Monthly Archives: January 2017

Photo Hair Liner

This appears to have been designed purely with that perfect selfie in mind – it’s a cushion tipped powder ‘pencil’ which you can use to neaten up and define your hairline for better photos.

In a way, although this is a powder rather than the traditional paint, it reminded me of classic geisha makeup. The heart shaped hairline and all important pointed design at the nape of the neck were drawn over the white face paint to accentuate these key features, and were even more than the eyes or tiny rosebud lips.

This particular product is from Etude House and is such a curiosity, not to mention quite expensive at S$12.90, that I shall be interested to see how long it remains available.

CNY Doughnuts

It always tickles me to see big American brands introduce ‘specials’ designed for the Asian market. Like Starbucks moon cakes and Haagen Dazs green tea ice cream, or McDonalds teriyaki burgers. I think it’s a great idea and it makes these companies look like they are really trying.

So here is the latest Chinese New Year offering from Krispy Kreme – chicken inspired donuts to celebrate the Year of the Rooster.

I really don’t like donuts so I didn’t try them, but they look seriously cute. Gong Xi Faa Cai!

Please Give Up Your Seat

We’re all familiar with the signs on public transport – not just the likes of ‘no smoking’ or ‘please move down inside the carriage’ but specifically the ones which ask you to give up your seat to someone who needs it more. Typically, the pictograms suggest this includes old people, small children and pregnant ladies.

In Thailand, however, this also includes monks, and I just love the little signs which point this out. Of course the Thai people are probably the most overtly religious in SE Asia, with virtually every male citizen from the King downwards spending some time – usually about 3 months – as a monk.

They go through the traditional ceremonies in which their hair and eyebrows are shaved before they are ordained, then they wear the saffron robes and follow the strict monastic lifestyle. It is considered a vital learning experience for a young man.

No big occasion, from a wedding to the opening of an office or moving into a new house is complete without monks to bless the participants, and great merit is to be had on a daily basis by donating money or the special gift packages for monks which usually take up an aisle of their own in supermarkets.

So here are a couple of those signs from bus and train in Bangkok… giving up your seat is probably another good way to earn merit, too.

Lip Tint Eraser

The whole point of lip tint, I am told, is that it sinks in and stays, rather than coming off on your glass (or your boyfriend) like normal lipstick does.

All well and good, until you make a mistake as you apply it – at which point it is a huge problem to remove.

Which is why daughter #2 snapped up this tube of special eraser on sight at Etude House. It’s a clear jelly and goes on rather like a lip salve, even containing shea butter to moisturise and nourish lips which are dry and flaky from overuse of lip tint.

You rub it in gently then wipe away for instant and effective removal, especially useful when the colour has strayed over your lip line. This particular product was declared a monster hit, and I expect to be mailing extra tubes to the UK fairly soon…

Weasel Coffee

Currently giving Jamaican Blue Mountain a run for its money as the most expensive cup of coffee you can buy, ‘weasel’ coffee is something that divides the men from the boys.

I have lost count of the people I know who have recoiled in horror from the thought of trying this, which is a shame although understandable.

The problem is that the coffee beans have been through the digestive tract of the weasel, which in certain SE Asian countries has learned to steal the ripe berries from the coffee bushes as a delicious and stimulating snack. The beans inside the berries are deposited later and have to be ‘harvested’ from the weasel poo before going through the usual roasting and grinding process.

I have no idea what prompted the coffee farmer who discovered this to actually try it in the first place, but it has become a premium product. And I guess the high price is justified by the trouble you have to go through to retrieve the digested beans, which – even if you ‘farm’ them by feeding the berries to caged weasels – is still fairly disgusting.

Also, however you get your hands on the beans, there are never very many of them so they have a rarity value, not to mention that they need extra treatment to make them fit for human consumption.

In the end, is it worth it apart from the shock value? I would say it is. The flavour of the resulting brew has a richer, mellower taste, which makes it a better drink.

Mind you, as weasel coffee tends to come from Vietnam and other SE Asian countries where the beans often have a more sharp, sour flavour then the classic S American varieties, this is probably an important improvement.

You can now get weasel coffee in all sorts of forms, from the beans or basic grind to the fancy ‘origami’ coffee filters which balance over your cup as they drip. It also comes in varying grades and strengths, and even from specific areas. (My most recent purchase of’ kopi luwak’ – not the one pictured – is sourced from the slopes of the Kintamani volcano in Bali, which makes it even more interesting.)

As I first had this in Vietnam, where coffee comes sweetened with a big dollop of condensed milk, I tend to drink it this way at home, too. And when they have it in the supermarket, I can use the ‘stay fresh longer’ tubes of chocolate flavoured condensed milk to make myself a weasel mocha. Perfect!

Model’s Own Pop-Up

Sometimes it is all about the presentation or the packaging rather than the product.

Model’s Own is fun and colourful, although not the priciest or most prestigious cosmetic brand on the high street. But you really have to give them credit for this sort of self-publicity – a giant nail polish bottle shaped pop-up stall bang in the centre of the pavement on Orchard Road in Singapore.

There are displays of makeup and nail polishes inside, pink ‘polish’ spilling out of the end of the bottle, and the whole thing is a total eye catcher. Good luck to them!

Batik Nose Strips

These are just nose strips (wet, stick, wait and peel to remove blackheads) but I bought them in Bali because they are decorated with 2 different Indonesian batik patterns. I love this – no-one looks their best whilst wandering around the house wearing one of these, so why not jazz them up with some regionally appropriate design?

No-one said souvenirs from Bali have to be touristy knickknacks…

Challenging Coffee

I’m all for trying new flavours, but sometimes things turn out so badly it quite puts me off for a while.

Take the lemon coffee here – which appeared as a ‘special’ on the blackboard at my current favourite brunch hangout. Iced lemon tea, or variations thereof, is very big in Singapore, so clearly this was an attempt to expand the idea into the coffee drinkers market.

But oh dear, the marriage of coffee and lemon juice was so awful I could not manage more than a token couple of sips.

Which is why a few days later I was prepared to do no more than take a photo of this durian coffee. Durian, of course, is one of those peculiarly Asian things that very few Westerners can tolerate. Sometimes even the smell as you go past a durian stall is enough to make tourists gag, not to mention the acrid taste and the decidedly unpleasant sensation involved in sucking the slimy flesh from the seeds. I do keep trying, but I will never be a fan.

But for anyone who is willing to sample this ‘rich concoction of creamy coffee with a noticeable durian dimension’ it is available not only at smarter supermarkets, but also at Changi airport.

Himalayan Toner

This is from Biotique, which uses 5,000 year old Ayurvedic recipes combined with Swiss biotechnology to produce a range of organic skincare products to ‘support healthy well-being and spiritual bliss in your life’. Which, when I saw it in a Mumbai pharmacy, sounded irresistible!

The pore tightening toner is based on cucumber and pure Himalayan water, blended with coriander, berberry and nut extracts. It also contains peppermint oil, which gives it a bit of a sting, and is apparently formulated to bring perfect ph balance to the skin, keeping it in its ‘purest state’.

I liked the idea and also the fresh smell, but confess I found it was a bit harsh and drying. However, it is probably very good indeed for oilier, teenage, skin, or very sweaty moments, so I will be hanging on to it for now.

Dragon’s Breath

Now this really is a ‘cool’ snack.

New in Singapore and still wildly popular, this takes the culinary use of liquid nitrogen to new levels. Rather than using the nitrogen to freeze, say, fruit puree into ice cream, here it is poured over a selection of extremely porous bite-sized snacks like meringues or corn puffs.

Each snack absorbs the nitrogen mist and holds it until you crack it open in your mouth, at which point it pours out in disconcerting fashion. Once you get the hang of it, you can then breathe out plumes of mist, which of course makes for great photos.

Of course this is not without some degree of hazard, as the liquid nitrogen is so cold that it would be easy to ‘burn’ your mouth. Warning notices explain that you should crack the snack items without holding them on your tongue or against your gums. Even so, after sharing a single container between 3 of us, we all felt the burn for ages afterwards.

So totally worth it, though!