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Comparing Macarons Like a Pro… November 25, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Food.
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…when I’m not one. Lols. Everyone has different preference in taste. And I have my own ranking of macarons which I like.

Ong Susu just came back from Aussie and she helped me to buy some Lindt’s macarons. I’ve been really in love with these ever since I came back from Paris but I’ve yet to find some nice macarons which can beat Laduree’s or Sadaharu Aoki’s.

These Lindt’s macarons are sold at A$2.50 each. It’s ok. Nice but not as good as the ones I had in Paris. I find the crust a little too thick to my liking.. more like cookies. Huhu. But from these few flavours, I like pistachio the best. (And it’s a flavour ong susu picked for me!)

This is Santo Tome’s (Plaza Zocodover, Toledo) macarons. They were.. erm.. a bit hard. I kinda have a bad impression on Spain’s desserts. Lols. I guess you should only try mazapans in Spain since they’re famous for it.

The first ever macarons which I tried! Sadaharu Aoki’s macarons! Yummyyyy! I like the fact that they have small ones. Lindt’s macarons only come in one size apparently.. since Susu was a bit confused when I told her I want the small ones. Lol. But macarons are generally SWEET and having a big piece of macaron is.. erm.. a little too sweet for me.

The best macaron award goes to Laduree!! I love their rose flavoured macarons ^.^ It’s too bad that I didn’t get to try Pierre Herme’s macarons as I read it’s even better than Laduree’s?


The Macarons Sequel (French Meringue) October 20, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Baking, Food.

I failed on my first attempt. There were feet, the shell doesn’t crack easily but the batter was thick when I mixed it, the macarons were wayyyy too sweet and chewy.

I failed again on my second attempt. The batter looks ok to me. Not too runny, not too thick. But there’s no feet this time! And the shell was porous (I swear I did bang the tray on the tabletop before leaving it to rest). It’s wayyy too sticky.  But mistakes I made.. I added rose liquid flavouring to the almonds so that might be one of its cause.

BUT I FINALLY MADE IT ON MY THIRD ATTEMPT! I was getting paranoid. I checked the humidity (Since it’s always humid here!) and found out that it’s always less humid around 2pm-4pm. So I started work at 2pm! Lols.

95g egg whites (3 eggs)
30g granulated sugar
170g icing sugar
117g almond flour

The steps are simple.

24 hours before baking them:

  • Age the egg whites. Cover them with a paper towel and leave it in the fridge. Make sure there’s no traces of yolk or the egg whites will go bad.
  • Measure and prepare all other ingredients. Sift the icing sugar and almond flour. I don’t sift my almond flour though cos I buy my almond flour and my mom won’t let me use her food processor though the almond flour seems a bit coarse.

On the baking day:

1. Beat the eggs at medium speed until you see lotsa bubbles. Gradually add in granulated sugar (I pour them in slowwwwwly) and beat at higher speed. For my mixer, I used speed 3 at first, and increase it to speed 5. Stop when you see stiff peaks forming.

2. Mix the icing sugar and almond flour. Then add them to the meringue (1/3 each time). Use the fold in method. I add my gel paste colouring at the same time.

I read somewhere that we should not fold it for more than 50 times. Did that on my second attempt but I failed T.T But I counted the times I folded the batter.. it’s approx 60+ times. The batter must not be too runny or thick. Everyone says it should flow like magma.. I’m not sure how that looks but I stop mixing it once all the dry ingredients are incorporated and the peak dissolves after about 30 seconds.

3. I used a disposable icing plastic bag to fill the batter. After piping them, I bang the tray hard on the tabletop and poke all air bubbles with a toothpick. I let them rest for 30 minutes to form a skin which will help in the formation of ‘feet’.

4. Bake at 150°C for 13 minutes if you’re using a conventional oven. (Not sure of convectional/fan-forced oven since I don’t have one)

I was so soooo extremely excited when I saw feet forming! And there’s a crispy skin when I popped them into my mouth. Not super chewy like the first time. Anw, macarons cannot be eaten fresh. They need to be matured for a day or two. So I’ve filled them all and they’re sitting in the fridge now 🙂

There are certain things which I changed/did this time:

  • Used a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients instead of a spoon.
  • Did not add liquid flavouring to the almond & sugar mixture.
  • Used a non-stick parchment paper.
  • Poked all air bubbles with a toothpick on the shell.
  • Age egg whites for 48hours with a paper towel covering the bowl.

A few important points bout making macarons:

  • Aged egg whites reduce the moisture in the eggs and the macaron shells will not crack easily.
  • Best not to add liquid flavouring to the batter or it might be too moisture.
  • Overbeaten batter will be runny. If batter is thick, give it a few more folds. If it’s too runny, add in some dry ingredients.
  • Use powder or gel colouring. Liquid colouring affects its moisture.
  • Macarons turn brown if baked at high heat. And it’ll turn chewy if baked too long. I’ve been trying it with all sorts of temperature and time with my oven. Diff oven takes diff time and temperature.
  • French meringue is easier but italian meringue will be better if made in large batches ‘cos italian meringue is more stable. I used french meringue and the later batches which was left too long for their turn in the oven ended up cracked.

Here are some useful links to make macarons:

Syrup & Tang wrote a very good guide on macarons (methods, troubleshooting macarons etc)

On the other hand, Food Nouveau provides a detailed, step-by-step process with illustrations (:

And Veronica experimented the outcome of aged egg whites and fresh egg whites used.

This is Ms Humble’s troubleshooting guide which is pretty good too!

Woodfire-cooked pizza! October 17, 2010

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It was my first time to Michelangelo Pizzeria in Ipoh though it was opened since 2009 Dec (or so I read) Huhu.

The unique part of it is that the pizza’s made with woodfire. I didn’t take a pic of it cos it was kinda crowded. The shop opens at 6pm, I went there at about 6.30pm, and there’s already lotsa people there! The area is kinda small thus, catering not many customers.

I read really good reviews of the place. Especially on how friendly and nice the shop owner (Michael) was. I didn’t see him in person though. Either he’s not in at that time or he’s making pizza at the back. Huhu. But the waiters and waitresses are friendly. Madu ordered a can of Sprite and I didn’t want any. In most ahbeng or ahlian coffee shops, they’ll GLARE at you for not ordering drinks. But the waitress was nice enough to ask if I wanted an empty cup (She thought we’re sharing the drink). Though I don’t need it, but nice people like this makes me happy! ^.^

You can choose a few flavours for the pizza. But I guess the maximum you should choose is 4 flavours (It’s not good to test them with 8 flavours and see it all squeezed up in one pizza) We chose two only – Italian Sausage and BBQ.

The pizzas are all served on a pan, supported by a large, empty tomato puree can. The pizza’s not bad. Lotsa ingredients used. It was crispy and all. But the bottom part was a bit burnt (maybe I’m unlucky or something) and I find it a little bitter. Not the whole pizza was burnt underneath though. Only a few sides. Anw, I find the portion large for 2 person. Madu and I couldn’t finish it and we had to tapao. I guess 3-4 persons would be able to finish it.

On the way out, WE SAW THIS! ARGHH! I read a lot bout this being really nice and Michael decided to make them again! (It was limited edition before this). I think I’ll be back there to give it another try later. Huhu.

Hello Madrid! September 12, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Food, Holiday.
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“Donde ai aseos?”

My favourite phrase in Spain which means ‘Where is the toilet?’ XD

I think Madrid is a beautiful place. I must especially praise their public transport – train. It was incredibly clean and new! Which is incomparable to Paris *pfft* And who says if you get cheap flight, it’ll cost you a lot to get to the city center? Huhu it’s only €2 to get to the city from the airport. I’d recommend Hostal Residencial Rober to stay. It’s a veryyy clean and nice place with friendly staffs.

When I first stepped out of the airport, I saw a fat lady statue. I think she somehow reminded me of an opera singer XD But after googling it, I found out that Fernando Botero is famous for making fat statues.. and I found 2 of them in Madrid!

Sexayyyyyyyy. Lols.

I was dragged to.. the plaza de toros to watch bullfight. All the while, I have no idea that bulls are killed in bullfighting until Madu told me. It was CRUEL! Poor poor toros. I noticed lotsa people only watched one round and they left the stadium. There’s a total of 6 rounds and 3 bull fighters.

This is the opening ceremony. All the members marched out to the stadium before the bullfight began. Madu was pretty excited with the whole thing. But I ended up snapping pics of the sky and brushing up my spanish. Anything but to watch the bull being tortured to death. Wuwuu. Anw, I think Barcelona did it right to ban bullfighting. I know it’s their culture and all.. but I think most of the audiences there are tourists and not locals. So it’s not really like some sort of traditional thing if the locals hardly come to watch it.

Moving on to less depressing stuffs, here’s San Miguel’s market! There’s lotsa food stalls and dessert stalls inside. Oooh! fruit stalls too! I bought some really sweet cherries (:

And we took a 2½ hours Segway tour. It was funnnn! I was pretty worried with the balancing stuffs at first. When I first rode it, I was like what if I can’t get it right? What if in the end I can’t ride it at all cos of my poor balancing? But after a while, I got used to it and it’s fun! To operate it, I just have to bend forward, backward or sideways (: No buttons, gears or anything.

Fun fun funnnn! I wish I could own one now! Huhu. We visited quite a lot of places but I can’t really remember their spanish names. The thing I remember the most is the statue of the literature Don Quixote de la Mancha. It’s about this guy Don Quixote who thought the windmill’s an evil giant and wants to fight it. I thought it’s pretty stupid when my tour guide told us the story. Lols.

We walked to the Retiro park as recommended by my Segway tour guide after the segway tour. It’s a nice place. AND I WANTED TO KAYAKKKK BUT MADU SAYS NOOOO T.T Aihhh. Sad betul.

I have horrible memories with food in Madrid too. I asked my segway tour guide for local food recommendations. Anyway, he did recommend that thing below.

It looks disgusting, no? But I managed to put them in my mouth. It’s squid and rice. I didn’t manage to finish it when I noticed the squid still has its intestines (or whatever you call it) inside. And later, I found out those black sauce is the squid’s ink. Gosh. I felt like puking. I can’t believe I ate it!

Another bad eating experience.. Paella mixta was nice (: Only thing is, I didn’t get a chance to eat the prawn. WTH RIGHT?! I kept the prawn last but it was a two course meal we’re eating. Madu finished his food and the waiter came (he can’t speak english). Anyway, he asked me to put down my fork and spoon. I told him I still wanna eat and he nodded (though I doubt he understood what I was saying). Then he asked me to put down my fork and spoon again.. AND HE COLLECTED MY PLATE.. WITH MY PRAWNS! *curse curse curse*

But he’s a nice waiter. He gave us free ice-cream and showed me each of the desserts cos we don’t understand him. And his name is Benetto. Huhu. Dang. We’re like bribed with ice-creams XD Anw, that’s it in Madrid (: Toledo’s next!

Desserts haven September 11, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Food, Holiday.
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My new FAVOURITE word on signboards in Paris – BOULANGER! PATTISERIE!

My FAVOURITE moment of the trip – DESSERTS!

That’s my sole purpose of going to Paris. I planned to stuff myself with desserts ’til I get bloated! ^.^ Anw, we got lost and couldn’t find Pierre Herme. That’s a really sad thing to begin my dessert hunting plan. Was looking forward to try its macarons since that’s what it’s famous for. So we proceeded on with our second dessert stop – Sadaharu Aoki! I ended up trying the macarons there. It’s so yummy! Tried some of its cakes too. It’s so pretty that you can’t resist it!

It was managed by a Japanese staff and she speaks little English.

The cakes are priced at €5.20 per slice.

Colourful macarons! Veryyyyyy naisss! We tried lemon, caramel, coffee, pistachio, blackcurrant.. erm.. I can’t remember the rest XD

Another place for desserts which you MUST go in Paris is Laduree! Also famous for macarons (:

Dining in is more expensive but the ambience there is great. They even have a bar with pink lights! FREAKING NICE I TELL YOU! ^.^ Anyway, I got some mini macarons (they have 2 sizes here) and a cake. They sell chocs too. AND THE QUEUE IS FREAKING LONGGG!

Cafe Angelina’s also a popular one. It’s famous for mont blanc and hot chocolate to be specific. So I decided to give it a try.. since I have never tried mont blanc anyway.

Mont blanc! Erm.. I don’t really like it.. it tastes like mooncake paste. And I don’t like mooncake. But lotsa ppl likes mooncake.. so I guess it’ll taste nice to them. Huhu.

Their hot chocolate.. one tiny jug like this is enough for two person. I shared with Madu and still couldn’t finish it. It’s too chocolatey. And I mean REALLY chocolatey. It’s like concentrated, melted chocolate. Not to my liking either.

The shop below is one I randomly bumped into on the way to Sacre Coeur. I tried their raspberry cookie and it was so damn nice! And so damn expensive T.T So I didn’t get any. I’ll tell you how it works here.. you buy a paper bag or fancy empty tins from them, then you fill it up with your own variety of cookies and they’ll weigh it. So the cookies are sold based on their weight and you have to buy the tins.. which is pretty expensive for me.

The tins are on top and the cookies are stacked down there. Huhu. So that’s about my dessert hunt. I mean, these are the popular ones I went to. But I still got random desserts whenever I passed by some shops.

Oh! And I wanted to try the Breton crepes in Beizh Cafe but guess what? IT WAS UNDER RENOVATION! *curse curse curse* Damn disappointed that time as I was really looking forward to it. And whoever goes to Paris must must try Berthillon sorbet. I forgot to take a pic of it. But it has this really smooth and soft texture. One word – YUMMY!

The Glutton August 21, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Food, Shoes, Shopping, UK.
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I have no self-control when it comes to desserts. And desserts are so really gonna make me broke. I’m hunting for Euro notes now for my Europe trip and took the effort to walk one hour and a half to Tesco’s travel money outlet.. only to find they only have high rates online. But since I’m at Tesco (it’s a big one in the outskirts), might as well have a look around. That’s when I spotted..

CARAMEL PUDDING!! I loveeeeee caramel. Cos it’s super sweeeeet. Lols. That makes me sweet XP

This is not from Tesco. Haha. But it’s a bargain from Thornton’s! It’s gonna expire in 31st Oct (still a long time more) and thus, was sold half price at £3.50 only!

Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream is super nice! Trust me!! It was originally £4 per tub.. but Tesco, Iceland and Sainsbury are all competing (let them be.. consumers will be happier that way XD) And Tesco’s selling them at £1.99 per tub!! Do enlarge the pic and read the description on what each tub contains (:

Before I came to the UK, I bought this Brownie version in Bolehland and it tastes yucky! I don’t remember finishing it.. haha In fact, I only remembered I bought it and left it in the freeze after I got to UK. Not sure if they still have this original version in Bolehland cos I can’t find it in Jusco that time.

Guess what? IT’S CARAMEL AGAIN! Haha. Ice blended caramel coffee! You see, I was walking.. and walking.. and felt hungry.. and Starbucks appeared right in front of my eyes as though God has sent me an angel XD So? SAPULAH! Haha.

Victoria sponge cake from Strabucks. VERY NAISSS!

OK. Enough of desserts. I shall show off my cooking. Haha. It tastes nice okay! Perhaps not so impressive at look. But hey, it’s my first time! Huhu. Bought a packet of fish fillet (It’s hard to find fresh fish in the city centre T.T) and thus, all fish dishes! Haha.

Curry fish fillet. The curry powder’s not so nice. I need curry paste! But was worried it couldn’t get past the custom so I didn’t bring those T.T

Steamed fish with coriander and lotsa mushrooms! (My housemate and I are mushroom lovers! XD)

Sweet and sour fish (I passed! I’m gonna cook it and make my family eat it when I’m back!) We only cook with what we have, thus onions only XD The cucumbers here are weird anyway. I don’t like them. It’s.. erm.. soft.. and it just doesn’t have the fresh cucumber smell when you cut it!

My favouritest of my favourite part has arrived…

I SWEAR this is my last piece of clothing I’m gonna shop in UK. Haha. Like I’ve mentioned before.. I’m soooo in love with Jane Norman’s clothes. They’re all pretty and has good quality. Unlike certain brands which sells their clothes damn expensive and has poor, thin quality (well, u’ll figure those brands out if you’re here) But Jane Norman’s clothes are expensive unless they have discount.. and this is what I got! Teehee.

From £40, it was discounted to £12! (: But there’s only one piece left. The girl helped me to contact other branches to see if there’s any other available but nope. And so, I’m gonna wear it to the dinner! Huhu though I did bring a dress here myself.

Black cat heels to match my dress (: I love love love the dress and the shoe! XD

Makan makan time! August 6, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Food, UK.
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I’ve always loved buffet (I only have my eyes on the desserts actually XD). One thing bout UK is that you see lotsa buffet all over the place.. but it’s chinese buffet. And their chinese buffet is just like economy rice in Bolehland. It took me realllll long to find this..

WORLD BUFFET! It has Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Indian and Italian food! With some very pretty desserts too ^.^ My friend went first and he told me the service is great! Friendly and efficient waiters and waitresses.

I THINK it’s mongolian something something mussel. Haha it’s nice.. and fresh! Go eat mussels kaokao and what you pay will definitely be worth it XD Anw, I took a little bit of everything to try its taste. There’s a variety of sauce there too.. the mango sauce is NAISS!

There’s still some food I didn’t manage to try. Like pizzas and pastas. But I’m contented. Bwahahhaha MY FAVOURITE FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD. Desserts!! Damn pretty can! ^.^

I was really bloated at the end of the 2-hours meal. Serious indigestion. Lols. And I managed to skip dinner that day XD

I was in EDINBURGH! July 18, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Food, LJMU, Shoes, UK.
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Another trip post to update.. EDINBURGH! I followed the 3 days 2 nights Edinburgh trip organised by student union and the Budget Backpackers Hostel was impressive (: Clean bathrooms, colourful walls and doors, kitchen provided, breakfast provided and helpful staffs at the reception! ^.^

If you’re a Harry Potter fan (I mean the books), you’ll LOVE this place! Apparently, JK Rowling started writing parts of her book and got her inspiration from Edinburgh. At some point, I felt like I’ve stepped into Diagon Alley! But of course, there’s no MAGICAL shops. They do have a witchery shop and a joke shop though (and they’re located on a winding street!).

To all the guides, I present to you… FLORAL CLOCK! Ahh~ 100 years of guiding.. brings back sweet secondary school memories (: Guides camp.. Bonfire night.. guides gathering.. Saturday night dance.. Thinking Day.. ^.^

I set out to hunt for this clock.. only to take picture of it, walk past it, and not knowing this was the floral clock I’ve been looking for! Lols. Ended up searching the entire park for it and asked lotsa people bout it. The reason this clock’s unique is because of the flowers.. AND IT ACTUALLY WORKS! Huhu. The cuckoo bird even pops out every 15 minutes (:

Tried some of the local food for dinner and it is delicious! Planned to dine at Greyfriar’s Bobby but the kitchen was closed that night due to some sort of live concert so we ended up at Crag & Tail (which was more expensive). Not complaining though. Friendly waitresses and yummy food!

Loveeeee this dessert (I love all desserts, actually XD). It’s called Cranachan. A local Scottish dessert made of cream, honey, oats, whisky, raspberry and raspberry sauce (:

It’s a MUST-TRY drink in Scotland, as Richard says. XD Got it from the hostel’s vending machine for only 50p. (: It actually tastes like carbonated rose syrup.. which is orange in colour. Kinda weird since the colour and taste don’t match XD

You can’t say you’ve been to Scotland without taking a pic with the locals in kilt or buying the kilt yourself! And I think he knows the reason why I’m taking pic with him XD

Spotted this while heading to the Scott Monument. Abso loveeeee! Would’ve bought it is the price’s not so mad expensive! T.T The cat’s eyes are really pretty. It’s like a stone with life.. hmm.. maybe it’s some sort of enchanted cat. Ahh~ This place is just so magical. Even the shoes look magical! Lols.

I went hiking (OMG! I’m definitely sick in the head! This is my 2nd time in UK!) to Arthur’s Seat on my last day. Just a brief intro of it.. Arthur’s Seat used to be a volcano. And by Arthur, it’s referring to King Arthur. I don’t remember the roman numerics in his name (if there’s any) but it’s that King Arthur with the mythical excalibur sword XD

Anw, we went there ourselves at 10am since Richard’s only departing at 11am. BUT.. we took the wrong route. We’re supposed to take the left route which is much easier. Ended up on the right route which is SUPER steep. 10 minutes of hike almost killed me! SERIOUSLY. I was panting like hell! Then my friend was like, “I wonder if Richard’s here yet. He told us to keep left twice.” And I stared at him dumbfoundedly, reminding him we’re on the RIGHT ROUTE. Then he thought about it a while.. AND WE WENT BACK TO OUR STARTING POINT TO TAKE THE LEFT ROUTE INSTEAD! ZOMG.

‘Zis is St Anthony’s Chapel (which is on the left route). The view at the top of Arthur’s Seat was breathtaking though! 360 degree view of Edinburgh! ^.^

Oh! And there’s one thing bout Edinburgh – don’t bother going out for night view. The lights were off at 12am (if I’m not mistaken). Lols. We went to Calton Hill at night thinking that we’ll get a NICE view.. BUT IT’S ALL DARK! Except for the spotlight shining upon the Athenian acropolis. Anyway, I was super disappointed. Plus, we need a DSLR to take nice pic of Edinburgh’s night view from the hill top. T.T

So that’s a VERY BRIEF summary of my Edinburgh trip XD Cos I still do have tonnes of pics.. but it’s best not to post them all or I’ll reach my photo space limit in wordpress VERY soon.

Aunty talk June 17, 2010

Posted by blackpumpkin in Food, UK.
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Huathuathuat~ Finally walked to Chinatown yesterday. It’s sooooo dead in the daytime -.- Restaurants all closed. Wth. But I’m there for CHEAP EGGS! XD I bought 30 eggs for £1.99 there. Tesco Superstore’s selling 15 eggs for £1.45! T.T The stupid china lady in that shop (Chung Wah Supermarket) has horrible service though. Freaking rude. I really felt like slapping her. And she’s not even the OWNER of the shop!

Entrance to Chinatown. It feels so much like home there. I can’t find dumpling though T.T I wanna eat zongzi! *sniffs* And there’s Bin Bin mi guo! Huhu 29p for one, I repeat, ONE packet of Maggi Mee (Not 1 packet with 5 mee inside, but only ONE mee) And there’s guilingao! Frozen mantao! Gila mahal mantao.. almost £2 for 6 mantaos -.- But there’s lotsa local food there. Like knorr seasoning etc

I love aunty shopping! Haha I survey the prices of items from Tesco Metro, Tesco Express, Tesco Superstore, Iceland and 99p shop. Now I have my shopping routine fixed.

Ice-cream from Iceland – £1 for 1 litre! And damn naisss!
Chicken sausage from Tesco Superstore – £1 for 10 sausages
Chicken ham from Iceland – £1 for 20pcs
Tesco value white bread – 47p
Eggs from Chinatown – £1.99 for 30 eggs
Tesco Superstore chocolate chip cookies – 49p – Very naiss aso! Can fight with Famous Amos XD
Tesco Superstore rice – 73p for 1kg – I keep buying rice.. and carried them back home which is super far -.-
Tesco Express Pepsi – 95p for 2 litres!
Ketchup from 99p
Danish cookies & Marshmallow from 99p
Frozen food from Iceland and Tesco Metro~ I keep grabbing those priced at £1.. now my freezer’s super full!

I usually wake up in the morning and prepare breakfast as well as lunch box for Eve and I since we’re the only ones staying together. Below is one of my breakfast meals.. very westernised. Haha. But it’s simple and fast! XD

So far, I’ve not cooked dinner yet. Cos I have two pro chef cooking for me XD There’s 7 of us sharing but all are from different blocks. My unit has became our gathering point XD

Erm.. this isn’t mine. I don’t eat capsicums. Huhu and I have mountain-high rice. So I better not freak you guys out.

Anw, I’m having today and tmr off cos exam’s on Monday!! But it doesn’t feel like I’m having exams. Lol. It’s time to try the cappuccino I bought on the first day I arrived!! I still remember it’s £1.50 from Iceland. I just opened it though..

Oooh! Oooh! Chocolate topping! So naisss! Hahaha. Not sure of the taste though XD Will try it tonight.