April 9, 2011

Quote for Day 92

Image: Gertude the Pug 2 - MRMAG00
"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words
left unsaid and for deeds left undone."
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Little Foxes, 1865

April 8, 2011

Final goodbye!

PIA TOSCANO is finally out of American Idol! And I’m glad the judges have used up their Wild Card because I can’t stand another day listening to Pia’s boring ballads, no matter how strong her voice is.

Viewers were shocked with her elimination. So were the judges who let out a swear word or two but to viewers who feel she’s just playing it safe by singing ballad after ballad, it is good riddance.

Pia was voted out on Thursday night after her rendition of an Ike & Tina Turner song, taking the judges’ advice undoubtedly. Swear all you want judges but I’m glad the road is open for other more unique talents.

There’s no argument on how good she is. Like the judges have said a thousand times before: she just doesn’t miss a note. But, not missing a note does not mean every one will like her voice. If the voice is good but it can only do boring ballads – hello, goodbye.

(From Top, Left) Casey, James, Ousted Thia, Lovely Lauren, Bye Bye Pia and Closed-Eyes Stefano.

Some viewers might be pointing a finger at the judges for suggesting she does something else besides ballads and when she did she got kicked out. My very point - she can’t sing anything else but … and probably this made people think – she isn’t that special after all.

But don’t worry Pia. With that voice and good looks you’re bound to become a recording artiste anyway. So let’s give the space on American Idol to unique talents like Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams and Paul McDonald. If you noticed, these guys always get the crowd’s attention, no matter what they sing because there’s uniqueness in each of their voices.

I love Stefano Langone and his closed eyes but he is inconsistent. One day he feels his music, the next he doesn’t. I think Lauren Alaina is talented, cute and cheeky and wouldn’t mind if she wins or leave at an earlier stage (yes, she will get a recording deal as well anyway). Scotty McCreery – you rock with country and that’s where you belong. You can leave early too and still get a record deal. Haley Reinhart, you're good too but I think you will soon leave too. And what have I to say about James Durbin? No way. You’re too much like Adam Lambert but several notches down. If there’s going to be two “Lambert”s I only want the original please. Sorry.

Quote for Day 91

Clipart: Al Old Man - CYBERGEDEON

April 7, 2011

Switch To Recyclable Batteries

THE content of this post was actually written on the second day of April but I forgot about having written it until I found it tonight stored in my stock pile.

On the night I wrote it I was actually searching for some Triple A batteries so I could play some interviews I just did. I didn't have any Triple As and that was when I remembered about this battery charger I got as a door gift from an Energizer event.

The event took place more than a month ago and since then the battery charger has been dumped into my black "CABLE" bag that hung on the left side of my office chair.

This is the mini battery charger. See how neat the USB cable is coil round in its own slot?
Yes, I am guilty of using a lot of alkaline batteries in my life - for my camera's flashlight, my torchlights, my recorders. You name a gadget and I will have a reason for using alkaline batteries.

At the end of every month you can see loads of "dead" batteries chucked into paper bags to be sent for recycling. So I hope you believe me when I say my guilt runs deep.

I know I should have used rechargeable batteries but I've had conflicting opinions about the use. Some say using rechargeable batteries for the cameras for example can damage parts. Some say not.

Besides, I got put off using rechargeable because two sets of the rechargeable batteries (plus the chargers of course) I bought only lasted less than a year. I'm not sure if it's the brand but they sure aren't cheap. So I thought if I'm gonna spend that much money I want to know it's for something worthwhile.

Call me stupid but this is new to me - battery chargers that use a USB port :).
Now, this battery charger I got as a door gift charges using a USB port. And that makes this charger handy as you can now charge your batteries anywhere without hvaing to look for an electrical point.

Okay, I have a feeling a lot of people are grinning when I describe this charger. I don't think this is a new technology. There must be other battery chargers that work this way as well. But still, I'm fascinated because I'm daft when it comes to stuff like this. And so I find it a real cool idea.

Where my finger is pointing is the "extension plate".

The other great thing about this charger is that you can charge two types of battery sizes - an AA and a triple A (AAA). All you do when you want to recharge the AA batteries is to flip this tiny piece of "extension plate" (don't ask me what's the exact name 'cos for the life of me I don 't know) to fit either sizes.

Cool? I think it is, even if I found out very, very late.

I will soon get the much-needed rechargeable batteries. They are more cost-effective anyway.

Quote for Day 90

Clipart: Dance Toon - AUNGKARNS

Quote for Day 89

April 4, 2011

Wagyu Beef Burgers At Tony Roma's

Story & Photos by DR SALT & MADAM PEPPER

Ever since we relocated to Malaysia, the occasional craving for that American diner classic – the burger – has had us scouring different parts of the Klang Valley in search of an offering that satisfies the tummy, pleases the palate, and tantalizes the taste buds to the point of craving for more.

While we have not made a fully extensive tour of what there is to offer, rediscovering the burger scene in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya has been a, well, tasty experience.

First, came the visits to the fast food joints. Then came the exploration of food stalls. A number of times, we ate at some decent diners though it was at an upcoming burger showcase that returns to the Klang Valley for the second time, that we discovered what taking a humble American classic to the next level is all about.

This food review was conducted at TonyRoma's outlet at The Curve.

The family restaurant chain TonyRoma's is bringing back its popular Wagyu beef burgers in a promotion starting April 11 and ending on June 5. This promotion will feature the return of three Wagyu burgers and the introduction of two new ones, as well as two weight- and health-friendly salads.

TonyRoma's is also offering its milkshakes, in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavours, at half price with any purchase of the Wagyu beef burgers

The meat is flown in from Australia and with a higher marbling ratio than American prime beef, a higher ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats as well as an abundance of Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, this turns out to be not only a tastier, but a healthier option as well.

We had a sneak peek of what to expect at a dinner recently. Two new burgers have been added to the menu – a move meant to further tempt diners, who have helped to make it so popular that it is said to have added a neat 10% to revenue.

When there is no such promotion under way, TonyRoma's patrons have asked for the regular burgers to be substituted with Wagyu beef so many times that the chain is considering adding a permanent option that allows diners to swap their burger meat for Wagyu, with a slight price mark-up.

We have split the review into two versions – his and hers – to showcase our individual opinions (which don't coincide often!) and to demonstrate the difference between an Eastern palate (hers) and an American approach (his).

TonyRoma's Fiery Cajun Burger.
Dinner started with a commendable basket of fried mushrooms.

The Grilled Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Salad (RM29.90) came next. Crispy chopped greens, zucchini, carrots, and juicy roasted red peppers with a creamy vinaigrette dressing was a refresher, crunchy to the bite and juicy to the taste.

I would have preferred a little more charring to the grilled chicken and roasted red peppers. Warmer salads, with a little protein, always add more character to the garden variety combination of lettuce-tomato-cucumber, and this was no different.

When burgers came to the table, being the dyed-in-the-wool spice lover that I am, I zeroed in on the Fiery Cajun Burger (RM34.90) first. This was my first taste of what Wagyu in a burger tasted like – tender, and undeniably juicy. It came with Cajun-seasoned fried onions, a slice of cheddar cheese and a sprinkling of Cajun spices.

TonyRoma's Steakhouse Burger.
Being no stranger to Louisiana-style cooking, I expected more heat in the spice, more tongue-burning in the seasoning. A clever balance between the heat of the spice and the natural juiciness of the Wagyu, heralded this an easy palate-pleaser.

Next up, the new Steakhouse Burger (RM37.90) with a 7oz patty – the standard Wagyu burger size, we are told – came topped with medium-cut beef bacon and sprinkled with crushed rosemary on top. A little cup of steak sauce – which I ignored – came with a large serving of French fries.

It was the RM36.90 Wild Mushroom Havarti Burger that took home the proverbial trophy.

Slathered with freshly fried mushrooms, this one didn't grab the tastebuds with heat or herbs like the previous two. It was a mild burger, but with the nutty flavor and smooth texture of the mushrooms and the understated-ness of Danish Havarti cheese.

TonyRoma's Grilled Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Salad.

Being an American I am highly critical when it comes to hamburgers. In my country, they're considered among the few menu items that truly set one restaurant apart from another. Many restaurants have “signature” burgers, with any number of topping combinations you can imagine.

The Wagyu beef is nothing short of amazing. This smooth, juicy, succulent beef has a flavor that is not overpowering. I was surprised by the use of Havarti cheese to top three of the burgers, while the other two were topped with the common classic for burger-fare; cheddar.

TonyRoma's Wild Mushroom Havarti Burger.

Both burgers I sampled were laden with generous amounts of rich, smooth, slightly buttery Havarti cheese that complimented the texture and flavor of the meat in an entirely unexpected but very satisfying way.

About the only things I would change if I were serving these delectable burgers to friends would be the sauce that accompanied the Steakhouse Burger. It seemed more suited as a topping for potatoes than a classic, tangy steak sauce and perhaps a bit more char to the outsides of the patties themselves as I love the taste of grilled meat.

Quote for Day 87

Image: Scan Your Face_michi2004 (http://www.sxc.hu/profile/michi2004)
Clipart: House Silhouette - JOSUEMB (http://www.openclipart.org/user-detail/josuemb) & 

"Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who would want to live in an institution?" - Henry Louis (H. L.) Mencken