Menu at Docklands | PHOTO CREDITS :: LAUREN HOM

Have you done anything just so you can get free chow? Woke up early perhaps and dragged your butt to McDonald’s on National Breakfast Day so you can be one of the first 1,000 to get a free McMuffin? Or checked in like mad on Foursquare so you earn the Mayor badge at a restaurant and get a complimentary glass of house vino?

Mountain Cafe Menu (L) :: ITAL KITCHEN MENU (R) | Photo Credits :: Lauren Hom

Menu at Nourish Kitchen + Table | Photo Credits :: Lauren Hom

Well, one young lady decided to take one step further. She shares her knack for writing beautiful typography by prettifying your shop signboard and seeks payment only in the form of whatever the contents of that same signboard are!

Her name is Lauren Hom and she is a New York-based freelance designer, illustrator and letterer who transforms her doodles into veritable works of art. She has participated in several collabs with magazines, done branding projects with establishments in her locale, even created the hilarious drinkware called Ex Boyfriend Tears.

Ex Boyfriend Tears Products | Photo Credits :: Lauren Hom

She is also the brains behind Daily Dishonesty, a collection of illustrations about the ‘lovely little lies’ that we say to ourselves or one another.

But it’s her Will Letter For Lunch gig that made me a bit jealous, made me want to be in her shoes.

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Whew! Where did time go? October is upon us and we have moved very quickly into the last quarter of the year. A couple of months ago, I’ve marked one year since coming back to this island. I’ve seen roads built where mud tracks used to be; endured several crises brought on by a super typhoon; witnessed establishments open then close. Despite being plagued by erratic power supply and unstable internet connection, there seems to be no stopping its (over)development. Can you believe there’s a second (even bigger!) McDonald’s restaurant that just opened at the heart of the island’s business hub?

Yet it never ceases to amuse me, how some things that I remember growing up with in the 80′s (the 80′s!) are still thriving on this tiny piece of prime real estate. Sure, progress and advancement are screaming their presence on the now paved streets, the electric tricycles that quietly ply the (creatively-named) Main Road or the local police officers proudly riding their Segways like Maximus Meridius on his gladiator chariot!

However, there are these ‘relics’ that have somehow survived the fast-paced urbanisation of the island. For instance, local grocery shops that still sell those corn tube snacks, whose fake cheese powder coating I particularly enjoyed at recess during my years in primary school. Or Coke that are still distributed everywhere here in tiny 8-oz classic Coca-Cola bottles.

Imagine my delight going one day into a store that sells ice cream sandwiches from Korea and discovering items that date back to the 50′s. Heck, someone here has a taste for vintage goods!

I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic, especially when I spotted a shelf of retro ice cream sundae dishes. Those heavy glass bowls brought me straight back to my Sam’s Diner days, where my sister and I spent many college nights studying for final exams and slurping on malt shop treats served by a wait staff on roller skates.

I’m a happier bunny eating ice cream from this dish than scarfing down a handheld frozen carp-shaped treat but not wanting to purchase an item that had a singular purpose, I left the store and spent that afternoon trying to picture other ways I can make use of this transparent receptacle. Here’s a list I came up with:

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Homemade Lemon Curd | Our Recipe Below

Bread. Best when fresh out of the oven. It can take on many guises too: as a bowl, as a seasoning, as a main ingredient. It’s good even when stale for it can cleverly metamorphose into glorious pudding by simply joining forces with milk, sugar and eggs. But one of the most beloved form it takes is that of a crisp canvas, a supporting role to wonderful spreads and schmears, all beautifully offering themselves to the delicious ritual that is breakfast.

Blah, blah, blah-di-blah. We love these stuff on our toast. You?

Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche | Photo Credit :: Bakers Royale

Caramelised White Chocolate

Caramelized White Chocolate | Photo Credit :: Food52

Good Ol’ Peanut Butter

Homemade Peanut Butter | Photo Credit :: Brown Eyed Baker

Honey-Macadamia Spread

Honey-Macadamia Spread | Photo Credit :: The Moonblush Baker

Snickerdoodle Cookie Butter

Snickerdoodle Cookie Butter | Photo Credit :: Parade

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Photo Credits | (clockwise from top left) Pretzilla :: Pottery Barn :: Horchow :: Bloom Designs

Today, 28th May, is International Burger Day. Never even knew that such a day existed. What do people actually do on this day? Do hamburger chains dole out free sandwiches for the day? Does your local butcher slash 50% off of your ground chuck? Is there someone sponsoring a burger cook-off somewhere?

Now that it got me thinking, never mind what others are preoccupying themselves with on this day. Gather your friends (or family), fire up the grill and break open the cellar!

While burgers and wine may sound like a mismatched pair, you might be surprised to know that they actually go very well together. Just imagine that your favorite steak cut had been ground and placed in between buns. Plus, wine doesn’t fill you up as much as beer does so you also get to enjoy more tasty bites of whatever sandwich preparation is included in the menu.

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One of my absolute favorite ways to relax is reading recipe books. I even choose to read them right before sleep, unless I’m totally knackered to even lift a page. That’s when I resort to watching food-related programmes, either on TV or online.

These are the top 7 food shows that I follow or love to re-watch whenever I need inspiration or guidance:

How to Cook Like Heston | Photo Credit :: imtwelve.com

HOW TO COOK LIKE HESTON: This series is one that I revisit again and again simply because it deals with kitchen techniques that when applied correctly will result in impressive food quality and appearance, and ultimately gastronomic satisfaction. Each episode focuses on 1 popular household ingredient (cheese, beef, chicken, chocolate, egg, potato) and shows what award-winning chef Heston Blumenthal, through months of scientific research, has discovered to be the best way to prepare this ingredient at home.

I particularly loved his tips on flipping steak to medium rare perfection, on cold-smoking cheese using ice and a blowtorch, on creating the clearest chicken consommé by freezing it first. Of course, Heston being Heston sometimes just can’t help himself so he also demonstrates how a paint sprayer can be used to coat cake with chocolate, how triple-cooking your potatoes will yield the best fries or how dry ice is the fastest way to make ice cream. You may not want to follow all his cooking techniques but you might just be inclined to agree that this show is definitely informative, if not entertaining.

Good Eats | Photo Credit :: Food Network

GOOD EATS: If ‘What Einstein Told His Cook‘ author, Robert Wolke, had a thing for film, he’d be called Alton Brown. A cinematographer by profession before entering the world of food, Brown created a highly educational TV series focusing as well on one ingredient, food category or cooking technique per episode. His creative cinematic background comes into play through the cleverly-titled episode themes and the character he plays according to the theme. I remember him best for his goofy antics however that aside, this show is indeed one of the most informative on TV. It helps that his recipes (well, all that I have tried anyway) are also foolproof. A great resource if you’re looking to learn the basics.

ULTIMATE COOKERY COURSE | Photo Credit :: BBC America

ULTIMATE COOKERY COURSE: I particularly disliked watching Gordon Ramsay before, primarily because he was first ‘introduced to me’ as a barking, potty-mouthed bully via the TV show, Hell’s Kitchen. However, I totally changed my perception of Ramsay as a cook when I viewed the first episode of this series. No longer was I in front of this asshole of a persona but instead a really knowledgeable chef who was teaching his viewers proper handling of kitchen tools as well as easy and stunning food to prepare at home. My favorite segments are his 3 fast and simple recipes based on the episode theme and his featured ingredient guides.

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