Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Party 2008

This year, we continued with our little "tradition" of having a few close friends come by for Christmas dinner. I decided to plan for a relatively easy-to-prepare meal, comprising:
Mushroom consomme. Sweat about 50g shallots (chopped) in 2 tablespoon of butter for about 3 minutes, add 400g of chopped fresh shitake mushrooms and continue to sweat for a further 5 minutes. Add 300ml of chicken stock and 570ml of water (I substituted by using turkey stock made from the bones of two large turkeys that had been served for the office Christmas party on Christmas eve). Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour. Sieve the soup, discarding the mushrooms. Alternatively, for a more creamy soup with a stronger and earthier mushroom fragrance, puree the mushrooms in a blender.
I loved this soup. It was really tasty, even without me adding any salt.
Twice-cooked Roast Duck, Neil Perry style, with orange sauce. Season the duck with sea salt, inside and out. Steam for 45 minutes and allow to cool. Rub with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, and roast in an oven at 230 deg C for around 45 minutes or till skin is crispy brown, turning over the duck midway through (I roasted for 1 hour, and turned on the grill for the last 10 minutes to get the desired crisping effect).
I can't remember how I made the orange sauce - through lots of trial and error, but the party seemed to love it and finished it up.
The taste of the duck was quite good and fragrant, although I personally felt that the texture was rather touch (E later reassured me that the natural texture of duck meat is rather tough so that was to be expected). Nothing really special about this dish though, I would probably do something else next time.
BBQed Asparagus. Trim the tough ends off the stalks of medium sized asparagus, and do some further peeling if necessary. Toss the stalks in a bowl with sea salt and olive oil. Sauteed over a hot grill for 2 min on each side. Serve with a small squeeze of lemon.
Delightfully smoky in taste while still preserving the bite of the stalks and subtle sweetness of the asparagus.
Dessert was a fruit assembly of sliced peaches, kiwis and sweet korean strawberries, served with a generous topping of a ricotta cheese-egg yolk custard, designed, supplied, and (partly assembled) by my friend TT. I also served home-made cranberry ice cream as well as coffee with chocolate chip ice cream which were also very well received by my lovely friends and husband - recipes will be posted at later date.
Here's looking forward to a great year-end celebration and New Year ahead!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seremban Beef Noodles

Well after 3 days of feasting in Penang it was time to take the drive back to Singapore, but one of our most memorable meals before we reached home was in a stopover at Seremban, just off the North-South Highway.  This is the most famous beef noodle stall in Seremban, and was started by Mr Goh more than 60 years ago, now being run by his daughter Mdm Goh and her husband.   The dry version, which is extremely superb, comes with a thick gravy spooned over the thick slippery smooth udon-like noodles, redolent with the scent of spices, topped with peanuts and sesame seeds.  E was in heaven after tasting it.  The soup version is also good, with a robust and sweet tasting stock, although I personally prefer the version served up by Mr Wong's Seremban Beef Noodles in Singapore, which has a stronger seasoning and comes with added sweetness from braised carrot and radish. 

(Back in Singapore, Mr Wong of Mr Wong's Seremban Beef Noodles in the hawker centre next to Parkway Parade, learnt the trade from these folks about 3 years ago - they are his cousins and Mdm Goh even helped out at the Parkway Parade stall in the initial stage for more than a month to help her cousin get on track.   She was really happy to hear from us that his stall is doing very well now - be prepared to wait for half an hour or more.  Now doesn't that give you a warm fuzzy feeling?)

Seremban Beef Noodles: Stall 748, Pasar Besar Seremban, Jalan Pasar

Nyonya Kueh from Moh Teng Peow, Penang

Tucked away in a little back lane along Chulia Street (next to Sky Hotel), the entrance of this kueh shop looks unprepossessing, even a little dingy at first glance.  Entering with some trepidition, the shop looked deserted initially - we later found out that the shop does mostly bulk orders now, and not retail - but then the friendly owner Mr Mook came out and started cutting up some kueh for us and even waved away our offers to pay him.    The kueh were truly delicious (their being free had nothing to do with it), with a super smooth texture and strong coconut milk fragrance, and even came with a topping of kaya on the side.  
Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Kuih, 53 Muntri Street

Kway Chap (super potent)

Well after eating the char kway teow we promptly proceeded to cross the road to one of the top kway chap stalls in Penang.  Oh my god, it was sooooo good.  A bowl of square rice noodles cooked in pork/duck broth, topped off with a generous serving of pork offal, duck meat, braisedhard-boiled eggs, and my favourite - coagulated pigs' blood.  I know it sounds really gross but I really like to eat coagulated blood and had been deprived for more than 15 years, ever since the Singapore authorities banned fresh pork and pork products from Malaysia.   Real comfort food!  While the noodles were not so refined and smooth, I still give this bowl top marks for its nostalgic flavour for me.   A bowl sells for a mere RM5 (SGD 2.30). 

Yummy Penang Char Kway Teow

Mention Penang street food and one of the oft mentioned would be its char kway teow.  It's cooked in a different style from the Singapore version, which uses sweet dark sauce, which I don't really like (because then you basically only taste the sauce).   This plate came from one of Penang's top char kway teow stalls, at a pushcart outside Kedai Kopi Sin Guat Keong, at Kimberley Street.  While we didn't have enough time to try the most famous Sisters Fried Kway Teow at Macalister Road, I really liked this rendition.  His version is very savoury with sweetness from seafood as prawn-infused oil is used to fry it.   The consistency was great, sticky with still slightly runny egg, and with the "wok hei" of quickly stir-fried kway teow over super high heat.  Very cheap at only RM2.50 (SGD 1.10). Yumms.  What's next? 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Assam Laksa (also known as Penang Laksa)

I love Penang laksa. It's tangy, mouthwatering, and not too heavy in contrast to the "lemak" variety of laksa sold here in Singapore. Unfortunately I have not been able to get good Penang laksa in Singapore since the stall I used to frequent at Roxy Square closed down.
So in a bid to hunt for great assam laksa in Penang, we drove more than 45 minutes from Gurney Drive to Balik Pulau, a small market town right in the centre of Penang island, to track down this stall. Yum yum, the stock passed the test, it was thick with fish, tangy with assam (or tamarind), and had a generous serving of onions and herbs for garnish, as well as prawn paste on the side. We ate one bowl each and that was not enough, so we walked back into the shop and ordered another bowl each of the Siamese version (with some coconut milk added), well that was rather embarrassing. But, why be shy when it comes to good food?
Nan Guang Kedai Kopi, 67, Main Road, Balik Pulau

Sea Pearl Lagoon Cafe

For our first night in Penang, we wanted to eat some delicious seafood. This hard-to-find place gave us one of the most memorable experiences of the Penang trip. Tucked away down a nondescript little lane, with no signages and parking next to a Chinese temple, a collection of stalls serve up seafood next to the sea. The grilled crabs tasted wonderfully succulent, sweet and briny and what with the light breeze wafting salty sea air, the entire experience was magical. Affordable seafood at about 30SGD for two.
338 Mk.18, Tanjung Tokong (we found our way there with the aid of a GPS system)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ipoh Hor Fun in Ipoh

On the road to Penang, we made a short detour to Ipoh for lunch, arriving at around 1.30pm. Ipoh is famed for its hor fun, or rice noodles, as their noodles are supposedly much more silky smooth than those made elsewhere. Restoran Lou Wong Tauge Ayam Kuetiau is one of the most famous and popular places around to eat chicken and hor fun, and this was where we found ourselves that afternoon. The place was jam packed with hungry families but service and turnover were extremely fast. We ordered what everyone else seemed to be having - white boiled chicken, fried bean sprout (or tauge), accompanied by two bowls of plain hor fun noodles in chicken soup. The hor fun was indeed very smooth although a tad too oily for my taste. Chicken and tauge were likewise quite oily and while very tasty and delicious (with super fat and crunchy bean sprouts), not super spectacular. Well it was a cheap and good meal at only RM14.4 (or SGD 13), and a good pit stop for us.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eastern and Oriental Hotel, Penang

The Eastern and Oriental Hotel in Georgetown, was where we moved to the next day, and boy, was it really beautiful! Started by the Sarkies brothers who also built the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, E & O went into a period of decline in the earlier decades but underwent a 5-year complete restoration and re-opened its doors in 2001. And it is stunning indeed - white-washed walls, dark wooden polished furniture, Afghan carpets, shuttered windows, wooden panelling on the floor.... the hotel just exudes an air of elegance and calm. All the rooms are suites, with separate living and sleeping quarters, that look out onto the sea. Can't describe how wonderful it is to wake in the morning to the sound of waves lapping on the stone breakwater below. At SGD 250 a night, this is a real steal for a gem of an experience (Raffles Hotel costs a jaw dropping SGD 1000 a night). The E& O offers complimentary valet parking for hotel guests which is really a nice perk.

Going the Mile for Food

E and I literally went the mile for food this week ... to be exact, 800 km. The day after we took part in the Standard Chartered run, we were off driving to Penang to pile back all those calories that we expended running!
We started from the eastern part of Singapore at 5 am in the morning, and were in Penang by 4 pm (with a short detour to Ipoh to partake of their famous hor fun, but more on that later). For the first night, we stayed in G Hotel, which is a new hotel located just next to Gurney Plaza, on Gurney Drive. G Hotel is branded as a hip and happening place, in an extremely central location. It looks extremely sexy in the photos, no? However the quality of the finishings and furnishings is not really good (think Ikea or knock-down furniture quality), and in a few years time without proper maintenance, I suspect that the hotel will no longer be quite so nice. Toiletries were not of high quality either - plus, they strangely gave only one of each (one toothbrush, one comb, one pair of slippers). Nevertheless we were happy with it at the price we paid (SGD 160 per night) and it served its function as a relatively affordable option for a late check-in well.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Brother's Birthday Cake

This year, I decided to make a banana cake coated with chocolate ganache for my brother's birthday. This was an easy cake to make, and turned out fragrant, soft and moist (but not overly so), although we felt that more banana would have been nicer. I used a recipe taken from Chubby Hubby's website, and did up a chocolate ganache, all in it took about 45 min prep time (including ganache and icing), and 30 min baking time.

I have reproduced the recipe here, with my own additional annotations:
Banana Cake
2 and 1/4 cups (295g) flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (210g) sugar
240g unsalted butter
4 eggs, beaten
4 bananas (about 375 g), mashed (can add one more banana, but reduce milk by 1 Tbs if doing so)
5 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla essence (I would skip this the next time, felt that it overpowered the taste of banana)
Sift flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl. Cream butter and sugar until creamy white (about 10 min, be patient). Add beaten eggs a little at a time. Beat well after each addition. Add vanilla, milk and mashed bananas. Fold in flour and blend well. Pour mixture into muffin cups (or cake tin, i used half the quantities above which fitted nicely in a 8'' tin) and bake at 180 deg C for 25-30 min or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Chocolate Ganache
100 g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
Bring the heavy cream to a boil, remove from heat and add in chocolate. Stir till chocolate is melted. Let cool for a few min and spread over cake.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tomo, Marina Square

As part of our jaunt out at the Ritz-Carlton, we decided to sample the lunch sets at Tomo, which are priced very affordably at about $20. I had eaten at Tomo once previously many months ago, taking a 10-course dinner set, but did not blog about it then, as it was good but not spectacular (also, lighting was so bad that no photos were possible).
This time round, we were pleasantly surprised. E had the sushi set, while I had the unagi set and I think E made the best choice. His sushi was aburi-ed i.e. seared very quickly using high heat from a blowtorch, so that the outside is slightly charred and the fish oils ooze out into the rice with the best imaginable fragrance. Whereas my unagi set was decent and serviceable, and probably not the best gauge of what this restaurant can deliver as raved about by Skinny Epicurean and scores of other gourmands. To get the best sense, you really have to order omakase (i.e. leave it to the chef) which I am always slightly apprehensive about and think it's a bit of an extravagance.
While Tomo hardly has the best ambience (think hard, dark wooden furnishings, no particular theme), it would make a very decent choice indeed for a lunch in the Marina Square area, at a very affordable rate. Do try it, and support the restaurant business, which has been hit badly by the ongoing financial crisis - there were only two occupied tables (including us) during a Saturday lunch at Tomo - and other restaurants I frequent have told me that they are struggling too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A local getaway at the Ritz-Carlton

Three weekends ago, E and I went on a mini-weekend break at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia (our stay was gratis, but I can't publicly divulge how we got this deal). Our room was really nice -good size, and with a marvellous view of Kallang Bay and the Sheares Bridge section of the ECP highway. One of the highlights was the bathroom, with a huge bathtub which shared the same view as the main bedroom area although a major letdown was that such a luxury class hotel didn't provide bath salts or bubble bath.

It was a wonderful break for us. We borrowed movie DVDs at the Esplanade Library to watch in the hotel, and ate lunch at Tomo Fine Dining (more on that in a later post). I also renewed my magazine subscriptions during the SPH Women's Fair which was coincidentally being held at Marina Square that day and came away with tons of free gifts (high quality beauty products) as well as a voucher for a free facial at a Sothys salon, which I promptly went for the same day (salon located at Millennia Walk).

So, all in all, an extremely fruitful and (very!) low cost getaway.

Baan Rim Pa, Phuket

Just a final (extremely belated!) post to round-up the Phuket trip, on Baan Rim Pa, one of the most famous restaurants in Phuket, specialising in what they call "Royal Thai Cuisine". Baan Rim Pa is located just up from Kalim Beach, on a rocky outcrop with stunning views overlooking the Andaman Sea. It used to be the founder's house, but has since been converted to a group of three restaurants (Baan Rim Pa, on the highest floor which is at the same level as the main road; Joe's Downstairs at the second level, a modern restaurant focusing on Australian cuisine; and Da Maurizio, an Italian restaurant which is at the lowest level right on the rocky outcrops).
Mindful of our earlier miscalculation for Mom Tri's, we made sure that we arrived in good time at Baan Rim Pa to get an eyeful of the sunset (my earlier photo of the Phuket sunset with the fishing boy was in fact taken sitting on those rocks you see in photo above, I also caught a hermit crab but decided to free him.).
The ambience was romantic in a retro way, with creeping vines, live piano music, and dim lighting. Food? Good, but not spectacular for the price we paid - about 100 SGD for three dishes, including tom yam goong, steamed fish with lemon and garlic, green duck curry. Oh well, the stunning sights made it worth our while.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back to Blogging

Sorry about the radio silence on this blog. I was dealing with some personal matters and did not have the mood to cook or try new restaurants. Now that I am feeling better, new posts will be out this week!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fish On Beach

In the early morning the Phuket beaches have some flotsam and jetsam of sea creatures, before it is cleaned up.   Shows you how relatively unpolluted the Phuket waters are, to be able to support a diversity of marine life.  I've certainly never seen anything on Singapore beaches, not even many seashells.   While jogging one morning in the Laguna area, we came across 4 huge grounded jellyfish, 1 puffer fish, and this baby swordfish which E promptly carried back jogging (and earning strange stares along the way).  
N.B.  No animals or fish were harmed in the making of this post. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mom Tri's Kitchen, Phuket

Mom Tri's Villa Royale is a stunning boutique hotel set high on a rocky outcrop in the Kata Beach area. With only 27 suites and all with magnificent views of the Andaman Sea, this is a very special place indeed. We nearly stayed at Mom Tri's but decided to save some money and stayed at the Dusit Thani instead, which while good in its own way, didn't have that special magic factor.
Anyway, we made it to Mom Tri's Kitchen for dinner, which was reputed to serve one of the best meals (and best winelist) in Phuket. I really loved the restaurant. It was so magical, with the waves lapping on the rocks below you - and mind you, this was at night after sunset as we got a little lost while driving there so missed sunset. The food was good too although I would hesitate to call it superb - and it was also quite pricey (SGD 90 for two, sans wine, no appetizers, and sharing a dessert). We ordered a Thai Delight set comprising a green curry, fried vegetables, salmon fillet, and grilled jumbo prawn, and a Grain-fed Angus tenderloin with beef cheek set for E. The green curry was great!
Nevertheless, we both felt quite intoxicated by the ambience of the place and went for a post-dinner stroll around the place ... will definitely stay here the next time we are in Phuket. (N.B: They have another hotel/restaurant, Mom Tri's boathouse catering more to the mass market, which is also reputed to be good).

Lazing Around in Phuket

We were in Phuket over last weekend. It was a great little get-away - we stayed in the Dusit Thani Laguna, which is part of an enclosed area of 6 resorts including Banyan Tree, far away from the maddening crowd at the over-crowded and tuk-tuk/tourist-filled Patong Beach area. The Dusit Thani is just 3 minutes walk away from a long private stretch of beach, the Bangtao beach which ensures you peace and privacy, each room has its own little balcony with a view of the sea. The beaches are great! (but more on that later). Our main "peeve" though was that the Laguna resorts were a little too far away and transport to city areas and good food was highly expensive (a taxi ride one way, costs 700 baht or SGD30 while the hotel shuttle costs 300 baht per person one way). In the end, we rented a car (Toyota Vios at about 1,300 baht nett or SGD 55 per 24 hours) and we had the best of both worlds!
Note: One major plus point is that the Canal Village shopping area in the Laguna district has two Jim Thompson factory outlet shops!  We bought E a lovely tie heavily discounted to 600 baht (SGD 24), cheaper than the taxi ride. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


What a distinctly anti-climatic experience. I was extremely excited before going, and thought that I was in for some kind of culinary epiphany, given the chef's reputation (Gunther built up his name at the revered Les Amis after all), although reviews have been mixed.
In fact it was a let-down. Granted, we took the $38 set lunch which may not be the best gauge of the place, but there was none of that wondrous magical "ah-hah" feeling that I had when going to Iggy's, Pinchos, Cassis, Au Petit Salut, Jaan etc for lunch!
Gunther's is also highly overpriced. The servings were tiny (four thin slices of beef tongue?). We had:
- Summer Salad with Tiger Prawn
- Mushroom Veloute
- Beef Tongue with Madeira Sauce
- Panna Cotta
While I was sipping the mushroom soup, I couldn't help thinking about how much better Cassis' version was. This tasted like something I could have easily cooked in my own kitchen.
Highlights? The bread was warm and yummy (I had two small loaves of mini french baguette also partly to stave off hunger pangs due to the small servings), they gave us caneles for the petit-fours, the service was friendly and professional and we did not have to wait long for our food. But it's not saying much for any restaurant if the things most worth praising are its bread and petit-fours. Give this a miss and go to the other places I've indicated instead.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mad About Jaffa Cakes!

I don’t know where to buy Jaffa Cakes in Singapore, I’ve never seen any on the shelves of major British retailer Marks and Sparks over here (why?). But I love Jaffa Cakes, as appropriately befitting anyone who has spent some time living in the UK. To satisfy my cravings, I am utterly dependent upon the goodwill of others to buy some back when they visit the UK.
In this case, my very kind, understanding and lovely boss brought some back for me so that I can keep my productivity up at work (hah, hah). Here are some interesting Jaffa Cake-related facts and trivia:
They comprise 3 layers: a sponge base, an orange-flavoured jam in the middle, and a coating of plain (dark) chocolate.
They get their name from Jaffa oranges from Israel although it is doubtful if these oranges are now used for Jaffa Cakes.
They are officially classified as cakes, not biscuits. McVities the most well-known manufacturer of Jaffa Cakes went to court in 1991 to prove this point (read the hilarious writeup below from Wikipedia).

Cake or Biscuit?
Under UK law, no VAT is charged on biscuits and cakes — they are "zero rated". Chocolate covered biscuits, however, are subject to VAT at 17.5%. McVities classed its Jaffa Cakes as cakes, but in 1991, this was challenged by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise and the case ended up before the courts. This may have been because Jaffa Cakes are about the same size and shape as some types of biscuit. A question that the court asked itself was "what criteria should be used to class something as a cake?"
McVities defended its classification of Jaffa Cakes as cakes. In doing so it produced a giant Jaffa Cake to illustrate that its Jaffa Cakes were simply miniature cakes.
McVities argued that a distinction between cakes and biscuits is, inter alia, that biscuits would normally be expected to go soft when stale, whereas cakes would normally be expected to go hard. It was demonstrated to the Tribunal that Jaffa Cakes become hard when stale. Other factors taken into account by the Chairman, Mr Potter QC, included: name, ingredients, texture, size, packaging, marketing, presentation, appeal to children, and manufacturing process. Contrary to a commonly held belief, whether something is considered a 'luxury item' is not a test for VAT purposes.
Mr Potter ruled that the Jaffa Cake is a cake. McVities therefore won the case and VAT is not paid on Jaffa Cakes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wahiro, Katong Mall

There are Japanese restaurants like Inagiku, Nadaman, Zipangu, Kuriya - big, glamourous, finessed. And then then there are the others, like Wahiro - almost like a Japanese relative's home where you are served exceptionally good home-cooked food. This tiny little outlet tucked inside Katong Mall has now been serving up good food for a few years now and is steadily making a name for itself.

I last ate at Wahiro 1 and a half years ago, as a birthday treat (see previous posting here). This time round, we stuck to the kaiseki set - called the Wahiro course - for $68 per person. We had:

Kikka Kikuna Ohitashi: Chrysanthemum flower & crown daisy simply boiled, tossed in dashi dressing

Otsukuri: Chef’s daily selection of the freshest sashimi.

Yaki Anago: Grilled sweet sea eel accompanied with green peppers.

Yasai Tempura: Tempura bouquet of sweet potato, ginger shoot petal, pumpkin.

Kamo Roast: Tender roast duck slices on grilled eggplants stack.

Nagaimo Ankake: Quick fried Japanese yam, prawn & grilled fish in thickened vine sauce.

Yakionigiri Chazuke: Grilled rice ball in seaweed infused consommé.

Dessert: Traditional black sesame ice-cream.

All the dishes were very good, with a subtle lightness of flavour to them. I especially liked the boiled chrysanthem flower and crown daisy, the quick fired japanese yam, and the grilled rice ball. To be sure it's not as refined / polished as Nadaman or Inagiku but I love the good "home-cooking" and light style of the dishes served up here and the cosyness of this little nook.

Pictures taken from Wahiro's website since it was too dim to take any photos.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Urban Picnic

I chanced across this on the World Wide Web quite accidentally the other day. Behold, the ultimate in cool and stylish lunch boxes that make mouse-pad lunching seem suddenly desirable. Cleverly branded as takeaway gourmet food in a box, the company producing this, Urban Picnic (even the name is stylo-mylo!) is based in London, with lunches that change everyday inspired by a different world cuisine - the pictured option is an Italian Urban Picnic box.

Comes in an understated biodegradable, recyclable brown box, and priced at £6 each which is reasonable by London standards. Lucky Londoners! Perhaps my ex-roomie YL who is now doing post-grad studies over there can check it out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Twelve+One, Rochester Park

Another wonderful find. Twelve+One is a bakery/patisserie hidden in the Rochester Park area - it has just opened and sells a good range of jams, breads, sweets, macarons, and Ice-Creams!! I quickly grabbed a huge country walnut bread for SGD3.50 (a mere bagatelle if you know what good bread sells for over here in Singapore) and a jar of home-made strawberry jam for SGD15 (with the lumpy strawberry slices still clearly visible) and had them for a great breakfast this morning. Why can't all weekends be like this? :-)
(The ice-creams are a must-try, especially the strawberry and pear sorbets, and the brandy ice-cream. The fruit sorbets taste intensely of the fruit, and not at all artificial. Cassis serves them for dessert too. )

Pinchos, Rochester Park

There has been a veritable drought of posts here on this blog, as I've been very busy and experiencing some emotional stresses this month. Anyway, one seeks refuge in good food and I decided to check out Pinchos, a spanish wine and tapas bar at Rochester Park, yesterday seeing that it was a Friday.
Pinchos is owned by the same group as Cassis (see my previous post here) and I had always walked past it to its more glamourous and seductive sister when deciding on what to eat. So imagine how I kicked myself for not checking it out sooner, when I did finally lunch there. My friend and I had the Tapas Platters A (SGD21) and B (SGD28) to share, and gratinated french snails in parsley butter SGD18 for twelve snails).
Here's the run-down of what we ate:
Tapas Platter A
Toasted Homemade Country Bread Topped with Fresh Tomato
Grilled Pork Sausage with dijon mustard
Handmade Duck Rillette served with cornichon on walntu bread
Deep-fried red snapper and caper croquettes served with tartar sauce
Tortilla espanola - classic spanish omelette
Tapas Platter B
Toasted Homemade Country Bread Topped with Fresh Tomato
Pan-seared pork and pistachio meatballs in an almond sauce
Sliced ballotine of foie gras on homemade brioche
Sizzling prawns in olive oil, garlic and dried hot chilli peppers
Spinach salad with pine nuts and raisins drizzled with madeira vinaigrette
Delicate caramelized spanish torrijas with homemade brandy ice cream
Everything was very good (well - Pinchos does share the same one Michelin star chef as Cassis), but the clear runaway hero of the meal was the gratinated french snails. Perfectly succulent, savoury, and with a lovely crisp coating of breadcrumbs, this had me gulping up six with ease and slurping up the juices in the shell (very unglamourous, I know, but one has to sacrifice some things for good food). I love foie gras and duck rillettes too so I was most happy when my friend passed on those to me (and it's cold foie gras which is the best way to really appreciate this delicacy).
Love the ambience there too - there were only two other tables that were occupied while we were there - and we had the super-comfy couch to lounge on, having arrived early. Warm, maroon theme and outdoor rattan armchairs are the order of the day. Pity I had to skip the wine though, since it was far too early to start drinking.
Still hestitating? Why wait? Go to Pinchos - it is a hidden gem. From there, it's a mere hop, skip and jump over to the bakery Twelve+One which is another wonderful discovery (but more on that in my next post).
N.B. I am sorry about the quality of the pictures. It does not do justice to the restaurant or the food, but I forgot to bring the camera along yesterday, so the handphone camera was all I had.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chicken Braised in Brand's Chicken Essence

E doesn't like Brand's Chicken Essence but he actually ate up most of this including the stock and said it tasted good (before I told him what went into it). This is a really simple recipe that I found on the Internet while trying to find ideas for a left-over bottle of Brand's Chicken Essence:
Apart from the chicken essence, the only other ingredients you would need are ginger and chinese cooking wine (shaoxing or huadiao, they are the same thing). I assembled this in 5 min flat.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Long-awaited Iggy's at Regent Hotel

We finally made it to Iggy's after many years of bated breath - somehow we couldn't find the time earlier, or another restaurant beckoned more invitingly, or we just wanted to stay at home and eat home-cooked meals. When E suggested that we both take one day leave to go to the computer exhibition at Suntec City, Comex (or rather, E to go to Comex and I to go shopping) it was the perfect opportunity to finally experience the Iggy's magic.
Enough superlative epithets have been used to describe Iggy's - it's been rated as the best restaurant in Singapore and 60th in the world. So did it live up to expectations? Yes - everything tasted like food nirvana with a couple of small exceptions. We went for the $55 set lunch and had:
Amuse-bouche: Sweet Corn Cappuccino with Chocolate surprise
Didn't really care for this, being more inclined towards savoury food rather than sweet food. In any case, I was really looking forward to the famous Iggy's gazpacho which must have given way to this.
Starters: Home-made potato gnocchi with truffle salsa, soft-boiled egg and parma ham; Sakura ebi cappellini with konbu and home-made scampi oil
What a start to the meal. I can't describe how good that sakura ebi tasted. Iggy's is so generous with the serving that it could almost pass off as a main, with liberal sprinklings of fresh crunchy sakura ebi. And the gnocchi? It was simply simply stupendous, I mopped up what E was willing to pass to me, that soft-boiled egg and the truffle salsa were a match made in heaven.
Mains: Iggy's burger - home-made wagyu burger with white truffle sabayon; Kurobuta Pork - praised pork cheek with onion confit, fried egg, summer truffle
What can I say? Wow, wow, wow! The white truffle sabayon on the burger looked deceivingly like melted cheese, except for the tantalising wafts of truffle aroma, this idea is just so creative. And nuff said about that superbly juicy, medium-rare wagyu burger. I thought my burger dish was outstanding, but E's Kurobuta Pork was simply superb. Have never eaten pork so tender, so sweet in my life. And those truffles and squelchy runny egg yolk? Simply delish.
Desserts: Vanilla panna cotta with basil ice-cream and candied tomatoes; French Toast with chocolate cylinder, home-made maple ice-cream, iced mocha
The panna cotta wasn't really outstanding and the basil ice-cream while interesting, didn't get me excited. But E's choice of French Toast was really excellent - especially the creamy maple ice-cream and the iced mocha which had little coco crunch bits in it.
Food nirvana indeed. Or as near as one can get in Singapore, for now (I live in hope!).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beautiful Jewellery From Ying

Ying is one very talented and amazing lady, who makes all these wonderful jewellery creations. Her pieces are made from real semi-precious stones - aquamarine, jade, pearls, peridot, amethyst, rose quartz - and more, set in silver or gold-filled. I have been buying her pieces for a couple of years, and have been loath to share this secret. The above are my latest hauls from her, it was just so difficult to stop myself from buying more. She does customized pieces too.
Rather than buy costume jewellery which doesn't last, and which is mass-produced, why not buy something that is unique, made with love, and of high quality? Ying's stuff is better and so much more value-for-money than the jewellery boutiques in Tangs (e.g. Dave Fine Jewellery and Jennifer Green. I know because I've bought very expensive stuff from those boutiques before). So do drop by Ying's blog at to support her!
Note: Photos reproduced with kind permission from Ying