Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Le Normandie, Bangkok

We were quite determined to try Le Normandie, which is located in Bangkok's Mandarin Oriental hotel on this trip, given its perfect score (10,10,10) ratings in Thailand's Best Restaurants. The set lunch was gulp, priced at 1000 baht (about $43 singapore dollars) per head, which is hefty for Thailand, but much more affordable than their dinner. The views were stupendous - from our window table we had a beautiful view of the Chao Phraya river and all the activity of the river boats in the serene and luxurious surroundings of the restaurant.
For our extravagant lunch, we had the following:
- Duck Leg Confit with dried fruit, liver, and vegetables with mustard
- Fricassee of vineyard snails
- Escalope of coral reef garoupa with aromatic herb crust and saffron flavoured vegetables
- Roasted beef tenderloin with pumpkin mille-feuille, parmesan cheese and fresh herbs
- Cakes from the dessert trolley
The food was expectedly good - one would not expect anything less from a restaurant with a three-Michelin star consulting chef. It didn't quite blow me away the way that Europea or Biscotti did, but then maybe I have plebian tastes :-) However, it was really an eye-opening experience to see how differently the very rich of the earth live from the rest of us common folk. Do dress up if going to Normandie - jacket and tie are mandatory for men at dinner, and common at lunch even.

The Eugenia Hotel, Bangkok

E and I went gallivanting to Bangkok over the weekend for a short recharge. For a change, we decided to stay in this lovely boutique hotel, The Eugenia, that was recommended by Chubby Hubby.
And what a joy and charming experience it truly was! The Eugenia is completely furnished in an old colonial style with antique furnishings, complete with with copper bathtub. Although a tiny hotel with only 12 rooms, the service was warm and impeccable, and truly outstanding in the small touches, e.g. breakfast was freshly cooked every morning, orange juice was freshly squeezed out of real oranges, not out of a bottle, bedlinens of real linen imported from Belgium..... The owner owns a fleet of vintage cars - a Jaguar, Mercedes, and Daimler-Chrysler, that you can arrange to be picked up from the airport in. The only slight complaint that we had was that the hotel was a little far from the BTS skytrain station for walking, but then they provide a complimentary tuk-tuk service, and being slightly off the beaten path does add to its charm and tranquility!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Herbal Prawn Soup

I was inspired to invent this dish after I ate at Pu Tien (Heng Hwa cuisine) in Kitchener road. The soup base was cooked using dried scallops, chinese wolfberry, ginseng, and chinese cooking wine. I then double-boiled the soup and prawns in a bamboo cooking container that I went all the way to Temple street to buy. End product was good but needed further refinement to improve the herbal taste of the soup!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Very Very Easy Pork Chops

Yet another recipe from my uni room-mate YL, super easy and yet tasty. We had this for a simple dinner tonight, after:
(i) a very expensive and good dinner at SzeChuan Court, Raffles City Shopping Centre last night (cheapest set dinners start at $58 per person, before taxes and service charges).
(ii) a greedy home-cooked lunch of 3 steamed mud crabs yesterday.

Coming back to the topic, here's how the pork chops can be prepared:
- Marinate two pork chops with 1.5 teaspoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of quality oyster sauce, and 2 teaspoons of light soya sauce
- Leave for at least 1/2 hour
- Panfry until cooked, or grill for about 7.5 minutes each side. Add sliced onions when grilling or frying, if you prefer.
- Serve with hot steamed rice

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Herbed Foccacia Bread

I had been toying with the idea of baking foccacia for some time, but only got down to it this morning, as I lacked the dried thyme to add to the dough mixture. The bread turned out beautifully aromatic with the scent of fresh rosemary (yes, a recent addition to my herb garden), thyme and extra virgin olive oil, and grains of coarse salt sprinkled over the surface. What better way to start a weekend?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Fantastic Dinner at Europea

Back in Singapore after a long 24 hour journey, and this post is just to round up my eat-fest in Montreal. Firstly, I tried dinner at Toque! which had very good reviews by the New York Times but I was not impressed. Sure enough, the food was good, but there was none of that wow factor which I was expecting from a place with such high prices and international rating (maybe that's why). Waiters were coldly efficient and friendly enough, but not warm and gave me the feeling that they were rather snobbish....

Happily, this experience was more then redeemed on my last night in Montreal, when I went to Europea, which I had stopped by previously to buy macarons. I had the degustation menu, which came up to a total of $100 canadian dollars including tips (about $150 SGD), which comprised the following lovely courses:
- Lobster cream capuccino with white truffle oil
- Roasted scallop and langoustine in veal broth
- Pan fried foie gras, foie gras 'au torche' with pineapple chutney, duck confit with sundried tomatoes
- Light CO2 foam of caesar salad (i thought this was very innovative! Tasted like caesar salad but looked and had the texture of a light green mousse)
- Roasted alaskan crab leg with butter and cream, lobster ravioli
- Warm goat cheese crumble with pistachio nuts, organic figs
- Chocolate raviolis, suzette caramel and orange zest
- White chocolate parfait, passion fruit mousse

Oh my goodness, all the food was really good stuff and at a very worthwhile price, considering the quality. I especially loved the seared foie gras and the grilled alaskan crab leg. I also appreciated very much the chef's efforts in talking to every table (he took a photo with me!), and the little gift of banana cake which they gave to every customer to take away (they also gave macarons...). Left very happy when I walked out of the place.