courtesy of

Fast & Furious 6

Sunday, June 02, 2013

OMG?! Not another Fast & Furious franchise, you said? Well, it is & probably not the last. This 6th instalment has one of the most interesting plot but for some reason, some scenes were more ridiculous than before. In this latest instalment, agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) seeks for Dominic Toretto & his team's assistance to crack down the Owen Shaw's crew who are out to cause destruction & unrest. Michelle Rodriguez returns as Letty, whom everyone thought dead but lost her memory instead.

Personally, I appreciate that the plot matures from being purely young & dangerous (racing, hot chicks, stealing etc.) to family & friendship themes. At least, the progression conveys a stronger & meaningful message instead of jam-packing the movie with action scenes sans substance. However, one can never run away from the film's true essence - nail-biting action stunts. Just imagine Vin Diesel flying across the bridge to save his damsel in distress... o.O

The rest of the plot is predictable hence I will not waste time writing a spoiler here. As usual, just enjoy the movie for entertainment purpose. If you can't get enough of this franchise, fret not as the 7th instalment is in progress! :D

Pic courtesy of

Simply Italian

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Being a fan of Italian food, I'm all eager to sign up for Simple Italian class with Chef Khai. You must be wondering why the classes I attend, if not all, are conducted by the same chef. I don't have a personal preference for this chef but he usually organises class featuring recipes from the world. The price is quite reasonable in my context & the school is not too far from my house.

In this class, we were taught to prepare 3 recipes - tomato tartine (appetiser), chicken ragout with roesti potatoes (main) & tiramisu brownies (dessert). Tomato tartine is basically tomatoes on tart-size puff pastry. Tartine is not restricted to tomato filling & opens up to many possibilities of variations in fillings used. For us newbies, tomatoes are relatively easier to handle.

First, tomatoes were cut into cubes. Meanwhile, the pan is heated while adding in butter, sugar (to taste) & a little water, allowing the content to caramelised. Tomatoes were poured into the pan for a quick saute, to be seasoned with fresh herbs & black pepper to taste. While the cooked tomatoes were left aside to cool, we rolled the store-bought puff pastry to the desired size before cutting the dough with a cookie cutter. Instead of following the recipe's method, we were told to scoop the tomatoes on each cut puff pastry piece. Egg wash was applied on all the puff pastry, then popped into the oven to bake at 180°C for 10-20 mins or until golden brown. Here are our masterpieces. =D

Next dish is chicken ragout with roesti potatoes, a dish which involves more steps. To start off, we saute the garlic, carrot, & mushroom until half cooked. We then put in the chicken fillet which were sliced earlier & continued stirring. Cream, parmesan cheese & salt were added taste. The sauce & vegetables were left to simmer until thicken. Alternatively, egg yolk can be added to do the trick. For the roesti, we grated the potatoes & set aside in salt water to prevent oxidation. Meanwhile, we began sauteing some garlic & onion with some fresh herb & parsley, releasing the aroma. The grated potatoes were added in, forming a patty-like shape & let it cooked until brown on each side.

Once the roesti is cooked properly, it is ready to be served next to the ragout.

The last dish for the day is tiramisu brownies - a twist from the classic tiramisu which has a tiramisu topping over brownies. Due to limited time, we only managed to bake the brownies. Firstly, dark chocolate & butter is melted over a double boiler & set aside to cool. Using a stand mixer, whip the eggs & sugar until double the volume.

The melted chocolate-butter is then added to the eggs mixture. Next, yoghurt & flour were added & mix well until combine. Lastly, chopped macadamia is folded into the brownies mixture. The brownies is baked at 180°C. Just look at how well the brownies turned out!

It was a waste that time was running out. Otherwise, it would've been better to do the topping on the spot & get tips from the chef. In my opinion, the appetiser & main dish tasted the best. Yums~

Iron Man 3

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Oh my. Little did all of us expect that the highly successful Iron Man franchise is finally reaching its third & final instalment. Before I share my review, I'd must say that I'll miss this character dearly as it is unlikely we get to see Robert Downey Jr donning the armor suit in the self titled movie anytime soon apart from appearing in the next Avengers sequel.

This time, we get to see Tony Stark aka Iron Man back to basics by stripping bare of his usual suits & goes undercover ala James Bond to track down the villain. Struggling to deal with the post-trauma of the alien invasion in New York, Stark became obsessed with his Iron Man suit & built several dozen suits as he believed it will keep him & Pepper Potts safe from potential enemies.

Meanwhile, a series of bombings by a terrorist group known as the Mandarin left authorities puzzled because no forensic evidence were found. When Stark Industries security chief, Happy Hogan was injured in one of the bombings, Stark boldly announced a threat against the Mandarin on a televised news. With that, the Mandarin responded with an attack at his residence. His home was destroyed & was forced to flee in his suit elsewhere. Thankfully, Potts survived the attack but seeing Stark not returning for days, he was assumed dead.

I shall stop elaborating any further on the plot as it would be a total spoiler. The other aspect of the film which I find heartwarming is the friendship between Stark & his new found buddy, who is a kid. Sans the gadgets & impressive CGs, it's great to see a change in the pace of the film with Downey's raw performance focusing on fighting his inner demons & learning to let go of his ego in order to gain trust & help from a child.

Surely, there were flaws here & there especially when you ponder hard after watching the movie. Some scenes didn't make much logical sense but honestly I didn't even bother pinpointing any of them reason being the movie was entertaining. As expected, this is one superhero character that is able to stand out on its own with much glamour & style without being overtly nonsensical. After all, Tony Stark is still human & someone we can relate to. The only difference is he's a genius, billionaire, playboy & philanthropist. And we all love how the actor portrayed him as if Robert Downey Jr = Tony Stark.

Pic courtesy of

A day as a polling agent

Monday, May 06, 2013

The final showdown of the much anticipated election finally ended yesterday after months of speculation. I was not registered therefore deemed ineligible to cast my vote. Nevertheless, I involuntarily volunteered myself to become a polling agent. So ironic, that's the first word that probably came into your mind. Say whatever you want to say. In your eyes, I didn't do my part as a citizen by exercising my voting rights. Makes you wonder why I became so noble to contribute my hours as a polling agent, moreover for the longest ruling party in the country.

I did this for my Mum, not for anyone else because I pitied her for not able to get enough manpower to help out. Speaking of voting, I had my own compelling reasons for choosing not to do so. As a matter of fact, I have experienced first hand administration from either parties & both have emerged as a huge disappointment. Change is good if only whichever ruling party delivers what was promised. Unfortunately, the Opposition party who took over my neighbourhood also failed to keep its promise. As a result, voting for either party was out of the question for me.

Being a polling agent was an easy-peasy job. Each polling agent represents the party that are contesting & all they need to do is to observe the process during election to ensure that there are no frauds. That morning, I was assigned to Saluran 1 or Room 1 which consists of voters age 60 & above. It was an interesting watch because never in my mind I would've expected that some old folks age almost 90 years old actually turned up to cast their votes. Even though they came with walking sticks or on a wheelchair, their disabilities did not dampen their spirits. The crowd grew large at about 10.30am as everyone scrambled to mark the ballots & dropped them in the ballot box.

After lunch, the crowd lessen fearing a heavy downpour as informed by the weather forecast. Soon enough, it was raining cats & dogs but some who have yet to vote still turned up at their respective rooms. My shift ended at 4pm but the electoral session officially ends at 5pm. Later that night, I was very eager to sit through the live telecast in order to find out about the results. However, I gave up watching the announcement because the results were biased. Well, who am I kidding? Change is a painful journey & it doesn't happen overnight.

Photos & videos flooded on social media that ballot boxes were brought into the election centre via the back door during the counting session. Earlier on, certain areas also received a bus load of foreigners who miraculously was granted ICs in a short period, were allowed to enter the building to cast their votes. The people who witnessed this tried to stop but to no avail because these foreigners were being escorted to safety by armed forces.

I felt disappointed with by how the election process turned out. Democracy no longer exist for real. I do not expect politics to ever come clean but seriously, the winning party doesn't have to be play up their dirty tricks so blatantly obvious. It goes to show how desperate they are in winning it. I still love this country. Please don't stir up racial slurs anymore. The rakyat has certainly come a long way since 56 years ago - living harmoniously & respecting one another. We are not that dumb & petty...

Olympus Has Fallen

Sunday, April 07, 2013

While we wait eagerly for the summer blockbusters to arrive, there are not many movies shown in the cinema beginning of the year that will appease to our needs for entertainment. Nevertheless, WL & I still wanted to spend our time catching a movie rather than window shopping aimlessly. So we picked Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart & Rick Yuen.

The movie opened with the scene of Gerard Butler as Mike Banning, a member of the Secret Service accompanying the President & his family with other agents to charity gala. Luck was not on their side & a freak accident happened, causing Banning to make a quick decision to rescue the President instead of the First Lady.

Eighteen months later, Banning is seen taking up a desk job at the President's administrative office in order to avoid reminding the President about the First Lady's death. Apart from dealing with his personal guilt from the incident, he was also trying to salvage his marriage with his wife. Fast forward to the President's office, the government was expecting a diplomatic visit from South Korea's president. Little did the US government expect that a such meeting would lead to an invasion on the White House.

The rest of the movie became rather predictable with one-man show from Banning, fighting through to rescue the President. And a ridiculously silly one too. Because a hijacked US Air Force plane was even allowed to fly in close proximity of the White House. I'm pretty sure the plane would've got shot down when the pilots do not respond when being signaled. Nevertheless, it was still entertaining if you don't take the movie too seriously & ignore its absurdity. After all, it's just an appetiser to whole lot more exciting summer blockbusters in the coming months.

Pic courtesy of

Simple Japanese

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Chef Khai organised a class today, focusing on the theme Simple Japanese. What constitutes simple Japanese food staples? You've guessed it right & that would be sushi, teriyaki chicken & tempura prawn.

We started preparing the rice first as it requires longer cooking time. The rice used for sushi is shorter & fatter in grain size compared to the local rice or Thai rice. It is starchier but not as sticky as glutinuous rice, which makes it ideal for forming sushi with bare hands. For this session, we used Japanese rice though Calrose rice is possible. The rice only needs to be washed once, then add water & cover it with kombu in the rice cooker. The ratio is 1 cup rice: 2 cups water. Once the rice is cooked, mix it with vinegar, sugar & salt, then set aside.

There is no fixed rules on what needs to be in the sushi. Just to name a few common ingredients used are Japanese cucumber, crabstick, pickles, fish roe & unagi. For our creation, we included mango slices to add some tangy flavour to the sushi. The secret to beautiful & neat looking sushi rolls is putting sufficient rice (not too much), rolling & tugging the ingredients in between nori sheet to ensure that the contents remain intact. Of course, the work of a skilled pair of hands makes all the difference.

My sushi rolls, on the contrary, obviously didn't look appetising enough to be savoured. Just look at the mess which points to signs of inexperience. Honestly, I wasn't enticed to pop one into my mouth but luckily the rolls tasted better than expected & more than compensate for the awful presentation. I seriously need more practice.

One of the tips to perfectly cut sushi rolls is to use a sharp knife. This would prevent the rice grains from falling off the nori sheet. Next on the list is teriyaki chicken. This dish calls for a sauce to marinade the chicken prior to grilling on a hot pan. Sauce preparation is quite simple as it's essentially a reduction of soy sauce (Japanese soy sauce, Kikkoman is highly recommended) & water. Ginger, sugar, garlic, spring onion & chicken bones (optional) are added for richness in aroma & taste. The sauce is boiled in a pot until the liquid is reduced by half. Then, we moved on to marinade the chicken with the ready sauce. Before that, the chicken fillet should be scored first to allow ingredients to be absorbed well. We added in garlic & ginger blend into the chicken together with the sauce, mixing it well; finally leaving it to marinade for 30 mins. Piece by piece, we grilled the fillet to perfection. Oh, the aroma is lovely! Juicy & flavourful too~ (sorry forgot to snap pictures because we were salivating already XD).

Lastly, it's the scrumptious prawn tempura we've been waiting for. Medium size shrimps were used in this recipe with the heads & shells removed, then deveined. We beaten an egg in a bowl, added in ice water & finally pouring in the tempura flour; mixing well until combined. Meanwhile, the oil is heated up before frying. Each shrimp is lightly floured & dipped into the tempura batter, then deep-fried until crisp & turns golden brown. Voila!

This is why I love attending cooking lessons on Sunday morning. Aside from the therapeutic experience, it gets me psyched up to cook as quickly as possible so that I can dig in my free lunch to ease my stomach growl. For the love of food, anything is possible... =)

Last day of CNY without him

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Today is the 15th day of CNY, also known as Chap Goh Mei, marks the end of the CNY celebration. When Grandpa was still alive, we made it a point to organise a family reunion dinner. Although my relatives residing in JB usually did not make a trip up to KL, those of us living nearby gathered for a feast. Our last Chap Goh Mei with Grandpa last year, just like in the old days; did not missed out the usual roasted pork, fish, Grandma's signature vegetarian dish & chicken.

This year is very much simplified - we went out to eat at a seafood restaurant instead. The dishes we ordered were simple just like a normal dinner with vegetables, fish & tofu. While we basked in the loud chatter & merriment from patrons at other tables, we looked at each other & smiled silently. We tried to strike a simple conversation in order to distract ourselves from wondering that something was amiss. Who wouldn't think of Grandpa when each table will have at least one elderly folk among the sea of younger family members?

The hour passed by & though it seemed like an ordinary dinner, it never was & will never be the same for any of our family dinner from now on. Dear Grandpa, we may no longer have the opportunity to share these moments together, here's hoping that things are equally great at where ever you are. Meanwhile, we ask for your blessings for a smooth year ahead - good fortune & great health.

British Food Fare

The British Food Fare class by At 19 Culinary Studio was postponed indefinitely a couple of months ago due to many last minute cancellations & I was the only student left. When the class was enlisted again, I immediately signed up for it. In this class, we learnt simple recipes which are classic staples served in British households - scotch egg, shepherd's pie & bread and butter pudding.

Chef Khai started the class with the first recipe, shepherd's pie. Those of you who have heard of this pie but wonders what goes into it, it's usually filled with minced beef or lamb. Of course, you can always substitute the filling with chicken if you are not fond of red meat. Firstly, we prepared the filling by sauteing the vegetables; adding in tomato coulis & brown stock, then combining the minced lamb into the pan to let it simmer until cooked & sauce thickened. The filling is left to cool aside.

Meanwhile, we boiled the potatoes which will be used to pipe onto the shepherd's pie. Once the potatoes have softened, we seasoned it with salt & pepper then sprinkle some nutmeg powder before mashing it. After the filling is cooled, we arranged a few aluminum foil tart tins on the baking tray & started scooping the filling into it. Then, we piped the mashed potato on top & bake it for 15 mins at 200°C.

While the pies gets cooked in the oven, we moved on to the next recipe - scotch egg. First, we blended the minced chicken with 1 tbsp of whipping cream & egg. Next, we added in coarse black pepper, cajun & salt to taste & kept aside. As for the eggs, we boiled them in a pot of boiling water sprinkled with some salt until they turned hard. When the eggs cooled, the shells were peeled off then wrapped with the prepared minced chicken individually to form a ball. Then, we dipped the eggs into a whisked egg in separate bowl before rolling into flour & bread crumbs. Each piece is then deep-fried until golden brown.

The last recipe was the bread & butter pudding, the easiest recipe out of the 3 dishes. First, we had to mix the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla essence & sugar together before adding in melted butter. Then, we needed to prepare caramel which will be the base of the pudding. The caramel consists of water & sugar boiled together in a pot with the ratio of 1:1. The caramel is ready once the water & sugar are combined. After that, we soaked slices of bread (leftover/slightly stale bread) into the milk & cream mixture prepared earlier for 10-15 mins. While waiting, the caramel is poured into a tin mould to cover the base. The soaked bread slices were then transferred to the tin mould. Finally, the pudding is sent to the oven to bake for 10 mins at 140°C.

Ta-da! There you have it, 3 simple less complicated dishes which are popular favourites in the UK. Yum~

Based on the given recipe, I find the bread & pudding a tad to sweet to my liking. It didn't taste as fantastic as the better ones I have tried. Nevertheless, it still tasted good & I wouldn't have done it any better than this prior to this class. More practice needed! Now I just need to get the oven installed & fire up.