Thursday, 1 May 2008

The Merry, Merry Month Of May

It is May 1st and being a day that celebrates worker's rights, it is also a public holiday in Singapore.

This translates into being able to sleep in an extra hour and not having to catch a packed MRT train in the early morning rush.

The weather over the past two weeks has got very hot again and the I note in the press that Singapore's temperature has risen almost two degrees in the past twenty or so years. Even the locals are complaining about the heat at the moment so it must be hot!

The monsoon rains seem to have finally passed although we still get the occasional thunderstorm which lowers the humidity somewhat. The overall temperature though creates a sense of lethargy and makes it difficult to sleep at night.

One could turn on the air-conditioning 24X7, as several of our neighbouring condo tenants do. This is an increasingly expensive option and we prefer to use fans.

This May first we visited the very recently opened Peranakan Museum in Armenian Street. It is an old Chinese school which was completed in 1912 and during the War was used as an HQ by the Japanese army.

Post war it reverted to its former use and my wife can recall a friend taking her there for Chinese language lessons. In 1982 it ceased to be a school and for a few years from 1994 to 2005 it was the Asian Civilisation Museum before the latter relocated to its current site - the old Empress Place.

I digress. The new Peranakan Museum is a delight and should be on every local and visitor's itinerary. The curatorial narrative documents the origins and lives of the Straits-born Chinese and Indian communities in an instructive and engaging manner. A great collection and elegant displays make this a must-see.

As there are not too many cheaper eating options in Armenian Street we back tracked to the SMU bus stop and disembarked opposite Park Mall. From there it was a short hop to Plaza Singapura but planning to eat there proved to be a big mistake.

We had forgotten that being a holiday the nearby Istana would be opened to the public. Half of Singapore seemed to have descended upon the Government House and then moved on for lunch at our chosen mall.

As a result, we decided to go to Cuppage Plaza in Koek Road and try our luck at somewhere less crowded. Enroute to our favourite mee siam eatery, Isle Cafe, we passed the TexMex Bar and Grill. As a result we thought we would give this place a try and have their set lunch.

For less than $14++ I had soup, a pork chop main course, an icecream dessert and a complimentary iced tea. The reference to "pork chop" usually implies wrestling to separate meat from bone but with this menu I was pleasantly surprised. It was presented as boned-out medallions and was delicious. My wife had a seafood pasta dish for her main and her set lunch was $3 cheaper than mine.

This is one of the great things about Singapore. The food varieties in any city block are many and varied. From high end restaurants with Michelin star quality to hawker's stalls serving great local dishes - it's a foodies heaven.

In reference to Michelin I recall the caricatured 'Michelin Man' (pictured left) of robust girth. I couldn't earlier in life see the relevance between a gastronomic grading system and a chubby tyre.

After all this good Singaporean food, I can now personally vouch for the linkages between the two. Which reminds me, I think I should go and visit my tailor.

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