Joy’s back! We had dinner at Chui Huay Lim Teochew Club in Newton – lots of Teochew food! I decided that I am not that big a fan of Teochew food. It’s really healthy and flavoured with somewhat weird things – like they like to put sour plum in a lot of things. LZ’s mum’s steamed pomfret is nice enough, but any other fish I like steamed Hong Kong style with the slightly sweet soy sauce.

We started with cold crabs

Which I don’t know if they are pickled or vinegared, cause there’s a specie of crab found in Singapore called the Singapore Vinegar Crab. Google says Teochew cold crabs are simply steamed, then chilled (funny how LZ’s mum says she doesn’t know how to cook it. Can’t be terribly difficult). Also the type of crab typically used for this dish are from the Charybdis genus, not the Singapore Vinegar Crab, which I think might be too small.

NB: They are also male crabs. You don’t want to know why.

The fried ngoh hiang was not bad – they only serve it in dishes of 6 though, which is obviously not enough to go around

My hands were dirty from eating the crab so there aren’t really pictures of anything else until the dessert :P

This was a really enjoyable bowl of orh nee. For Teochew food lovers, you can also try Guan Hin/Yuan Xing restaurant at 34 Bendemeer Road, Teochew City Seafood Restaurant at Centrepoint, or Mong Hing Teochew Restaurant along Beach Road.

Lunch was more interesting, cause we drove out to Pietrasanta and had an amazing prosciutto wrapped scamorza affumicata that was then seared. I’ve never had “cooked” prosciutto before, save in Saltimbocca and this was really amazing.

Scamorza is a cow’s milk cheese that is ‘strangled’ by tying a cord about a third from the top of the entire hunk of cheese and hanging the whole thing to allow it to mature in its own whey – the resultant piece of cheese is pear-shaped. Tastes plenty like mozzarella, and if it’s smoked, all the better. Apparently Mario Batali has been advocating grilling scamorza, but Pietrasanta has added the ingenious step of wrapping the cheese pieces with prosciutto before grilling, thus preventing the cheese from sopping out all over the place.

Pietrasanta also has one of the best Tiramisus I’ve had in Singapore. They belong to the group of people who make Tiramisu with sponge layers as opposed to savoiardi fingers. Both are good, as long as you let the sponge layer absorb enough Kahlua/espresso.

We didn’t go pick Joy up from the airport owing to a) no space in the car and b) the piano festival. We attended the second half of the piano festival, i.e. performances on Saturday and Sunday and they were fantastic. Benjamin Grosvenor was great (I liked his program better), and Simon Trpceski, well, I first heard him in the Royal Albert Hall and thought he was a bit soft (he was playing Rach 2 with the Liverpool Philharmonic for the BBC Proms about 3 years ago) and in that kind of hall with that kind of acoustic, naturally it was a little difficult to hear his playing. It’s much better when he’s going solo. He was expressive, both in his phrase shaping and in his body movement (Grosvenor, like many British pianists, belong to the school of little movement but great expression).

What I was most impressed by, was the sound of the Steinway in that hall (SOTA). It was wet, each note emerging out of cement and coating every wall of the room like paint. Layers and layers of harmonies painted on – so much better than the Esplanade concert hall, where the piano festival was held before SOTA opened. Naturally the amazing acoustics led to other annoyances- people rustling paper, dropping their programs, water bottles, anything there was to be dropped, would be dropped, ripping open sweet wrappers, get this: in the middle of a freaking piece. I do think we live among Neanderthals who can’t suppress their desires for even five minutes to wait for the piece to end. All rather depressing really. And makes me really contemplate doing what Kim Ju Won did at the opera, that is, to buy tickets not just for your seats, but for the seats to the left and right of you, perhaps even the entire row, just to be as far away as possible from other concert-goers. The guy sitting on my left (not liangze) on Saturday night smelt of tuna fish and onion. It was not pretty. The most insightful comment he could manage for the night was “wah, his playing very fast hor?” on Grosvenor’s Arabesques on “An der schönen blaunen Donau”.

Anyway I’ve started practicing Granados’ Valse Poeticos, as well as Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso from his Miroirs, and Chopin’s Andante Spianato (which always precedes the Grande Polonaise but I have no interest in showy pieces). Going to the piano festival is my great annual reminder to practice and that my talent is in too short supply to fritter away just like that.

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