Life is a jigsaw puzzle. Every segment of the puzzle is formed by different elements of life. I cherish all my felicity elements, what about you?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge, one of the most famous bridge in the world, is another fabulous symbol of NYC. This suspension bridge, that joins lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, was built between 1867 and 1883. It was the first suspension bridge to use steel for its cable wire, and at the time it was built it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Great views of Manhattan, and numerous photo opportunities. My dream is to have my wedding photo portrait taken here.

'Walking on the Brooklyn Bridge is an experience that is hard to match. New York is spread out in front, behind, on the left, on the right, and below you. Because the subway runs under the East River, and the vehicular level is under the pedestrian level, it had been said that Brooklyn Bridge is the only place on earth where an airplane could fly over a pedestrian who is walking over a car that is driving over a boat that is floating over a train.' Source.

Many tourists, and even poets, have said the view of the New York skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge is the best view in the entire city.

Sunset on Brooklyn bridge.

A view of the east coast of Manhattan island.

Manhattan sky line.

Manhattan bridge is in view here. It has a dedicate section for subway. I don't think pedestrians can walk on that bridge.

You probably can appreciate that the pedestrians walkway is situated above all the traffic down there. As you can see, the bridge is pretty busy.

Brooklyn Bridge, I hereby devote my love to you ...

My first Christmas tree.

My first Christmas tree, but I don't own it. This beautiful tree belongs to my housemate. It is the first time I have a Christmas tree in the house that I live in nevertheless. When I was a student, I could only afford a small and tiny one. Now, there is a tree that is taller than all of us who live in this house. What a change in terms of socio-economy status.

Yesterday, 3 of us (my housemate, Mr.Tomato, and myself) had some great fun setting this tree up. I guess we'll get more ornaments soon, and of course, some presents to go underneath the tree.

It's the time of the year, again. Such lovely moments ...

Christmas Lights.

It's the time of the year once again. Christmas lights ... so wonderfully serene.

No, this is not my place, but someone's house in my neighbourhood. I was shocked to see the amount of inflatable characters in this front yard. I thought it is a bit too much at first, but hey, there is nothing wrong to share the lights and joy ...

After Thanksgiving, the countdown to Christmas has officially started. Stay tuned for posts that are related to this festive season!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

My Thanksgiving Dinner.

Instead of a formal turkey dinner during the Thanksgiving night, this was what I had, my very first steamboat (hot pot) in USA. As you can see, I don't have the special hot pot, so I used rice cooker. Yes, rice cooker does take slight longer time to cook, but it was worth the wait.

Will be making a belated turkey dinner tomorrow instead. Why a belated one you asked? Well, it takes at least four hours to roast a turkey, and I was working on Thanksgiving. To ensure the taste and the quality of the turkey, it takes A LOT effort. Yeah, you hear me. While roasting in process, you'll have to stay close to the oven throughout as you'll have to ladle the turkey essence over the turkey in every 30 minutes so that the meat doesn't turn out dry, bland, and tasteless. This will be my third turkey since 2002, let's hope that it'll turn out alright.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Give Thanks.

Today, all Americans will celebrate the Thanksgiving Day. Some call it the 'Turkey Day' because this poultry is greatly associated with such blissful holiday. Some also said Thanksgiving comes in more important than Christmas, something I have never heard before I come to US. Anyhow, Thanksgiving really is something huge here. People would travel home and have precious moments with family members. It seems like everyone is anticipating the post-Thanksgiving giant sales too. I was told that instead of doing Boxing Day (post-Christmas) sales like Canada, US do it after Thanksgiving. Despite the chilly weather, there will be tons of people making incredibly long queue outside all malls and stores for the early bird specials. Most stores will open at 5AM on tomorrow (i.e. Friday), and I heard that people will start forming the line as early as 2AM. It indeed is a crazy idea, but who cares, this only happen once a year. Some stores offer free gift cards for the early birds ... either way, everyone wins.

As I mull over my own life, I feel nothing else but extremely grateful. After life in Canada, both Mr. Tomato and myself returned homes (in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) for a couple months before coming to Richmond, US. Life here has been great so far. Of course there were some highs and lows, and I bet that will happen again, but hey, this is real life. Nothing can be absolute perfect, but admittedly we are living a felicity life. We have successfully received all the necessary documents, we even have our driving licenses here. We both landed our ideal jobs; I finally fulfilled my dream as I have always wanted to work in a same hospital with my significant other. At least once, I asked. My wish has been wondefully granted. Although we have different positions, we both share the pride of white coats. Am so happy to return to a clinical lab setting once again after immersing myself in research labs during the previous years in Canada. We have two cars now because we have different working schedule. We reside in Richmond, a place that people are generally nice (like Halifax, Canada) and Asian groceries are easily available. Hey, the latter factor sure is something important as instead of asking my mum to mail over the cooking stuffs I need, I can now get them here. When I knew we would start a brand new chapter in US, I have secretly wished that we would be in a place that we would have easier access to Chinese groceries. And yes, this wish was granted as well. So, can you see how happy I am?

The current life has been everything that I asked for, especially back in those days. I am so grateful that after all the tears and fears, I can happily leave that matter behind and move on. For now, I shall concentrate on my career, my merry days with my fiancé, and working as the wedding planner for my very own wedding in 2007. Of course obstacles always happen when you least expected, but I hope I can be optimistic regardless.

For now, I'll like to express my gratitudes to many people.

I thank my parents for their wonderful support throughout my growth and my life. I thank my siblings for being there whenever I need them. I thank my great great friends (you know who you are out there) for entering my life and play great roles; your concerns, you encouragements, your kindness, your loves are endless, and I cherish them with all my heart. I thank everyone who has helped me directly, or indirectly, in all aspects. I thank the authority who offered an ideal job to me. I thank all of you who read my blogs, be it regularly, or irregularly. I never knew I could meet so many kindred spirits out there simply by having a blog. I am glad that I did and I have you all with me. Being a blogger myself and having a chance to meet so many bloggers have constantly brought in so many surprises to me. Through this blogosphere, I get to meet so many wonderful Malaysians that I don't think I'll ever have a chance to meet in real life; I get to share so many awe-inspiring stories, etc. Blogs are like my daily bread now, something I am in need to feed myself. You all have done great great jobs, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

The last but not the least, this moment goes to you, Mr. Tomato. You were there, and will always be there for me throughout. My life will never be so complete without you. You're my dream catcher, and together we make our dreams come true. Yes, I love you.

May all of you have great Thanksgiving celebration, and many more great days/years to come.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nyonya @ NYC.

There actually is a handful of Malaysian cuisine restaurants in Manhattan itself, or perhaps more than that, but I have never been to anywhere else except Nyonya. Nyonya is located in between the lil' Italy and Chinatown in New York City; so as far as location is concerned, I think that is a strategic one. Plus, I think this restaurant has an extensive menu. Don't believe me? Go see it yourself in a minute.

Nyonya Malaysian Cuisine, one of the most well-known Malaysian food restaurant in the Big Apple.

The first time I visited this restaurant was actually on 2002. Over the years, nothing much has changed. Why change when it is so good and homey to fellow Malaysians?

I wasn't sure whether could I take pictures of the interior design of the restaurant, so I quickly made a snap shot. This is a view at the rear of the restaurant, where you'll see a wall painting that is supposed to depict Penang Nyonya hawker flare during the old times.

So, what does this restaurant offer?

The cover of the menu.

"A taste above the rest."

Appetizers. Don't you notice achat, nyonya lobak, nyonya popiah, kerabu, etc etc etc. The most popular item on this page will be roti canai. From what I observed, almost every table will order such item.

Casserole (with clay pot), soups, rice dishes ...

Malaysian style hawker noodles? You name it, you get it. I can be there everyday just to try all these out ... Too bad, I don't live there. =`(

If you don't want noodles, you certainly can order these dishes and have rice instead. Very Malaysian 'dai chao' (大炒)style.

Check out the items, you'll be amazed ...

I can even get sizzling hot plates in this restaurant. That is such a rarity you know?

During this visit to NYC, we went to Nyonya twice. The first day, we had nasi lemak and curry mee with yong tau foo. The food was great, but no picture taken (too excited when the food was served, so totally forgot about my usual habit). The second time, we ordered two dishes instead to go with rice.

Malaysian style Belacan Kangkung! Ahhh, I miss this dish so much! To us, this is a well-done dish. Not too oily, not soggy, moderately spicy, very crunchy. Pieces of dried shrimps were evenly mixed with the vege throughout. The taste was great. My mum never masters this dish, so I never dare to try. I bet it takes great skill to master this dish.

Sizzling Nyonya Tofu. I was anticipating the hot and sizzling in action when this dish was served, but for some reasons (that I am still puzzling), it didn't turn out that way. The food was hot, but no more sizzling. Aiks. Oh well, doesn't really matter as long as the food taste great, right? Yeah, it was good. I could never have my tofu fried till golden brown like that. I always love beancurd this way, that they will be slight crunchy on the outside, and silken soft inside, cook with delicious gravy. So, any masters out there willing to share the trick with me? =)

The downside of 2-people dining is that you can't order more dishes. There are so many dishes that I wanna try, but we can only try 2 at a time. That's the reason why we never go to anywhere else except this restaurant, where great food surprises await.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Off we go!

Tomorrow, after work, we'll be driving to the big apple - New York City!

The plan is to spend the weekend in NYC, and be back on Monday noon. I'll be working night shift on Monday. Driving distance? Around 6 hours. Not too bad lah.

I miss NYC, the city that never sleeps. I miss how dynamic it is, I miss the achitecture, I love the museums, the tourism spots, the malls, the parks, the broadway shows ... Eventhough I've been there 3 times, I will never have enough of it!

Malaysian food, Chinatown at Canal Street ... here I come!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Malaysia Kopitiam

Hello there ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to my Felicity Corner. I am about to show you the restaurant that sells the best Malaysian food in downtown Washington D. C. The name of the restaurant is called 'Malaysia Kopitiam'. I can assure you that the journey will be a delightful one. So, do fasten your seat belt, and may you have a wonderful gourmet trip. Thank you.

Welcome to Malaysia Kopitiam. Selamat Datang (Malay, meaning welcome). 欢迎光临。(Chinese, means welcome as well.)

The front page of the menu.

This is an award-winning Malaysian food restaurant in Downtown D.C. It is very well-known among Malaysians who reside in Virginia as the price of the food is inexpensive, at least cheaper than another Malaysian food restaurant (which is located only a few shops away) that is known as Penang. An insider tips: stay away from Penang, go to Kopitiam instead.

The restaurant is operated by a Malaysian couple, if I am not mistaken. A detailed review about the restaurant posted in 'The Washington Times' does say something.

Since there were only two of us, we could not order more than two main entrees. We rationalized that there was no point ordering extra and had them take-out as the food would not taste as good later on. We had our mind settled on Yong Tau Foo and Char Keoy Teow.

Char Keoy Teow ($8.95). I thought it was expensive, but the serving appeared to be pretty huge. So, no complain. It was indeed quite oily, but hey, this is the true colour of our national dish - Char Keoy Teow, no? ^_^

I took some out and put on my plate. This is a closer shot.

Ampang Yong Tau Foo in curry broth ($8.95). (Of course, there is nothing too 'Ampang' about that.) Honestly speaking, I can make a better filling for the stuffed veges. But the curry broth tasted great! At least it is something I don't know how to cook from my own kitchen. We had this dish with rice. It was homey.

We thought this was unusual. Ha. Hey, Malaysians don't do this, do we? =P

Yeah, this is the end of the trip. I hope it was an enjoyable one.

See you next time.

A photo to share.

I took this picture in Washington D. C. last weekend. I was lying on the grass in a small park of the National Mall. Will blog about the trip later.

I love this picture. May you like it too. =)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pho So 1 Vietnamese Restaurant

When I was in Malaysia, I'd never visited any Vietnamese restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. I have noted some before, especially the one that is located just a few shops away from the GSC cinema in Mid-Valley Megamall, K.L., I'd never given it a try nonetheless. The food just never looked appealing to me, considering the fact that we have so many types of specialty hawker food readily available in all parts of Malaysia. Yet, when I'm in North America, the asian restaurant that I have dined out the most is Vietnamese restaurant. How ironic.

There are many Vietnamese restaurants in Richmond itself. The gigantic Vietnamese population obviously plays a role. I speculate that the ratio of Chinese and Vietnamese Restaurant in Richmond is 1:1, almost.

What's normally on the list? Pho (noodles [Vietnamese style hor fun] with beef broth), bun [vermicelli], Vietnamese spring roll, and BBQ pork chop rice are the regular items. I love pho. I normally will opt for beef balls pho, instead of sliced beef. I always am a big fan of beef balls, fish balls, pork balls, etc. So, no doubt why I can make the same order each and everytime if I ever visit aVietnamese restaurant.

Both Tomato and myself are regulars to a Vietnamese restaurant in Richmond that is known as Pho So 1. We have tried other Vietnamese restaurants, but this small lil' restaurant wins our hearts consistently. There are a few reasons that prompted us to keep going back: 1) inexpensively priced main entrees ($4.95-$6.95, other restaurants will easily double this price); 2) relatively fast service; 3) a place for a hearty meal; 4) beef broth that is flavourful; etc etc etc. The truth is, unlike Malaysia where you can get prawn mee, lam mee, loh mee, curry mee, laksa, so on and so forth that are noodles with broth, Vietnamese restaurant is almost the only place in North America where you can get soup noodles (except in those major Chinatowns where all sorts of Chinese restaurants exist in great abundance). I am a big fan of soupy food, especially during the chilly days, and colder weather. Since I am now living in a country with four seasons, I bet you have an idea roughly how frequent will I develop such crave.

My fav: Beefballs pho. They always give you lots of bean sprouts and basil leaves to go with it. Believe it or not, I will normally finish the entire bowl of soup. It is THAT good.

Mr.Tomato certainly enjoys pho as much as I do, but during most of the visits, he would order BBQ pork with broken rice instead. What's so special about this entree is that the pork is grilled to perfection, and the special broken rice, when eaten with the special sauce, is simply divine. I have never eaten broken rice elsewhere. It actually is rice but have been milled slightly so that rice are smaller in size. I always thought they look like couscous. Anyhow, because the rice are smaller, that would leave more spaces for the sauce to penetrate in, leading to more flavoursome rice.

If we ever have dinner at other restaurants, the minimal expense (per person) will normally be around US$12, after tax. This price is good for two person if we ever step into Pho So 1. There is no reason why we won't be back.

Just wanna share with you about our daily lives. =)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Alor Setar

This morning I woke up feeling miserable.

Why? I dreamed of Alor Setar. Sigh.

What happened in the dream wasn't the important part, as by now, I've forgotten the content of the dream. It was the place that prompted me to think more.

Alor Setar, my father's hometown. My paternal grandparents used to live there until last year. They're now residing in Klang, as they rationalized that it's time to stay closer to their children and grandchildren. Flying to and fro frequently from Alor Setar to KL isn't a fun thing to do, consider the fact that KLIA is 40 minutes drive from the Klang Valley. So, they sold the house already. That was a tough, and sad decision to make, as my grandpa loves Alor Setar so much. After living in A.S. for so many years, needless to say, he is so attached to it. He has so many great friends there, ppl who jogged with him, go yum-cha with him, practise xiang-gong with him, etc. Although it was a correct decision to make, we all can't help but to feel sad. I know, none of us will feel the pain (of leaving A.S. permanently) as intense as my grandpa. The house my grandpa used to have is a great big house. Over the past few decades, all my family members have generated so many great memories in that place, like relatives weddings, festive seasons celebration, CNY gathering dinner, etc. My grandparents love gardening. Over the years they had planted mango trees, ciku tree, all sorts of bon-sai, lady's fingers (known as okra in North America), pandan leaves, lemongrass, and other plants that I am not familiar with.

My grandparents used to live across the street from Lee Xin Jie's (李心洁)place. Cool, huh? In fact, the big boss of the tissue company 'Premier' lives next next door.

I've tried to google Alor Setar, but nothing much showed up. I was hoping I could find the pictures of the specialty hawker food that belongs solely to Alor Setar from the internet. No such luck. Ahhh, maybe gluton rabbit from Pearl of the Orient. can help me. Haha.

If I happened to be in Alor Setar with my family, there would be a few 'must-have' visits. We would definitely go to a kopitiam located right next to the emporium 'City-Point' to have loh-mee. During the night, we could either go to Hai Tao Kee, or Prince Street for supper. Food that would appear on our table would be Yin Yong ala Alor Setar (鸳鸯), shredded chicken noodles (鸡丝面,kei see mee, in Hokkien pronunciation), si-guo-teng (四果汤) as dessert. The price of the food were normally 50% cheaper than food in the Klang Valley, so it was so fun to dine out in A.S. Bah!

I miss the big house my grandpa used to own. I wonder how the house is now. I was told by my mum that my grandpa sold the house to a physician. May the new owner and his family love the house as much as we do, and would have many many more great memories, like we do.

DeepaRaya Celebration.

I know a lot of you had great fun a couple of days ago busy celebrating DeepaRaya. Yes, I might not be at home now to join the fun, but hey, who said we can't do it here?

Just now, we had a DeepaRaya celebration. It was a potluck style dinner, and around 40 over ppl attended the blast ... Oh, what a meriah night. There were Malaysians, Singaporeans, Indonesians, Taiwanese in the gathering and I never felt that I'm indeed living in a foreign country! I heard Malay language all around ... Thanks to many Malay friend who attended the event, we had all sorts of AUTHENTIC Malay food ... The event was exactly the same like the Raya open house in Malaysia I attended before, except no one gave duit raya. =)

Ahhh, we are so going to do this again next year!

Ayam Goreng Asam.

Nasi Kunyit.

Dried Rendang.

Kari Ayam.

Telur Pedas.

Fried Popiah.

Dessert: Special Crepe with custard filling. (A production of yours truly.)

Satay, Ketupat.

The broth of Laksa Lemak.

The noodles for Laksa, and some mee goreng.

Exotic Salad. (Pineapples, Bombay onions, english cucumber with dried shrimps)

Kari Udang.

Sambal Asparagus.

Aside from all these, we also had gado-gado (Indonesian food), empek-empek (Indonesian food), roti canai, cornflake cookies, agar-agar, nasi pulut hitam ....

We did good, didn't we?

What a memorable night.


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