Sunday, February 26, 2006

Nik and me after being too full to move
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Eggs with mango, tomatos, black beans, green pepper, onions and mexican sauce with flour tortillas and home fries
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Julia my roomate attacking the giant french toast
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Stuffed Caramelized Challah French Toast
Farmers Cheese and Bananas topped with
Vanilla Bean Maple Syrup
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Eggs Benedict with Spinach, canadian bacon and home fries
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The largest french toast in the world

There are very few places in Philly where you can see the alternative crowd queuing up in the middle of the freezing winter on a sunday afternoon just for brunch. With no waiting room and no shops around Sabrina's Cafe, cold hungry patrons just have to wait outside this tiny diner and chug free chocolate to keep warm. After what seems like forever, we finally got a seat in this quaint shophouse, with walls painted candy colours, and where pots of roses mingle with breakfast. Voted the best brunch place in Philadelphia, everything in Sabrina's seem like an eclectic mix. Its music. Its decor. Its stange menu which mixes scrambled eggs with mango with black beans with tortillas.

We had that, and it was surprisingly good! The salty beans, sweet/sour mango and spicy sauce went well together.

The eggs benedict, my favourite brunch food, was also done perfectly with grilled canadian bacon, poached eggs and sauteed spinach.

The highlight of the meal was still the two inch thick caramalized french toast stuffed with farmer's cheese and bananas. It looked like a permanent fixture on everyone's table. Sweet and absolutely melt-in-your-mouth. So gooey, sweet and sinful.

Sabrina Cafe's whimsical dollhouse meets bohemian makes it a place I want to live in, and a kitchen I want to eat out from everyday. This place beats RX and White Dog for best brunch place so far!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hurray for Tangerine!
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"Hi...could we have the entire wine list please...yes all four of the wines"
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Somewhere during the chicken the topic of white castle burger came up
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This was where our journey to white castle ended
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Eddie and Charissa find White Castle Burger

Or at least we tried. The furthest we got to it was looking at a map at 1:30 am in the business building realising there was no way we are ever going to get there. The nearest white castle is in cherry hill. Or Newark. Which is next to new york. Which is two hours car ride away. Except we have no car. It was 1 am. There is no public transportation functioning. If there was we would have gotten shot, mugged and raped on it anyway. And it was -5 degrees. I suggested walking but that was just the wine in me talking.

It all started at 11:45pm in Tangerine while doing restaurant week dinner. Buzzing from the wine (we ordered the entire wine list, because there was only 4 types on wine on the wine list), and high on lamb cous cous, chicken & polenta, flan and apple pie, Ed came up with the brilliant idea that we should go find white castle burger. Right now. In the winter. Because besides jumping into the river, that would be the craziest thing for us bumming undergrads to do.

So we dashed back to school, went to the business building and search up how to get there. We bumped into his indian friend that would complete our chinese-indian journey to white castle. His friend was like, yeah sure, why not?

Sadly the furthest we ever got to white castle was its website. We spent the rest of our Friday night/Saturday early morning sitting in a study room, watching random videos and trying to download the Harold and Kumar movie. Very anticlimatic. I don't know which is more pathetic. People actually studying on Friday 2am in the study room, or 3 people watching videos on Friday 2am in the study room.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

God rocks my socks!!

When I thought that I had my whole life planned out, when I weighed my strengths and weaknesses and determined what is ok for me to pursue, just when I worried day and night about my future and what it holds for me, He gives me something so good that I thought was too far out of my reach to ever even try to get.

So many times. So many times I thought i knew, but He smiled at me and showed me he knows better. So many times when I held those fake man-made diamonds so tightly refusing to let go because they were all I had, I forget that He is trying to give me real diamonds. I forget that all I need to do is release my hand.

I should just give up planning. Because all I can see in my life is who I might have lunch with tomorrow. And that sometimes doesn't even come to pass. Because sometimes as I look at my calender full of scribbles and appointments, I wonder: sudden death, an accident, a windfall, a new job...anything will change everything i have on that calender. And I have absolutely no control over it.

I have been fretting about my internships for months, worrying about what i am going to do in the summer...spending hours and days writing resumes and cover letters only to hear silence on the other end. And all of a sudden, I tried my luck with one place, very much sure that I wasn't going to get it because it was way over my range. After all, I spent months trying to get an internship at smaller companies, no way I'll get very realistic about my abilities. And then craziness happened. I got a reply to my query asking me to forward them my resume. I forwarded it and they emailed me asking me when I'll be free for an interview. I stated down a couple of dates thinking I'll have time to prepare for it. They emailed me back: How about right now? 2:30am philadelphia time. 3:30pm Singapore time. I said, sure. Phone rang. I jumped. At this point of time I was sweating so profusely I only realised later that I soaked through my shirt, in -1 degree winter. Phone interview went on for about 15 -20 minutes. Was all ready for them to end the conversation with "We'll get back to you with the results in a month or so." No. She said: We'll hire you. I was in between choking and trying to form coherent sentences. She asked if the pay was too low. I said, whao thats pretty high. She said she'll reduce it then. I choked out, no its alright. The pay was low, but i really did not care. She puts down the phone. I start to think that I hallucinated the entire conversation. I googled up her name to see if she exists. I convinced myself I was hallucinating until they sent me the letter and i signed it and i faxed it back. The whole application - interview - offer - acceptance process took less than 12 hours.

I am still in shocked. I don't think I really believe it until I start on the first day. I tried hitting my head on the wall to see if I'm dreaming. My four month, 120 days, 2880 hour internship hunt ended in 12 hours.

Someone once told me, there is no point worrying about the future, because God always has something better planned for it. Still in shock and awe. Now I just need to figure out how to get my three suitcases of clothes home.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Our one and only chance to play tai-tai before we go back to the reality of instant noodles
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See the bubbly spit thing next to the weird is that...
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The tourist side of us was very embarrassing
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The best thing in philadelphia is........

For all its ghetto-ness, gun crimes and pathetic weather, Philadelphia makes it up for being restaurant capital of America. And the only thing to look forward to during winter is Restaurant Week. That's when the top restaurant that usually charge a kidney a dish, now charge $30 for a 3 course meal. By accident, I managed to get a seating at Lacriox, voted Best New Restaurant in America 2003 and World's Best Hotel Dining Rooms. Totally lucked out. Amp's friend couldn't make it so she asked me to go with her. And I had no idea it was even a known restaurant until people started making faces at me when I told them.

We had scallops, short rib, skate, chocolate and pistachio gateau and lemon poppyseed cake. The short rib was amazing. The scallops were ok. The chocolate gateau was sinfully dark. It has interesting decoration on its plate. Some frothy thing that looked like spit. Maybe it meant something. Like the futility of life or something. Or maybe the chef did just spit onto the plate.

The chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, one of America's best chef came out to speak with us for a bit. I wanted to ask about the spit but decided not to. I mean ...I was paying $30 for a $68 meal. I should just not speak.

So all in all it was a good night. I made up for spending $30 on a meal the next day by eating only $3 dumplings with kimchi in class. Was happily eating until my friend told me I was stinking up the entire class. So now I'm known as the smelly dumpling girl. Great.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Art Deco lifeguard stands by south beach
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Sunset by the beach
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Shadows in the sand
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Duval street, the heart of Key West
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Baked goods for dogs, they even have fortune cookies for dogs.
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Near Bayside Marketplace. Sunset.
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90 miles to Cuba but 150 miles from Miami
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Shrimp, buffalo wings and beer by the Key West Beach
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Why would you name your restaurant Crabby Dicks? Why?
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South Beach
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Miami Beach area
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Don't you wish you were here with me?

Ed: So Charissa, how ya doing with the snowstorm huh?
Me: I'm in Miami, what ya talking about?

When people heard that we were going to miss out on a blizzard in philly because we were going to be in Miami, the responses were hilarious:

Ed: I am going to save a snowball for you and shove it in your face.
An: You fucker.

Most of the coversations went along the lines of:
Person: Why are you in Miami?
Me: For fun.
Person: But why?
Me: Because i can.

The perks of being an exchange student.

Miami is like disney-land but for grown ups that like to tan, drink and party up. It was gorgeous. Clear deep blue skies, delicious looking seawater, white sand, swaying palm trees and girls in bikinis. And when you get phone calls from friends back in philly telling you that the sky is raining snowballs and cursing you for being an exchange student, it feels even better.

Friday was spent doing nothing but roasting on the beach. I thought: Asians can't burn. Screw the sunblock. Not only did i burn, I had patches of burns from inexperienced tanning practises. And now I have a pale spot on my back between two burnt shoulders because i forgot to tie up my hair. But at least the view made it worth it. We saw breast woman tanning naked. We only called her that because we couldn't see her face. Implant is an understatement. An interesting phenomenon on South beach is how as you walk further, the people get older. On the beach right in front of the Ritz-Carlton, everyone was 60 and over. Or young spoiled brats under 10. I'm only so bitter because they get to lie on a cushioned chair while I get a soggy beach towel. Mike thought it would be funny to toss bread at me and watch the seagulls attack me. We are not talking cute small seagulls. I'm talking big ugly genetically mutated birds that screech and ALL 20 of them decided to flock down on me at the same time. I must have looked like such a scene screaming and running through south beach while a flock of seagulls chased after me.

Saturday was Key West day. We drove for 4.5 hours through what must have been a thousand islands to get to the southern most tip of continental USA. By the time we got there, we were closer to Cuba than to Miami. The drive was crazy. For 2 hours you just see the same scenary, road going through island, road going above water, road going through island, road going above water. But Key West was beautiful. It reminded me of Bali and Sentosa merged together. Rows of little shophouses along Duval Street, open door residences, tourist shops and chickens running around. It was laid back and friendly. And not to mention, the place where key lime pie was born. Best key lime pie I ever had. Yum. We saw a shop that sold things that change colour when exposed to UV light and we basically stood around and placed EVERYTHING in the shop up to the UV panel just to check if it really changed colour. Such tourists.

Sunday was cold. Temperatures dropped to 10 degree celcius. We went to Little Havana for some Cuban food. It was like being in another country. Everyone spoke Spanish, most of the menus were indecipherable and there were little cigar shops everywhere. I had plantain for the first time, which tasted kind of like goreng pisang but without the flour. After lunch we went to DogBar, a shop in miracle mile which sells everything you thought a dog would not need. Dog aromatheraphy, LV and gucci clothes for dogs, dog coffee, juicy couture dog bags, dog cookies etc. Headed down to Bayside shopping centre because it was so cold, but damm, it was an outdoor shopping complex. Night was spent clubbing at SLEAZE (that's really the name of the bar where guys outnumber girls two to one and hostresses wear victoria secret lingerie) and MANSION. We also visited hotel Delano, the most expensive hotel in South beach. The lobby was pretty luxi-experimental, which white linen floating around, big avant-garde looking chairs and beautiful people sitting around looking bored. Their pool was like being in fantasy land. In a tree lined garden with fluffy beach beds around it and couches in the garden, it was surreal.

Monday was almost as cold but with some sun. Walked around South beach area, saw some art deco buildings and finally ended our vacation at Joe Allen restaurant, a little restaurant tucked away in a residential area. The roast duck on saffron risotto was in orange brandy sauce was excellent.

So all in all to summarize our trip, we ate, we saw, we partied. And now its back to the cold, the snow and 5 days worth of undone homework.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I'm only laughing because I'm young

Just came up from watching the NFL Super Bowl on my dorm TV a couple of minutes ago where The Rolling Stones did their thing at half time. My first reaction when I saw them was.....I hope he doesn't get a heart attack from all that skipping. Seriously, old rock stars should not be allowed to wear skin tight jeans, wave their hands like a burning koala and wiggle their ass. It was very disturbing. I'm sure more kids were scarred this time than looking at Janet Jackson's boobie. " that grandpa onstage again?"

Whatever happened to retiring gracefully? Or getting botox-ed before hitting the stage?

Pfizer just lost one big marketing opportunity with that band.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Of dead babies...

Today is First Fridays! Which means all art galleries are free and opened till 9pm!!

I must have entered more art galleries today than my whole life combined. The entire penns landing area was thronging with art students, people of the art world (a.k.a curators, art gallery owners, all the charlotte york type) and other rich people who are actually buying the art. There was music playing, people laughing and alot of free wine and pretzels.

My favourite exhibition one was : & then there is california. It was like Happy Tree Friends meets postmodernism. Vong and Regine will love this exhibition. It has tonnes of dead baby paintings. There was one where a red baby is jumping off a building into electrical wires. It's titled: Sucidal Tendencies. And there is another with an eyeball stuck to a stick, with the words Eye Miss You written above it.

My all time favourite two paintings from that exhibitons are: Last Supper MCSupersized by Ron English. It is what it sounds like. The last supper scene. Except an overweight Ronald Macdonald is in the middle. And his disciples are a southpark character, bart simpson, teletubbies, sylvester the cat and other cartoon characters. Behind the table is the Macdonald's sign with the words: One Billion Saved. Yes it is cliched and it has been emulated many times, but this one really captures the religiousity of Americanized christianity. Or maybe i'm just easily amused by the cartoon characters. Yeah i think that's the case.

And then there was MCStarry Night Urban Sprawl by Ron English. It's the classic Starry Night painting, but with lots of popular cartoon characters and Macdonald outlets in it. Ron is a satirist painter, part of culture jamming movement that is more creative than McF**K T-shirts. He also painted Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mouse as tits and Lucy from Charlie Brown, with snoopy as tits. There are more of his works on It is an offensive site. I'm warning you. If you are not into dead babies or burning koala jokes, and you genuinely like small furry animals, then go to

Both paintings cost $350 for the unframed version. If I had $700 on me I would have bought both. But I don't. So i stole free water from them, use their toilet and left.

Continued walking...blah blah....saw an art gallery that has monocolour paintings. Like the art were huge pieces of paper painted in one colour. I looked at a yellow piece of paper that probably cost more than my liver, and then for a moment, I saw the inner stirrings of my soul. Then i got bored and left.

Stumbled into a Jewish art gallery. Except I was the only non-Jew there. I was caught inside as they started their Shabat meal (a special meal on Friday evening that Jews observe). So since I was in there, and they offered me chicken soup, i took some more food and walked around looking like I totally belonged there. Of course I just look like this cheapskate chinese girl who is stealing food. Then again, I always look like this short cheapskate chinese girl stealing food.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

oh does pay better than working at Macdonalds...

So, i sold my dignity for $10 an hour being a subject of experiments. Basically I fill up questionaires, surveys, answer questions like "Do you like bananas?" and "How do you feel being an American?" etc. Today i had one about candy. Eat a pack of chocolate and candies and fill up a form. Sounds easy right? Except i just came from lunch. And when they said eat candy, they meant eat about 20 jellybeans continously one after the other and 3 hershey kisses. Im not a huge sweet fan in general. I only eat one sweet at a time. One sweet in three days. I have bought myself sweets less than ten times in my life (mint doesn't count).

By the 5th jellybean i felt like throwing up. By the 10th jellybean, I could feel my waist thickening. By the 15th jellybean, i got really pissed. So i wrote on the evaluation form for the experiment:

Made me eat too many jellybeans.
I feel fat.
Now I have to go to the gym.

This reminds me of the time I played heart attack and for the penalty they made me eat the entire tube of mentos in one minute. Do you know how mentos' burp feels like?