Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pineapple tart...FINALLY!

I know I'm too late in the game....but hey, better late than never (especially when it comes to pineapple tarts!).

So my pineapple jam was sitting in the fridge for the entire week...and I finally found time to make the tart pastry today and put everything together.

I prefer the enclosed pineapple tarts...and normally, I'd use a pair of small scissors to make tiny cuts on the pastry to make the tart resemble a pineapple....but since I did not have a pair of small scissors....I just went with the simple smooth surface enclosed tarts and then egg washed them before baking for a shiny look.

I had some problems with the tart pastry (too flaky) as I had to substitute a few ingredients that I didn't have....but it all worked out well in the end. The pastry although more dry and flaky...tasted pretty good - buttery like danish cookies but much softer in texture. they are....all lined up and ready to be popped into our mouths!
Ok, I must say that it was worth it spending two hours to make my own pineapple definitely tastes much better than store bought ones (even when the pineapple I used was out of a can)!

Friday, February 26, 2010

It was raining cats and dogs in Mystic....

We picked the wrong days to visit Mystic (Connecticut)....the rain was non-stop for 2 full days! Unfortunately, we couldn't change our travel dates 'cos the hotel was already booked and there wasn't sufficient time for cancellation. But well, we were just thankful that it was only rain and not snow....which wasn't that bad. The drive to Mystic (CT) from home was about 1.5hr. We set off in the morning and reached 11ish....our very first stop was Equinox Diner where we had brunch.

I ordered a ground Angus beef burger and RG had a grilled chicken club. It was too much food we ended up sharing my burger and the fries/onion rings and packed the rest. Absolutely delish! I especially loved the giant onion rings and coleslaw.

The beef patty was juciy and coupled with the melting cheese......hmmm..heaven!

Luckily for us, most of the attractions were indoor....perfect for rainy weather! We visited the Mystic Aquarium after brunch. The entrance fee was a hefty $26 but we paid $24 'cos we bought them at a slight discount price from a tourist information center at the Olde Mistick Village.

One of the main attractions of the aquarium is the Beluga whales. They looked absolutely adorable! This particular female beluga kept swimming up to RG everytime he puts his hands on the was as if she was watching him with much curiosity as much as he was watching her.

There was also a petting pool where RG tried his hand at petting the stingrays!

There was an exhibition on ROVs (remotely operated underwater vehicles) to show how they can be used for gathering useful data and images from the deep sea. We decided to goof around abit.....

We also saw many interesting sea creatures....just look at these strange fellas...they were such a laugh!

This was probably what inspired the floating luminous seeds in the Avatar!

I was totally amazed by this thing called the "mermaid's purse" which is a casing for fertilized eggs of some fish. You can actually see the fish hatchlings wriggling inside!

This guy was cleaning the aquarium and stopped to pose for a photo when he saw me with the camera!

I have learnt from a volunteer guide at the aquarium that it's impossible to tell the gender of a penguin just by looking at it.....a blood test needs to be done to determine gender.

This big fella was actually taking a nap.....zzzzzzzzzzzz

We also watched a sea lion performance & a 3D deep sea movie while we were at the aquarium. All in all, it was really good fun for $24!

We checked into our hotel - The Whaler's Inn when we were done at the aquarium. We managed to get it at a pretty decent rate of USD79. The room was quite nice but the shower stall was kinda small. The free continental breakfast was alright too. Not a fantastic hotel but good value for money at the discounted rate. The best thing about the hotel is the great location - right next to the Mystic River Bridge and only a short walking distance to all the downtown shops and restaurants.

After we dropped off our bags in the room, we took a leisure stroll to the drawbridge. While the bridge isn't magnificent like some others...the fact that all the bascule mechanisms are in the open makes it very unique and very interesting to look at. Unfortunately, we hadn't the chance to see the bridge being drawn.

It was raining quite abit but we just wore our jacket hoods up and continued walking along the river....enjoying the views. My lenses were getting wet from the rain so you can see water droplets in the photographs!

Along the tourist belt, we found an interesting bric-a-brac shop that also housed an antique/art gallery.
And how could a trip to Mystic be complete without having a pizza at Mystic Pizza. Yes, this was where the movie "Mystic Pizza (1988)" was filmed - starring Julia Roberts....and it was through this movie that Julia Roberts first caught the attention of moviegoers.

The walls of the restaurant were covered with photos related to the movie.

Our dinner consisted of a pitcher of Mystic Beer and a pizza with two different halves of ingredients. Mine with pinepaple, onions, bacon & ham.....and RG's half with sausage, green peppers, mushrooms & pepperoni.

Day 2 of our trip (and it was still raining!) started with a visit to the Mystic Depot (AMTRAK Stn). The trains go to either Boston or Washington DC from the station.

It's a tiny station! And the strange thing is that there's actually a barber shop inside the station....probably so that you can have your hair done while waiting for the train!

RG spoke to the station master and he recommended that we visit Stonington and the Submarine Force Museum in Groton. So we took his kind advice and drove to Stonington and all the way down Water St where there were great water views and where the Stonington Lighthouse Museum was located. Then we dropped by the Submarine Force Museum where entrance was FREE!

We got to go on board NAUTILUS - the world's first nuclear powered submarine to experience what it was like working, eating, sleeping in the small vessel deep beneath the ocean waves.
Can you imagine what it's like sleeping in such tight spaces?!! I know I'd sure go crazy.
In the photo, I was just smiling for the camera....but in actual fact, I was getting a little claustrophobic having to walk through narrow passage ways and being in small confined spaces within the submarine.
Our final stop was the Mystic Seaport. RG got a membership which gave us unlimited free admission to the museum for the whole year as well as discounts to the shops & restaurants. The seaport museum is one of the largest maritime museums in the was a good thing that we got the membership 'cos we only managed to view a tiny fraction of the exhibits in those hours we were there!

There's a working shipyard at the Seaport where visitors can see ships being restored. We saw restoration works for Joseph Conrad.......

....and Charles W. Morgan - the last wooden whaling ship in the world!
There were also hands-on workshops where one can learn some shipbuilding skills. Here, I was caulking (making the seams in ships watertight) by driving fiberous materials into the seams between planks.

Here, I was trying to bore a hole in the wood.

We had to leave the museum by 4pm - closing time....even though we weren't even halfway through the exhibits. I guess we'll be back real soon to finish our museum tour. With that, we also ended our Mystic trip....and drove back home.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Love package.....

Our "love package" with all the pretty little hearts got roughed up a little on its way here from Singapore. The man at the postal service counter was grinning when he handed me the parcel....I think he really liked the packaging! =)

Here are our belated CNY/Valentine's Day presents from ML. We love them all....thanks!!

Save the environment...with a reusable grocery bag!

We have always been using our own grocery bags for shopping even back home in Singapore. You can usually find reusable fabric grocery bags on sale at the supermarkets but they usually look quite I decided to make my own. And I want mine to carry a green message.....

No....I didn't make 2 bags. It's actually a reversible bag....for some fashion versatility (hey, a gal can have accessories to match her clothes even if it's just a grocery bag!).
.....or it can just be a pretty that the bag looks good even on the inside!
And then.....I'm off to the supermarket! =)

Monday, February 22, 2010

The very brown Brown University & the vicinity....

On Sunday, we decided to go for a spin and to visit Brown University in Providence (Rhode Island). The drive only took less than 40min from home. We have the habit of visiting universities and the university districts wherever we go. It's just kind of nice to look at how universities all over the United States and the world can be quite different. We also like the buzz of the university districts with the eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and students from all over the world. Here are some photos of the very beautiful Brown University and the vicinity....enjoy!

The photo below shows a small cinema near the Brown University. It was really packed on Sunday afternoon.
That's RG standing outside the Brown bookstore. We went there in search for some academic books.

See the girl lying on the's as if she had been mauled by the big bear! =P
Student voice....with a great sense of humor....

This has to be the cheeriest looking CVS I've ever seen!

That's the statue of theologian Roger Williams at Prospect Terrace Park on Congdon Street. From there, you can get a nice view of the city's downtown.

Here we are driving across Taunton River on the very interesting looking Braga Bridge.