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A Ball Gown on any Budget

The countdown is seriously on to Anza’s 50th Anniversary Black and White Ball. For all those ladies looking for a relatively last minute ball gown purchase here are some options for a broad range of budgets .

Eighty Two Tales, is a small boutique store with lots of personality in vibrant Haji Lane. It specialises in affordable men’s and women’s designer apparel and also offers some great accessories in the way of bags, chunky bracelets and elasticized belts. Check out the other boutiques in Haji Lane while you are there for clutches and accessories.

At Eighty Two Tales in Haji Lane this fabulous geometric print maxi for $60.

Swedish fashion giant H&M offers a good range and caters to any budget
Affordable but sophisticated and elegant black maxi dress for $24.90
And a floaty, lined white sleeveless dress with sparkly embroidered yoke, $159

Pop in to Metro at Paragon for full length black and white gowns from $170. While you are at Paragon, also check out the US designer BCBGMAXAZRIA and UK label Coast for their red carpet range of gowns as well as glam accessories.

Avana, now in the Shaw Centre (#23-11), stocks high-end gowns, including the black velvet gown featured in the ANZA Black and White Ball 2014 advertising.

20 things about Singapore that at first appear unusual but become normal:

1. Petrol station attendants who fill your car up with petrol.

2. Ambulances stop at red lights with their lights flashing and siren wailing.
3. The floor numbering system starts at “1″. There is no ground floor.
4. Using blinkers/indicators appears to be optional, as does sticking to the one lane on the road.  Feel like straddling both lanes? No problem!
5. Men riding unrestrained in the back of open trucks on their way to work.
6. Beef mince at the supermarket costing $3.50 per 100g ( that is $35 per kilo ).
7. The smell of durian.  It is pungent but is very much a part of Singapore.
8. Fast internet speeds with no download/upload limit!  You pay for line speed not data allowance.
9. Low crime levels and feeling very safe on the streets at night.
10. Monsoon rain and thunder storms arriving out of nowhere.
11. Sweating 350 days of the year.
12. Being able to “pop overseas” for the day.
13. Travelling to pretty much any part of the island by public transport.
14. Very few places to buy clothes if you are bigger than a size 12.
15. Filling out forms asking for ‘race’. Most expats would fall into the category of “other”.
16. Arriving at Changi airport, passing through the Passport Control, picking up bags and being out of the airport within 30 minutes.
17. To have air-con running the majority of the time.
18. Buying movie tickets or ordering a pizza on-line and being asked for your FIN number (that is your National ID number).
19. Ordering a taxi and receiving electronic confirmation that it will arrive within 5 – 7 minutes – and it does!
20. The efficiency of the public transport system (buses and trains).

10 things about Singapore that will always seem “unusual”:

1. Child car restraints fitted to the front passenger seat.
2. Children not wearing any restraints in cars at all.
3. Government owned media.  Print, radio and television are all government owned.
4. Cheezels & Milo being made in Malaysia.
5. Bread being enriched with sugar.
6. Seeing construction workers having to shower themselves outside of construction sites.
7. Always being asked on the phone for the details of the “Employment Pass (EP) Holder”. In the case of the ‘trailing spouse’ it is the EP holder who holds the power.
8. Capital punishment, including ‘lashings’ for serious crimes (now you understand the low crime).
9. Maids not allowed to swim in the pools at condominiums, yet have to watch over the children swimming in the pool.
10. Supermarkets running out of an item for months at a time.

Many items listed above were originally published on the blog of Kelly Jackson-Nash and was modified for the ANZA Guide to Singapore.

About the Author
Kelly Jackson-Nash is an Australian expat living in Singapore with her husband and two daughters.  Kelly and her family moved to Singapore in 2011.  
She hopes to see and experience everything about Singapore before their time is over.  
Kelly has her own blog at http://ourbigexpatadventure.wordpress.com/

Peranakan Magic : Learning to Cook Peranakan Style

Learning to cook with local ingredients can help a person feel more at home in a new country. Before moving to Singapore, Australian Sue Mannering had never heard of the Peranakans and thought a wet market meant making purchases whilst wearing galoshes. A cooking course on the East Coast also turned out to be a lesson in culture, food shopping and ‘targeted pounding’.

Who are the Peranakans?

According to the Peranakan Museum’s Visitor Guide, Peranakan means ‘child of’ or ‘born of’ in Malay and is used to refer to people of mixed ethnicity in South East Asia, particularly in the Straits. The majority of the Peranakan community is made up of Chinese Peranakans who initially settled in Malacca, Java and Sumatra but in the 19th Century, drawn by trade, migrated to Singapore and Penang.

Some cooking magic Peranakan-style

Intrigued by the word and the culture, I decided to participate in a Peranakan cooking course at Cookery Magic, hosted by Ruqxana Vasanwala. The recipes on the course sounded charming with names I found hard to wrap my tongue around like Ayam Tempra (chicken in soy sauce and lime) and Gulai Ikan (hot and sour fish).

Accompanied by my mother and daughter, who were on holiday in Singapore, we entered a kitchen in the back of Ruqxana’s East Coast home. There were woks sitting on portable gas burners, cooking utensils hanging from every available space and five cats resting in various poses.‘The style of cooking associated with the Peranakan culture is called Nyonya, the Peranakan name for women,’ said Ruqxana. Soon we were pounding garlic, shallots and chilli into a paste with a mortar and pestle. ‘The rempah (spice paste) is the most important part of the cooking process,’ said Ruqxana,. She inspected our work. ‘You’ll have to do some targeted pounding,’ she said and pointed out specks of chilli and garlic that were almost invisible to the naked eye. ‘You want the rempah smooth.’ Our hands were aching but Ruqxana said using a food processor doesn’t release the spice flavours as well as pounding. Nor will it produce a paste of the same texture.

Ruqxana dry roasted belachan, a dried shrimp paste, by taking a teaspoon of it and placing the spoon over an open flame for a few seconds. She added it to the rempah. This shrimp paste, which has a sharp odour, is a common ingredient in Peranakan cooking. As Ruqxana added spices to a heated wok to release their flavours, she sprinkled her cooking with stories of Peranakan traditions. For example, a Nyonya woman could tell if her future daughter in law was a good cook by listening to her pound the rempah.Then the magic happened. ‘Taste this,’ said Ruqxana and proffered a spoon she had dipped in the sauce in the wok. She wanted to know if the flavour should be adjusted for sweet, salty, spicy or bitterness. It was perfect, I thought. I could detect each flavour and yet it was a delicious complex mix that ended with spicy. Ruqxana insisted I taste again. Sweet, I decided, and in went more palm sugar (gula melaka), and more chilli.

The wet market

All the ingredients we used that day can be purchased at my local wet market, a market that isn’t wet but sells fresh fruit, meat, seafood and vegetables. I also discovered belachan, coconut cream, assam (tamarind), dried chilli, dried prawns, a variety of bottled sauces and pink torch flower (which the stallholder presented to me for free). It makes a nice contrast to strolling down a supermarket aisle with a trolley.Now, my favourite purchase from my local wet market sits beside the food processor on my kitchen bench – a heavy, black mortar and pestle.

Peranakan food facts

There are regional differences in the preparation of Peranakan food. A dish from Penang could use more tamarind, making it Thai in flavour. One from Malacca might use more coconut milk, which is an Indonesian influence.

Find out more about Ruqxana’s classes at Cookery Magic
Learn about Peranakan Culture
Visit the Peranakan Museum

Come and Train with ANZA Soccer

ANZA Soccer’s Head Coach Yakob and his professional team of coaches have put together an off-season training program open to both current players and other ANZA members. This is a great opportunity for kids to try out ANZA Soccer before the full season registration starts in May.

Sessions will be held on Thursday evenings from the 17th of April to the 5th of June. They will focus on soccer skills and fun scrimmages to keep the kids “fit to play” during the spring and early summer.

Click here to register or find out more about the program.

For more information about ANZA Soccer, please visit the Soccer Homepage.

Check Out Keong Saik Rd

This Chinatown neighbourhood used to be a prominent red-light district, but in the past few years, handfuls of fantastic bars, restaurants and cafes have sprouted up all over the neighbourhood – from spectacular cocktails to authentic Carribbean fare, and everything in between. Check out ANZA’s top picks.

1 Taratata Bistrot

35A Keong Saik Rd
Tel 6221 4506
Owned by French chefs Philippe Nouzillat and Bertrand Raguin, this bistro serves excellent, authentic fare. The service can be very good too, and the black-and-white-tile décor with red leather recreates a Parisian dining experience. Esquina Tapas Bar
16 Jiak Chuan Rd
Tel 6222 1616

2 Muchachos

22 Keong Saik Rd
Tel 6220 0458
Muchachos has some of the best-value Mexican food you’ll find in the Lion City – the burritos are very large, very tasty and very reasonably priced (at around $12). The venue’s cool, too – think industrial black-and-white décor with exposed light bulbs.

3 Bartini

21 Keong Saik Rd
This new addition to the street is the third iteration of the original Club Street bar. Formerly the Restrospective, you can expect top-quality cocktails and a good party vibe.

4 Lime House

2 Jiak Chuan Rd
Tel 6222 3130
Laid back, with a Carribbean vibe, Lime House has top-notch service and their Wednesday night 3-for-1 rum punch deal is hard to beat. Their menu also features favourites such as traditional Jamaican Jerk Chicken.

5 Mariko’s

4 Jiak Chuan Rd
Tel 6221 8262
This Japanese restaurant is named after a fictional streetwalker, with minimalist styling and a well-priced menu – with interesting items such as Octopus Carpaccio and Miso Cod.

6 The Cufflink Club

6 Jiak Chuan Rd
Tel 9694 9623
A very slick cocktail bar, albeit fairly laddish (Hemingway fans will feel right at home). It’s not uncommon for the dance floor to get busy later in the evening. Watch your wallet – the drinks can get expensive.

7 Tantric

78 Neil Rd
Tel 6423 9232
Good for a girl’s night out, Tantric has an awesome beer garden at the front which is usually jam-packed, giving the venue a house-party feel. An added bonus: they offer double house pours for $10.

8 Esquina

Esquina started the ball rolling in Keong Saik, the first of its kind to open in the area back in December 2011. Created by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, this small restaurant isn’t cheap but has excellent food (not just tapas) and a great atmosphere.

9 Oriole Coffee Roasters

10 Jiak Chuan Rd
Tel 6224 8131
The coffee here is really good – up to the standard you’d see in Melbourne or Wellington. The décor features a funky arrangement of hanging light globes, and budding baristas can take coffee classes upstairs.

10 Burnt Ends

20 Teck Lim Rd, Singapore
Tel 6224 3933
It’s best to arrive at this East-meets-West bar and grill early for a front-row seat. A long counter seats 17 diners shoulder-to-shoulder and almost face-to-face with the chefs as they do their thing – their huge kilns are something to marvel at, too.

11 Keong Saik Snacks

49 Keong Saik Rd
Tel 6223 0660
Another in Chef Atherton’s stable, this small intimate venue has amazing food and delightful wait staff. It’s more affordable than Esquina, and don’t be misled by the name – you can get proper sit-down meals here, paired with good wines.

12 The Library

47 Keong Saik Rd
Tel 6221 8338
From the outside, The Library looks like an innocuous glass-fronted room with a bookshelf at one end. But tell the bookkeeper the secret password (get it from Keong Saik Snacks) and you enter the bar – a dimly-lit speakeasy with some truly imaginative and spectacular cocktails.

Ann Siang Hill

With a rich ambience of the old estate, Ann Siang Hill is a delightful enclave of conservation shop-houses filled with plenty of local bars, restaurants and boutiques. Founder of Travelshopa, Renée Lodens gives her top nine picks on a day out along Ann Siang Hill.

1 Shots Café

Address: 90 Club Street Singapore 069458
Contact: 6224 9259
Website: www.theshotscafe.com
Café by day, bar by night; Shots Café serves everything from delicious coffee to organic colas and for those who want to party, tequila. Its lively vibe makes it an ideal meeting point for gatherings and catch-ups with friends. They also have a selection of sandwiches, pies, cakes and more for the peckish lunch crowd.

2 Mythology

Address: 88 Club Street Singapore 069456
Contact: +65 6223 5570
Website: my-thology.com
A multi-label boutique stocked with a curated selection of chic independent labels from all over Asia, a shopping trip to MYthology never disappoints. Owner Apsara Oswal has a natural eye for talented emerging designers and a visit to MYthology always promises a surprise, as new designs are constantly brought in on a regular basis. 3 Pistola

Address: 93 Club Street Singapore 069461
Contact: 6438 2185
Website: www.facebook.com/pistolasingapore
This Asian-Mexican eatery serves mainly burritos, tacos, quesadillas and rice bowls with a local twist. Coriander, Kimchi and mango salsa add an Eastern flair to the classics, and are a nice little treat for fusion food lovers too. Finish your meal with an ice-cream cookie or a corn cup with coconut for dessert.

4 Oxwell & Co

Address: 5 Ann Siang Road Singapore 069688
Contact: +65 6438 3984
Website: oxwellandco.com
With the rustic ambience of an old shophouse, Oxwell & Co has a certain alfresco charm that keeps you coming back for more. While they serve cocktails and light snacks on Level 1, head up to Level 2 where the main restaurant is situated. As they have limited seating, be sure to make reservations beforehand especially if you are thinking of heading there during weekends.

5 Swagger

Address: 15 Ann Siang Road #01-01 Singapore 069695
Contact: +65 6223 5880
Website: swaggerstore.co
A hidden gem on the charming Ann Siang Hill, Swagger is definitely the go-to men’s boutique that I would recommend to dress your man from head to toe. Offering custom-made apparel and handmade shoes that can be customised according to your personal preference, shopping will definitely excite them as much as women’s boutiques exhilarate us.

6 Scoop

Address: 19 Ann Siang Road Singapore 069699
Contact: 6423 1213
Website: www.thescoop.com.sg
Modeled on the classic press clubs of the world, Scoop is Singapore’s dedicated hangout for hacks and flacks, and also attracts crowds who enjoy dining in its journalism-themed ambience with drinks and bar grub. Enjoy a drink with some pizza, burgers or poutine.

7 PS Café

Address: 45 Ann Siang Road #02-02 Singapore 069719
Contact: +65 9797 0648
Website: www.pscafe.com
Tucked away at the very end of the street is PS Café, the ideal place to rest and relax after a long day of shopping. I always enjoy a nice afternoon tea and desserts here with a quick trip onto the roof for a glorious view of Chinatown and the CBD.

8 Aston Blake

Address: 89 Club Street Singapore 069457 (By appointment only)
Contact: +65 6337 3504
Website: www.astonblake.com
A savvy bespoke menswear label with a fierce eye for detail, Aston Blake is all about individualism. The local label also offers a myriad of extra services that adds a lovely touch of luxury. For instance, you will find made-to-measure services at no additional cost, as well as gift-wrapping and international delivery services, which makes sending a present to that special someone overseas all the more convenient.

9 Drinks & Co

Address: 44 Club Street Singapore 069421
Contact: 6222 2005
Website: www.drinksandco.asia
Drinks & Co. more than a your local bottle shop – though it does stock house spirits, and wines at the best price you’ll find in the CBD. Swing by on your way to a BYO shindig, or stop off with a group of friends to wind down over a bottle and a few nibbles.

Tiong Bahru tried and true

There’s nothing that attracts expats like top-quality cafes and funky bars, and Tiong Bahru is teeming with them. Neighbourhood resident Innika Choo gives her favourite picks, as well as some hidden local gems.

1 Plain Vanilla

1D Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168641
Tel 6465 5942
This store has a huge range of the best cupcakes in Singapore (in my opinion). Try the salted caramel – it’s ridiculous.

2 Stranglets

7 Yong Siak Street, Singapore
6222 1456
Check out the Popaganda homemade icy-poles at this little trinket store across from 40 Hands. The banana chocolate flavour is really good, as is the strawberry orange.

3 Open Door Policy

19 Yong Siak St
Tel 6221 9307
Also known as ODP, this bistro with a difference serves fantastic Halloumi. Try the swordfish shoulder, followed by the salted caramel crème brulee and accompanied by a glass of rose – it’s all you need in life.

4 PS Cafe

78 Guan Chuan St
Tel 9226 7088
You’ve probably already indulged here, but it’s still worth a mention just for the pizza. Do try the green goddess if you haven’t already – don’t judge a pizza just because they put green peas on it! The Smokey Margherita is amazing, and the four cheese porcini is out of control – try it at least once.

5 Flowers

Tiong Bahru Food Market & Hawker Centre
30 Seng Poh Rd
As you’re entering the market, the man on the left-hand side facing the middle gives you the best quality for money. The lady on the right will not budge on price and her flowers are never as good as the guy across from her.

6 Yes Natural Organic Store

58 Seng Poh Road, Singapore
6227 3280
This place is considerably cheaper than Cold Storage. If you’re into your chia seeds, non-GMO ingredients, sauces sans the MSG, frozen veggie dumplings, almond milk and interesting teas, then this place is worth a look.

7 Eng Hoon Massage

Block 57, Eng Hoon St
A one-hour massage here is $47, which is not the cheapest you’ll find, but it’s clean and there’s almost always availability

8 Eng Hoon Sticker Shop

Yes, there is a sticker shop on Eng Hoon. I have had stickers made twice now for parties and they were a huge success. Everyone loves a sticker!

9 Sin Hoi Seafood

Block 55, Tiong Bahru Road #01-59
Tel 6223 0810
Get the pepper crab – don’t hold back! Also, the cereal prawns are out of control, but insist they have no shell.

10 Tiong Bahru Bakery

Their soy hot chocolate is a delicious nightcap, and, dangerously, I live almost next door.
56 Eng Hoon St
Tel 6224 3430

11 Two Face Pizza & Taproom

56 Eng Hoon St
Tel 6536 0024
There are plenty of drinks that aren’t so typical – get the Elderflower cider, and even the ginger Magners (although the Magners sells out quickly).

12 Foodie Market Place

Not bad for cheese platters and cooking bits and pieces, they also do a fair amount of Aussie and Kiwi meats. I actually bought a yoghurt maker from here and it is great, I would definitely recommend making your own yoghurt at home. The frozen berries are also good value for money.
225 Outram Rd
Tel 6224 3290

Books that Inspire

As a kid I spent hours over the tri-fold book club catalogue, choosing and changing and perfecting my selection. When my daughter brought the same catalogue home from kindergarten, I was thrilled to be sharing this part of my childhood with her. That is until I realised my daughter’s logic was faulty; she thought the best books would be the pinkest. I wanted to choose something completely different to our other books and found a couple of gems that encourage wonder and creativity.

The Dot tells the story of a girl discovering her artistic ability with a gentle nudge from one of those wise teachers that all kids should encounter. It is masterfully written and gently conveys the message about challenging the belief that you can’t do something, practising, mastering and then inspiring others. It inspires activity and we were instantly off in search of paints and paper to draw our own dots. I will be gifting this book to kids turning six this year.

On a Beam of Light tells the story of Albert Einstein and his ideas in a picture book format. The book highlights aspects of Albert’s life that appeal to kids, like his delayed speech development, dislike of socks and his sailing boat, while introducing his theories and the value of an inquiring mind. If you have ever tried to explain gravity to a five year old, you will appreciate the eloquent way that huge concepts are introduced and explained. This book is reassuring for parents of late speakers and affirming for any child who asks too many questions and thinks a little differently. Great for an advanced picture book reader, this book inspires curiosity, wonder, learning and thought.

The Red Dot is by Peter H. Reynolds

On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne and pictures by Vladimir Radunsky

Allergy Friendly Kids’ Party Treats

With allergies so common in kids, there is a good chance you will encounter a little guest with an allergy or intolerance. Stock up on these readily available treats for parties to be sure that you have something for everyone.

Potato chips are a party staple. To avoid gluten, egg, dairy and nuts, buy plain salted potato chips or plain Pringles. Many flavoured potato chips contain milk or cheese powder, Kettle Honey Dijon or Backyard Barbeque are good flavoured options.

Orgran Cookies are also soy free. My kids’ favourites are the Essential Fibre Rotondo Biscuits and the Outback Animals chocolate cookies. The Dinosaur Wholefruit Cookes in Wildberry are less popular with fruit-phobes. There is also a gluten-free pasta in farm animal shapes in the range.

When it comes to sweets there are plenty of options. For severe dairy allergy avoid those containing Lactic Acid (eg Haribo and Yupi). Our favourites are marshmallows, The Natural Confectionery Company (not gluten free), Skittles, Mentos and Allens.

If wheat and soy are tolerated, Arnotts Raspberry Shortcake, Ginger Nuts and Hundreds and Thousands biscuits are a great treats. Merba Apple Pie Cookies are also a delicious option. Oreos are also an option, except the ones manufactured in Japan that are sold in pharmacies, they contain milk.

Many of these products state that they may contain traces of allergens. To be safe, keep the packets and have the child’s parent check the ingredients. 


Kettle: available in most supermarkets

Orgran: available from Fairprice Finest (Bukit Timah), Unity Pharmacy in Tanglin Mall

The Natural Confectionary Company, Skittles, Mentos: available in most supermarkets

Allens: available in Cold Storage (Albert Park)

Arnotts: Cold Storage and Fairprice Finest, Hundreds and Thousands only in Cold Storage

Merba: most supermarkets

Sunday Brunch at Mezza9

Unlimited fresh oysters accompanied by unlimited champagne.

If this sounds like indulgence or even decadence, then it sounds like brunch in Singapore. Every Sunday across the Island, hotels and restaurants offer an afternoon of endless and delightful eating and drinking for a set price. I’ve heard of Sentosa Island’s champagne brunches and eaten at the famous Fullerton Hotel’s Easter Sunday brunch. So when I was invited to Mezza9 at the Hyatt on Scotts Road I jumped at the opportunity. I had guests from Sydney in town and brunch is ultra festive if you get a group together. I thought it a wonderful opportunity for my guests to participate in brunch culture.

The dress code at Mezza9 is smart casual – long pants and a collared shirt for guys and smart wear for women. We saw lots of cocktail dresses, heels and tailored pants. Bookings are essential. Being prompt is too. Mezza9 brunch runs from 11.30am to 3pm and when we turned up at 11.34am, the restaurant, which seats 400, was already at capacity with frosted glasses of champagne filled to the brim in front of every diner. Our group of eight were placed near the English breakfast buffet so we walked past laden trays of eggs Benedict, bacon, and fried potatoes.
My friend advised that at $138++ this brunch is excellent value for money if you love oysters. After our first glass of champagne we headed directly to the seafood section where you could fill your plate with good size fresh oysters, served with lemon wedges or red wine vinegar and shallots, lobster tails, and giant prawns. Others at our table made a beeline for the sashimi bar and loaded up on fresh tuna, salmon, other fish, sushi, sweet omelette, red fish roe, wasabi and pink pickled ginger. The men at our table enjoyed several types of traditional roasts with all the trimmings, even including French fries, (which were hot and crisp on the outside and fluffy white in the middle), while I went for seconds at the tempura section. There are 9 different dining options in all so check them all out before you start.

From the dessert bar I chose cheesecake which was to die for, sweet, rich and dense. I also tried a very rich chocolate pie that I rate the best I have ever tasted. It was a good combination of creaminess, dark chocolate and sweetness but not too sweet. My guests chose the panna cotta and some small pastries. We all helped ourselves to the salted caramel buttons on the top counter. Yum. There was also, naturally, a chocolate fountain with a variety of fruit and marshmallows.

The champagne was free flow, cold and constantly topped up. Those that prefer beer or wine can have that too. I noticed a couple of mojitos on our table as well.

Like the website advises, last pour is at 2.45pm and waiters scurry at this time to ensure no-one misses out. I found the service exceptional. This hotel knows what its patrons are looking for and the wait staff is very efficient.

Tip: To do this buffet justice, do as I did and do not eat breakfast first.