Sunday, 2 April 2017


F i r a   T o w n   C e n t e r  
Many restaurants and shops are closed for renovations during the winter months and they usually open in April. We traveled in March hence Fira was probably the best location where most shops were already open. It is the central location - public buses to other villages start from Fira. As we did not rent cars or ATV, this was decidedly the best town to stay in. There are many restaurants here so finding good food is not an issue. You can also book your day tours from the many agencies in Fira.

The view is splendid from the Cathedral. Sunset hour is less crowded too so you have plenty of opportunities to get good pictures.

I woke up early one morning, right after sunrise to get a feel of the town and I was rewarded with a beautiful misty landscape of the sea with nothing but calm and solitude.

M e g a l o c h o r i,   t h e   q u i e t   v i l l a g e
If you find the crowds in Fira and Oia less endearing, try visiting the traditional village of Megalochori. It is a very quiet little village which will offer you peace and quiet. It is the perfect sanctuary for a lazy day. Sip coffee at the local taverna or just look for a place to sit and read for the entire day.

S u n s e t   I n   O i a
Oia is famed to have one of the best sunsets in the world. I would not know if that is true, but it is indeed one of the best I've ever witnessed. Pray for clear blue skies as that would indicate a very high chance of watching the sun set with a clear reflection against the Aegean Sea.
The crowd gathers as early as an hour before the sun sets. Be there early or dine in one of the restaurants. Get ready to envelope yourself in stillness as you watch the sun go down, despite the chaos and noise around you.

Linger for as long as you can after sunset. The sky takes on a pastel hue, giving the village a feminine pink and blue backdrop - one which you will remember for a long time. Cherish those moments for those are the prettiest and they last only for a few minutes before the sky is painted dark for the lovely moon to shine

The famous triple blue domes found in postcards of Santorini are also in Oia.
Upon reaching the village, walk towards the Church. Turn right once you have come to the Church, walking towards the direction of the end of the village. Take the first left turn. You will most probably find a queue busy with selfie sticks and cameras if you go during sunset hours. Do go there early in the morning if possible. I imagine it would be tranquil.

T h e   C a l d e r a
We enjoyed our cruise on the catamaran visiting the caldera. Weather permitting, you will get a grand, unobstructed view of the sunset from the catamaran if you opt for the sunset cruise. We were on the sunset cruise with Caldera Yachting Santorini. The crew was friendly and hospitable, with a very experienced captain. The catamaran was also clean and luxurious, and the lunch was freshly prepared onboard for us. If you want to feel pampered for the day, book yourselves in for it is totally worth it.

The views of the island and the sea from the catamaran are extremely breathtaking - offering you a different perspective of the island. I have never seen water as blue as the Aegean sea, and being onboard offered us that opportunity. It was as blue as the colour of a gemstone. At the hot springs, the water was translucent and bright green, a pity it was too cold for us to jump in.

G e t t i n g   a r o u n d
It is easy to travel in the island as it is a touristy island and almost everybody speaks English. It will be best to rent a car or ATV if you intend to visit all the villages at your own pace. A guided tour for a day costs around 40 to 50 euros/pax including pick ups from designated locations.

W e a t h e r   i n   M a r c h 
At the end of March, you get good and bad days. We had two sunny days out of the four days we were there and it was chilly at night but beautiful and breezy during the day. However it is still too cold to jump into the beach or the hot springs in March. But it is a low season hence it is not crowded and comfortably relaxing to walk around the villages (even in Oia and Fira).

W h a t   i t   c o s t s   t o   e a t   o u t
A decent meal at a restaurant costs about 8 to 13 euros/pax excluding alcoholic drinks so it is relatively economical to eat out.

G e t t i n g   t h e r e   f r o m   A t h e n s
We compared the price for domestic flights versus ferry and it was not much of a difference as we had booked early on Olympic Air. The journey is much shorter (30 to 45 minutes) and you don't run the risk of traveling in choppy waters for 5 to 8 hours depending on whether it is a Superjet or slower ferry. Book early and fly. 

Sunday, 6 November 2016

S T E A M E D - C H O C O L A T E - C A K E

This cake requires no mixer nor oven. It is moist yet fluffy and one of my favourite steamed cakes. It was featured in a local daily several years back and I still have people asking me for it every now and then. It turned out to be quite popular on my youtube channel and it still has the highest number of hits today (although the number is tinny-tiny)

I like to use my 4.5" tin because of the height, and the petite size making it a perfect birthday cake for a small dinner. You can dress it up with chocolate ganache, chocolate sticks, strawberries or any other topping which you fancy. 

The recipe can be doubled for a 7" cake tin.

Makes 4 tiny servings for after dinners.

I n g r e d i e n t s

80 g  sugar
100 ml milk
1 tsp instant coffee (optional)
Pinch of salt

1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

55 g plain flour
30 g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder

M e t h o d

1 |  Line a 4.5" cake tin. Heat up the steamer

2 |  Combine sugar, milk, salt and instant coffee in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and leave to cool

3 | Add beaten egg, oil and vanilla extract into mixture (making sure this is done only when the mixture above is cool so you do not 'cook' the egg)

4 | Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Pour liquid mixture in and whisk till well combined. Do not overwork the batter or the cake will turn out stiff. The batter should be runny

5 | Pour batter into prepared tin and loosely cover with a foil. Steam for 30-40 minutes over a low heat. The cake is ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean

Saturday, 13 August 2016

O U R - O L D - H O U S E

My sister sent a picture of our old house to us last week. As we spoke about it, I got emotional.

Ma sold the house because the area was infested with mosquitoes due to bad drainage, and it had started to flood. We coerced her to move out. I feel guilty for having made her do it but it seemed like the right thing to do then, although Ma constantly talks about the old house and I often still dream of the old house because we grew up in it and all our memories of Pa are in the old house. It is difficult to part with that.

All my childhood memories are embedded within our humble old house. Playing by the pond my uncle had made, running with my dogs in the garden, catching rabbits in their pens, sitting by the porch waiting for Pa to come home with toys he'd often buy for me. I do miss him terribly and wish I had been a more obedient girl.

My parents were vegetable vendors in the area and we grew up in a household with just-enough. And just-enough is good enough. We grew up with hand-me-downs. We often had to help out at home although being the youngest spared me from many chores. No matter how little our parents had, they always made sure we got the best. And we had every meal at home, cooked by Ma. We sat on the floor and ate on a round coffee table every day together. Looking back, that was what shaped us. That formed us as a family.

Our lives pretty much revolved around food. We had fresh vegetables and fish daily. Nothing expensive or luxurious but fresh, clean produce from the market. No matter how busy, Ma would cook. Pa was often in and out of the hospital due to his health, but Ma would still cook. It was cheaper to eat at home, and she would bring food to the hospital. Although we weren't well to do, Pa would sometimes ask Ma to pack food for the rest in the same ward. It was sharing whatever little he had to make someone else feel loved through the simple gesture of a home cooked meal.

Growing up, I didn't care much about it. But it means the world to me now.

Blessed is the moment you get to sit on the same table and eat the simple home cooked fare with all your family members. This place is home, it is safe and you are loved.

A few months ago, Ma gave me some old plates she had moved from the old house. Plates she had collected from a few decades ago - some from a British family before they moved back to England. Because bits and pieces of things moved from the old house are now so precious to me, I cherish them much. I hope I can hand these down to the next generation in our family, but most importantly I hope we can hand down the values our parents had taught us.

Thursday, 19 November 2015


A staple in my kitchen, homemade granola is a treat. In the evenings when I feel peckish I sometimes add them to cold milk as late night supper. A hearty breakfast would consist of these granola with bananas, strawberries + blueberries atop cold, greek yoghurt. Because it is homemade, we have the option of using honey and molasses sugar instead of refined white sugar. This is great on its own if you need a little pick me up prior to a run or after a good workout. 

Although I have used cranberries and walnuts, you can use any type of dried berries and any type of nuts in this recipe. The berries provide a slightly tangy + sweet flavor whilst the nuts give the granola a good texture when combined with the oats.

They keep well in an airtight container for up to a month in the refrigerator 

Makes 10 - 12 servings

I n g r e d i e n t s

250 g rolled oats
60 g dried cranberries
100 g walnuts
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
55 g unsalted butter
45 g molasses sugar
80 g honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

M e t h o d 

1 | Preheat oven to 200°c and line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper

2 | Mix rolled oats, cranberries, walnuts, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl

3 | Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan. Add honey and vanilla extract to melted butter

4 | Pour melted butter into the rolled oats mixture and mix thoroughly. Lightly press unto prepared pan 

5 | Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the surface is brown

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

O A T M E A L - C R A N B E R R Y - C H O C - C H U N K - C O O K I E

The rolled oats form a nice, chewy texture if this is what you're after in a cookie. It crisps nicely on the surface and remains soft and chewy on the inside. The cinnamon and slightly tangy dried cranberries allow us to pretend that it is autumn, but the real surprise lies in the melted dark chocolate that accompanies every bite.

As a treat I always toast it for 3 minutes and have it with a glass of cold milk so it feels almost as though winter is quietly approaching

Recipe modified from Oatmeal, Cranberry and Chocolate Chunk Cookies by Giada De Laurentiis

Makes 20-24 medium-sized cookies

I n g r e d  i e n t s

 | A |
125 g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

| B |
113 g unsalted butter at room temperature
75 g light brown sugar
25 g sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

| C |
210 g old fashioned oats
40 g dried cranberries
100 g dark chocolate (60% cocoa) chopped into chunks

M e t h o d

1 | Preheat oven to 180°c. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside

2 | Sift together the ingredients from A. This is mixture A

3 | Using a whisk or an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. This is mixture B

4 | Add mixture A to B and mix until just incorporated. Then pour in ingredients from C into the batter and fold well.

5 | Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray and slightly flatten it with the back of the spoon

6 | Bake for 15 to 20 minutes till brown. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving or storing it.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

B A R L E Y - F U Z H O K

A classic which most of us grew up with, sweet barley reminds us of home cooked desserts and neighborhood street vendors. Every home has a unique recipe. Mine has evolved over the years and is different from my mom's. Hers is a simple barley and sweet, dried winter melon version which results in a clear soup. 

The combination of soya bean milk and fuzhok (dried beancurd skin) coats the barley with a silky, creamy layer which makes it great whether eaten hot or cold. Daun pandan is a must, for it flavors our desserts much like how vanilla flavors most western desserts. Ginger is optional, and is added occasionally when I want to add a layer of spice to it.

Serves 4

I n g r e d i e n t s

10 g  fuzhok (dried beancurd skin)
3 leaves of daun pandan
20 g ginger
40 g rock sugar
40 g barley
10 pcs dried longan
500 ml unsweetened soya bean milk
500 ml water

M e t h o d 

1 | Prep the fuzhok by breaking it into bite sized pieces. Rinse and soak in water for 30 minutes or until it softens and lightens in color. Drain.

2 | Tie the daun pandan in a knot so it can be easily removed after the dessert is cooked

3 | Scrub the ginger clean (with skin intact) and slice lengthwise into half. 

4 | Rinse barley and longan before cooking

5 | Combine all the ingredients except for the dried longans and bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil, reduce it to a simmer and cook for 1 hour (or until barley softens). Add dried longan during the last 10 minutes of cooking so it retains its flavor and texture. 

6 | Remove ginger and daun pandan before serving

Monday, 26 October 2015

C H O C O L A T E - A N D - G U L A - M E R A H - L O A F

'Gula Merah' is local to us and is used in many desserts in this part of the world. Made of concentrated sugarcane juice, it is natural and has a strong taste which is easily distinguished from other types of sugar. The use of it in this recipe gives the chocolate loaf a delicate hint of South East Asian flavor with a moist, molasses-like texture. The coffee hides seamlessly yet boosts the chocolate up a notch from good to excellent.

Recipe modified from Chocolate & Brown Sugar Loaf by Poh Ling Yeow of Poh & Co 

I n g r e d i e n t s

100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
220 g unsalted butter at room temperature
180 g gula merah / jaggery powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
250 ml freshly boiled water
1 tsp instant coffee powder
200 g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda

M e t h o d

1 | Preheat oven to 170°c. Grease an 11 cm x 22 cm loaf tin and line with baking paper

2 | Melt the chocolate over a double boiler

3 | Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and whisk until no marbling is visible

4 | Dissolve the coffee powder into boiled water, then whisk into the egg mixture until well combined

5 | Sift in flour and baking soda and whisk until well combined

6 | Pour the mixture into the prepared tin (mixture will seem quite runny) and bake for  an hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand the cake in the tin for about an hour before turning it out and serving