Jam and Kaya Café, PJ Palm Sports Centre

January 27, 2014

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We were just at Jam and Kaya Café yesterday for brunch, and I can’t believe I’m so efficient for once and already blogging about it. Then again, it has been awhile since my last food post, and I’m starting to run out of things to post…

Jam and Kaya Café is a relatively new offering located in PJ Palm Sports Centre. The café overlooks a community pool and on the Sunday that we were there, a lot of young children and expats were there soaking up the sun and catching up with their friends, so it felt really relaxing and peaceful.

What I like about this place is the clean and comfortable interior that isn’t too pretentious (too many hipster cafes trying too hard lately) and the menu is small and simple but will appeal to everyone I’m sure. Breakfast is all-day – I love these places. The boo had eggs benedict while I had the mushroom omelette which was sufficiently fluffy and soft. Only gripe was that their menu wasn’t properly updated so there was a bit of a kerfuffle with my order.
The hot chocolate was good as well (much better than that silly over-hyped Coffee Stain), probably on par with the Varlhona hot chocolate we had at Yeast. Too bad we’re not coffee fans so we can’t speak for the coffee over here. :p

Merlvyn and Joy get engaged

January 24, 2014

First of all, you’ll notice that I’ve given my blog template some little tweaks. I’ve had this template for more than 6 months (and I’m the sort of person that gets bored with things almost instantly), so I’ve recently been eyeing a few cleaner and more minimalistic templates to change into. The unfortunate thing is, the best template that I’ve seen so far costs a whole lot of money… so I am left with no choice but to just change my current one a little bit to better suit my tastes. Anyway, how are you finding it? Leave a comment below this post!

Photographing a surprise engagement is exactly my kind of thing: lots of crying, smiling, laughing and emotions that make great photos and great memories for a lifetime. Merlvyn and Joy got engaged on New Year’s Eve of 2013 which in Merlvyn’s words, made counting the number of days that they had been engaged super easy.  We were seated right across from their table and tasked with sneakily taking photos of them during the meal. Sorry to say my sneaky skills aren’t that good and I was so afraid that Joy was going to smell something fishy going on!

Here are some of my favourite shots from the night. Photos were taken with a mixture of 100mm f/2.8L Macro USM and 50mm f/1.8 II. See whether you can differentiate which photos are taken by me and which by the boo (the lighting is pretty obvious haha!)


First week with the 50mm f/1.4 USM

January 16, 2014

So it’s been almost a week since I acquired the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM and although I haven’t had a lot of time to seriously play with it, I thought I’d write a bit on how I feel about it. Of course, this isn’t going to be a technical review (no pixel-peepings, spectro chromatism, aperture, sharpness tests) and if you need one, you should be going to Ken Rockwell who has the best and most comprehensive technical reviews of lenses ever.

The internet is full of comparisons for the Canon 50mm f1.8 II and this Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM, and the general opinion is that the 50mm f1.8 has downright shitty build quality – which may not be a bad thing sometimes because the plastic barrel makes the lens super light and portable – but gives superb image quality for the price. I’ve always felt that my 50mm f1.8 was a bit iffy with the focus and horrible in low light. The lens constantly hunts for focus and is slow doing it too. The 50mm f/1.4 USM however, is three times the price but has better build quality, wider aperture, manual focus override, and USM motor for quiet and quick focusing. 

A good ol’ sandwich with the boys

January 13, 2014


Last year (or rather 3 weeks ago) we brought Mike and Jovi for sandwiches at Pickle and Fig and we had a ball of a time (or rather I did) forgetting that Mike carries a pen drive around his neck. The Christmas special sandwich that we had was a miss, so I think we’d better stick to their warm panini offerings in future. That weekend was full of meeting up with friends (same week as the Christmas BBQ at the boo’s place) and I remembered feeling all buzzed seeing my friends and catching up with what was going on in their lives. There’s almost never a serious moment with these two.

On a more recent note, I am still very busy, and I am also very sad to say that I’ve sold my 100mm macro lens because I was feeling extremely broke. In Jovi’s words I was near “starving on the streets” lol. In hindsight, I probably made the right decision anyway since the lens was heavy and was always focus hunting BUT that doesn’t mean that I don’t dearly miss the sharpness, the fact that I could shoot macro if I wanted to and that red ring (sorry I’m such a snob).

I’ve recently acquired the 50mm f1.4 USM (which was on my wishlist yay) and I’m learning to use the lens properly. For some odd reason I’m not getting the sharpness that I’m expecting out of this lens. Anyhow, I’m glad I managed to take the 100mm on a macro test run, so I’ll hopefully be posting up some photos from that (when I’ve got some free time) doing a sort of field-review, and also doing a short review of the 50mm f1.4. Till then!

Best chocolate chip cookie recipe!

January 8, 2014

I was kind of obsessed some time ago with finding the perfect cookie recipe, and essentially baking one that wasn’t cakey, soft or shaped like little mountains. For some odd reason, every cookie I have made since the start of baking journey has failed to spread (except for the first ever cookie I made with the boo which spread nice and far but ended up so soft that just picking it up made it bend and break) so I was determined to make one that was flat as cookies should be, crispy on the edges and soft on the inside.

I started out with Laura Vitale’s recipe, but found that the cookies were still cakey and lacked any sort of punch to make it stand out from the crowd. The cakey part was probably not the recipe’s fault as I found out, but more about that later. After that, I scoured the internet for a better cookie recipe and came across one by Izy at Top With Cinnamon. This one was definitely different as not only brown butter was used, the butter was infused with basil leaves and verbena (lemon zest for us who can’t get verbena) to give the dough more flavour and the dough was chilled for 24-72 hours. I t sounded like a long-winded recipe for me to follow (I’m extremely impatient) but I decided to just suck it up anyway because how often do you come across such a unique recipe?

Anyway, the first attempt was royal failure; the cookies ended up so cakey it wasn’t even funny, and the cookies stayed in the mound shape of the cookie scoop even after I had baked it for longer than the recommended cooking time. However, the flavour was great so I wasn’t giving up yet.

Second time round, I decided to do it properly and took the weighing machine out, weighed every single ingredient to the dot, refrigerated it for 72 (!!) hours and turned the oven from fan setting to just heat setting. Finally, the cookies lost the cakey texture and were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. My best guess is that the fan setting dried out the cookies too much and ended up ruining the texture completely which is why I never use the fan setting anymore. It. Was. The. Best. Cookie. I. Ever. Had! Izy is a genius. Seriously, who would’ve thought to infuse the butter with basil and lemon flavours?

Chocolate Chip Cookie

I was so protective of these cookies I kept them all to myself, squirreling them away day after day at the office. Here’s the recipe for anyone who’s interested in trying it out!

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Top with Cinnamon

1/4 cup (4 tbsp) fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp lemon zest
10 tbsp (5 oz / 140 g) butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup (230 g) all purpose flour (I used half whole wheat and half all purpose)
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp (140 g) light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt / fleur de sel (plus more for sprinkling)
1 egg
7 oz (200 g) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

  1. Roughly chop the basil add to a small saucepan with the butter and lemon zest. Heat continuously on medium-low on the stove until it foams up and smells nutty, then stir in the vanilla extract.
  2. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then strain it through a sieve (push through as much of the browned butter bits as possible)
  3. Meanwhile, either in a stand mixer or a large bowl combine the next 6 ingredients (flour through to salt). Pour in the butter and mix until it looks like moist clumpy sand with no floury patches.
  4. Add the egg and mix in for a few seconds, then the chopped chocolate and pecans and mix until well distributed - but not for too long!
  5. Using a 1/4 cup cookie scoop, scoop up some of the dough and smoosh it into the scoop until it's just full. Turn out onto a lined cookie tray, spacing each mound 3" apart. Repeat with all of the cookie dough.
  6. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for anywhere between 1 - 72 hours (the longer you wait, the better the texture and flavour!).
  7. When ready to bake preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). When ready, sprinkle the cold cookie dough with fleur de sel and shove into the oven immediately!
  8. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until browned, with set edges, and a puffy, soft center. Let cool on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.


I know this recipe seems like a lot of work and time-consuming, but if you’re a cookie fan then you need to try this because it is that good. Use only good quality chocolate chips though (bittersweet or dark chocolate chips work the best) because the flavour of chocolate makes all the difference!

Christmas BBQ

January 3, 2014

Happy New Year! It’s already the 3rd day of January and I’m not feeling much different than when it was December and 2013, except that I miss the feeling of holidays and festivities and knowing that I have many plans lined up. The start of a new year is supposed to be like the turn of a new leaf or something. I’m supposed to be super efficient and organized from this year onwards, but the pile of paperwork on my right is getting higher instead of diminishing. Some things don’t change I suppose. Also, I’m so terribly backlogged on photos to edit and sift through that my head hurts just thinking about it. Doesn’t help that more than half the photos were taken in horrendous conditions, either yellow or mixed light, and in dark conditions.
Oh well, challenge accepted!