Gettin’ Iggy’s Wid It

Cheapskate non-foodie restaurant review alert! I took the day off on my birthday so we took advantage of set lunch prices at Iggy’s since we could never dine there otherwise. The $55++ per person set gets you two hors d’ouevres, a main and a dessert each. We usually share everything even when we go to fancy places, which is nice in terms of tasting variety but a little embarrassing if the maitre d’ arrives just as you’re hefting your platter of half-eaten osso buco across the table. Here’s what we tried.

Hors d’ouevres:

  • Pan-fried foie gras with French toast, caramelized peach and mango mesclun salad. I seem to remember enjoying the foie gras at St Pierre’s a little more, perhaps, but this wasn’t far behind.
  • Home-made burrata. Very nice, but not the ascent to cheese heaven serenaded by tomato seraphim that it is at Valentino’s.
  • Home-made papardelle, mushroom and Kurobota pork cheek ragout. Delicious, but I’m glad they do this as an hors d’oeurvre rather than a main because it’s too rich for me to handle in large portions.
  • Spring salad of mushroom, tomato, mango, avocado, mesclun, red onion, fine herbs, lily flower, Hollandaise. A nice contrast to the above three hors d’oeurvres.

Mains:

  • Sakura ebi cappellini. I wasn’t keen on this but I’m not a prawn person. To me, it tasted like fried bee hoon.
  • Sea bass with tomato confit and aubergine caviar. The fish was done perfectly with crispy crust and moist, flavourful flesh. I would have liked a little more tomato confit and aubergine caviar to eat it with, but perhaps they’re deliberately stingy with the condiments to force you to appreciate the tasty fish.

Desserts:

  • Campari jelly with blood orange sorbet and forest berries. Very refreshing blend of flavours and textures. I’m not a dessert person but this was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a while.
  • Caraibe chocolate bar with mascarpone ice cream and green lime zest. Marginally nicer than the usual moist chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream combo, but I was a bit underwhelmed. I’d been hoping for the lime zest taste to be more prominent.

I would recommend Iggy’s to anyone who wants to feel a little pampered but keep costs under control. The service is warm and professional, the atmosphere intimate but not hoity toity, and the number 36 takes you right to the doorstep. Just don’t think about the number of McSpicy meals you could have consumed for the price. (If you don’t like the McSpicy, ignore that last sentence. If you do like the McSpicy, meet me for one now. It’s 2.18 a.m. and I’m huuuungry.)

The Year Before Thirty

I really meant to write about my birthday weeks ago (because with my increasing old age I would probably forget how I celebrated it if i didn’t), but I was trying to cram too much in a post and everything got unwieldy so I kept lying on the couch in the middle of writing and falling asleep. So basically, in my birthday week I:

  • Pigged out: Iggy’s, Peramakan, favourite Indian veggie place in the East which I don’t know the name of (it’s on Ceylon Road next to the Hindu temple), Tung Lok a la carte buffet at Paramount (last mentioned here, and it’s still awesome), far too much oyster omelette, BBQ stingray, teh ping and beer.
  • Finally watched the Watchmen.
  • Attended Of Montreal, Battles, and Cinematic Orchestra gigs.
  • Took delivery of my new mixer.
  • Threw a recession party (home made soup and bread).

Reading all that back, I don’t seem to be very grown up and mature. Oh well! (More details on some of these in future posts.)

Hatty Birthday To Me

I used to have a big green leprechaun hat in London, a gift from Brian and Esther when a visit of theirs coincided with my birthday one year. Unfortunately, when I was leaving London and drastically pruning my possessions before shipping them back to Singapore, I ended up having to leave the hat behind. Alec promised to donate it to a needy leprechaun, but you know you can never trust these wily Irish and their meaningless promises.

But once I’d been in Singapore a while, I started to really miss my hat. I could have replaced it with one of those Guinness hats the Irish pubs give out for St Patrick’s Day, but I’m usually too busy celebrating MY DAY MINE MINE ME ME ME to be in the pub letting some snake-wrangling saint dude steal my thunder.

So when Alec asked what I’d like for my birthday, I jokingly said I wanted a Guinness hat. I was too lazy this year to throw a sequel to my 2006 Craic Whores birthday party, but someday I will, and I’ll need a good hat.

So there I was a week ago, the night of my birthday, on the way to meet Alec for a nice dinner at Senso. Alec had messaged that he was already at Maxwell hawker centre, where we’d meet and walk to Senso together. I got off the bus and walked towards the big traffic junction to cross over to Maxwell, phoning Alec to say I’d arrived. He didn’t pick up. I shrugged and figured I’d just walk into Maxwell and probably find him somewhere among the uncles nursing a beer.

I reached the junction, pressed the button to cross, and waited impatiently for a few seconds. Then I saw a man diagonally across the junction, standing very straight and tall and still, getting anything from furtive giggles to outright laughs from the locals standing around him, almost like they thought he was one of those human statues and they were trying to figure out what would happen if they tossed him 50 cents. Standing there, looking straight at me from across the junction. Wearing a Guinness hat.

[BTW, this is not the “simultaneously best and worst present ever” I mentioned earlier. Still working on an entry about that one, photos are crucial and I might even try a video.]

Birthday Presence

So there I was, up to my ears in the details of an oil pipeline contract, and then I heard a voice outside the door of my office, asking for Michelle.

My first thought: Wah lau that bloody ________! Always barging into my office without calling first, just assuming I’m free to drop everything and attend to him. Too much!

My second thought: Hang on, that sounded like Alec. Wha??!

Next thing I knew, Alec was in my office with a bunch of lilies. :)

He couldn’t stay long because he had to rush off to work. I walked him down to the taxi point, and we had this conversation while waiting. Sorry if it grosses anyone out, but I thought it might amuse fans of the long-running Alec/Russ war.

Me: Aww, thanks for doing this. It was really sweet of you to bring the flowers yourself.
Alec: My pleasure. Anyway, I totally had to one-up Russ.
Me: Ha! I bet next year Russ will COME FROM ENGLAND to hand-deliver the flowers to me!
Alec: Well then the year after that I’ll FLY TO ENGLAND, BUY THE FLOWERS THERE, AND BRING THEM BACK!
Me: Aw. Okay, there’s your taxi. Bye dear.
Alec: See you later, dear. Happy birthday.

Pushing 26

I had a pretty great birthday last year. Long-time readers may be aware that despite being confident, well-adjusted and happy in every other area of my life I somehow suffer from dumb irrational birthday angst. So it really made me happy last year when loads of people remembered, my best friend sent flowers to my office, and Tortoise decided to grace Singapore with their presence.

This year’s birthday looked off to a bad start when I checked the gig schedule hopefully only to see…Jason Mraz. Thankfully, lots of preferable events quickly emerged, and I decided to take matters into my own hands for the actual day.

So this is the plan so far:

  • 15 March: Erlend Oye’s DJ set at the Mosaic music festival. I’ve long wished the dude would just quit indie music and focus on DJing because I think his taste in house music far outstrips his indie muzak.

  • 16 March: No special plans but my usual Thursday lindy hopping will probably keep me very happy. [Edit: Actually on second thoughts, I don’t really have the time for this one. Nuts.]

  • 17 March: my actual birthday. For the first time since the age of 8, I’m taking the chance on a party. Since my previous attempt at mixing my friends went okay, I decided to push my luck a little and impose a theme – being born on St Patrick’s Day makes it a no-brainer anyway. So “Craic Whores” it is then – a cheesy Irish theme party fit to inflict a lifetime’s worth of cringing on my poor Irishman.

  • 18 March: This is the tricky bit. Ideally I will spend the afternoon getting drenched in water and dye and bhangra at the Holi festival, rush home to change, rush out again to Ci’en’s party where she has kindly invited a couple of us to play music, then finally head to see GANG STARR!(!!!!!) However, in reality it is far more likely that I will collapse asleep on my bed after Holi and wake up the next morning still Technicolored. I live in hope though.

I’m Shorty, It’s My Birthday

As I mentioned before, I’ll be out and about this weekend following 50 Cent’s command, which will be great after two spent in confinement. (To anyone who’s just surfed over from Mr Miyagi, I’m not Zoe Tay, I just had chicken pox).

So if you happen to be at the Tortoise gig tonight, or watching Chicks On Speed tomorrow night at Zouk, or at Mox on Saturday for RNDM, or Zouk for Grandmaster Flash after that, come wish me happy birthday!

Perhaps you wonder how you’ll recognise me, given that I don’t have a picture of myself on this blog. Easy – just look out for a hot girl, funkily dressed and surrounded by adoring men. That’s not me. But it might well be my friend Ida or my friend Kelly, so then you can ask them to point me out.

Like A Poussin With Its Head Cut Off

Okay, so after a couple of conflicting medical opinions, it now appears I probably do have chicken pox, although the antivirals I’ve been taking have rendered it incredibly wimpy – poussin pox, if you will. It looks like I’ll have to miss work till the end of this week so that other people in my office don’t end up doing the chicken dance too, but I really can’t see these wimpy pox surviving the weekend. Alec is still considered infectious because of a lousy two (TWO?!) spots which haven’t scabbed over yet, but I hope I’ll be able to see him quite soon. My mum continues to show no signs of infection but she’s not out of the woods yet.

So apart from occasionally channelling Lady Macbeth and whiling away the afternoons with a warm sleepy cat on my belly, I have no other real agenda for the coming week apart from deciding how I want to celebrate my birthday the week after.

Very pleasantly, my problem right now is choosing between an excess of options. The day itself is sorted because of the Tortoise gig at night. Surprisingly, even Zouk has a half-interesting lineup for that weekend, with Chicks On Speed on Friday and Grandmaster Flash on Saturday. And lastly, Tiramisu and Astreal (my new favourite local band, sorry Observatory, I’ll still support you but walls of crashing sound with ethereal vocals by a hot girl playing an oversized turquoise guitar straight out of the Jetsons kinda push my buttons a bit more) will be playing at the first RNDM night at Mox, also on Saturday.

With so much to do, I’m reconsidering my original idea of just throwing a house party, simply because I don’t see how I can fit one in.

Happy Birthday To Me, By The Way

There’s a great line in David Sedaris’s Barrel Fever – “If you’re looking for sympathy you can find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.” I’m not looking for sympathy; at least, not here. It’s just that I seem to be going through an odd mental blogging block, which I think will only clear once I’ve written something down about the strange phenomenon that afflicts me every year on March 17 and its surrounding days. Snarks will point out that such writing need only reside on my hard drive, but what would be the fun in that?

23 And Less Angsty

I’m sorry it’s been a while. I was busy turning 23.

It didn’t involve anything spectacular, but it all added up to a rather happy me this week nonetheless. Some friends reading this will be aware of my birthday neurosis, but that was luckily kept under control this year, thanks to a very understanding Alec who decided to start calling my friends himself rather than wait for me to chicken out of organizing anything and then get depressed like last year.

On Saturday afternoon, after lunch with Alec, Brian and Esther at good ol’ Mr Jerk, I hit Berwick Street:

  • The Notwist: Neon Golden (£7.99)
  • Múm: Finally We Are No One (£7.99)
  • Lambchop: What Another Man Spills (£7.99)
  • Tori Amos: Scarlett’s Walk (£4.99)
  • (On Sunday, I also found Common’s Electric Circus in Music Zone for £6, yay.)
  • [Something else I’m also enjoying is the self-titled album by Mark Hollis (formerly of Talk Talk), my present from Benny, who is one of the few people around who would have the balls and self-confidence (deservedly so, I might add!) to give me any music I hadn’t already said I wanted, snob that I am. Thanks Benny!]

Then to Shoreditch for dinner at Song Que, which struggled a little with our party of 14, but did their best to remain smiley. I, on the other hand, wildly tried to move around the table, talk to people, and apologize for the various things my various offensive friends managed to say to each other, all at the same time. The life of a socialite is clearly not for me. After dinner we headed to Bar Kick, where I failed to acquit myself particularly well in our table football challenges, but I blame the cocktails. I think it all went okay. I haven’t really tried mixing different friends together since I was 8 and mixed 10 girls from school with my poor neighbour Roy, but I hope they sort of enjoyed themselves this time, and am ultimately very thankful they even bothered to come.

On Monday (my real birthday), Alec brought me lilies and the paper in bed, which made for many happy hours curled up reading all about how we were, er, headed for war. Oh well. So much for being able to celebrate my birth in a spirit of optimism. In the evening I got 5 seconds of fame at a law faculty prizegiving ceremony, but the other 89 minutes 55 seconds were extremely dull. Then dinner at Hunan, where being expected to trust the maitre d’s choice rather than order from a menu was a little difficult for control freak me, but it worked out lovely. When he found out it was my birthday, he asked if I had any favourite dishes they could make me. Given that Hunan is one of the very few Chinese restaurants in London that isn’t Cantonese, it is probably a good thing I stifled my response of “mat chap chi pa” (I can’t translate it exactly, but it’s something like “honey-cooked pork” I think – it’s yummy, anyway. Order it the next time you go to very Cantonese Chinatown). We managed to stagger out forgetting Alec’s scarf and my prize certificate (such is life with Alec and Michelle), but remembered before we’d gotten too far away, so all was well.

So I celebrated some of my birthday in Shoreditch and some of it in Sloane Square. I would pride myself on having social range, but must unfortunately admit I fit in much better in Shoreditch. (Quick note for non-Londoners: Sloane Square is where very rich people hang out. Shoreditch is near where Jack The Ripper used to kill prostitutes.)

I Guess 22 Is No Big Deal

Things that made me happy:

  • Not having to do morning choir practice and mass because Michael volunteered, before he even found out it was my birthday. I got a lie-in.
  • Avril spotting me across the room when I finally ventured downstairs for tea and bawling “Happy birthday Michelle!”, which got everyone else to start singing.
  • Swyrie baking me a chocolate Nutella cake.
  • Cards from people I really hadn’t expected cards from.
  • Sitting on the pavement in the sun outside Caffe Uno with chicken escalope sandwich and a latte.
  • Finding Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is OK (Mum) and The Document (Andy Smith) going very cheaply at Reckless Records.

Things that made me laugh:

  • The naked guy on a plinth at Trafalgar Square.
  • My rather appropriate description of where John and I had wandered to as “the arse end of Old Compton Street”.
  • “Warning: Choking hazard. Small parts. Not suitable for children under 3 years” on the packaging of the Jesus Action Figure (with poseable arms and gliding action!) John gave me.
  • Also the “Made In China” statement for said Jesus.
  • The Wash Away Your Sins cleansing bar, also from John. Its instructions: “3. Moisten oneself 4. Lather vigorously 5. Rinse 6. Repent.”
  • The Royal Tenenbaums, at night. More of a laughing-inside movie than laughing-out-loud movie for me, but still, undeniably laughing.

Things that made me feel guilty:

  • John spending the afternoon with me even though he really should have been doing his dissertation. I, on the other hand, failed to even call him when he turned 21 recently and still haven’t bought his birthday present.
  • Being really badly prepared for evening mass, and having to ask someone who was good at sight-reading to play the ones I couldn’t play.
  • My priest, with more than enough to occupy him this weekend given that he was moving to a new parish on Monday, taking the trouble to make me a card. I’d been meaning to do the same for him to say goodbye and thank you, but never got round to it, just scribbled a message in the communal well-wishers’ book on Saturday night while merry on alcopops.

Things that made me feel sad:

  • I didn’t do Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music as I’d been hoping. There just weren’t enough people willing to go to be able to make a proper good time of it, although Shoop and John (bless them) supported the idea staunchly right to the end before accepting my eventual decision to call it off. It would have been fun.
  • The realization today when Claire asked if I’d had a good birthday that the most honest answer I could give was “No, not really. But then I never really do, so I’m pretty used to it by now.”