29 June 2012

Phuket June 2012 Part I - Club Med

Earlier this month, hubby, dear son and I went on a holiday to Phuket with a group of friends most of whom we have known since our Uni/hostel days. The whole gang of us consisted of 10 families, with 20 adults and 16 kids! Oh boy, were we a boisterous group!

It has been 10 years since hubby and I went to Phuket, naturally we were really keen to re-visit the island. This time round, we stayed at Club Med since it's a family-oriented resort where there are plenty of activities at the Kid's Club to keep the kids entertained throughout the day. Ahem, something like a holiday childcare facility *wink*. Of course, there are lots of activities for adults too. And most of the activities are inclusive in the package, as well as all the meals.

Our flight onboard Silkair was pretty smooth and uneventful. Dear son was quite excited to be on an airplane and surprisingly willing to be buckled throughout the flight, with the help of toys and snacks to keep him entertained.

Upon touching down and clearing customs, we were greeted by the representative aka GO from Club Med who issued us with the resort info and room keys. Thereafter, we boarded a chartered air-con coach to Club Med located at Kata Beach. The journey took about an hour.

 Front porch of Club Med.

Upon reaching Club Med, we were greeted by a group of GOs who presented us with garlands, cold towel and fruit juice.

Reception area. Love the royal colour combination of purple, red and orange.

 Beautiful lotus planting.

We were ushered to the stage area, where the GOs gave a warm welcome with a short song and dance. The stage is also the area for performances by the GOs in the evening. After a short briefing, we were led to our rooms for check-in. The entire Club Med is known as the Village and there are plenty of activities for families, adults and children at specific timings. Daily schedule of activities and events are posted at the notice board near the stage area.

The bar area. I think this has got to be the most popular area in the Village with a full day drink service provided, given that the weather is so hot and humid. There are all sorts of drinks available, from cocktails, alcoholic drinks to mocktails, sodas, juices and even kids' favourites like iced milo.

Hubby and my favourite drink, a mocktail called Sweet Phuket, made up of lime juice, soda water, brown sugar and grenaline. Quite refreshing.

There are plenty of lounge sofas around the bar area for people to hangout.

Reading corner.

I love these uniquely-designed rocking chairs.

Plenty of drinking water provided as well.

Large cozy sofa beds near the stage/pool area. Notice the flooring? I thought they look so retro.

More sofas.

Free-form pool, separated into 0.5m and 1.2m depth.

Water polo and aqua aerobics are conducted here daily, and even a water acrobatic show put up by the GOs on one of the nights.

These deck chairs by the pool chair are literally fully occupied from afternoon onwards.

Walkway towards the adult lap pool, located at the far end of the Village, for adults only.

A pity we didn't get to swim here at all.

I only came to this area on the last day, again a pity that we didn't get to laze about these cabanas. But then again in such hot and humid weather, I guess most people chose to stay either in the air-con room or in the water.

Our Club Room with King-size bed.

I was a little disappointed with the room as it looks a little bare with minimal furnishings and decor. I thought they could have been better furnished given that the resort just underwent a renovation.

The boutique selling Club Med apparels, accessories and souvenirs.

Spa at Club Med which I wanted to try initially but couldn't find the opportunity.

Some of the activities include this flying trapze. Kids who are above 4 or 5 years old also get a chance at it. Unfortunately, hubby and I didn't try the activities within Club Med itself (like golf, archery, ball games, water games) as either we were occupied with dear son at the pool or we ventured out for shopping and exploring. Haha, sort of defeated the purpose of staying at Club Med, no?

The 25 hectare Club Med Village is just a small road away from the beach area.

The sea was actually very choppy with strong waves, due to the Northeast Monsoon season.

Red flags are put up along the shore to warn beach goers against swimming in the sea due to strong underwater currents.

Not sure if it was due to the monsoon, the beach was not exactly clean with bits of litter here and there. Nevertheless, we brought dear son to the beach one of the evenings to play with sand which he enjoyed thoroughly.

Nevertheless, we caught a beautiful sunset at Kata Beach one of the evenings.
Overall, some parts of the Village looks a little dated, despite the said renovation. But with the company of great friends, we truly enjoyed ourselves!

In the following posts, will write about food, some places of interest and massage. Stay tuned!

10 June 2012

Our Food Heritage: Sauces & Seasonings 2 Workshop

Attended a workshop "Our Food Heritage: Sauces & Seasonings 2" by Chef Christoper Tan at Shermay's Cooking School yesterday. Hadn't intended to attend this class as I already had something else planned for the afternoon. But the lure of the recipes tempted me to cancel my other appointment for this instead. No regrets, totally! Had attended Chef Chris's first instalment of the Sauces workshop back in Sep 2011, and it was an eye-opener to see that we as amateurs could make our own sauces and seasonings at home, using natural ingredients without added preservatives, flavour enhancers and whatnot.

The recipes featured this time are even more intriguing and my favourites too - like oyster sauce, sweet & sour sauce and sambal tumis.

I mean, I can never ever imagine making my own oyster sauce at home. The ingredients couldn't have been simpler - dried and fresh oysters, rice wine, sugar and salt. Granted, it's a tad expensive to make, a whole lot of oysters used for just a small quantity, but hey if you ever have the chance to try this homemade version of oyster sauce, you will cringe at the thought of eating commercial ones.

Well, at least that's how I felt. We had a taste test of the homemade oyster sauce, followed by the commercial one. When I tasted the homemade sauce, I was like, OMG, this is how real oyster sauce taste like, pure and rich with the taste of the ocean lingering in your mouth. Then the commercial one and I almost wanted to spit it out, it tasted so artificial and synthetic. Couldn't believe that this is what I've been eating all these years.

We tasted a steamed fresh egg beancurd with the oyster sauce and spring onion oil, and it was OH-SO-GOOD! Chef Chris went through the pain of sieving the egg and soy bean mixture through a fine sieve so that we could enjoy the smoothest egg custard which was was silky smooth and melt-in-the-mouth and simply perfect with a little oyster sauce and spring onion oil. Simple dish, yet not so simple in taste.

I guess I would be attempting this homemade oyster sauce recipe so that hubby can have a taste of it too. I believe he will like it too.

Next up, my favourite sweet and sour sauce. I was surprised that the sauce was made mainly from plum and cherry tomatoes with some seasonings like sugar and vinegar; didn't even need ketchup or canned tomatoes. It was so simple I believe I could do it too! The photo above shows the sauce before cooking. Although it looked quite different from the commercial sweet & sour sauce, it's because of the fruits used.
We had the sauce (after cooking with some pineapple and capsicum) with oven baked chicken and I totally loved the sauce. It was fruity, tangy and sweet, without any colouring or preservatives found in commercial sauces.

And finally Sambal Tumis. The ingredients were also very simple like lemongrass, candlenuts, dried chilli, belacan, garlic, shallot and seasonings. Basically just blend eveything into a paste then cook the rempah. We had the sambal with salmon and surprisingly yummy. I never imagined cooking salmon with sambal! Learnt something new again. I'm going to make this paste to go with seafood for an upcoming BBQ.

All participants brought a tub of Sambal Tumis home and I used the whole tub of sambal to cook sting ray and kang kong for lunch today. The dishes were yums!

And not forgetting Chef Chris just published a new cook book (co-authored by Amy Van). I know I shouldn't be buying yet another cook book but after browsing through it, I was sold. The book is about Chinese Heritage Cooking, and started with a simple intro on the history and culture of the various chinese community dialects in Singapore like Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka, Hainanese. Popular and classic recipes from these dialects are featured in the book and I was pleased to see many of my favourite dishes in the book. With close to 200 pages and 60 recipes, it is definitely a keeper and I do trust Chef Chris's recipes, having attended a number of his workshops previously.

Well, I hope to find some time to read through the recipes and attempt some of them soon. Interested? The cook book is on sale at Shermay's Cooking School (browsing copy available) and I believe major bookstores as well.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid advertorial. I paid for the cooking class and book at member's price. Just want to share my experience in this little blog of mine.

05 June 2012

Francfranc at Vivocity Singapore

The Francfranc Flagship Store at Vivocity has finally opened on 1 June 2012! Apparently the 20,000 sqft store is the largest in the world and Francfranc's first in Southeast Asia.

Following my spree at the JCube store (in fact I went a few times), I was really eager to visit the flagship store and went on 1 Jun afternoon. In fact, the store had an opening event on 31 May and I think fans could actually write in to Francfranc (through their Facebook page) to request for an invitation.

At the entrance, I was greeted by a Polar Bear (was wondering the meaning of it) and thereafter four huge armchairs placed on top of four circular displays in four different themed colours. Wow, talk about making a statement. On the circular displays are various merchandise such as crockery, bath gels, kitchenware, stationery, accessories and more. Really impressive, attractive and cool display which aims to overwhelm the senses of customers. Super like!

As usual, merchandise is categorised into different sections like furniture, bath & accessories, wall furnishings, living furnishings, stationery, kitchenware & accessories etc, albeit a larger scale. And there is also a special section on traditional Japanese dining ware and serveware. One thing I notice, there is a large number of staff around the store, ever ready to assist customers in any queries. I do hope that they can keep up to the service standards (like the Japanese) in the long run.

Didn't manage to buy anything much unfortunately :( since I have already bought a number of items at JCube, as well as my previous trip to Tokyo. Only a tea bottle which I had been eyeing.

Do hope that Francfranc could constantly bring in new stock and also commence the membership programme soon :)