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

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Samsui Chicken

Soup Restaurant's most famous dish is Samsui Chicken. The story goes that the Samsui women (who were Chinese immigrants working in the nascent construction industry in olden Singapore) were too poor to eat meat on normal occasions, but would whip up a Samsui chicken dish every Chinese New Year. This comprises gently poached chicken, served with a dip of garlic and ginger sauce.
This is very easy to replicate at home - just cook a chicken (or chicken parts) as if you're cooking for Hainanese chicken rice - in a large pot of boiling water, and turn off the heat and cover after you put the chicken in., and wait for 45 minutes before taking the chicken out and cutting it up for serving. This gentle cooking method ensures that the chicken meat remains smooth and juicy, while the large volume of water retains the heat for residual cooking. The dip is available from Soup Restaurant for SGD 5 a bottle and is really the distinguishing feature of Samsui chicken. You can also spoon it over steamed fish (e.g. cod) or in dry or soup instant noodles.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pretty Cupcakes

You just gotta love anything that looks so sweet and twee! These are from Cupcake Momma (check out her wonderful flickr photos) and a friend bought these as a farewell treat for the office mates on her last day. I must must find some excuse to order these someday.

Grilled Fish ala Anthony Bourdain

We call this Anthony Bourdain style grilled fish because in his breakout novel Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain writes about how he used to sell cartloads of fish grilled this way, at a two Michelin-star restaurant. Good food just needs the best, freshest ingredients, cooked simply and lightly.
Take a whole fish (I used blackspot threadfin and on occasion, seabass), carefully cleaned and descaled. Rub sea salt over it and let it sit for one hour. Get some fresh herbs - I use basil, rosemary, thai basil which I grow in the garden - and stuff it into the stomach of the fish, together with a wedge of lemon (or a lime, as I have done here). Pat the fish dry, and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on it. Sprinkle some crushed black pepper over it. Grill for about 20 minutes, turning over mid-way.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow?

We have added on to the array of plants and herbs squashed into our tiny garden balcony now.

Bamboo: I love this plant, it emits a rustling sound when the wind blows and if I close my eyes when it's very quiet in the dead of the night I can imagine that I am in the middle of a bamboo forest.

Thai Basil: Lovely herb, I bought this to make Taiwanese "three cup chicken" and Vietnamese Pork Terrine. Will post recipes and photos up at a later date.

Basil: Needs lots of constant transplantation as it seems to die soon after it flowers (a perennial?). Great with roast chicken, grilled fish, tomato based dishes, and all Italian dishes. I use it to make pesto and basil-flavoured vinaigrette for salads too.

Chilli Padi: Died. Another plant that seems to die after flowering.

Rosemary: Got a nice species from my colleague with broad leaves and nice but not overly sharp pine-woody scent. Great with roast chicken, fish, and lamb.

Mint: I like this in desserts and for Vietnamese beef soup noodles, but E thinks that it has too strong a scent. But this creeper doesn't seem to thrive that well in the hot direct afternoon sun my balcony gets.

Potato: My latest little experiment. If all goes well, I should be able to harvest say 5 to 6 little new potatos in 2 months time :-)

Pandan: Indispensable when cooking chicken rice and asian desserts. It's a pain to extract the juice though, which is why I have not used it for baking.

Dill: Also given to me by a colleague. Doesn't seem to have much scent though, have not used it to date.

Chives: Still in the stage of straggling little saplings.

And at various times, we have also planted onions (fresh spring onions!), garlic, alfafa sprouts (very easy, you grow it in a jam jar but we don't really like the strong green taste) and tried Chinese parsley too. When I was a little girl, I also planted red beans and green beans and did harvest enough for one bowl of red bean soup (over a few months).

Gardening is great fun, especially if it's coupled with a love of cooking :-)

Mum's Durian Birthday Cake

My mum loves durian cake and has been asking when I can buy the cake from Jane's Cake Station (Jalan Kayu) for her. Hence for her birthday this year (click here for last year's birthday cake), I decided to bake a durian cake.
I used a simple genoise sponge recipe from Michel Roux's Eggs book to bake a cake sponge base, then simply cross-sectioned it to make two round halves. Sandwiched in between was a 1 cm thick layer of pure unadulterated undiluted D24 durian pulp, freshly bought the night before, deseeded and mashed. I used about 1 durian's worth for this cake. Whipped cream used for the very amateurish and quite ugly cake icing, with dried (edible) rose petals sprinkled over it for decoration.
I think my mum was very happy with this cake, though she suggested that the cake crumb could be made more moist (I need to brush it with syrup water the next time round) and there could be more durian (will double durian quantity and cut down on cake quantity).
N.B. I was in quite a nervous state during the making of this cake, , even with a trial run 2 months ago., as I had very little time to do it. Baking requires one to still the mind - focus, relax, zen and calm. I was fairly okay until I watched the hair-raising Michael Phelps finger-tip win in the Olympic men's 100m butterfly final yesterday morning. Whereupon which I promptly proceeded to overbeat my whipping cream which curdled big-time, and had to drive out to get another pack.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Astons Express - Why Did I Bother?

I usually don't give scathing reviews (being quite a kind and patient person in general) but I was really quite upset with this place.

The saga began when late last night, E and I were looking for dinner and decided to eat at Astons Express at a coffeeshop - Astons Express is an expansion of the original Astons at East Coast Road into various coffeeshops, there are now more than 10 around.

Okay, stupid me ignored this warning sign of over-rapid expansion. And what an absolute rip-off this was. We ordered the Porterhouse Steak for $28 dollars, asked for it to be done medium, it came 20 minutes later well-done. The meat was totally dessicated, tough and chewy. The side dishes came in sad little pre-prepared plastic tubs. If I spend $28 dollars, I expect my money's worth, not bad quality in a coffeeshop setting.

This entire operation just smells of the owner trying to make big bucks quickly. Looks like Aston's has sold out to the lure of the bottomline. Never going back again.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Brotzeit, Vivocity

E and I went to Brotzeit ( at Vivocity a couple of weeks ago. We had been wanting to check out this place for some time now, but it was always so busy and packed every time we dropped by. Lucky us finally managed to snag prime, “sea”-front view seats on the veranda area outside. And it was indeed a lovely view to gaze out at the Sentosa waterfront, hear the waves gently lapping and see some ships on the horizon as the sky slowly darkened.

The food was rather good German pub-grub – we shared a beer and a humongous pork knuckle, wonderfully crispy and savoury / rich without being too salty or fatty, accompanied with sides of sauerkraut and potato salad. With its winning formula of great chill-out ambience with good (though not outstanding) food and decent prices, looks like Brotzeit will continue to pack in the crowds for some time yet! However, they do need to buck up on their service standards – it was typical for us to wait for 10 minutes or more before getting attention from the service staff though the food and drinks came promptly once ordered.

N.B. Sorry no photos, as camera had been sent in for servicing / repair at that time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

365 Days, 524 Recipes, a tiny apartment kitchen

Strictly, speaking, this is not a cookbook but really more of a personal memoir and coming-of-age novel. The product review (reproduced from shows what an interesting premise this is.

" Julie & Julia is the story of Julie Powell's attempt to revitalize her marriage, restore her ambition, and save her soul by cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, in a period of 365 days. When we first meet Julie, she's a frustrated temp-to-perm secretary who slaves away at a thankless job, only to return to an equally demoralizing apartment in the outer boroughs of Manhattan each evening. At the urging of Eric, her devoted and slightly geeky husband, she decides to start a blog that will chronicle what she dubs the "Julie/Julia Project."

This was an amusing book, light reading prior to bedtime. I admire Julie's courage to embark on such a massive and ultimately life-changing project.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Favourite Japanese Snack

I don't know the name of this Japanese sweet, which is supposed to be rather famous. So far I've only seen this in Japan, so I make it a point to buy this when I'm there or ask friends going there to buy it back for me. It's my all-time favourite - made to resemble a little chick, it has a thin pastry skin surrounding smooth and sweet mung bean paste. This goes perfectly with a cup of Japanese green tea with its slightly bitter taste, which complements the sweetness of the dessert perfectly. Take your time to eat this and savour the passage of time in the afternoon (eh, very zen-philosophy all of a sudden).