Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hainanese Chicken

What can I do when I'm stuck in Algeria but missing the food from home? I recently had a craving for Hainanese chicken rice so it was time to head for the kitchen.

The Hainanese chicken rice, an eponymous dish from Hainan Island, China, actually gained it's commercial success in South-east Asia and is now much touted as Singapore's national dish. I adored this dish as a child but had to refrain because, according to some advice, it might worsen my asthmatic condition. Years later, the asthma having subsided, I can now truly claim that Hainanese chicken rice is one of my favorite food of all time.

Based on a recipe from a cookbook that I brought here, I was partially successful in re-creating a taste of Hainanese chicken, sadly without knowing how to prepare the rice nor chilli. Er...soli but recipe book neber provide leh, how to do?...Cook is kayou!

Though it was no Chatterbox or Boon Tong Kee, the chicken turned out to be pretty tasty. At the very least, it satiated my craving.
Need serious help in how to chop a chicken properly! Anyone?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lunch & The Little Spoon

My colleagues and I had for a while liberated ourselves from certain death by dreadful lunchtime catering. For a long time since we started working in Algeria, we have suffered under the hands of a caterer with a serious creativity crisis, who got the tender from management to decide the contents of our insufferably repetitive lunch menu.

Enough is enough. We decided to repeal lunch catering and leave the office for lunch.

Unfortunately, our office's poor location in Hydra don't exactly give us easy access to popular places. And there is a lack of information source about the locations of good food. Through word of mouth recommendations and a little bit of exploration, we discovered that there are actually several decent restaurants that can serve up a satisfying lunch.

A New Good Place for Lunch

The Little Spoon deserves some mention because it serves the best pizza I've tasted in Algeria so far. In fact, only go there for the pizza because the rest of the menu don't exactly live up to expectations.

The interior of the very small restaurant is fashioned like an Arabic tent, which, at first glance, seems cozy and lush. After staying a while, I noticed that the rest of restaurant furniture don't go along with this theme.

We were four so we ordered two Royale pizza (recommended) to share. We had a choice of beef (viande hachee) and chicken (poulet).

The pizzas look ordinary enough but I think the secret is in the freshness and choice of ingredients used. For example, the stuffed crust was filled with very special soft and light cheese that went very with the rest of the pizza.

Getting to the Little Spoon is like getting anywhere in Algiers. It is more convient to access by car and it took a few trial and errors. There's no easy landmark nor a proper street directory guide here so one has to rely on the locals, although they may not always be sure.

CJSTW (Lot Mimosa) No. 38
Ben Aknoun Algiers
Mobile: +213 (0) 51 143 506

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Singapore National Day


This is my second time I spend National Holiday overseas.

Does it matter?

Yes, it very much matters to ME to be away from my homeland, my country, Singapore on National Day, thank you very much!

Why, because of the simple fact that it is a public holiday back in Singapore but I have to work today!

I was telling deepsix that life is so boring here (work, work, work and work) that I'm actually excited about watching the web livecast of the National Day Parade (NDP) at Marina Bay in the office in about few hours time (It's GMT+1 here). Hopefully, my colleagues of other nationalities will cut me some slack, but hey, it's a day for Singaporeans right?

That's if the connection to the web livecast is successful. From my last year's experience, it was difficult to connect to the web livecast in Algeria because of the low technological infrastructure of the IT department in my office here.

In situations like this, it really puts one's patriotism to the test - how much effort do I wish to expand in order to watch the NDP live and express my fervor as a Singaporean. Based on last year's experience, I discovered that I'm not even close.

But I do hope that this year, the connection will be better. There seems to be a lot of hype put in to this year's NDP. For the first time, the parade will be held away from the traditional site, the National Stadium, as it has been closed for a few years of renovation. This year, Marina Bay is the location of the NDP. A floating platform, offering 27,000 seating capacity, was build along the waterfront for people to watch the parade.

To further "engage and entertain Singaporeans, from the young to the young at heart", claims the official website, the emphasis has been shifted from National Day Parade to National Day Festival, signifying that the celebrations will move beyond a single day.

If you are in Singapore, you can find the list of the activities tied to the National Day Festival here. If you have excellent internet connection, you can catch the live webcast from the official site (

As for me, I just hope that I'm able to catch some fireworks online this time round.

The following are some pictures from the rehearsal, gleaned from the official site.

F-16s performing a Flypast over the floating parade

Best military unit of the year - Commandoes performing Guard of Honour duty. That's what you get for being the best: burnt weekends rehearsing at the parade grounds.

The lightning strikes everywhere: Nowhere to run...

Like I said, life is so boring here, I have nothing better to do...

UPDATE (11/08/07):
The internet connection between first world and third world was really lousy, therefore, I wasn't able to watch the NDP live webcast successfully.