Hanging Out at Holland Village: La Nonna and Sunday Folks

Signature pizza, crab tomato cream linguine, La Nonna, 26 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village, Singapore
La Nonna, 26 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village, SingaporeThe 1-for-1 lunch promotion at La Nonna (Lorong Mambong, Holland Village) has drawn hungry students from the nearby National University of Singapore for some time. We had lunch with two of them this week, sharing the signature pizza (tomato, mozarella, asparagus, egg, parmesan, black truffle salsa), salmon e rucola pizza, and two crab linguine in tomato cream sauce.

Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, Singapore

Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, Singapore
Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, Singapore
After the students headed back to school, two of us repaired to Sunday Folks (facebook, 44 Jalan Merah Saga) across the road for their weekday S$10 cake and coffee/tea set.

We were talking about how difficult it must be for pastors/ministers of churches not to show favouritism to the people who themselves treated these pastors/ministers well.

  1. Full-time Christian ministry is a tough job – long hours spent in the study understanding God’s word, more hours spent on your knees for the sheep, and then counselling many with relational/psychological/personal/godliness difficulties, and dealing with the line of people waiting after service to tell them what exactly they disagree with in the sermon or running of the church etc.
  2. So, spending all waking moments dealing with sinful humans could very well be immensely discouraging, and it isn’t surprising that many ministers suffer from depression.
  3. But, said the friend who had been diagnosed with clinical depression, the temptation is to then depend on other people, other humans, for love, support, approval. Sadly, because they too are sinful human beings living in this fallen world, they may betray you, disappoint you, or, even if they were a perfect companion for life, they might die on you (and here the friend cited the Lee Kuan Yew – Kwa Geok Choo partnership). Also: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)
  4. Unfortunately, positive thinking, or being thankful for the good things in one’s life falls flat as well – it feel stilted and artificial especially when you’re already very down, and sometimes, objectively, there just isn’t much good in one’s life!
  5. Much better to trust in One who is eternal (won’t die), and who is in control of all things (not impotent to help), and who loves us so much that he died for our sins (more than willing to help).

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:4-8)


Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, SingaporeThe Sticky Toffee Cake was, as the name suggested, more spongy than the usual heavy-in-the-tummy sticky toffee pudding, and a good foil to the slightly over-extracted coffee.

flat white. Sunday Folks cafe, Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Mega Saga, Holland Village, Singapore

  • beans: Liberty Coffee‘s Speakeasy Blend
  • crema x microfoam: good
  • flavour x body: nutty and a little burnt
  • aftertaste: medium

Bak Kwa 肉干 Biscuits or Candied Bacon Cookies, and that Man with a Demon

Saddled with several bags of Chinese New Year 肉干 bak kwa, I thought of possibly making bak kwa ice-cream at last, having talked about it repeatedly to patient friends for the last half decade. Then, like a strange re-interpreted re-enactment of the fable of the Stone Soup, there came a bag of flour and a bag of instant oats and half a tray of eggs, so bak kwa biscuits (or candied bacon cookies in Americanese) it would be.

Had a look at several bak kwa cookie recipes online. The ones here and here looked delightful, but I was thinking of something not quite so melty-in-the-mouth, something crispy outside and chewy inside, something very Anzac bikkie-ish.

bak kwa biscuits (or candied bacon cookies)So here’s an attempt – the sugar and salt were included to emphasise the sweet-savory-ness of the bak kwa. Not too bad, imho!

bak kwa biscuits (or candied bacon cookies)Every year when bak kwa appears in homes everywhere during the Lunar New Year, I think of a classmate of mine who had been sad not to be able to eat pork. We, of course, were careful not to put temptation in his way either. One day, I asked why pig meat was considered unclean. Because, he said somewhat bitterly, Jesus had driven demons into pigs.

Reading through the Gospel of Mark today accompanied by Andrew Sach & Tim Hiorns’ excellent Dig Deeper into the Gospels, I wished we were still in touch. Mark 5:1-20 records the event my classmate probably had in mind:

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marvelled.

I suppose one solution to my friend’s unhappiness would have been for him to realise that since the pigs drowned, they had no opportunity to pass on their demons to future generations of piggies (assuming that demons worked genetically or by vector).

"Dig Deeper into the Gospels" posing with bak kwa biscuits (or candied bacon cookies) But the better solution would be to find out why Mark wrote this in the first place. It wasn’t the back story to pigs being stinky things to be avoided at all costs. The focus wasn’t on Porky but on Jesus.

It was, in the context of the whole Gospel of Mark and in light of the preceding and succeeding accounts of Jesus calming the storm and healing the bleedin’ woman and Jairus’ daughter, about Jesus’ incredible frightening power. This passage is thick with fear, not just from the begging demons but also from the begging humans who witnessed his power.

So it’s not “oh, how nice, I’ll put him in my address book just in case I need a good exorcist next time”. Nor is it so much “Jesus is powerful to save, so don’t be afraid but trust him.” It’s “OMG, Jesus is bigger and badder (well, the street-speak meaning of “powerful-scary” at least) than anything you are afraid of. Both trust and fear him instead!”

bak kwa biscuits (or candied bacon cookies)


115g unsalted butter
100g dark brown sugar
67g caster sugar

1 medium egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract

146g flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt

45g instant oat flakes
120g bak kwa, lightly toasted then chopped

PS. apparently Plain Vanilla Bakery (34A Lorong Mambong, Singapore, facebook) sells bak kwa cookies, but i’d have to wait till next year to grab some.

In Search of the Best Red Velvet Cake / Cupcake / Ice-cream / Confection in Singapore

So it’s that time in the Singapore calendar that requires a seasonal amount of red in all shades and in all objects – from clothes to decorations to food.

The younger tiers of multi-generational families aren’t usually superstitious. So they don’t believe that good luck (whatever that is) can be derived from surrounding themselves with scarlet, vermillion, rose, maroon etc, but are quite willing to toe the traditional line for the sake of the older folk. Besides, it’s all in good fun – like dressing up for Halloween.

Food, however, is the issue. There’s only so much you can do with mandarin oranges (believed to represent prosperity) before everyone gets citrused-out. So I wondered if we could fit in some red velvet confections (so we could say,”Look – it’s red!” to any elderly objectors). It’ll probably be easy just to buy something with the requisite red food colouring. But what about that slight cocoa taste (though not full-on chocolate), paired with cream cheese frosting? Might be slightly harder. And it’s all generally cohinealled nowadays (Adams Extract being on the main beneficiaries perhaps?), so I wouldn’t expect of find them containing the depth of the earthy beets of World War II.

Will update “reviews” (ha!) as we try more red velvet stuff:

red velvet cupcake, Plain Vanilla BakeryRed velvet cupcake from Plain Vanilla Bakery (facebook, , 34A Lorong Mambong, Holland Village). Plain Vanilla is known for its tender-crumbed cupcakes with buttercream frosting and this delivered. A nod to the Platonic form of the red velvet with a hint of cocoa in the cake base and a whiff of cream cheese in the frosting, but I was hankering for more than a mere reference.

red velvet cake, Rouse, Dunlop StreetA slice of red velvet cake sold at Rouse (36 Dunlop Street). Dense cake with good cocoa taste, cream cheese evident in frosting, topped with a sprinkling of cocoa nibs. Just a pity we had to scrap so much frosting off to even out the cake-frosting ratio.