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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Salted Glutinous Rice Balls on Christmas Day 2014

Winter Solstice had just passed three days ago and our family would like to have another version of glutinous balls on this Christmas Day.Tong Yuen are small round balls made of glutinous rice flour. We used to eat salty glutinous rice balls with prawn soup in previous years till we changed the habit to taste glutinous rice balls in sweet soup (rock sugar soup) version. 

Let's see the salted version of glutinous rice balls.

The soup is easy to be prepared with ingredients such as pinches of shitake mushrooms, prawns, vegetables and some minced pork meats. You may choose to have prawn shells based soup or chicken soup which tastes more flavorful.

The glutinous rice balls could be without filling or with fillings of minced pork (pork and shrimps mixed with pinch of salt, pepper, sesame oil and etc.)

After that, just put the glutinous rice balls into big pot of hot, boiling water. The well-cooked glutinous rice balls will float on the water, signifying they are ready to be served.

Lastly,the salted glutinous rice balls readies to be served.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

10 days 7 nights Europe Trip Itinerary (11th November - 20th November 2014)

Day 1:

Checked in KLIA, Transit in Dubai Airport

Day 2: 

  1. Arrived at Heathrow UK Airport at 7am 
  2. UK sight-seeing tour at Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, the Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey,
  3. Lunch at Chinatown 
  4. Visited Buckingham Palace and No.10 Dowing Street (external view) and a two-hour shopping at Oxford Street
  5. Had dinner at Kings Mall after checking-in Novotel London West.
Click Say "Hello" to London (Part 1) for more details.

Day 3: 

  1. Took underground train at Hammersmith Underground Station to Westminster Station to re-visit Big Ben and House of Parliaments.
  2. Took a ride on London Eye
  3. Visited SEA LIFE London Aquarium
  4. A great noon in Madame Tussauds London
  5. Explored Underground Stations to shop at Oxfort Street.
Click Say "Hello" to London (Part 2) for more details.

Day 4: 

  1. Bid "Goodbye" to Novotel Hotel and left for Brussels by Eurostar. 
  2. A short tour in Brussels; Belgium - Grand Place, Chocolate shop and say " Hello" to Manneken Pis, Atomium.
  3. Left Brussels to Amsterdam; Netherlands for the nice, hot dinner and checked-in Mercure Amsterdam Airport Hotel
Click below links for more details:

Day 5:
  1. Amsterdam sight-seeing
  2. Zaanse Schans - Wooden windmills, barns and museums,Chocolate Factory, Dutch wooden Clogs Factory/ Showroom, Cheese Factory
  3. Lunch - Fish and Chips at Van Den Hogen Restaurant; Volendam
  4. Amsterdam Canal Cruise- Along Skining Bridge, Stoppera, Science Museum, Harbour, Railway Station, Gentleman;s canal, Prince Canal, Emperor Canal and stop at Gassan Diamond Showroom
  5. Had dinner around Dam Square and Visit to Dam Square; Red Light District; and enjoy night scenery of Royal Place and National Monument Amsterdam.

Click below links for more details:

Day 6:
  1.  UNESCO World Heritage Kinderdijk for the authentic windmills
  2.  Rotterdam- Cube Houses, Erasmus Bridge, Lunch @ McD Rotterdam
  3.  Den Haag- The Rizzerdaal (Hall of Knights) and its beautiful fountain, Prince of William Statue; Paleis Noordeinde and Peace Palace.
  4. Scheveningen- Beach
  5. Had dinner at Amsterdam and visit Amsterdam Casino, Hard Rock Cafe/ Beer cafe and shops

Click below links for more details:
Day 7:

Checked out hotel and dropped by rest houses for Milk/ Champagne flavor ice-cream, had lunch at Café France before heading to Galeries Lafayette.

Click below links for more details:

Day 8: 
  1. Admission to the 2nd floor of Eiffel tower, 
  2. Paris canal cruise on seine river- passed by Pont des invalids, Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor,Pont Alexander III Bridge, Pont de la Concorde, pont du Carrousel, Pont des Art, Pont Neuf, Ile de la cite/ Pont de la Tournelle, Pont Bir Hakeim, Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir, Pont au Change, Pont d’ Austerlitz, Pont de l’ Archeveche, Pont de Sully, Pont d’ lena; Galeries Lafayette 
  3. Enjoyed dinner in Paris

Click below links for more details:

Day 9: 

  1. Visited Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre, Louvre Museum, Roue de Paris- Paris Ferries Wheel, Arch de Triomph,
  2. Bid farewell to the nice destinations and back to Malaysia with wonderful experiences in Europe.
Click below links for more details:

Day 10: 

Home, I'm back to your hug :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Europe Trip- Paris | Arc de Triomphe, La Grand Roue de Paris (Paris Ferries Wheel), Luxor Obelisk

19th November 2014

It came to the end of our trip in Paris. Before the excursion to the airport, the driver was kind enough to let us drop by some tourist attractions to bring back some memorable photos back.

Arc de Triomphe is another famous and historical monument in Paris, honouring those who fought and died for France during French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. The names of the French victories and generals had inscribed on both inner and outer surfaces of Arc de Triomphe. With the height of 164- feet tall, it towers over the 50 feet tall Arch of Titus in Rome that inspired the design for the Parisian landmark.

Notably to mention that the most famous shopping street, Avenue Champs-Élysées is just in front of it. Arc de Triomphe is located around a colossal roundabout, we did not have time to go across the road to spend some time over there. From most other websites, you could actually climb up Arc de Triomphe to view Paris scenery. 

The Ferris Wheel Place de la Concorde (La Grande Roue de Paris) was nearby Arc de Triomphe.Hence, we had dropped by the final tourist attraction which had both La Grand Roue de Paris and Luxor Obelisk. La Grand Roue de Paris is one of the places you could see the nice city, beautiful landmarks in Paris. La Grand Roue de Paris is a 60-metre (200 ft) tall. It might not be big and glamour as London’s eye, yet the skyscrapers of Paris especially at night could blow your mind off. 

Another landmark that is nearby La Grand Roue de Paris is the Luxor Obelisk is a 23 metre high Egyptian obelisk standing at the center of the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France. Luxor Obelish has been erected in Place de la Concorde as a symbol of peace, replacing the former statue of Louis XV since year 1836.

Luxor Obelisk

Paris, je t'aime!
Paris, goodbye and till we meet again!

Europe Trip- Paris | Japanese Cuisines @ Higuma Japanese Restaurant (Palais Royal/Louvre Museum)

19th November 2014

We strolled along the road from Louvre Museum for lunch. The weather of the day was unexpectedly cold and all of us would like to indulge in some warm Asian food. Higuma Japanese Restaurant was our choice of dining place as the menu showing that the food was in reasonable price (around 8 euro).
I shall say it's a coincidence that we stumbled upon Higuma Japanese Restaurant which was having a high ranking of restaurants in Paris. It was just right across the road from Louvre Museum which was convenient for us to return later.

A cup of warm green tea was served in time to warm our hands and body.

Higuma Japanese Restaurant was crowded and we had to wait for about 5 minutes to be seated. My dad ordered fried noodles while the rest of us ordered ramen.I supposed he waitresses and waiters were Asians as they spoke Mandarin. In other words, this shall be not authentic Japanese cuisines. In the beginning, foods were served fast. It was a total of  15 of us and they had forgotten to three meals. It sounded like reasonable, but of course it wasn't as we had requested the waitress to repeat our order yet she mentioned that she had remembered all. They did rectify immediately after we informed that three ordered meals were not served, however they missed out one order. Well, till the foods were served, no apology was heard. 

Fried noodles were unexpectedly delicious and flavorful. The name of the dish is yokisoba yet it's more like fried noodles that we could have in any Chinese restaurant. 

Syoyu Ramen

My bowl of ramen was served after more than 40 minutes of waiting. 

The requisite slice of smoked pork and fresh steaming ramen had mollify me as I was hungry. All I did was finishing it at the least time as we needed to head back to Louvre Museum.

Speaking of the food, I would say that the food are okay. The food are in large portion, served hot and reasonable priced. A good place for fulfilling your stomach's need but do not expect for authentic Japanese cuisine. Service is much to be improved as most patrons were visibly looking for waiters and having their orders missed out or mixed up.

Europe Trip- Paris | Musée du Louvre

19th November 2014

First and foremost, Musée du Louvre or Louvre Museum is a must visit place when in Paris. Musée du Louvre is arguably the world’s most famous museum with the vast collections of well-known masterpieces, artworks, paintings and sculptures. As we all know, it’s the territory of Monalisa painted by Leonardo da Vincci in Florence; Italy 500 years ago. The ambiguity of Monalisa’s expression is often described as enigmatic, providing your fascination run wildly. The museum has 380,000 objects inside; I don’t think one-day tour can cover all, perhaps just the recognized masterpieces.

Musée du Louvre is located in the core of the city, between the right side of the river Seine and Rivoli street, just in the first "arrondissement" of Paris. The building is an ancient royal palace that was first erected as a fortress in 1192 during the kingdom of Philippe Auguste, to protect the city from barbarian attacks. The Louvre Glass Pyramid is a large glass and metal pyramid serves as the main entrance to Musee du Louvre, surrounded by three smaller pyramids in the main courtyard - Cour Napoleon - of the Louvre Palace.We stopped to admire the beautiful surrounding of the ancient building through the modern glass grid. Of course, it was another photography session here.

As we had limited time to spend here, we did not manage to enter Musée du Louvre and just had the chance to capture photos in front of the famous glass pyramid in the middle of the central square. The inverted glass pyramid being a nice designed masterpiece which functions as providing light into the undergrounds. 

We had window shopping at the shop-lots beneath and enthralled with the range of nice souvenirs such as painting replica, puzzle, postcards, and etcetera. Everything seems to be so nice and interesting to me. Shall I just bring Paris back here?

Well, Musée du Louvre is surely one of the places that I would like to re-visit again.
I hoped that I could spend a day inside to view the nice artwork during the next visit.

Europe Trip | Paris-The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris -Sacré-Coeur Basilica

19th November 2014

Basilica Sacre Coeur is a Roman Catholic Church that is located at the summit of the de Montmartre, which is the highest point in the city. Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871 crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ.

The weather of the day was terribly cold and my hands were trembling when I walked up the staircase. My aim was to visit the famous museums in Paris and Basilica Sacre Coeur wasn’t in my plan list. Also, it wasn’t included in our itinerary however the tour guide had brought us to visit this famous Roman Catholic Church. We were told to be stayed with the group of us as the crowds of men who wanted to tie a bracelet to your wrist. If your wrist is stretched out, most likely your wallet or purse is gone to these pickpockets.  Again, there’s no free lunch in the world, hence do not ever believe that free bracelets are given at Sacré-Coeur Basilica.

It took around 15 minutes for us to meander up the hill and occasionally we stopped and enjoyed the spectacular view from the hill. I had to say again, it wasn't a good choice coming to Sacré-Coeur Basilica during autumn season or the clothes were not thick enough.

Hardly smiled as it was really very cold.
We were told that it was 8 Celsius during that morning.

The interior of the church contains one of the World’s largest mosaics over the altar and Christ with outstretched arms. There was a big signboard saying that photography was prohibited. Well, there were still many people taking photography inside. A beautiful meditation garden was found outside the chapel and we proceeded into the narrow streets of Montmartre; the artist colony, nice cafes and souvenirs shops. We had found the Mona Lisa poster over here.

If our luggages had more space, I really would like to bring back some delectable cookies.
The biscuits containers were attractive.

Moulin Rouge (red Windmill) which was not far from Sacré-Coeur Basilica had been spotted on the journey to our next destination. Burlesque shows featuring the famous French can-can which had been kept recommended by tour guide on the days before. Well, the entrance ticket was too costly.
Giuchie, giuchie, ya ya dada, giuchie, ya ya here,
Mocha chocalata, ya ya, creole Lady Marmalade

Anyone watched the show before?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Europe Trip- Paris | Galleries Lafayette and French Cuisines @ Chez Edouard French Restaurant

 18th November 2014

After the cruise excursion, we had come back to the shopping heaven; Galleries Lafayette. The few of us weren't so happy with the idea of spending another 5 hours in Galleries Lafayette. We would be delighted to utilize the noon time at any famous museum in Paris. Anyway, the majority had won so we landed to Galleries Lafayette till 7pm. We were starved and had simple lunch at Sze Chuan restaurant at the 7th floor of Galleries Lafayette.

Chez Edouard French Restaurant  located near Rue Saint-Honore. The best French cuisines I had in Paris and I had pleasant dining experience with the good quality food, atmosphere and service. We seemed to be the largest group being served in Chez Edouard. A bottle of red bordeaux wine was placed at each table of 4 person.

Escargot with herb butter

It was my first try of French appetizer - snails. Escargot with herb butter was very good as the snails were succulent and the herb butter enriched the taste. Mr. Sam had one dozen of escargot with herb butter. Eye rolls~~ LOL

The seafood platter with fresh oysters, whelks, prawns, and crabs in a large plate of crushed ice. 
Nice food for sharing

Mr. Sam's wife told us to have some bites of french bread before eating the cold seafood. This could help in preventing stomachache or diarrhea. I just tried one of the oysters.

Let's see what are the choices of main course you could have in Chez Edouard. The main course chosen by my lovely partner; Ying was a poached salmon with Beurre Blanc. From the view of the course, I did feel lucky I did not choose it as the portion seemed to be small for me. 

My choice of main course was Steak Au Poivre or lamb steak in a nutshell. The peppery lamb steak was unexpectedly tender. I seldom choose lamb steak or beef steak even in Malaysia as the meat was usually on the tough side and somestimes with a strong gamier flavor and odor. Steak Au Poivre did not make me disappointed. Steak Au Poivre was garnished with a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley and potato fries. I personally preferred the fries I had in Volendam.

Beef steak -the another choice of main course

The dessert was a slice of apple tart which ended the dinner.
I was hoping for French ice-cream to be served, yet we were told that there wasn't any ice-cream left in the restaurant.

The restaurant is dimly lit and have nice internal decoration.The tour guide said that it is one of the places renowned for group tours and usually quite noisy.We were lucky that there wasn't many group tours hence the atmosphere was nice and relax with swift service provided. In short, we had a pleasant dining experience at Chez Edouard.

Europe Trip- Paris | Seine River Cruise Tour

18th November 2014

After visiting Eiffel Tower, we enjoyed a unique view of old Paris from the Canal Saint Martin. Our trip in Paris was rather short and tight-scheduled. Hence, many of the major attractions of Paris including Notre Dame and The Louvre Museum were visited through the sight-seeing tour on cruise along Seine River.

Bateaux Mouches Seine Cruise which run by the oldest company on the Seine River, starting service after World War II. Free shuttle services were available.

The printed handouts in different languages were provided.

Well, only my dad and I went to get one and it's very useful to understand the tourist spots that our cruise passed by. I really appreciated the handouts as I realized that I couldn't remember some of the places I had gone to. The link of the website : http://www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en/ 

The cruise was very big and spacious. It was a double-decker open-top boat with orange seats. We quickly chose the the best seat and unobstructed view was really good. The departure point was Pont de l’Alma (right bank) in the 8th arrondissement. We spotted the beautiful architecture of Eiffel Tower.

With the "Iron Lady" 

It's a great way to see the city from a different perspective. It's more like a cultural tour for me with the unique experience amid of all the great monuments and enchanting bridges on the borders of the river.  The Paris canal cruise had passed by many bridges (named as pont in France Language) such as Pont des invalids, Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor,Pont Alexander III Bridge, Pont de la Concorde, pont du Carrousel, Pont des Art, Pont Neuf, Ile de la cite/ Pont de la Tournelle, Pont Bir Hakeim, Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir, Pont au Change, Pont d’ Austerlitz, Pont de l’ Archeveche, Pont de Sully, Pont d’ lena; Galeries Lafayette 

Pont des invalids

Passerelle Leopold-Sedar-Senghor

Pont Alexander III Bridge

The most popular and ornate bridge that we came across. This deck arch bridge spans the Seine in Paris and connects the Champs-Élysées quarter and the Invalides and Eiffel Tower quarter. This bridge was built specifically for the Universal Exposition of 1900.

Palais Bourbon/ Assemblee Nationale-the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic.

Parisan artwork
Pont de la Concorde
Museum of the Legion of Honour 

Musée d’Orsay- facade of the old train station which was built in 1900. Now it's the museum of masterpiece collection of the 19th Century. I kept telling my dad that how nice the museum is, hoping that I had free time to spend there after the cruise tour.

Louvre Museum

Pont des Arts

The Pont des Arts or Passerelle des Arts is a pedestrian bridge in Paris which crosses the Seine river.
The padlocks of lovers were locked at the bridge.

Institute of France Hotel de la Monnaie
Pont de l'Archevêché

“There are two bridges in Paris with the locks, you must be very careful which bridge you put your lock on because Pont des Arts is for your committed love, while Pont de l'Archevêché is for your lover.” - Bonjourparis.com

I had been wondering why having two bridges with love padlocks. Thanks to Bonjourparis.com for the elucidation.

Pont au Double

The arch bridge was used to linked two sections of hospital Hôtel-Dieu, then named after the "double denier" that people had to pay to cross it.

Notre Dame

Pont Neuf

The Pont Neuf runs between the right and left banks of the Seine River in the middle of Paris, on its way touching one end of the Ile de la Cite where Notre Dame stands.
Notre Dame- the jewel and gothic architecture which had completed in 1350.
I wished I could visit this famous cathedral one day.

Pont de la Tournelle and Ile st louis

Paris quai-front housing

Statue of Ste Geneviève

Pont d' Austerlitz
The Pont d'Austerlitz is a bridge which crosses the Seine River in Paris, France. It owes its name to the battle of Austerlitz. Another famous bridge that you shall stroll onto in Paris.

Dad posed with part of Viaduc d'Austerlitz (railway bridge)

Pont de Bir-Hakeim

The Pont de Bir-Hakeim, formerly named as the pont de Passy.

If based on List of Bridges in Paris, Paris has 37 bridges across the Seine, of which 4 are pedestrian only and 2 are rail bridges. I think the Seine River cruise tour just covered part of the famous bridges.

The weather was getting much colder and we went into the glassed-in bottom half of the boat. In the warm room, we listened to the pre-recorded narration to have better understanding on these historical bridges and buildings on the both sides. If the time is permitted, I would suggest having walking tours on the both sides with cruise tour during the evening.