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September 28th, 2016

10:10 am: Making the most of the weather.
It stayed fairly fine yesterday so we took the opportunity to visit Auckland's west coast. Piha is probably the most popular of the west coast beaches. It's a surf beach with sometimes wild weather; you certainly get bigger waves than on the east coast beaches. It's also a black sand beach due to the high iron content.

After lunch, we headed to the east coast to Mission Bay, and I caught a few Pokemon with the niece. We went to Sidart for dinner. I've been saying for a while that their Tuesday Test Kitchen is the best value-for-money high-end dining experiences.

As I type this, it's raining heavily outside.

Follow the link/photo to the photosets.
Piha & Mission Bay
Piha & Mission Bay

Dinner at Sidart.
Sidart with the Lees

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September 26th, 2016

09:38 pm: Shockingly, it didn't rain.
Lovely day spent wandering around town with family, playing tourist. The forecast rain was only early morning showers, and by the time we left the house it had stopped. The overcast conditions & fairly still conditions made for a pleasantly cool day.

Some op-shopping got done on K'Road.

We had a delicious lunch at Baduzzi

We walked along the waterfront to Silo Park, the former industrial area now turned into recreational space.

We popped into two dessert places Miann *and* Milse.

(Niece & I may have caught a few Pokemon today.)

Follow the link/photo to the photoset.
Auckland sightseeing

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September 25th, 2016

09:48 am: That feeling when...
Whanau (family) visits for a week & you plan one or two rainy day events in case it gets wet. Then you check the long range forecast...
The long range forecast is for rain and more rain

(The long range forecast is for rain and more rain.)

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September 24th, 2016

Proving that painful & genius are not mutually exclusive.


Its not eazy being a pedent
correcting others’ mis-takes all daylong
My freinds and me are totally sic
of observing gramma witch has gone wrong.

“Whom are these language offenders”?,
“could it be that I maybe one, to”
Their ignorant; stupid, and careless:
off gramma they have’nt a clue.

They’re speling is sutch an embarrasment
its’ amature, wired, and, abserd,
comprized of neither thought or intelligance,
to a dictionary they should of refered.

Writing down there awkwardly formed sentences,
the participle clauses are left dangling.
just made one less mistake each would have the affect
to dramatically reduce this language mangling.

---------- Brian Bilston

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September 22nd, 2016

07:46 pm: Cooking diary
Monday: Curry chicken tacos #fusion
Cooking diary
The prep:
Cooking diary
Tuesday: Grilled curry powder rubbed chicken, cauliflower & mint, lemon couscous.
Cooking diary
The prep:
Cooking diary
Wednesday: Panfried Hoki, salad of cauliflower, macaroni, parsley, rocket, lemon, garlic.
Cooking diary
The prep:
Cooking diary
Thursday: Grilled Cajun chicken, carrot & swede, leftover cauliflower.
Cooking diary
The prep:
Cooking diary

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September 20th, 2016

02:41 pm: As it’s “Talk Like Pirate Day”, here’s my geeky contribution...
What goes, “Pieces of Seven! Pieces of Seven!” ?

A parroty error.

(I’ll see myself out, arrrr!!!)

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September 18th, 2016

08:40 pm: Cooking diary
Monday: Char kwey teow.
Some people call Char kwey teow the Malaysian version of Pad Thai. I think Pad Thai is the Thai version of Char kwey teow.
Cooking diary

The prep:
Cooking diary

Tuesday: Wat tan hor (Hor fun rice noodles in an eggy gravy with chicken, fishballs & bokchoy). This allowed me to use up the noodles I didn't use for Char Kwey Teow, and the leftover bokchoy from last week.
Cooking diary

The Prep:
Cooking diary

Wednesday: Apricot chicken, sauteed leek, lemon couscous.
Cooking diary

The prep:
Cooking diary

Thursday: Hokkien mee / Hokkien char. It's thick noodles in a dark soy-based sauce.
Cooking diary

The prep:
Cooking diary

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September 16th, 2016

09:04 pm: Apero, yes again.
This time I finally did what I'd been promising to do for ages: I took labmates to Apero. It was fun to introduce them to this place, and even better that they enjoyed it as much as I did. We drank some interesting and excellent wines, and the food was (as usual) superb. It was a lovely way to end the work-week & welcome the weekend.

Click on the picture for the Fickr album & more pictures. The cover photo is the current incarnation of their burrata dish, for the new (spring) season. It's on a bed of green tomatoes and dressed with basil oil, and was magnificent.

Apero: September 2016

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September 15th, 2016

05:19 pm: Pokemon Go: two months in
I started playing Pokemon Go on July 13 (yes I waited nearly a whole week after release before jumping on the bandwagon). Two months in, it is clear that its initial surge of popularity has waned. Hotspots for lures aren't anywhere near as busy as they were. But I'm going to keep playing; I still enjoy it.

I'm not seeing many new Pokemon anymore, which suggests I'll need to visit some new places or hatch more eggs. In the meantime, the new appraise function means the game is not just about collecting the full set of Pokemon, but also finding individuals with the perfect stats & the best movesets, so there is still interest in it for me.

The other motivation to keep playing? It's gamified walking for me; you have to walk to hatch Pokemon eggs. And the consequence of doing much more walking in the last two months is that I've lost some weight. To be fair, it's not much weight at all, about 2kg according to our scales, but those 2kg mean a lot. For the first time in years, my weight fluctuations now fluctuate down into the normal range for BMI.

(Yes, I know that BMI is a poor guide for health on account of being based on what a dead Belgian's opinion of what a person's ideal weight range should be.)

Losing that weight is a good thing for me and if continuing to play Pokemon helps keep me fitter & the weight off, I'm happy to keep playing.

The stats:
Level: 29
Distance walked: 434km (Allegedly. The Pokemon Go GPS tracker is famously inaccurate, and I also play it while on the bus, so consider the distance with a large grain of salt.)
Pokemon caught: 4036
Pokedex: 108 caught/109 seen (The missing one is a Poliwrath which was way too high a CP the only time I spotted one.)
Highest CP Pokemon: Exeggutor 2000CP (Evolved this one and haven't powered it up any; it was a high CP Exeggcute to start with.)

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September 11th, 2016

08:46 pm: Sunday in Devonport
It was a cool crisp spring Sunday when we took the short (12 minute) ferry trip from downtown Auckland to Devonport. We wandered our way along King Edward Esplanade & grabbed brunch/lunch at Platter, which does a very good seafood chowder. (A few Pokemon may have been caught along the way).

King Edward Esplanade

Platter seafood chowder w/ skewer of prawns & scallops

Alexander Watson Memorial clock. (Unaltered photo: the sun was really bright & the memorial was really white)

Looking back to Devonport Wharf & beyond to the Auckland CBD

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September 8th, 2016

07:14 pm: Those 0.2 micron filters? Not small enough.
Microbial matter comes out of the dark.

We use 0.2 micron filters to filter solutions to get them sterile (because bacterial cells are larger than that so they get excluded). Turns out there are ultra-small bacteria, that are smaller that 0.2 micron.

Actually, we already knew that there are plenty of viral particles that are smaller than 0.2 micron. It's just that the best way to sterilize something is to autoclave it which involves heating under pressure. Unfortunately, some chemicals really don't like that sort of treatment, e.g. vitamins, so there are times when you can't autoclave but have to filter instead.

So now we have to live with the possibility of not just the very small viral particles potentially messing up experiments, but also these ultra-small bacteria.

Via andrewducker

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06:50 pm: One of them days...


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September 4th, 2016

04:38 pm: No "green great dragons"!
Goodness gracious me! It's true!

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September 1st, 2016

07:07 am: Auckland looking good on the first morning of Spring.

(I got a hint spring was nearly here earlier in the week when my allergies showed up briefly)

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August 22nd, 2016

08:08 pm: Cooking diary
Tuesday: Soy simmered pork, shiitake, bokchoy, rice.
Cooking diary
The prep:
Cooking diary
More...Collapse )

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August 21st, 2016

03:29 pm: Congratulations to the 2016 Hugo Award winners!
Results here.

The nominating & voting statistics here and this year it's more interesting reading than normal. I've typically viewed the longlists (works that didn't quite make the final ballot) as a good place to find up & coming creators, and works worth checking out. This year is no different.

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August 17th, 2016

07:29 am: "Now that's a proper introduction."
"Arrival" full trailer.

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August 15th, 2016

08:42 pm: "Kaleidoscope World" from The Chills reissued.
The classic Kiwi alternative album is being re-issued. The music of The Chills taught me that New Zealand was a different country to the one I grew up in. (We didn't have this sort of music in Malaysia)

Classic (to me) tracks like...

Pink Frost


Bee Bah Bee Bah Bee Boe

...informed my experience of growing up into a Kiwi.

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August 14th, 2016

03:04 pm: Orphans Kitchen
Tom Hishon the chef of Orphans Kitchen received Cuisine Good Food Guide's Innovation award this year, and Orphans Kitchen has been getting lots of attention since it opened last year. They do both lunch & dinner, and given lunch is the cheaper option, that's when we went.

The pictures...Collapse )

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10:39 am: Lokanta: Aegean & Eastern Mediterranean
Unlike Australia, New Zealand doesn't have a substantial Greek population, and consequently, we don't have many (if any) Greek restaurants in Auckland. There are a few that do Greek dishes, but they're typically as part of a greater Mediterranean menu, also including pizzas & pastas in the mix. Lokanta opened earlier this year describing themselves as doing "Aegean & Eastern Mediterranean Cooking". We went for dinner.

We shared a couple of starters,: the taramasalata was excellent as was the chargrilled octopus. The mains were also tasty, the eggplant was vegetarian & has a lovely combination of hearty flavours, and the goat (a house specialty) was even better IMO. The portions were so generous, we had no room left for dessert.

Lokanta looks a good fit for their location: a neighbourhood restaurant doing honest homestyle food with hefty portions, in a cosy setting. I wouldn't mind coming back to try their other dishes.

The pictures...Collapse )

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August 13th, 2016

08:45 pm: Cooking diary
Looks like the theme this week was comfort food.

Monday: Grandma's chicken stew (contains cinnamon)
Cooking diary
The prep.
Cooking diary
More...Collapse )

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11:07 am: Guess Michelin is changing its criteria.
Also, yay for street food! A Singapore hawker (street food) stall gets a Michelin star.

It's got me craving "Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle."

(Michelin doesn't do Australia or New Zealand, which is why the Australians started the 'hat' rating, which New Zealand's Cuisine Good Food Guide also recently adopted.

Via swampers

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August 9th, 2016

06:57 pm: Cuisine Good Food Guide Best New Zealand Restaurant 2016
The results were announced last night.
Congratulations to the Cuisine Good Food Guide winners!

(Adds more options to list of places to try out.)

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06:27 pm: Kung Fu visualization video
It's mesmerizing.

Via andrewducker

Kung Fu Motion Visualization from Tobias Gremmler on Vimeo.

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August 6th, 2016

07:00 pm: Cooking diary
It's midwinter, & the proper cold has arrived; it's been a very mild winter so far. And I'm getting to the "running low on meal ideas" part of the season. Winter vegetables are much less varied than summer vegetables.

Monday:Chicken kon loh mee
Cooking diary
The prep:
Cooking diary
The other meals...Collapse )

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July 31st, 2016

08:21 pm: Vintners Brunch 2016
Today was the Hospice North Shore's Vintners' Brunch. It's a charity fundraiser for Hospice North Shore and typically our bigggest single food & wine spend, and this year was no exception. Ten Auckland restaurants provide a dish each, matched with a New Zealand wine, all for a great cause. What's not to like?

This year, we had a few new restaurants participating, and let me tell you, catering for 460+ diners is no trivial task. We had some excellent food & wine matches today and got a taster of a few places we have pencilled in to try out in the near future.

My top two food/wine matches were the Cazador rabbit sausage with the Kim Crawford Chardonnay, & the Kazuya duck & onion icecream with the Mills Reef Merlot Malbec (which was the eventual winner as voted by attendees).
Click for pics...Collapse )

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July 30th, 2016

04:11 pm: Blade Runner quiz
30/31. Guess that makes me a Blade Runner tragic.

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09:14 am: Cooking diary
It's a combination of slow-cooking & using up the cabbage this week.

Monday: Beef in red wine, steamed cabbage, scalloped potatoes.
Cooking diary

The prep:
Cooking diary

Tuesday: Chicken, mushroom fettucine.
Cooking diary

The prep:
Cooking diary

Wednesday: Cassoulet, lemon butter cabbage.
Cooking diary

The prep:
Cooking diary

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July 29th, 2016

09:33 pm: Apero redux
It's Friday & the start of a big weekend of eating, drinking & catching up with friends. We kicked it off at Apero arguably the best winebar in town.

It's always good to try some new excellent wines, and even better to share the experience. We tried a variety but two wines that impressed were a table white made from Pedro Ximenez grapes...
Apero winebar
...and a Pinotage from Israel.
Apero winebar

And the food...
Clams steamed in cider with chorizo.
Apero winebar

Lamb sweetbreads.
Apero winebar

Potato Gnocchi, Mushrooms, Pine nuts & Truffle.
This is the dish that won chef Leslie Hottiaux the Pacific regionals of the San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year 2016. We're lucky we got the opportunity to eat it. It was outstanding.
Apero winebar

The gnocchi tortellini & pinenuts are revealed when the thin slices of white mushroom covering are removed.
Apero winebar

Burrata on a bed of puy lentils & smoked eggplant. I'd happily eat this all day.
Apero winebar

They do a house-made sausage they sell by the quarter metre (we ordered a half metre), with pickled gherkins, roasted garlic, walnut mustard & salad leaves.
Apero winebar

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08:51 am: "The Lord of the Rings", "The Hobbit", "The Silmarillion", summarised in a haiku
By anna_wing
Via andrewducker

Tolkien haiku
Both "The Silmarillion" and "The Lord of the Rings", simultaneously summarised in haiku form:

It is rarely wise
To attach such importance
To your jewellery.

If you think about it, also simultaneously summarises "The Hobbit"!

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July 27th, 2016

06:01 pm: "17 habits of people who cook dinner every night"
I don't cook every night but do use many of the tactics described.

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July 24th, 2016

05:00 pm: Cooking diary
It's two week's worth because last weekend we were away visiting with family for a long weekend & this week I only cooked two meals at home.

Monday: Chicken, rocket, spaghetti
The prep:

And the rest...Collapse )

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July 23rd, 2016

10:28 am: Jaffa races down world's steepest residential street

Prompted by [insanejournal.com profile] swampers who posted World's steepest street becomes a mind-bending Instagram craze.

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06:31 am: Lichen is not a couple but a threesome?
From The Atlantic

"Lichens have an important place in biology. In the 1860s, scientists thought that they were plants. But in 1868, a Swiss botanist named Simon Schwendener revealed that they’re composite organisms, consisting of fungi that live in partnership with microscopic algae. This “dual hypothesis” was met with indignation: it went against the impetus to put living things in clear and discrete buckets. The backlash only collapsed when Schwendener and others, with good microscopes and careful hands, managed to tease the two partners apart."

"In the 150 years since Schwendener, biologists have tried in vain to grow lichens in laboratories. Whenever they artificially united the fungus and the alga, the two partners would never fully recreate their natural structures."

Toby Spribille [raised in a Montana trailer park, and home-schooled by what he now describes as a “fundamentalist cult.”]...
"...has shown that largest and most species-rich group of lichens are not alliances between two organisms, as every scientist since Schwendener has claimed. Instead, they’re alliances between three. All this time, a second type of fungus has been hiding in plain view."

And here's the primary source.

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July 19th, 2016

04:29 pm: Auckland's best restaurant 2016
Best Auckland Restaurant 2016
Link to JPG.
Link to PDF (better for printing).

Disclaimer: I have tried to be as accurate as possible but cannot guarantee it, so if you spot any mistakes, do let me know.

I made the Venn diagram using data from the TripAdvisor top 60 Auckland Region (a snapshot from June 22), Cuisine Magazine's Good Food Guide Awards, and Metro magazine's Top 50 restaurants.

What I said last year*:
Why not other crowdsourced restaurant review sites like Yelp, Zomato, Menumania, or Dineout? Because they don't rank restaurants and TripAdvisor does. I'm going somewhat on trust though, because it isn't entirely clear how the TripAdvisor ranking algorithm works, but it is what it is.

*Since last year, Menumania has been bought out by Zomato & is no longer. And as of February, Dineout has ceased operations, though the website is still accessible.

TripAdvisor ratings can be volatile & being crowdsourced, tend to include more cheap & cheerful yet popular places, especially if they are located in the CBD or tourist hotspots. I used 60 restaurants (10 more than the top 50 the first time I compiled one of these) to mitigate some of these effects.

Tastes are personal & there are any number of restaurants not listed here that provide an excellent dining experience so I wouldn't be too hung up about this Venn diagram being definitive. Think of it as a fun conversation starter.

Current Mood: accomplished
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July 15th, 2016

09:24 am: "Half of all US food produce is thrown away, new research suggests"
Worrying if true.

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08:22 am: Idumea Arbacoochee fanfic fragment
#201 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:10 PM:
1. Concerning Gnomes

This book is largely concerned with Gnomes, and from its pages the Reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history. Further information will also be found in the selection from the Beige Vellum of Hosting* that has already been published under the title of The Gnome. That story was derived from earlier chapters of the Beige Vellum composed by Idumea, the first Gnome to become famous to the world at large and called by Idumea Tales from the Backend as they were adventures from the depths of website hosting and fora maintenance: adventures that had a small but significant influence in the great events of that Internet Age that are here related.

Many however, not possessing the earlier book may wish for a few notes and brief summary of what has gone on before.

Gnomes are an unobtrusive but very ancient people, whose numbers have never been counted properly; for they are stealthy, loving good conversation and troll-free threads; a well-moderated forum was their favourite haunt. They do not or did not understand or like those who comment in bad faith, griefers or hatemongers, though they were skilful with the Tools of Moderation. Even in ancient days, they were, as a rule, shy of 'the Big Folk' as they call us.

As for the Gnomes of Making Light, with whom these tales are concerned, little is known of their origins. Some experts surmise that they they were already present in the era of Electrolite, before the founding of Making Light...

*The Authorities, it is true, differ on whether said vellum was calfskin, lambskin or something else. Despite the impossibility of a definitive answer, as the original has been lost to the mists of history and only copies remain, much spirited debate continues on this matter.

------------- part of article, seemingly a fragment of the Foreword to a much larger work, retrieved from the Recycle Bin of a Public Library computer in Auckland, New Zealand. Author unknown.

(With apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien)

[It's a bit of silliness that would take too long to explain but here goes anyway: Idumea Arbacoochee is a whimsical persona adopted by one of the moderators at Making Light whose functions include releasing comments stuck in moderation, repairing malformed URLs in comments and other activities mostly behind the scenes that help keep a website running. At first posters whose comments got stuck in moderation would talk about visiting the gnomes & possibly offering them tea, cookies or anything edible by way of passing companionable time while waiting for comments to be released. It wasn't until later that Idumea made their name & presence known that we had a name for one of the gnomes. These inhabitants of web infrastructure seem to be refined, polite & detail-oriented so I (and others) got to wondering what gnome society might be like. I don't normally do pastiches nor do I do filks. But once in a long while, it just seems to happen. So this is a copy of a work of fiction (originally posted at Making Light), based on a work of fiction (the Lord of the Rings), about a character that is imaginary (Idumea Arbacoochee). See what I meant about 'silliness'?]

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July 13th, 2016

06:44 pm: Slice, Dice, Chop Or Julienne: Does The Cut Change The Flavor?
I always thought it did, because:
- it changes the way they look (and we eat with our eyes)
- simple physics (smaller pieces increases surface to volume ratio & changes flavour absorption)
- changes texture too (cutting meat across the grain vs with the grain changes tenderness)

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July 12th, 2016

05:57 pm: That vocabulary thingy currently doing the rounds
My Vocabulary Size is about: 【30325】! What about you?


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July 10th, 2016

08:30 am: Cooking diary
You can tell that I bought red cabbage & beetroot & then tried to find ways of using them up during the week. Also, I know you're supposed to eat lots of colourful vegetables because they tend to be higher in antioxidants, but there's this...

Monday: Blackened salmon, red salad (cabbage, beetroot, onion, pickled ginger), lemon quinoa.

The prep:

Tuesday: Simple roasted vegetables (beetroot, parsnip, mushroom).

The prep:

Wednesday: 'Kebab-spiced' lambchop, hummus, tabouleh, shredded red cabbage.

The prep:

Thursday: Bacon & chicken breast, & leftovers from earlier in the week.

The prep:

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