May 15, 2007

Dibalik kesunyian di kota Changshu

Kota kecil ini dibangun untuk mendukung industri garment dan otomotif di china, terlihat dari banyaknya jumlah pabrik tekstil berikut industri kecil pendukungnya membuat kota mungil ini seringkali berselimutkan kabut kelabu dari asap industri. Dalam beberapa bulan selama musim panas, hari-hari dihiasi langit biru cerah dengan gumpalan awan putih bisa dihitung dengan jari.

Malah mendekati pertengahan musim panas, kabut tampak semakin menebal disertai dengan asap hitam disana-sini, dikarenakan para petani biasa membakar ladangnya secara masal untuk musim tanam berikutnya. Keunikan kota ini baru dapat ditemui di sela-sela kesibukan di pemukiman penduduk asli atau "hutong", di tepi-tepi sungai yang menghiasi kota dan di mulut-mulut pasar tradisional. Berbagai macam jajanan pasar yang menggiurkan. Mulai dari yang paling umum seperti gorengan, kue-kue kering, sate, sampai gerobak penjual bebek yang menjual berbagai jenis bentuk makanan dari bebek - sate bebek, leher bebek bumbu pedas, ceker bebek saus kecap manis, paha bebek panggang, bebek goreng gurih, lidah bebek, hati bebek goreng, sayap bebek panggang.....

Di musim dingin lebih banyak penjual sate dan barbekyu, di musim panas para penjual beralih menjajakan gorengan. Walaupun tidak ada tempe goreng ataupun combro seperti penjaja gorengan umumnya di Jakarta, bakwan atau bala-bala dan tahu goreng banyak sekali terlihat. Yang unik, para pedagang disini menyediakan lebih dari 6 macam saus yang berbeda untuk dicelup begitu bakwan keluar dari wajan panas-panas. Hmmmm, pilihan jatuh pada kombinasi saus cabai dengan saus coklat gelap yang ternyata perpaduan antara kecap dan tauco.

Berbagai macam pilihan, bakwan, tahu, sate pangsit, sate panggang.....

Fried cake, sejenis martabak dengan campuran bayam & daun bawang

Timbunan kue-kue kering, manis dan gurih

Apr 26, 2007

Morning Ritual

A decent cup of coffee to start the morning is a necessity. But a kickass cup of coffee made to perfection with thick silky layer of foaming milk, followed by bitter sweet freshly brewed coffee perfect to the last drop is an absolute bliss which can also be a bless to start the day. Only certain places can make this kind of coffee, from personal experience, Illy coffee outlets are among those few. I was about to mention Starbucks, but recent visits to a couple of their outlets proved otherwise. Mind you, their coffee now tends to be overbrewed and slightly bitter.

Since we live in nowhere land where it's practically impossible to get out and find these things, we resign to having our own coffee machine. Our home brewed coffee proves to be the best, even better than coffee from the hotel. It's quite easy to make those heavenly coffee, actually.

First thing is, of course, the coffee - freshly ground one, not one of those instant coffee *yuck, just throw them in the dumpster please.....* I personally prefer Illy or Douwe Egberts. Second choice would be Lavazza and Excelso (I think Kalosi Toraja is the best one).
Then the milk. They've got to be fresh and cold! Non fat is supposedly making a better foam, but it makes the coffee less kicky lacking the richness of a full cream milk. This is when it gets a bit tricky. Foaming a milk takes a lot of practice. If the machine is too hot, the milk deflates, if the steamer is too deep, you get big bubbles. By surfing right on the surface of the milk, you'll get those perfect thick silky foam.

Here're some tricks to steam the milk

Apr 21, 2007

Hooked on the cute reapers

This is my favorite movie to watch in my spare time, just to get back into my quirkiness then get on with the day. Although the title of the movie may put off some, this movie describes our most avoided topic a.k.a death in a strange, peculiar, quirky way giving it a new meaning to 'dealing with deaths' .

These grim reapers are assigned to handle 'accidental deaths' only which are mostly rather goofy actually; like a man who died choked by a candy on his daughter's birthday, or a newly wed couple who both died before they even stepped out of the church, or a grumpy old grandma who got squished under a garbage dumpster.

The first CD was the story before George, died after being hit by a flaming toilet seat fell from the sky, out of MIR space station. The rest of the story is about her coping with her undead - death, as she couldn't move on to the 'tunnel of lights' like the rest of dead people do, instead she had to stay with the living, but working for death. Her daily routine involves getting post-it from Rube which contains detail of the next person to die ETD (estimated time of death) and location where she has to be before death takes place. She has to tap them and release the soul, sort of a knock on the door before it hits you.

........George Lass is an 18-year-old girl whose life seems to be going nowhere. She is not motivated to do anything, including being a good person or a bad person. Bad people are punished by Man's Law, and good people are punished by Murphy's law. Under her mother's insistence, George is forced to get a job, which did not last long.

All of the reapers are all, like George, people who died with unresolved issues, and aren't allowed to go to their final destination until they have learned the lessons they failed to learn in life. Their job is to take the souls of people who die before they die. They don't do the actual killing. Gravelings, are the ones responsible for setting up the deaths.

The undead can interact with the living (though they can't die again, but apparently they can feel pain.) Unfortunately, it isn't quite a free ride.

George doesn't want to be a grim reaper, but has to fill an unspecified quota of souls before she is done. She is slowly accepting her role, though she can't believe she has found meaning in her afterlife....
**Article from DLM Review

Grim Reapers
: (Wikipedia:) Death personified ~ Death has been personified as a figure or fictional character in mythology and popular culture. Because the reality of death has had a substantial influence on the human psyche and the development of civilization as a whole, the personification of Death as a living, sentient entity is a concept that has existed in many societies since the beginning of recorded history. In Western cultures, death is usually given the name "the Grim Reaper" and shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe, and wearing a midnight black gown with a hood.