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Ever Heard of Alcohol-Free Beer?

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These beers seem to keep eluding me. The first time I saw it at the supermarket, I though, "Hmm, interesting, maybe I'll try it sometime". The second time I saw it, I had too much groceries on my hand so I literally couldn't carry anything more to bring back on my long journey home via train and foot. I did a mental note therefore, to keep this on my rain check list of the thousands of food items I wish to try one day. The next time I saw it though, I was a bit short on cash that month so I had to postpone the purchase yet again.

As for the fourth time around, now this one was a bit bizarre. I literally had it in my hand along with a couple of other items, and was proceeding to the check-out counter when I remembered the ONE thing that I went into the supermarket to buy in the first place (yes, even I am susceptible to binge buying when it comes to food). It was some Gula Melaka I needed for a project I was working on, and it was inconveniently positioned on a shelf …

It has a body, it has a mind, but does it have a heart? Observations of the life of a cafe.

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When I enter a cafe, I expect a few things: A nice ambience, proper music and lighting, comfortable furniture, well-made drinks and good service be it at a large, well-known brand of an establishment such as the famed Starbucks, Twinnings and the likes, or at a small shop in the corner that is privately own.
The fault with many cafes, though, is not in all that I have mentioned earlier, for most would have a body (a physical establishment that is well-designed to meet the expectations of its patrons) and a mind (a strategic business plan created to bring in profits). However though, as much as one may be inclined to think otherwise, without a beating heart, one such place would fail at creating an impact in a noisy marketplace filled to the brim with eager competitors.
Where then, does the heart of a cafe lie? It lies where all other hearts lie: in people, in the staff of a cafe. It is they who bring genuine smiles to the customers, they who add that little extra foam for a familiar reg…

Why potato chips are bad for you and a basic guide to the humble spud

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The shortcut summary for lazy or busy readers Why are potato chips bad for you? It’s because of the acrylamide formed during the frying process which is known as a potential cause of cancer. Mealy, sandy potatoes like Russet potatoes? Good for frying, roasting and mashing while waxy potatoes like New potatoes are good for boiling. How to cook potatoes? Roast them, bake them, fry them, boil them or do anything you want with them. They are just as versatile as eggs.

Want to know more? Read on…..
While I love a good pack of potato chips as much as the next person, there are a few things that I keep in mind to avoid eating too much of it. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love potatoes. I don’t have a favourite dish, but potatoes are no doubt my favourite food ingredient - baked, boiled or fried.
According to an article by Franco Pedreschi called “Frying of Potatoes: Physical, Chemical and Microstructural Change” and another one produced through the collaborative efforts of the American Socie…

Bloody Mary.....Tomato Soup?

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Feeling a little bored at home the other day (due to the situation that has bound us to our homes to prevent the spread of Covid-19), I went out shopping. Among other grocery items, I also placed a can of tomato juice into my basket thinking, "I'm going to make Bloody Mary today!" I hesitated for a while, wondering what other ingredients I needed for the savoury cocktail, then remembering that I also needed celery. Just celery.

Arriving home and checking my fridge, I stopped. There is no vodka, no Worcestershire sauce and no Tabasco (or any hot sauce whatsoever). Good thing I had some lemons, but as for spices, the cupboard was scarce. All I found was a packet of Cajun seasoning, which was a mixture of cayenne, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper.

Sigh. "Now how am I going to make a Bloody Mary when I don't even have all the essential ingredients?" I thought.

As I always do in such situations, I turned on the improvisation switch in my brain and got...well...a …

Irish coffee…

Ah yes, the Irish Coffee, a cocktail made with espresso, Irish whiskey and a dollop of fresh cream on top, the thing that kept me up all night, forced me to give up sleeping after trying till 4.30am, had me reading a book about French wine and eventually lead me to think that I may need a 120 ringgit book about soil!
I was cycling down Chulia Street in Georgetown, Penang, on a cool summer’s evening when I came across a wine shop. “Putao”, the sign said. I went in to have a quick look. They had an interesting collection of wines, which unfortunately due to the horizontal arrangement of the bottles facing inwards towards the wall and my insufficiently tall body to look over the ones above my head, the only indication of any kind to distinguish one wine stack from another was a tiny piece of paper hanging from a tread on one of the bottles in each diamond-shaped stack stating the country of origin of the wine. Don’t get me wrong, they got the “keep your wines horizontally” part right, but…

Chinese herbs and a midnight errant

I came home past midnight one day planning to boil that pack of Ba Zhen Chinese herbs I bought that day which was (according to the shopkeeper) supposed to be good for blood circulation and energy. I have recently been feeling lethargic and tired, mostly because it's been a busy month at work and the customers never seemed to cease filling up the waiting list from the start to the end of my shift.

Only when I got home and started opening up the pack of herbs did I suddenly realize that I forgot to buy sugar for making a herbal drink and thought, "How am I going to drink this without sugar? It's going to be so bitter!"

So in the quest in search of sugar, I went out at 1:30am to the convenience store, got queried by three patrol police officers on motorbikes as to where I was going in the middle of the night (although I was somewhat relieved to know that the police were doing their job in keeping the neighbourhood safe), then cycled my bike over a newly paved tar road,…

That place beside the big names

It’s interesting how Penang has so many corners, and equally as many hidden surprises just waiting to be discovered. Take the famed street art collection scattered throughout Georgetown for instance. While some are big and obvious, located strategically at a busy intersection or a shop front, others need to be searched out, appearing in the most unlikely places. Corners, alleys, behind a towering building.
As with many things, there will always be that one big name of a place that has crowds shoving in day and night. That place that is in all the tourist magazines and guidebooks advertised as a “Must See” or “Must Do” when in Penang, and is therefore crawling with visitors from all over the world. But, have you ever looked beyond, away from the crowds and the famous names of restaurants, museums and attractions that are sung from one end of the island to the other? Let me tell you a secret, which may not be that much of one but is certainly less widely understood. You would be surprise…

Fan or no fan

Installing 7 fans in a tiny restaurant area with tables back-to-back. Logical? Necessary? Or ingenious?
It may have a reputation of being one of the most delicious noodle places in town, having a line that never ceases to exist, a place that always seems crowded with the locals (university students, mostly, but also office workers from the surrounding area as well as families with small children), and makes you inevitably sweat in the heat every second that you are there, but I wondered why they couldn’t be bothered to install even a single air-conditioning unit like the other restaurants in the area.
Then when I thought about it, I realized the genius behind this concept. Well, to be fair, it’s more in a totally business-minded and an “I don’t care about the customer experience” attitude kind of way but hey, a genius is a genius.
In the sweltering heat and humidity of the constantly 27 to 30 degree Celcius Malaysian climate (but honestly, you would be really lucky if you get to enjoy a …