five.

20 Jan 2014 § 2 Comments

My little one turned five over the past weekend and the lucky girl had three celebrations in total – one at school, one with myself and her grandparents and another one with close friends! I was in the midst of uploading the pictures taken during her pool party onto Facebook when I was hit with a wave of nostalgia and decided to compile a series of photos taken from all her past birthdays.

I’ve always looked forward to planning her parties, and while writing this post, I realized that the little one has slowly risen the bar for me each year – god knows what she’s going to ask for next year!

Some friends tell me not to bother having such an elaborate party every year…”it’s not like she’s going to remember!”.

But truly, that’s not the point. As tiring as it may be, I love the pre-planning stage…sourcing for and making the decorations, deciding on the menu and venue, preparing the party packs. It really doesn’t matter whether she remembers this a year later or 5 years later, what matters to me is that look of amazement and wonder on her face when she sees the theme that she has asked for come to life as she walks onto the party venue.

And that tight hug I always, always get with the accompanying heart-melting whisper into my ear…

“Thank you mommy, this was the best party ever!”

*******************************

One

  • Venue: Bijou @ Mont Kiara
  • Birthday cake: Fruit Pavlova from Just Heavenly
  • Food: Bijou @ Mont Kiara
  • Theme: Pink
  • Decorations: I printed 52 photos of the lil one and placed it all over the restaurant, one for each week of her first year. M&Ms and old skool sweets. Balloons courtesy of Bijou.

one

Two

  • Venue: Stuff Your Face @ BSC
  • Birthday cake: Strawberry shortcake from The Haute Food Co.
  • Food: Stuff Your Face @ BSC

two

Three

  • Venue: Multi-purpose hall at Challis
  • Birthday cake: Chocolate strawberry cake from The Haute Food Co.
  • Food: Citarasa Uniq
  • Theme: Pink and blue
  • Decorations: Balloons, banners, pom poms, lollipop cake, clown, bouncy castle, face painting…the works!

three

Four

  • Venue: Artis Kids Store @ Publika
  • Birthday cake: Tinkerbell themed chocolate cake from JC’s Simply Delectable Cakes
  • Food: Cupcakes from Wondermilk, macarons from Nathalie’s Gourmet, Garrett’s popcorn, homemade mini cream puffs and Oreo pops, popsicles from The Potong
  • Theme: The Fairy Arty Party
  • Decorations: Balloons, handmade cupcake stands, handmade fairy flower wands made out of felt for the girls and Peter Pan caps for the boys and the pièce de résistance…a fairy crown for the birthday girl, made out of small individually-created felt flowers painstakingly glued together using my trusty glue gun!

four

Five

  • Venue: Poolside at my new place
  • Birthday cake: Blackforest cake from The Haute Food Co.
  • Food: Catered from The Haute Food Co., popsicles from The Potong
  • Theme: My Little Pony
  • Decorations: Rainbow balloons, customized My Little Pony decorations purchased via digital files from Etsy including centrepiece, cupcake toppers, birthday signage, happy birthday banner, bottle labels and food tent cards.

five

It’s definitely a party when desserts outweigh the mains. From left to right, top to bottom…we had: Bacon+onion+cheese quiche, egg+cheese+chives sandwiches, smoked chicken+mushroom quiche, red velvet cupcakes, black forest cake, vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting, mango and strawberry popsicles, roast beef sandwich and banana cream pie.

IMG_20140117_211342

The food all lined up…

food

Recycled last year’s cupcake stands, and bought more My Little Pony figurines for decor…

cupcakes

Love the personalized bottle labels from Etsy!

orange juice

The rainbow balloons were a hit…the kids ‘freed’ most of the balloons when the party ended, so adorable to see them squealing in glee as the balloons floated higher and higher and was carried off by the breeze into the clouds…

rainbow balloons

The girls having fun playing with bubbles…

bubbles

Behind the scenes…late night preparation!

preparation

Here’s my gorgeous girl on the night of her birthday. We brought her to her favorite Italian restaurant and surprised her with another birthday cake…she was so uncharacteristically shy when the staff came out with the cake while singing happy birthday! It was really nice to have celebrated her birthday there as most of the staff in that restaurant has seen her grown from a baby till now…sigh, how time flies!

dinner

And here she is on the morning of her birthday, celebrating with her friends at school…

school

Happy 5th birthday, my precious girl! You’ll forever be the love of my life and my partner-in-crime for all things sweet! ❤

loveofmylife

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decadence.

3 Nov 2013 § 1 Comment

Midnight baking at its best.

80% dark chocolate ganache, salted caramel, and a chocolate cake that has 1.5 cups of strong coffee in it.

This is NOT a cake for kids.

dark chocolate salted caramel cake

xin chào hà nội!

25 Jan 2013 § 1 Comment

We just got back from a 4d/3n trip to Hanoi that was booked a year ago thanks to Air Asia’s cheap flights deal. Considering this was the least researched trip we’ve been on as I was too busy in the weeks leading up to the trip to start my usual OCD planning, we did manage to do quite a fair bit of eating and walking, thanks to the itinerary and detailed maps I’d discovered at Savour Asia’s website.

For me, Hanoi can best be described as chaotic, no thanks to its traffic. It’s a stark contrast to laid back Chiang Mai which we visited more than a year ago. Here in the Old Quarter, the streets are busy at all hours of the day, honks can be heard frequently and crossing the street is a game of stop-and-go as you try to dodge the never-ending river of motorcyclists and cars.

As a friend remarked, “Avoid the cars and the motorcyclists will try to avoid you.”

DSCF3633Four way traffic, a very common sight

The Old Quarter is charming with its winding streets and little alleyways, but best explored with a map in hand. Each street is named after the products that are traded there…so you have streets where you will encounter shops after shops selling silver, tin, haberdashery and even bamboo – although with modern times, some shops have changed their trade and we’ve even come across a street that sells wedding invitation cards, heh. Coupled with tiny phở bò, phở gà, bún riêu, bún chả and little tea and coffee shops that seem to pop up at every corner…you can rest assured that you will never run out of things to shop or eat.

DSCF3551Bamboo products at Hang Buom

DSCF3611Makeshift stalls everywhere

DSCF3623Hanoi’s cafe culture

The weather during the four days we were there was nice and cool, albeit cloudy. Our hopes of watching the sunset over West Lake as we sipped coffee at the Summit Lounge of Sofitel hotel were dashed as the fog literally swallowed up the sun, leaving only a faint orange ball in the sky instead of the spectacular sunset reflected in the waters below as we’d hoped to see.

DSCF3673View of Hanoi’s streets from the Summit Lounge

Screen shot 2013-01-25 at 12.08.57 PMSunset at West Lake

The hotel we stayed at, Church Boutique Hotel, was conveniently located at Hang Gai (the ‘silk’ street), which was a stone’s throw away from Hoàn Kiếm lake. Just two streets down from the hotel was Ly Quoc Su street which leads to St. Joseph’s Cathedral, another popular tourist spot, and Hang Manh which houses one of the more popular bún chả spots (#1 Hang Manh).

DSCF3439Our room at Church Boutique Hotel

DSCF3616A popular bánh mì stall along one of the alleys leading off Ly Quoc Su street. We bought one from her every day!

Eating was certainly a fun experience as we were determined to do as the locals do…sit along the roadside on the rickety plastic stools with our knees up to our chin as we savour hot bowls of noodles. I was careful to only eat at places recommended on Savour Asia, basing my assumption on the fact that if the author did not suffer any bouts of food poisoning after his/her meal there, we should be fine as well (and we were!).

DSCF3711Bún chả: rice vermicelli, grilled pork and pork patties in a sourish soup, fresh greens and fried spring rolls

DSCF3466Phở bò @ #49 Bat Dan street

DSCF3700Bánh mì: absolutely awesome here in Hanoi. Crunchy on the outside, soft as a pillow on the inside.

DSCF3548A streetside vendor serving all sorts of fried food (I tried the banh chuoi / banana fritters and it was yummeh!)

Sightseeing around Hanoi was limited to the usual touristy spots: a walk around Hoàn Kiếm lake, the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum (extremely tight security…seriously guys, no one’s going to make off with his embalmed body, really), Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s Opera House and a stroll down West Lake. In our meanderings, we did stumble across a popular wedding photography spot near Sofitel Metropole hotel…so popular that the maitre’d told us that on good days, he has seen up to 120 couples queuing up to pose for their wedding photos!

DSCF3386Hoàn Kiếm lake

DSCF3418The Opera House

DSCF3590A popular wedding photography spot in front of Sofitel Metropole Hotel

DSCF3488Fly fishing at West Lake seems to be a popular past time

DSCF3480The imposing Ho Chi Minh mausoleum

DSCF3521At the Temple of Literature

Most of our four days were spent exploring the Old Quarter after having paid our dues at the obligatory tourist spots on the second day. The foodie highlight of the trip for me (apart from consuming copious bowls of bún chả), was discovering ‘Chicken Street’ or Lý Văn Phức…a small alley off a main road that serves nothing but grilled chicken! If you ever plan to go there, head straight for the end of the alley to the last shop…you will see buckets of skewered chicken parts waiting to be grilled, a huge box of bánh mì, and plenty of locals enjoying their meal with beer. It’s an experience not to be missed…we had chicken wings, chicken thighs, chicken breast, and four incredibly delicious flattened bánh mì that was honey coated before being heated up on the grill and it only costs us VND250,000. Truly a hidden gem!

DSCF3578Grilling it up at Lý Văn Phức

With a late flight out of Hanoi on our last day, we extended our check-out time to 6pm and spent the afternoon shopping for souvenirs for family and friends. I managed to find two lovely pieces of silk fabric which I plan to make into qipaos and a handmade stuffed pony for the little one.

We definitely plan to come back for another visit, hopefully with a trip to Halong Bay, Sapa or Da Nang slotted in as well…but if not, the promise of bún chả itself is definitely worth a trip back!

In the meantime, here is a list of the places that we’ve tried during our short trip there, most of which are marked on Savour Asia’s Hanoi maps anyway:

Phở Bò

1. #49 Bat Dan street. Serving from 6AM-11:30AM, then resuming again at 6PM. They serve three types of meat: chin (sliced well-done), tai (sliced rare), nam (flank).

Bún Chả

1. #6 Le Phung Hieu. A short walk from the back entrance of Sofitel Metropole at the intersection between this street and Tong Dan street.

2. #1 Hang Manh, a local favorite and always crowded during lunch time.

Coffee/tea with a view

1. Café Pho Co @ #11 Hang Gai. Go down the alley and up the spiral stairs to the highest floor and you’ll be rewarded with a view of Hoàn Kiếm Lake.

2. The corner cafe right in front of St. Joseph Cathedral at the intersection of Nha Tho street and Ly Quoc Su.

Fried food

1. #52 Ly Quoc Su near St. Joseph Cathedral for bánh gối, bánh rán ngọt and bánh rán mặn.

2. A small roadside stall at the intersection of Hang Dieu and Bat Dan for bánh chuối and bánh khoai.

Street food from all regions of Vietnam

1. Quan An Ngon Restaurant @ #18 Phan Boi Chau

nosh it down!

5 Nov 2012 § 4 Comments

One thing I love about weekends is the opportunity to try some of the entries on my ‘to-eat’ list. After a failed attempt to visit LOKL Coffee Co on Saturday no thanks to KL’s infamous traffic (which the boyfriend attributes to everyone going shopping as it’s the weekend after salaries have been paid, heh!), we decided to be a little less ambitious on Sunday by heading to Nosh, a fairly new café at Jalan Telawi 3 in Bangsar.

Nosh. I like the plain big fonts.

The entrance

Nosh is located just a few shoplots down from CZiplee, so it’s pretty easy to find. The café wasn’t very crowded when we arrived around 11+am and we sat at a table outside as the weather was nice and breezy.

So how’s the food, you ask?

The boyfriend went for the Full Monty – a veritable feast consisting of two eggs, mushrooms, bacon, hash brown, ham, toast and four sausages. I love the presentation, very appealing to the eye! Can’t count on the boy for a food review though, as all he said when I asked his opinion about his order was something along the lines of, ‘Not bad…quite nice!’.

I was being my usual greedy ol’ self and decided to order two dishes…pancakes with berry compote and mascarpone and French toast with peanut butter. First up, the pancakes!

Doesn’t it look absolutely delish? Again, thumbs up for presentation. And yes, it tastes as good as it looks. The pancakes were nice and fluffy, and they were very generous with the berry compote – each mouthful had a nice balance of pancake+berries. The sweetness from the mascarpone and slight dusting of icing sugar was perfectly offset by the slightly sourish tang of the compote. I would definitely order this again the next time we go.

French toast with peanut butter – again, someone in the kitchen has a good eye for plating food. Sadly, this particular dish was quite a let down. The cornflakes were a nice touch, but it started to go soft halfway thru the meal. The weak link of this dish was definitely the bread. It had a very ‘doughy’ taste and texture and was soggy in the middle, which was a far cry from what I’d expected a French toast to be. I thought I tasted some nuts in the peanut butter as well – they’d either added in nuts or used chunky peanut butter – either way, there was just too much textures in a mouthful…the crunch from the cornflakes, the stickiness of the bread and the peanut butter and the gooey bananas.

Maybe it’s a personal preference but I think French toast, like all classic things – be it food or clothes – can, and should be kept simple. Get the bread right, and everything else (peanut butter, bacon, honey, nuts, fruits and whatever else you can think of) can be kept as a side dish…a good French toast can be eaten by itself.

We were given a scoop of lemon yogurt ice cream each, on the house, to finish off our meal (thank you!). Tangy and light, it was a nice end to the meal.

I would definitely like to go back to try some of their other dishes, plus the service was impeccable – the guy who waited on our table was unfailingly polite and friendly. It’s still early days, hence the lack of the usual morning crowd, so do pay Nosh a visit before the place gets wayyyy too crowded for a nice and quiet Sunday morning brunch!

Nosh
7 Jalan Telawi 3
Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur
03-22013548
Closed on Mondays

comfort food – rocket, mushroom and bacon quiche.

5 Nov 2012 § 2 Comments

Here’s a quick and easy recipe from Gordon Ramsay (via BBC’s Good Food) for a lovely bacon, mushroom, onion and rocket quiche that I made over the weekend. I omitted some of the ingredients and replaced the crème fraîche with light cream instead, but the quiche still came out beautifully light with loads of flavor…makes for a lovely weekend meal!

I’m posting the original recipe with my comments in brackets and italic:

For the pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 125g cold butter , diced
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves (omitted)
  • 1 egg , beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oil , to brush the tin (I used leftover butter)
  • 1 egg yolk , to glaze

For the custard:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200ml crème fraîche  (I used light cream)
  • 200ml milk
  • small handful tarragon leaves, chopped (omitted)

For the filling:

  • 200g smoked streaky bacon , roughly chopped
  • 5 tbsp olive oil (I only needed about 3 tbsp)
  • 1 large handful red onion , chopped
  • 250g flat cap mushrooms , sliced
  • 200g wild rocket (I chopped this up into small pieces)
  • 100g cheese

1. To make the pastry, rub the flour, salt, butter and thyme into fine crumbs.

(Make sure the butter is slightly soft, else your fingers will be aching after a while!)

(Once mixed, it’ll start to resemble breadcrumbs)

2. Mix in the beaten egg and 1 tbsp ice-cold water, then draw together to a moist pastry, kneading lightly. Wrap with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins.

3. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Brush a deep, loose-bottom, 24cm tart tin with oil, then season it. Set a small ball of pastry aside and roll out the rest on a lightly floured surface to a large round, 38-40cm. Lift the pastry into the tin using the rolling pin and press into the sides. Press any cracks together and let the excess overhang. (I used a round, flat-bottomed Pyrex bowl instead as I didn’t have a tart tin)

4. Use a small ball of pastry to press the tart case into the flutes. Prick the base lightly with a fork and chill the tart case, preferably in the freezer, for at least 30 mins.

5. Cut out a circle of baking paper larger than the tart, scrunch it up, unravel and press into the case. Fill the case with baking beans, stand on a baking sheet and bake for 20 mins. Remove the paper and beans and brush with the remaining yolk. Return to the oven for 5 mins, brush again and return for a final 10-15 mins until glazed and golden. Remove from the oven. Turn the oven to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1. (I did not use baking beans, and didn’t have a problem with the pastry puffing up in the oven)

6. To make the custard, beat together the whole eggs, yolks, crème fraîche (or cream), milk and tarragon and season to taste.

7. For the filling, sauté the bacon in 1 tbsp oil until browned and beginning to crisp, about 5 mins. Add 2 tbsp oil to the pan and sauté the onion and chicory with the bacon, stirring until lightly cooked, about 5 mins. Strain any juices through a sieve, then tip into a big bowl.


8. Heat 2 more tbsp oil and stir-fry the mushrooms over a high heat for 3-5 mins. Strain and mix into the bowl. Wilt the rocket in same pan over a high heat and leave to cool.

9. Mix the cheeses and rocket into the custard and whizz with a hand blender until well mixed, then stir in the rest of the filling ingredients. (I did not use a hand blender, so both my cheese and rocket leaves were in pieces instead which was fine)

10. Put the tart case back into the oven. Leaving the shelf slightly out, ladle as much filling into the case as you can. Try to ladle the solid filling in first, then top up with custard. Push the shelf in and bake for 50 mins-1 hour until the quiche is set in the middle, turning for even baking.  (I left it for 1 hour without turning, and checked that the quiche was set by poking a wooden skewer in the middle – as with all Gordon Ramsay’s recipes that I’ve tried, the timing was spot on)


11. Remove and trim the pastry edge so that it’s in line with the top of the tin. This is easiest with a small, serrated knife. Cool the tart for at least 1 hour before removing from the tin and serving in slices.

Bon appetit!

farewell, haute food co.

24 Oct 2012 § 3 Comments

When I heard from a good friend (mark of a good friend: she immediately texts you when she hears news of your favorite café closing down!) that The Haute Food Co. will be closing its doors for the last time this Sunday, my first reaction was a mental, “Noooooo!!”. SMSes and WhatsApp messages started flying to and fro furiously with friends reacting in the same manner – incredulity, resignation followed by a determined, “I must visit the cafe one last time before they close!!”

Long-time fans of Haute Food would know exactly how I feel.

It’s a loss of a friendly neighborhood café that constantly and consistently serves up hearty sandwiches and seriously the best cakes and desserts I’ve had in a very long while. More than that, it’s a place where I’ve had lots of good foodie memories with friends and loved ones! I’ve been visiting Haute Food for more than two years now, and it has become a standard fixture in my life whenever I need a dessert fix. The familiar sight of its distinctive bright blue façade and the cheery hello from the owner, Li, is always a welcome sight whenever one craves for a good meal followed by a mean sugar high.

This place has seen me thru countless brunches and teas with my girlfriends, it was the ‘café with the awesome food and desserts‘ that I proudly raved about to the boyfriend when I first met him and subsequently brought him there, the place where we had countless brunches on lazy Sunday afternoons while he sat shaking his head in resignation as he watched me eat my way through different variations of bread and butter puddings, sticky date puddings, cakes and tarts and pies and the mysteriously-named ‘hedgehog’ (I’ve never found out why!), and also my go-to café for my daughter’s birthday cakes. It’s a place where I know I can always count on for chocolate banana bread and butter puddings, chicken+mayo+basil sandwiches and a banana pie that is so amazingly awesome that 14 adults ceased talking when they took their first bite.

And so, I decided to make one of my crazy lunch time trips (and trust me, there were many over the past 2 years) from Shah Alam to Plaza Damas just to enjoy the food one last time in case I can’t make it over the weekend before it closes. I guess I wasn’t the only one with the same idea as I found the place packed to the brim when I arrived, with people waiting for tables in the midday heat, and half the cakes gone…what a befitting testament to the popularity of this home-grown café!

If you’re a fan of Haute Food, or you’ve never been there (oh the sacrilege!) and want to find out what you’ve been missing all this while, there are still two more days so head on down this weekend before it’s too late…and mark my words, you’ll regret it if you miss out on trying Li’s cakes.

As a farewell tribute to the café, here’s a series of photos I’ve taken over the years of the scrumptious food that we’ve had there…or as their website puts it: “Just honest good food”. I could not agree more.

Bread and butter pudding

Chicken, ham and cheese omelette for brekkie

Sticky sticky sticky date pudding…mmm…

One of the few occasions when we arrived early enough for breakfast

Pineapple and passionfruit crumble

My standard order

More bread and butter pudding

This trial dessert – french toast – made one appearance and for some unfathomable reason, never made it to the menu! It was fab!

Eggs sunny side up, sautéed mushrooms and toast

Club sandwich

Strawberry shortcake for my daughter’s 2nd birthday

Ridiculously awesome chocolate and strawberry tart

Beef stew

Chocolate and strawberry cake for my daughter’s 3rd birthday

THE banana cream pie to beat all banana cream pies

One of the very few shots I have of the interior

What happens after two years of good dining at Haute Food

Here’s wishing you a good break, Li, and I think I speak for everyone when I say: Please keep us updated when you decide to start baking again and thanks for all the good food, extra kgs and memories…=)

The Haute Food Co.

H-0-2 Block H
Plaza Damas
60 Jalan Sri Hartamas 1
03-6201 3168
Sat and Sun: 9am to 5pm

tanjong jara take two.

20 Sep 2012 § Leave a comment

After spending a wonderful weekend at Tanjong Jara back in February, we decided to head back for another trip during the Malaysia Day weekend with the little one in tow, together with another family and their two kids. An early morning flight saw us yawning all the way to the airport, only to be greeted by the unusual sight of a long queue snaking all around the domestic check-in counters at KLIA – at least half of KL must have decided to fly off for a short holiday! Lucky for us, we arrived just as the gate was closing – this meant that we could skip the queue and head straight to a dedicated counter for late check-ins and family traveling with kids!

The 55 minute flight to the Sultan Mahmood airport at Kuala Terengganu was pretty uneventful – the little girl had travelled on a plane before so she had no problems with seatbelts, take-off and landing. We’d earlier decided against booking the airport transfer service from the hotel (which costs RM300 per car per way, gasp!) and hired a cab from the airport instead (RM100 per cab). The one hour drive took us through small towns and gave us a glimpse of the charming East Coast beach, though my girl was more engrossed with reading e-books on my phone rather than the picturesque scenery outside as we journeyed to the resort.

We were greeted with a warm welcome upon arrival at Tanjong Jara, and personally greeted by Ms. Wai Gin, the guest liaison manager that we met during our first visit. Check-in was quick and easy, accompanied with cold towels and a refreshing cup of roselle juice which had my girl insisting that it was Ribena, heh! I had put in a request when I booked the trip for adjoining rooms located near the swimming pool as we were traveling with young kids and not too keen on the long meandering walk from one end of the resort to the other. However, those rooms were also situated near an area that was undergoing construction and apparently, my previous comments in the guest survey regarding ongoing construction after we’d stayed at Gaya Island had been duly noted as we were given an upgrade from the Bumbung rooms I’d originally booked to bigger Serambi rooms which was located away from the noise, and had a connecting door between the rooms. I thought this was a really nice gesture, and I’m impressed that YTL does take their guests’ feedback and requests into account even amongst their resorts. Thank you, YTL!

The resort was running at full occupancy due to the long weekend, but to be honest, I hardly saw other guests except at the pool and during meal times when we were greeted with the sight of a fully packed restaurant. Here’s a tip if you decide to visit during peak periods: do pre-book your table at Di Atas Sungei for dinner – in the words of Chef Ann, the resident menu master, “What’s important is that you get a table!”

The breakfast buffet had a really good spread of food – pastries were baked fresh on-site (do try the croissants), and I happily satiated my cravings for nasi lemak on both days with a huge plate of coconut rice, anchovies, sambal and pickled cucumbers. We could also order off the breakfast menu, and I highly recommend the pancakes with bananas – it’s oh-so-fluffy and light and tastes delightful with the caramelized bananas. My daughter enjoyed it so much she had the same dish two days in a row. As for dinner, rest assured that the food quality was not compromised despite the crowd. The food arrived promptly and the portions were so generous that we could hardly find room for dessert! We had two types of starters and a veritable variety of dishes for our mains. The men enjoyed the butter milk prawns so much that we ordered a double helping on the second night, and other notable dishes were the ‘foo yong’ egg, deep fried calamari (which was served as a starter), sizzling Japanese tofu as well as the chocolate lava cake and deep fried banana fritters with ice cream.

We arrived on Saturday which meant we could bring the kids to take part in the ‘Kampung Life’ activities that was set-up just a few steps away from our rooms. We indulged in coconut juice and delicious ‘apam balik’ while the kids watched in fascination as the monkey climbed the coconut tree to pluck fresh coconuts and tried playing congkak before we headed off to the beach.

The beach is perfect in the evenings as it isn’t too hot and there’s plenty of space for the little ones to run around. There were plenty of little seashells scattered all over the beach, more than enough to keep my girl happy as she went off ‘treasure hunting’ – burying and digging out her little treasures.

I’d also brought along a kite and the weather was just perfect for kite-flying – no effort was needed as the kite was immediately swept up by the strong winds! My daughter was squealing in delight as she watched the kite flutter and fly in the breeze and couldn’t wait to have a go.

On the second day, we headed down to the pool next to Nelayan restaurant. Mummies should take note that there isn’t much shade at the pool side if you go in the afternoons, and it can get quite hot if there isn’t any breeze. I slathered on sunscreen on both myself and my girl and kept her properly covered up. As she was recovering from a cough, I only let her paddle in the baby pool for a short while. She probably found the weather too hot as well as she soon asked if we could go back to the room. The restaurant staff kindly packed our lunch for us and we ended up enjoying a picnic on the daybed in the cool relief of the room instead.

After dinner that night, the staff helped to set up a projector at an open area located near our rooms that looks like it was built for a ‘cinema-under-the-stars’ experience – there were chairs and a raised platform for us to sit on, and we happily munched on snacks that I’d brought along as we watched Shrek 4 – it felt like a personalized experience as we were the only two families there.

The other activity that the kids truly enjoyed was being able to feed the fishes that resided in the big pond located next to the reception. “Mommy, I want to feed the fishes” became an oft-repeated phrase and it was delightful to see them excitedly clutching cups of fish food and exclaiming in excitement whenever the fishes gobbled up the pellets.

The weekend passed too quickly and before we knew it, Monday morning dawned and it was time to pack up after a short early morning, post-breakfast jaunt to the beach. I knew my girl definitely had a good time when she kept on asking me if we could stay on longer when I told her that it was time to go home. As we had to leave the resort by 1.30pm, we didn’t have time to eat lunch and the F&B staff kindly helped me to pack some cheese sandwiches for the kids to eat during the journey from the resort to the airport. We had a wonderful send-off – everyone came out to wave us off – as well as an unexpected gift that was presented to us right before we left: two copies of a photo – one for each family – that the resort photographer had taken of us during the kampung life activity. What a lovely personalized touch!

It was an lovely weekend away, and more importantly, I managed to spend lots of quality time with my little one. We’re already planning another trip back to Tanjong Jara once the upcoming monsoon season has passed; the hospitality that we’ve experienced here surpasses all the resorts and hotels that I’ve visited thus far…without doubt, Tanjong Jara’s charm has truly found a permanent place in our hearts.

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