Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Perfect Storm

I suckered my friend DM into guest-writing for my blog because I was lazy. In exchange of doing me a favor, I've promised to advertise him to my single lady friends. Ladies, if you are single & bilingual, send me your resume. :) Lastly, a shout out to S&G for a fantastic house party, you guys are the awesomest hosts.

My best foodmories (memories of fantastic eating experiences) are not of the latest creations fashioned in the kitchens of three-star restaurants, but meals cooked at home and shared with family and/or friends. And like family and true friends, such meals can not be bought. Having dined at some of this city's fine establishments, I still pine for my mother's clay pot rice and soya sauce chicken. My greatest foodmory of all time was my first bite of the teenage mutant ninja turtle ice cream cake she baked for me on my 6th birthday. I have not purchased or tasted better cake.

The damp drizzle that began early Saturday morning had transmogrified into a vengeful April shower. As I walked to S&G's apartment from the Pavonia PATH station, I mumbled curses at the chubby rain droplets that plopped unceremoniously on the pavement and my face. After a walk that seemed almost eternal, I was ushered into their apartment by much needed warmth, the yelps of an adorable Welsh Corgi and the aroma of bah ku teh ("BKT"). A finer welcome I could not imagine.

Turning to the source of the aroma, in the middle of a cozy round table sat a clay pot containing a steaming herbal liquid, spicy and sweet simultaneously. The key difference between Malaysian and Singaporean style BKT is the consistency of the soup. Malaysian style BKT is slightly thicker and darker, with a herbal and sweet aftertaste accompanying the characteristic salt and pepper of the dish. It's Singaporean counterpart is lighter in both color and consistency, with a distinct focus on saltiness. Swimming in the soup were hunks of garlic, strands of Chinese celery, whole Chinese black mushrooms, tau pok and of course, generous portions of pork darkened and softened after stewing slowly in the boiling soup. The piping hot soup and the flavorful pork were accompanied by fried yew tiao, cut into manageable pieces and inspected by Ein. As second and third servings of BKT were doled out, chicken wings lathered in marmite were fried in the pan by S&G and quickly devoured.

To satisfy our love of things sweet, an assortment of cupcakes (both mini and large) purchased from Magnolia and Two Little Red Hens were laid out before still hungry guests. Red velvet cupcakes topped with heavenly cream cheese icing were the celebrities and were mobbed as soon as they appeared. Poofy soft cream puffs and green tea and strawberry cakes hailing from Jas Mart were also proffered to the manic street eaters, who wasted no time laying waste to the assortment of desserts.

Appetites satiated and cravings satisfied, it was time to shift focus to more visual, tactile and interactive pleasures. I had the privilege of holding precious baby Emma in my arms and I watched with a mixture of horror and amusement as she slathered drool on my chest and shoulders. Who could say no to such a rosy-cheeked and bright-eyed baby? The Xbox was broken out shortly thereafter and the rock stars came on stage. Belting out the words and riffs from songs such as "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Under the Bridge" on Rock Band, we were brought back to our rocking glory days and for a short moment, semi-realized our dreams of being rockers. With sore throats and various other body parts making themselves felt from our exertions, we adjourned to more physically manageable games that only involved shooting bullets and calling air strikes on friends. Others interested in more cerebral pursuits had back-to-back games of Dai Dee raging on behind us, as Squad Singapore continued to take on Team Malaysia to score the most kills in Call of Duty 4.

Days like these are hard to come by. But when they do, you remember them forever. It was time to prise myself away from the couch and head back through the lingering cold and go home. It was difficult to do, but at least the storm had passed. As I walked away from the apartment, I realized that I had forgotten to ask S for her BKT recipe. But after further thought, even if I had it, the BKT wouldn't taste the same if I made it on my own. Missing ingredients: love, camaraderie and laughter.

All BKT Party Pictures. Yaokuis, if you want the full res, email me, you know who you are.


  1. Aww, DM's account is so heart-warming, it totally casts that day in a golden nostalgic glow. N, thanks for the pictures! They're gorgeous, esp. baby Emma and Ein! Rockband wannabes 4eva!

  2. This post actually brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face (and the photos made me drool!).. haha.. maybe it's the thought of DM writing it (assuming I got the right person haha ;p) - make me miss home even more!

  3. Seems like DM is melting hearts...;)

    I wish I have that creative flair, my writing is so mmm...dry....:/

  4. you don't need to melt our heart... you go straight for the belly ;pp

  5. great piece, N and DM. thanks everyone for dropping by that day and sry for the drench.. but as DM says, you tend to cherish and remember events when they are of rare in occurance and especially when you go through trials and tribulations with ppl you love, storm, ein's molestation, not getting the dai dee, xbox 360 massacres and whatnot. :-)