Crazy happy times at www.memoirsoftaste.com

To my dearest friends and readers,

Thanks for being part of my journey on .wordpress.com – I’m so amazed each time I hear from one of you, and I’ve never felt more connected!

I started out http://www.memoirsoftaste.wordpress.com as a sort of challenge for the year of 2015. I start each year with a list of things I’d like to accomplished, and to those of you who’d asked, I’d shared that it was my way of documenting the things I love most – Food, travel – and also a way for me to share the things and moments which moved or inspired me.

But now I want to make it a commitment – I want to keep writing, I want to keep sharing, and I want to keep getting to know each one of you. I’m excited about the road ahead, and I hope that you’ll join me at www.memoirsoftaste.com. If you’re already following me, just make sure you click for notifications again so that you’ll get my posts in your feed (because I hear this doesn’t happen automatically although I’ve taken you all (a.k.a. “migrated”) with me already)!

Big smiles and big hugs to everyone, and ttys!

Liebster and One Lovely Blog Awards

I can’t tell you how incredibly surprised and honoured I was to be nominated for the Liebster and One Lovely Blog Awards! It’s always nice when fellow bloggers stop by to comment or like a post, but this! Such a special and pleasant surprise – thank you, Victoria! Check out her blog, Canny Cuisine, where she shares yummy recipes and the like (her instagram is full of food too).

There are two awards here, and I’m going to take them both on at one go! (If not you’ll probably be reading until tomorrow morning, OR fall asleep – which is more likely to happen)

For One Lovely Blog, the rules are:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to his/her award post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know about this.

The Liebster Award is more complicated, and the rules go like this:

1. Put up the Liebster Award logo on a blog post
2. Thank your nominator and provide a link back to his/her blog
3. Write 10 random facts about yourself
4. Answer 10 questions posted by the nominator
5. Nominate 10 other bloggers for the award and inform them about it
6. Come up with 10 new questions for your nominees

Which puts me at 3, where I swan dive into 10 random facts about myself

1. I’m a Violinist and I do gigs as well as teach violin to kids during my free time.
2. I was a semi-finalist in a nation-wide singing competition, and eventually got to perform on stage in front of a crowd of 30,000 – the stress was intense, from choreography to vocal training to wardrobe, but was also where I got to know an amazing bunch of very musically-talented people.
3. I’m a rather sentimental person and Interstellar made me tear a record 8 times.
4. I love food, and it probably occupies my mind about 60% of the time. Okay, maybe 50%.
5. I’m actually kinda geeky and enjoy reading about all sorts of things from cryptography to writing code to nutrition to the science of smell :/ I think I’m just making up for how disinterested I was in everything when I was a kid.
6. I did the world’s highest bungee jump off the Macau tower last year – the craziest thing ever but woo yea!!
7. I love being outdoors- and near plants. They make me happy. I need plants.
8. I can lucid dream, which means adventures await almost every night.
9. I learnt muay thai for a few months last year and when I went into office one day, my boss asked if I was suffering from abuse.
10. I like the idea of being bad-ass. Sometimes, I try.

And incoming, the 10 questions posed by Victoria. Here goes!

#1 What is your favourite food and why? Chocolate. I just can’t. live. without. it. 

#2 Why did you start blogging? I love taking photographs, and I love writing so 1+1=Memoirs of Taste! Naw, that’s the half truth. I wanted to record of all the places I’ve been so that not only can I recall them, I can also share useful information about these places – information that I myself would have found useful to know before my visit and find so hard to find online.

#3 What do you do when life gets you down? I sit down in the quiet and think. I’d have a conversation with myself, reflect on the state of things, and then make a list of ways to improve the situation or overcome it.

#4 What is the weirdest song you know? Uh… What does the fox say?

#5 If you were a colour, what colour would that be and why? This is tough… I don’t have a favourite colour either. Black? I wear a lot of black because it’s so classic.

#6 What is the most difficult dish you’ve ever made, and how did it turn out? I made chapati from scratch. It took hours and it wasn’t bad, but I also succeeded in covering the entire dining table in flour and dough.

#7 What is the one thing you can’t live without? I hate to be cheesy, but it’s gotta be love. And water. Yea, that too.

#8 If you had the chance to be invisible for 1 day, what would you do? I might raid the bank. Haha.

#9 Who is your favourite super hero? Iron Man! He has the tech!

#10 What is your most favourite thing that you’ve ever done? Can I say travelling?? If I had to be specific, it would be my roadtrip through Italy! Amo Italia!

My turn to nominate – Yes you!

1. Peeled Wellness – K shares recipes that are great for people who believe in eating the natural way

2. Chincinitie – Very unique perspectives on street trends

3. Petite Christine – Plenty of adventures in America, including travel and food

4. Alex Elliott Photography – If you love beautiful scenery, Alex is your man. Stunning, stunning pictures.

5. Checking in. – Yes, check-in for great travel tips from budget travel to airbnb

6. Cooking with Kathy Man – A curated reel of recipes sourced from everywhere and interesting food facts

7. the L A Z E of days – Lovely recipes and mouthwatering pictures – a good resource for ideas on what to cook

8. Duane Pandorf – I don’t think Duane needs more followers, but I do think lots of people haven’t discovered his fantastic photography yet, and since Liebster is not just for newbies, I’m adding Duane to the list.

9. Watch! – A reel full of macro pictures full of colour, and incredible detail – Laila captures some truly amazing moments

10. Having fun with my camera – For someone who’s “having fun with (the) camera”, they sure take a lot of good wildlife photos 😛

And finally, some quick questions to you guys:

1. What is your biggest source of inspiration?
2. What was the first thing you ever wrote (or remember you ever wrote)?
3. Monochrome or sepia?
4. What is one thing you haven’t done but want to do?
5. Favourite food/dish and best associated memory?
6. If you had everything you needed to do whatever you wanted for a week, what would you do?
7. What do you fear (e.g. heights, darkness, etc.)?
8. Ever thought of overcoming that fear, and how would you do it?
9. Favourite book or movie, and why?
10. What do you hope to achieve with your blog and how can we help you get there?

PHEWWW that was long! All the best to my nominees – do tag me if you reply because I’ll love to learn about you.

Personal: From A Distant Hilltop

A horn sounded. I ran down the hill in an attempt capture a good picture of a passing train. Local Japanese turned their heads to the window, curiously watching as an asian girl in a striped blue shirt with grey jeans tucked into black boots sprinted towards them with a DSLR.

After the scene had passed, I turned back around to re-orientate myself after the sudden, unexpected flurry, and found my family at the spot which I’d left them at – still far away, standing at the top of one of the hills in the garden. I lifted my camera.

My uncle noticed me first and started waving. Then my parents and other aunts and uncles began to look in my direction. They waved enthusiastically and as I adjusted the lens, faces flushed with broad smiles and laughter came into clearer focus.

The itinerary for this trip was left largely to my cousin and I, and I was definitely the more particular of us both. Armed with TripAdvisor, trusty Google, and advice from friends, I’d mapped the routes, booked everything from hotels to restaurants, and read reviews and articles over a period of 2 months prior to the trip – I know that probably sounds crazy to most people, but I just wanted to make sure everything was as perfect as could be, you know?

Everyone knows I’m big on planning – from whom I need to catch up with and when, to places I want to go, etc. By any date, I usually would’ve mapped out my schedule for the next 2 weeks or so, and I typically kickoff each year with a list of projects and things that I want to achieve in the next 365.25 days. Most of my “free time” (to do whatever I might feel like doing) or personal time is planned for – “planned spontaneity” is what I call it, oxymoronic as that sounds.

When I look at this photograph, reward – that’s what it means to me. All that planning, researching, everything- that was all made worth it. My family- smiling, waving, sharing a good laugh, on the hill top of a garden in Abashiri, midway through our roadtrip in Hokkaido.

June 2014, 網走国定公園小清水原生花園 (Garden opposite Lake Tofutsu), Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Reward.”

Prose by Photography: The Key to the Golden Gate

I stood at the entrance, staring up the structure towering over me, floral motifs written into its white face. It beamed down at me; a mere smallish figure, wearing the hood of a borrowed black abaya, dwarfed in comparison.

From here, I could not yet see clearly what lay beyond, for the view was obstructed by a second archway; a seeming reflection of the first. The gate in itself was huge, but the line of sight- narrow.

And- as if reading my mind, it said I can show you a glimpse, but you would need to journey farther to see it. And before my eyes unveiled dome on dome, in perfect symmetry- echoes of balance and harmony.

With a gentle crinkle of a smile, it gave a gentle nod- and whispered, Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth onto life, and few there be that find it.

March 2014, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symmetry.”

Personal: The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I couldn’t travel both, and be one traveler, long I stood, and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.


I encountered this poem titled “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost for the first time while doing English Literature in High school and it has been my favourite ever since. When I prepared this post, I looked at the photograph and immediately thought this was the perfect accompaniment and wanted to share it with you.

The story behind this picture is a long and tedious one which involves us trying to look for the entrance to Hiraoka Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido, to catch the last of a festival of Plum Blooms in late May. The GPS kept sending us in circles around the park, redirecting us this way and that onto expressways which led away or onto quiet dirt roads, or to the wrong side of the park from which we could not enter. I thought it made sense to enter from the other direction, but the GPS kept debating with my instinct.

After being lost for over an hour and with each minute taking us closer to the end of the festival, I maintained a cheerful face but was increasingly frustrated as I saw my meticulous plans going awry. We eventually ignored the GPS and took a chance, and finally found the park’s entrance. I ran down the steps and went quickly on ahead to look for the festival, only to run into a group of five Japanese teenagers who responded to me in halting English that the festival had ended. We made it- only too late- but it helped me realise that sometimes your instinct may just be right. And although you can never be fully certain about most things in life, sometimes some things are worth taking a chance, and the “best” path is often not the straight, symmetrical, balanced-looking one.

When I finally emerge at the end of life’s journey, I would like to be able to say that two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

May 2014, Hiraoka Park, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symmetry.”

Personal: Love Is

Love is

The breakfast of tuna and eggs that mom makes every weekday morning. It’s dad falling asleep on the couch while waiting to give you a ride to the train station at 10.45PM because you’re heading out. It’s the texts you get at 3.30AM asking whether you’re on the way home. It’s when you wake up to find your curtains magically drawn so you’d have an uninterrupted sleep. It’s why grandpa used to bring back toys from McDonald’s every few days without saying much – I’d only later realised what it’d all been about, many years after he’d passed on. It’s also when everyone says they’re full because they know you’d like that last fillet of salmon.

Love is

The warm hand that holds your cold one. The sweater that you’d come home with but had left the house without. The knowing glance from across the table that tells you you’re both thinking the same thing. The knee that accidentally touched yours but that you both let stay. The things that make you laugh- and later, when you recall them again, you’d smile to yourself. It’s when someone insists to take you out to dinner or drinks because they know you’re feeling down- or when someone tells you you’ll be better soon and promises they’ll stay, even if they don’t know exactly how long it might take.

Love is

The tune that you both dance to- the rhythm of your hearts. The shared experiences and all the memories, and promises. The same passion and shared enthusiasm for life and what lies ahead- to chase dreams together. It’s having someone cover you while you bazooka the crap out of the damn enemy to complete that mission that you’d otherwise had to do over and over again in solo campaign.

And although I still have much to learn, this much I know – Love is always there, whether or not you notice it. Happy Valentine’s day (:

Personal: How deep is his love?

The perfect example for the word “depth” finally dawned upon me last Sunday, summed up beautifully in a Christian song by Stuart Townend.

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss – the Father turns His gaze away, as wounds which mar the Chosen One bring many Sons to glory.

It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished; His dying breath has brought me life – I know that it is finished.

Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer; But this I know with all my heart – His wounds have paid my ransom.

September 2012, Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, Rome, Italy

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth.”

Personal: The Diary of Scent

I was late to work this morning because I’d sat at my dresser a little too long. I’d lifted the cap and was captivated- yet again.

Three years ago when I was studying in Europe, I was looking for a special scent – one that I could call my signature scent. I never really knew what that meant because I’d never had one. All I knew, was that it was supposed to feel like you. A scent which somehow managed to describe you, epitomise you. I’d figured that out on my own because doing a google search on “What is a signature scent” yielded a million different answers and more questions from people as confused as I was.

I guess in a way it’s a bit like falling in love. You think you know what it is, but you don’t – at least not until you actually fall for someone. At least, that was how it was for me. I’d religiously gone to Sephora every few days to smell the various perfumes over and over again, enthusiastically priming my nose by smelling coffee beans in between. Once or twice I’d come close to buying one that I’d liked but not loved, simply because I thought there was something wrong with me in not being able to find a scent that I could truly feel for.

My first perfume purchase was Flora by Gucci. I wanted to like it – everyone was telling me how gorgeous it was, and even how lovely it looked sitting on the dresser with its sophisticated hexagonal bottle and little black bow. But then a few days later, I found myself back along the fragrance shelves at Sephora again.

The first time I inhaled the scent, I immediately knew that this was me. It was me through and through – and I didn’t even know why or how a scent could have that kind of an impact. It opened beautifully – a floral with spicy undertones. But what I found most intriguing was what lay beneath. There was- a certain mystery, a hint of something, dangerous- like a gaze held for a little too long, a gentle brush of an elbow against another, the sweeping of a strand of hair in the wind. There was a certain boldness in the scent which spoke volumes to me about adventure, courage, dreams and romance.

Three years on. Even the slightest whiff, I would still consider arresting – a stir in my heart, an excitement coursing through my veins. Even as I write this, I’d closed my eyes and breathed in to ignite the scent memory from deep within, and it sweeps me back to Paris- to the Eiffel Tower, to the Gardens of Versailles.

They say that true love is worth the wait. And if true love is this, then truly it is.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Express Yourself.”

Poetry by Photography: The Ninth Army

Love, the Giver of life

Joy, the Bearer of light

Peace, the Prince of nobility

Patience, the Protector of faith

Kindness, the Deliverer of humanity

Goodness, the Messenger of gold

Faithfulness, the Knight of salvation

Gentleness, the Healer of old

Self-control, the Defender of the soul

March 2014, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Express Yourself.”

The Beginnings of Memoirs of Taste

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I’ve become so much a lover of food these past few years that I’m surprised that I didn’t think of doing this earlier. But hey 2015, new year, new beginnings – I guess better late than never.

Growing up, I was always extremely fussy with my food and refused to eat at least half a billion things. I must be making up for lost time now, because I think of food 24/7 and look forward to all my meals. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but one thing for certain is that I have grown to truly appreciate my food and take an interest in what’s going into it and how it got to be at my table. Oh, and the second thing for certain is that I don’t think I’ll ever survive a diet of any kind – the wide spectrum of tastes is just too amazing to miss. I tried a diet once and almost died from crankiness. This is why I’m setting out to try new places, revisit old ones, and document them all from 2015.

Food makes me happy, and just like for scents, I sometimes associate food with specific memories. That explains the title of my blog, Memoirs of Taste. Rather than having a TV (or YouTube) dinner, meals are better had with other people, accompanied with a little chat and sprinkles of laughter. Meals were meant for us to socialise and appreciate the company of family and friends, and I don’t mean to sound archaic but in the past, they were always important events and community-based things probably with good reason. I’ve also come to realise that I enjoy my food a lot more when I’m actually thinking about it, not when mindless munching while scrolling through net-a-porter.com.

So Memoirs of Taste is my food diary – the places I’ve been, things I’ve tried… and me documenting these experiences in my own personal way, especially since I love taking pictures of food. It’s also a good way for me to keep track of what I liked, what I didn’t, what I’d learnt, and to remember every single moment of it all. Life’s too short to not be living it.

Yours Truly, Zabrina