Archive for the 'Singapore' Category



I Have My Eye On: Château de sable

Parents endeavour to give their children the very best, and I am no exception. As a new mother to baby Faith, I am always on the lookout for quality clothes, toys, books, foods and other knick-knacks.

In the series ‘I Have My Eye On‘, I share my favourite finds for my little girl.

201302 I Have My Eye On

I was on the hunt for a red dress for my daughter, as the colour is deemed auspicious for the Lunar New Year, and I was delighted to find one at Château de sable.

The label by Stephanie Lemaire, carries preppy children’s clothing, and boasts of classic designs that showcase simplicity at its best. I am not usually a fan of bright reds and certainly disagree with looking too dated for the Lunar New Year. But, this cheongsam-inpsired dress (S$45) with its clean trimmings and pleated A-line cut does red-red just fine, and I am one Mama who is happy to dress my daughter in it.

Chateau de sable

My little girl has also been gifted three other outfits from this label. They wash well, hang beautifully on her frame and continue to garner many compliments, both at casual outings and formal dinners . Yes, she is one lucky and very chic baby!

Do you have a favourite from this label?

Check this listing for the boutique nearest to you.

Photo source: Château de sable

I Have My Eye On: Elly

Parents endeavour to give their children the very best, and I am no exception. As a new mother to baby Faith, I am always on the lookout for quality clothes, toys, books, foods and other knick-knacks. I also believe that parents need some lovin’; whilst I am not busting my budget on the little one, I like to shop around for things that make our new routines a little easier, or sometimes, just a little prettier.

In the series ‘I Have My Eye On‘, I share my favourite finds for my little girl. Of course, Mamas and Papas need look no further than the ‘We Need Some Lovin’‘ instalments (watch this space!) for my recommendations for us big people!

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201302 I Have My Eye On

Lunar New Year is just round the corner. We are particularly excited for two reasons. Having lived in London for five years, this marks our first Lunar New Year in Singapore since our return. We are also delighted that baby Faith is here to join us for the festive season!

The Festival of Spring heralds all things new, so of course we’ve got new clothes for our daughter as part of the many traditions that come with the festive season. When I was pregnant, I set my eyes on the stylish cheongsams, designed by Audrey and Carol of Elly, which are oh-so-adorable and age-appropriate. These are nothing like the kitsch, precocious versions that plague the streets of Chinatown. I couldn’t wait for Faith to be born, just so I could justify getting one.

Elly Red Fishes

This year, I am absolutely enamoured with the Lunar New Year collection. Elly nails it again with gorgeous new prints and I simply couldn’t resist getting the Periwinkle cheongsam in Red Fish (S$65) for my daughter, even if she is only 5 months old and a tad tiny for the smallest size available (9-12m). It is just too cute! Well-made, and clearly designed for the chic bub (and style-conscious, *coughsmecoughs*, parent) in mind, the cheongsam is a statement piece that is bound to have everyone talking! I noticed that the cheongsam is cut a little wider, and I reckon it will grow well with the little one, hello….mileage!

I can’t wait to dress Faith in the cheongsam! Now, if I can just get my hands on a nursing-friendly cheongsam….

Elly is stocked at:

The Elly Store
501 Bukit Timah Road
#02-29 Cluny Court
Singapore 259760

Not Too Big
582 Orchard Road
#02-06/07 Forum The Shopping Mall
Singapore 238884

Photo published with permission from: Elly

A Seductive Lunch at Catalunya

Have I told you lately that I miss my life in London? The lifestyle, entertainment and numerous gateways to the rest of Europe. The freedom to live, breathe, drink and taste whatever we wanted at affordable prices. The broad spectrum of everything that Europe has to offer. Oh yes, I sorely miss that part of my life and have been whining to my husband about how I may never make it to that part of the world again, especially since the baby will be arriving soon. I whined again on Saturday night before falling asleep. After waking up to the blistering heat of Singapore the next morning, I casually flipped the local papers over breakfast and was pleasantly gripped by a review on the newest restaurant to hit the dining scene in Singapore. Something about some place called Catalunya, helmed by Chef Alain Devahive Tolosa who spent a decade in the kitchens of El Bulli. My eyes glazed over at the words Catalunya and El Bulli. Before I knew it, my eyes were skimming over the treats Catalunya has to offer, and it was fastest fingers first on my mobile to make a reservation. You see, my biggest regret in the foodie part of my life was having missed the opportunity to dine at El Bulli. I’ve already got Fat Duck under my belt, but *wails* what about El Bulli?! Ever since it closed, I knew I would die a regretful woman but no, I couldn’t possibly let that slide, could I?

I wasted no time in getting a table for two at Catalunya. We were there a swift two days later for lunch…talk about being efficient. What can I say? When it comes to food, nothing stands in my way, not even the nearing due date of a certain baby or the aches and pains that prevent me from getting off the bed, let alone out of the house.

It was a blazing hot afternoon. We got a little lost looking for The Fullerton Pavilion which houses Catalunya and had to make a huge detour just to park our car rightfully at One Fullerton. The pavilion was merely a short walk away but the heat was rather offensive and I couldn’t wait to get to the restaurant. On arrival, we were greeted by no less than five ladies at the door and were promptly ushered to our seats. Catalunya was about 70% full on a weekday lunch service, not bad for a two-week old restaurant with the office crowd, the occasional businessmen and ladies of leisure. The decor was decent (it didn’t wow me though) and I can see its potential for dinner service, as the pavilion overlooks the bay onto MBS and the night views are bound to dazzle. I did like the way natural light streamed into the pavilion – I kinda enjoy looking at my food when I eat. Catalunya did disappoint in one aspect – it was way too stuffy in the restaurant. It was much cooler and way more pleasant in the bar area closer to the entrance, but the double-volume space in the restaurant area hampers sufficient ventilation and both M and I found ourselves feeling rather hot under the collar ten minutes in.

The food, however, was more than enough to make up for our stuffy afternoon at Catalunya. I might be biased but I have long been enamoured by Basque and Catalan cuisines. My favourite holidays were spent in San Sebastián and Barcelona (yet to blog about) and really, I would kill to relive those times. Catalunya managed to bring these memories back to me. It didn’t wow me as much as I would have been (I reckon) if I had the chance to dine at El Bulli, but the chefs did enough to get me excited. We ordered a good mix of dishes that showcased the prowess of molecular gastronomy and those that sealed the deal that was traditional Catalan cuisine.

The tomato tartar confit and deconstructed tortilla were delightful glimpses into what-might-have-been over at El Bulli’s. The confit was pleasantly tart, surprisingly beefy (even though it’s probably only finely chopped roasted tomatoes) and nicely tampered with a touch of crushed capers, salt, pepper and olive oil. It made for a very refreshing start to a meal, and paired nicely with the wafer-thin toasts. The deconstructed tortilla has the Spanish omelette taken apart down to a T – a layer of sweet onion purée is topped with a dollop of smooth and rich egg yolk sabayon and finished with potato foam. It was a playful appetiser that I really enjoyed, although I would have added a touch of chorizo as I am partial to having that in the tortillas I make at home, but that’s just my personal preference (and my way is probably not very authentic in terms of flavours).

The croquettes were worth fighting bulls over. What’s not to love about piping hot croquettes with an incredibly crisp and light batter encasing a creamy, dreamy bechamel filling of my favourite jamón, smooth cheese and butter? I could have had more of these if they didn’t cost $12 for 4 pieces. The canelón was recommended by the server and we had no regrets chomping it down. The portion was a little small at $19 (I would have expected at least two pieces for that price), but I have to say the roasted pork was subtly divine and meaty, even in that small quantity, underneath that thin pasta.

We moved on to share the veal fricandó, which was a tad disappointing in terms of portion size and flavour. A new dish on the menu (it debuted for the second day when we were there), there was something lacking in the fricandó that would have made it a very hearty, flawless dish. Whilst it was savoury and rich, I thought it would have been better if the sweetness of carrots and caramelised shallots came through a little more. The veal was tender, but not quite as tender as the braised beef cheek I had at Bistro Du Vin recently (I know I shouldn’t compare as these are different types of dishes, but I prefer the meats in stews to fall apart when I tuck into it). The whole shallots were undercooked and hence too hard. For $55, I would have expected more veal than tripe, mushrooms and shallots. The real winner was the smoked mashed potatoes though. Smooth, creamy, rich and lightly smoked with what I suspect was the flavour of bacon, it was the perfect accompaniment (and saviour) to the veal.

We couldn’t leave without having dessert; after all, Catalunya is steered by chefs coming from all sorts of wonderful restaurants including Sketch in London, which is famed for its sweets. We had the torrija with smoked milk ice cream to share. Torrija, which means fried milk bread, is a divine piece of work. Soft, achingly tender, moist and wonderfully infused with a good dose of citrus, it went perfectly well with the crumble and milk ice cream, which has interestingly been smoked with charcoal. Eaten alone, the milk ice cream was a little too ‘charred’ and weird for me, but it worked as the perfect companion to the citrusy fried milk bread and caramelised orange peel. I would have this again in a heartbeat.

It’s a shame that we didn’t quite have the budget to go for more tapas and to try the Catalan creme for dessert. Even though the prices are comparable to what we were used to paying for a good meal in London, we have been a little more cautious about spending on food as we tend to be able to get cheap and good grub in different corners of Singapore. We probably need a shove in our mindset about paying ‘London prices’ for food in Singapore but for now, Catalunya will remain a once-in-a-while-special-occasion kinda place to dine at. I hope to visit again, this time for dinner, to enjoy a decent slice of Catalan against the breathtaking backdrop of the glittery bay.

*Updated: This post is featured on Tastespotting. Check out my profile on  Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

A Sweet Farewell to London…and Some News

I’ve procrastinated long enough on this teeny announcement. Or two teeny announcements, if you will. Some of you, whom I know personally, are already in the loop but I thought eight months is a long time to go on the blog without actually talking about it even in the most cryptic manner, so it is time to spill the beans. I had wanted to protect my privacy and keep the news all to my selfish self. The last I heard though, some naysayers have already caught wind of this anyway and I’ve been told by my loved ones that I should share the news because readers (who are still sticking around…I’m very happy to know you are, given that I barely wrote anything in the first three-quarter of 2012) would want to know, so here goes…

…I’ve moved back from London to Singapore for good, since eight months ago…and…I’m pregnant!

After five long years in London, I’m finally back home. Suffice to say that everything and yet nothing has changed since 2007. Suffice to say that I’ve done a whole lot of growing up in the UK, seen countless beautiful sceneries whilst travelling, made the most wonderful friends in the five years, tasted a decent portion of good food, started a blog that I thought no one would want to read, cooked/baked/photographed/styled my way from complete noob to amateur-amateur, interacted with the most amazing chefs, built a home from scratch (literally) and learnt a hell lot on ‘How to Live Life to the Fullest, Responsibly So 101′. I also found time to fall deeper in love with my best friend, get married, graduate with a doctorate and have a baby.

London is a big part of my life.

When it came down to the last second, to leave my home of five bittersweet years, I was devastated. The exit from London was pretty hasty. I quit my job, found out I was expecting (and hence decided that I should return to Singapore prematurely to prepare for delivery, I was supposed to leave London only in the summer of 2012), moved to Boston for six weeks as M was posted to Harvard, flew back to London for a night, switched my bags out for summer clothing and everything that I might need back home before speeding back to Singapore the next day. I didn’t really have time to say goodbye. To-date, I still keep the bucket list I had drafted for London and I hope that I will be able to return to the city one day to check the items off the list. I couldn’t even attend the Olympics events that I had bought tickets for.

The next months went by in a blur. There was so much to do with my relocation. I had to get my accounts, documents and life in order. I missed M terribly when he returned to London to finish up his studies. I went through pregnancy alone, save for support from my family and in-laws. None of the relocation bit, physical or emotional, was easy. The days started looking brighter when M came back, triumphant as a fully-qualified doctor after five gruelling years in med school. He packed up our flat in London as hastily as I had left UK, attended his graduation ceremony with his parents but without a very pregnant me, flew back to my arms in Singapore, sorted out whatever I couldn’t handle and supported me through the last trimester.

We had a heart-to-heart talk yesterday night before we fell asleep at 3.30am. It’s been a while since we chatted this much, for four hours in fact. And we both realised how different life is in Singapore. London was a dream. We lived life to the fullest, laughed and cried the hardest, seen the best and went through the worst. It was a city where we grew up the most as individuals and as a couple. It was our first real home together. Coming back to Singapore makes for an almost surreal dive back into reality, where we are suddenly challenged with obligations and responsibilities to others other than two of us, issues to do with fitting into the local culture and soon-to-be parenthood. Even though Singapore is our home, we haven’t got the slightest inkling as to what lies ahead and we will need to do to rise up to the challenges. One thing’s for sure; we are back now and we will make our lives here work. We will carve out new memories, strive towards new goals and conjure new dreams.

To celebrate the chapter that was London, and welcome the new that is Singapore, I prepared my very first dessert table before I left UK. I was challenged in every way, as I have been during my life in London. Different pastries and desserts to make on limited resources, thinking about what really mattered to me that would fit in with the theme, and putting it all together so it makes sense and gives heart. So there you have it, a blue-white-red presentation of a Victoria sponge, Marmite cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and macarons with rose buttercream, a true culmination of something that is quintessentially English, a little bit of what I have learnt to love and another that is a little cosmopolitan owing to the time I spent in Europe. I’ve also scattered the cards, letters, notes and gifts from family and friends around the entire dessert table just for…the two of us to enjoy. Shame I couldn’t offer the sweets to anyone else. Oh well, maybe next time.

Happy homecoming to us, and may we meet again, my fair London.

*Updated: This post is featured on Tastespotting. Check out my profile on  Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

Read on for my new journey as a mother.

Like my bakes? Then check out my other sweet adventures in the kitchen!

Photolog: Singapore Eating Spree

[Food Photolog that is not suitable for viewing if you're, well, ferociously hungry.]

I have been eating lots, but I have also been suffering from tummy upsets. It’s probably a sign that I should stop eating – but other than the 2-day hiatus I took earlier this week because I was ill, I’ve been packing the calories in since. I’m eating like I would never eat again, and it’s truly getting a little disturbing. Oh well, I’m a Singaporean and our national hobby is eating, so I’m not to blame! Besides, we can’t get all this in London; even if we do, the local food is just not in the same league. Right, I’m running out of excuses as to why I’m putting on weight, the food in Singapore is just too good to miss out. I’ll show you why.

[Some photos were taken with my DSLR, others with the iPhone because I have been rather self-conscious about whipping my DSLR out. I've invited odd stares and/or feel that my family and friends shouldn't have to put up with my 'don't touch the food until I photographed it' ways...for now at least, until I return for good. So yes, this wasn't all that I ate! =p]

We’re back in time for the onslaught of mooncakes since mid-Autumn festival is just around the corner – dropped by Raffles Hotel to pick up the very delectable champagne truffle (top) and durian (bottom) snowskin mooncakes. I also got some baked mooncakes which I honestly think are done better elsewhere. The mooncakes are rather expensive at Raffles Hotel (I splurged an obscene amount, even the staff were amused) but thumbs up for the super soft snowskin and I reckon these made for perfect gifts! I’ve been eating too much so I’m abstaining from the superb durian snowskin mooncakes from Peony Jade this year, all for the sake of the ones from Raffles Hotel! *exasperated*

After weeks of planning, I finally met up with the lovely ladies, Yann of Yannisms, Sherie of Maameemoomoo, Z of Scribbles and Snapshots  and  J of Lady J’s musings who also kindly played host to us! We made ondeh ondeh with Sherie’s guidance – check out how perky they look! I gobbled 5 of these in one sitting, and mind you, they were huge! We also feasted on mooncakes, chocolates, and Sherie’s homemade sweet potato tarts – this was right before a massive family dinner. *burps*

I wandered round Chinatown yesterday (bought nothing from Sia Huat, can you believe it?!), and stopped by Maxwell for some snacks – good ol’ Rojak and Popiah – both of which were superbly done! We had this about 2 hours before the epic dinner I tweeted about yesterday.

We chanced upon Ah Balling peanut and black sesame dumplings in Chinatown, and also had these right about 2 hours before dinner.

Moving on to Thomson Road to meet our newlywed friends, we couldn’t resist sharing youtiao (dough fritters) and Rochor soya beancurd half an hour before dinner with them.

Have I also mentioned that I was munching on Garrett Popcorn on our way to Thomson?

FYI, this was just 80% of our epic dinner yesterday at Mellben Seafood (top to bottom: Chilli crabs, crab bee hoon soup, Penang durians, mangosteens).

Salivating yet? Right, shan’t torture you with more blown-up photos. Click on the gallery below, at your own risk!

Check out my other food adventures!

Nostalgia #1: iPhone, Your Phone, My Phone

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my folks these few days and nostalgia brewed over conversations I had with them. Before I knew it, I was rummaging through old photos, laughing over the silly antics that we used to pull off and found this picture of me!

I dug a little more into the albums and realised that my siblings had a thing with phones too! Perhaps it’s the buttons that oh-so-satisfy us when we hammer them incessantly [It's the same with lift buttons and anything that we can press.]. Perhaps it’s the idea of talking to someone on the other end of the line, who somehow hears us and responds to what we say, even though we can’t see them [Does this guy live in the phone?! But how?!]. Perhaps we feel like an adult just because we can use the phone [Monkeys see parents do it, hence monkeys do.]. Whatever it is, the phone provided us with endless entertainment. I remember asking my classmate, Aishah, for her phone number so we could call each other when I was in lower primary. The act of exchanging numbers alone made me feel so grown-up. Then when the teachers at school handed out an address book that listed emergency numbers and other helplines – I took matters into my own hand and called someone up on Tinkle Friend (no I wasn’t a distressed and neglected kid, I was just a chatterbox who really liked to press buttons on the phone) and chatted with the volunteers more frequently than I’d like to admit. I think I used to talk about what I did at school –  poor volunteers – they probably didn’t have the heart to tell me to bugger off…

These days, kids are equally, if not more, preoccupied with phones, but for other reasons. The iPhone is often glued to children’s hands, and they swipe with such flair that I wonder if they’ve had it since the day they were born. Photo-taking, photo-editing, playing games and videos, activities that would seem alien to even our parents are not the least bit foreign to the the modern-day child. Heck, there’s even video calling now, and no, children these days don’t wonder if person X is living in the phone, because they know that they don’t.

Whether it’s the iPhone, your phone or my phone, we all had a thing with phones. Don’t believe it? Go through your old photos and see if you can find one of you in dangerously close proximity to a phone. Post it up on your blog, tell your story and comment on this post with the link to your blog entry. Remember to link back to this post Nostalgia #1: iPhone, Your Phone, My Phone so your readers can take us on their trips down the memory lane too!

 

 

Being Home

It’s good to be home.

Eight months have passed since I last walked the streets of Singapore, since I held my mother’s hand, since I laughed to my father’s corny jokes, since I gave my sister big bear hugs just because I felt like it. And for the first time, I watched my brother and sister-in-law become proud parents of the most adorable little girl, A. Eight months ago, I knew A as a barely-there bump. Some umpteen years ago, I knew my brother as the solid older sibling, the one to look up to, and the one who occasionally ‘bullies’ me; today, he still is the one to look up to, but more, for he’s now the man of the house who fusses over his baby girl with so much love. And can you believe it? My sister and I are aunts now, and my parents…grandparents!! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy and proud we all are – it is indeed magical to be back to share this joy.

So yes, stolen precious hours with our families are the reasons why I’ve been keeping so quiet around here. Some of you told me that you miss my updates – I’m so terribly sorry…I missed you guys too! It’s unfortunate that our trip back home is so short, what with the numerous commitments we have in London. In between a week’s worth of working, falling ill and recovering, falling ill and recovering again, and barely getting over the jetlag, I’ve managed to squeeze in only that much time with our loved ones. Thanks to those who planned meet-ups way before I returned to Singapore, I’ve also been able to spend little pockets of time with friends – bloggers included. I’ve caught up with some lovely ladies over steamboat and even made ondeh-ondeh with new friends. M and I also caught up on the latest with one of our favourite couples to hang out with who very kindly treated us to a lovely brunch at Keyaki. Other peeps have asked to meet up too, but I’m afraid it’s going to be tough. I completely regret working during the first half of my trip in Singapore and wish I have more time to catch up, but I hope to make up for it next year!

As time whittles down to nothing, I’m struggling to make every second count for the rest of my stay. Something bad happened in our family this year, something that really broke my heart and scared me to bits, something that intensified our longing to be back. In fact, it was the sole reason why I wrestled some time out for a visit amidst our hectic schedules. Today, I’m just thankful to return to the family I know and love so well, yes I’m being a little mawkish over here but who wouldn’t be after all that has happened?

It feels way too good to be home, to come back and see that everything is as good as it can be. I’m sad that our trip is coming to an end so quickly. Indeed, we have a few more days on our end, but I know that time flies, especially when one yearns for it. I guess we should head on with the last leg of this race – just a little longer and we’ll make it to the finishing line. Before we know it, we will be home, won’t we?

Happy Birthday, My Little Red Dot

London. A city where M and I chase our dreams, and perhaps even living other people’s dreams. It is fun and exciting. There’s always something to do. The summers are so irresistible and pretty that they make up for all the crap weather that rain relentlessly on us during other seasons. One smells freedom in the air – there are barely any boundaries to what we can do and where we can go.

Sounds perfect, no? Here’s the newflash – nothing is and ever will be. Despite everything we’ve got going on over here, all the milestones that we’ve crossed, and everything that we’ve achieved, we miss home dearly. We miss Singapore.

Some have fondly christened Singapore ‘The Little Red Dot’, for its incredibly small size, so small that it only appears as a red dot at the tip of the Malaysia Peninsula on the world map. But small it might be next to giants in the neighbourhood, Singapore is a whole lot of everything for us.

Singapore is love. Our family and friends are there. Our parents in particular have supported us in all the tough choices we’ve made, even though it is not easy for them. This year, I lived out one of my worst fears when bad news hailed from home. I’m just thankful to the big man upstairs that everything has blown over, and that home will always be home, with my family smiling back at me whenever they pick me up from the airport. Those smiles, hugs and the tender strokes on my head when I am feeling down, they are so very precious.

Singapore is everything else and beyond. Stability, efficiency, safety, we’ve got it going as perfectly as any other country can even dream of.

Think about all the social unrest in other cities. Right now, I’m thinking of the London riots and I shudder at how a developed city could descend into such chaos. Then my thoughts wander back to Singapore and realise how fortunate we are. As M put it very succinctly in one of our conversations yesterday – in London, we have to look out for places that are safe; in Singapore, we have to look hard for places that aren’t.

Things work as efficiently as they can possibly be in Singapore. Public transport letting you down? Trains not coming on time? The city crippled because of strikes? Trains packed to the point where you have to wait ages to board another one? Try living here. Getting banks/organisations to do what you went there to do – try waiting and people even die here while waiting in hospitals. I was in a horseback riding accident once and guess what, the nurse-led unit said I had to be flown to another city in UK to get an X-ray done. Go figure. (Well come to think of it, at least I could be flown, in other undeveloped countries, people walk for a day to get a checkup and even to give birth.)

My point is, every country has its trophies and skeletons. London offers many opportunities, both for carving out a livelihood and for leisure. It gives us freedom, the room to be creative and to think out of the box. But it is freckled. I’m sure there’s much to complain about Singapore too, seeing the debates that recent elections have sparked off. We don’t have that much freedom, we are controlled, some even say we’re puppeted, but I love The Little Red Dot nonetheless. After all, it is home. We have much to be proud of for a young, miniscule country with no natural resources whatsoever next to global giants. Our forefathers built our country with their very hands and little else. I hope we can go on and do the same for our children. Here’s to 46 years of independence and magnificent strides into the future, and more to come!

Happy Birthday, my Little Red Dot. We’ll be home soon.

[Photos: Palm Sugar and Coconut Salted Butter Caramel Macarons specially made for this occasion, from yours truly to you]

If you love macarons, join me on my macaron journey.

Check out what I have been baking in my own kitchen.

Also check out my other food adventures.

*Updated: This post has been featured on Tastespotting. Check out my profile on Tastespotting to see my other featured posts!

 

Singapore Takeout (and Lady Gaga (S)takeout)

This morning, I woke up with a hangover from an overdose of gastronomic delights that I’ve had this week. What am I talking about? There is no such thing as an overdose of good food! Okay, scratch that and let me sober up so we can start over.

I was invited to the media luncheon for the Singapore Takeout which was held at London’s Southbank yesterday. Every fibre of my being was wriggling with excitement as the days led up to this event; I don’t want to go too much into the details but you would know why I feel this way if you’ve come across this post. As I got out of Waterloo station, the sky looked ominous. One wrong turn and a huge detour later, I found myself hugging my bag (which held my precious camera and extra lens) for dear life, battling my arthritic umbrella and willing it to workdammit, so I could get to the Takeout without actually having to swim in the Thames. It seemed like a bad way to start, and I was half-wishing that I should not have turned up.

But the day got infinitely better, the minute I stepped into the gazebo where Singapore Takeout was at. I shook off the rain, was offered a drink, whipped out my camera and got into the groove of meeting fellow bloggers and journalists. Things started to get into action, quite literally so, when we were treated to the unveiling of the shipping-container-turned-pop-up-kitchen, all this as we licked some wickedly creamy Chilli Chocolate Corals (inspired by the dead corals she saw when she was working with the Arzaks in San Sebastián and also by Singaporean’s love of chillithat Chef Janice Wong (owner and chef of 2am:dessertbar in Singapore) had prepared off our spoons! You could obviously tell that I was quivering with excitement from the blurred photo of the corals…There was no better way to kick off this event in the rain, with some velvety smooth dark chocolate cream and some pleasant heat that comes through at the back of your throat. I was duly impressed by Janice’s opening act.

Introductions by Chef Janice and Chef Peter Gordon (owner and chef of The Providores & Tapa Room) were in order, both of whom have created the 9-course menu that made for a very sumptuous lunch. Stories flew from kitchen to floor, the most memorable of which was how Chef Janice went through 72 hours of voluntary blindness to explore her palette and to take her imagination beyond. She even showed us how she printed her favourite poem using transfer sheets on to the laksa broth paper which made an appearance on our main course (excellent by the way, more on that later)! This young woman is indeed serious about the food that she creates and I couldn’t be more curious on what she was going to serve up.

After the food demonstration by Janice, we were ushered to our seats at the table for a meal that will soon make me so proud of Singapore. Granted, the menu wasn’t completely Singaporean; the dishes were created with the flavours of Singapore as a springboard; you could see that both chefs had given a modern interpretation to what Singaporean grub is. Having lived in London for a few years now, I haven’t been able to see how Singaporean cuisine evolved in recent years and I was just delighted to be able to witness this in the presence of esteemed, most unassuming and motivated chefs.

Take Janice for example, she told us how she laid awake till 3am the night before (as she had too much coffee) and jumped out of bed dreaming of serving a four-cheese laksa as an amuse bouche for this luncheon. How crazy is that? By the way, it worked brilliantly. I was a little skeptical when she told us about it, but one mouthful was all it took to convince me that her caffeinated instinct was spot-on! I wish we had more of the those.

To start, Peter served up an interesting twist to our street food favourite (oyster omelette), in the form of a green chilli omelette with a poached oyster, crab, mango, crispy shallots and coriander. This was refreshing on the palette, although a slightly wayward for me as it hinted more of Thai than Singaporean influences.

Janice then took us back to Chinese New Year, a festival that is most well-associated with copious amounts of food, with her clean and floral take on Yu Sheng. She had just returned from a stint at the Noma lab, and we were given a real treat when she served up cured tangy sashimi with delightfully fragrant herbs and flowers she foraged with the team at Noma. The plating was pretty as a picture and showcased her flair for creating visual dynamic and equally delish cuisine.

For our main course, Peter treated us to some five-spice infused pork belly (that was brined for 24 hours, steamed, baked, pressed and chilled before being deep-fried) and peanuts with rice, cucumber and chilli roasted pineapple. The pineapple was slightly reminiscent of the achar (pickled vegetables). This dish also reminded me of the strong, deep and fragrant Nonya flavours that I have come to miss.

After this, a refreshing sorbet that was made from rice infused with lemongrass was served as a palette cleanser. White and incredibly pristine, it looked every bit as light as it looked. I really loved this and again, wished we could have more of it. This is another of Janice’s creations by the way (what can’t she create, honestly?!).

Janice wow-ed us further with her lemongrass infused laksa dumplings with handmade noodles for our second main. Some have warned us that this wasn’t a traditional take on the usual laksa we are accustomed to, but I didn’t care, because this was miles better. Janice packed a tonne of pleasant heat and lemongrass into the laksa broth, which turned out to be quite the perfect soup to me. The poem-printed laksa paper was a fun and thoughtful touch as it brought more flavour to the dish in an unexpected form. I also loved that she added chive flowers to the laksa, which were not only pretty, but lent a good kick to the broth. This was easily my favourite dish of the day. Janice did joke about how relieved she was as she brought on the dessert course, but hey Janice, if you’re reading this, you have nothing to worry about because you did a fantastic job on the savoury courses!

Now I was really looking forward to dessert after the main courses, we’ve seen plenty of flair in the dishes before and since I am an aspiring home pastry ‘chef’, I was very, very keen on what followed. Peter spoke of his love for chendol and created the Pandan Ginger Tapioca with Sherry Agar Jelly, Lychees, Strawberries and Almond Coconut Cream for this. I really liked the tapioca pearls which were richly flavoured with pandan and boasted distinct ginger notes, although I thought it could have done without the lychees and strawberries to keep the flavours simple. I will be bookmarking the pandan and ginger combination, however, for future recipes in my kitchen.

Since Janice is a pastry chef, I could hardly wait for her creations. Her take on Popcorn Nostalgia (first picture in this entry) was spot-on and incredibly fun with the duo of sweet and salty popcorn ice cream served with yuzu parfait and salted caramel. I cleaned off my plate very quickly once I tucked in, although I could hardly bare to destroy the work of art she has created on the plate before I picked up my dessert spoon. She also put a spin to the sticky toffee pudding by making it with gula melaka and serving it up with a dab of vanilla-rish kaya – very rich, very deep and my only complaint was the portion was too small!

As I mentioned to one of the PR consultants, I came away from the luncheon feeling very proud of Singapore. Our flavours have transcended boundaries and made its way into the global scene, and I feel confident enough to say that we are good at what we whip up, whether its street food or modern Singaporean cuisine. People are excited at exploring the tastes and textures of Singapore street food, and many renowned chefs that I’ve spoken to over the last year, such as Jason Atherton and Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, are inspired by our flavours. I can’t wait to return to Singapore to properly witness the old and new coming together in our culinary history.

But for now, I shall say to you that the Singapore Takeout in London is only here for one more day (today!), you might be able to make it for lunch now, or dinner (admission is free and you get two complimentary dishes, whilst stocks last), so head down if I’ve got you curious! I urge you to do so!

Swing by at:

London’s South Bank, The Riverside Walkway (by Gabriel’s Wharf), South Bank, London SE1 9PP

Admission times are:

11th June 2011: 12.15pm – 3pm, or 5.30pm to 7.45pm

Singapore Takeout will be travelling to Paris next, and 7 other countries after that, so check out the Singapore Eats Facebook page for more details!

I leave you with a picture of three manly butts that I spotted after the event. Lady Gaga was recording a show at the ITV studio, which was behind the Singapore Takeout venue, and I was merely (s)taking out the Lady Gaga (s)takeout! Now I wonder if Lady Gaga stopped by for the laksa….she might get her claws out for that!

*Updated: This post has been featured on Foodgawker. Check out my profile on Foodgawker to see my other featured posts!

Also check out my other food adventures!

Singapore Comes To London

I’ve been dreaming. Not of beach holidays. Not of being a millionaire. Not even of hot guys, except M of course (and you’re not allowed to disagree). I’ve been dreaming instead, of something that resides 6000 miles from here.

I’ve been missing home alot, my family, Singapore and its lip-smacking array of gourmet delights. And I dream of going back for a holiday. Work gets in the way, flights are expensive, nah uh, looks like I’ve got to wake up from that dream….

…so imagine my delight when a little bird tells me that Singapore is coming to London.

Really?! Singapore’s coming to London?! Is it like Singapore Day?! (for those of you who don’t know, Singapore Day was held in London in 2009 and the famous hawkers were flown down to cook for us homesick people)

No it isn’t, but it’s better.

Indeed. I’ve been invited, along with a number of other food bloggers based in London and the media, to the Singapore Takeout. You might have read about it over at Chubby Hubby’s. So yes, Singapore IS coming to London in the form of a specially-customised shipping container. An initiative that is part of Singapore’s International Culinary Exchange programme (SPICE), this unique pop-up kitchen and restaurant is embarking on an epic world tour over the next year, dishing out the unique flavours of Singapore to the rest of the world. The container will dock at the shores of Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Moscow, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Sydney, all this after London; that comes up to 67,509miles or 108,690km – almost 3 times round the world! Oh my word, It’s going to be more well-travelled than The Pleasure Monger!

Along with the pop-up comes Janice Wong, the young and uber talented chef-and-owner of 2am: dessertbar (you can also read her blog here). Having been based in London for the past few years, I haven’t had the chance to witness the evolution of Singapore cuisine, and I’m personally very excited at the prospect of meeting Janice, who graduated from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and has worked in some of the world’s best restaurants, including Wylie Dufresne’s WD50 in New York, Alinea in Chicago and Thomas Keller’s Per Se. Her ability to reinvent Singapore street food and desserts into gastronomical works of art have led to collaborations with other culinary stars such as Juan Mari and Elena Arzak of Spain’s (you can read about my meet-up with the Arzaks here) three Michelin-star hot-spot Arzak (my review here) and the celebrated patissier Pierre Hermé. As you can see from my old posts, I am a big fan of the Arzaks and Pierre Hermé; I am literally quivering with excitement when I think about the flavours that Janice is going to serve up. Just look at the menu:

Lemongrass infused Laksa Dumplings with Noodles

Sweet Salty Popcorn Yuzu. Caramel

Chilli Chocolate Corals Homemade Peanut Butter. Honeycomb

I’m really looking forward to being inspired by the flavours of home, to think out of the box when it comes to cooking, preparing and showcasing Singapore’s food, which I am so very proud of,  to friends from all over the world.

Now, I hope you’ll come by to join us in this one-of-a-kind experience. 25 selected members of the public will have a chance to get up-close and personal with Janice Wong in her 45-minute cooking demonstration on 10th June at 4pm, where she will reveal how she prepares dishes such as Chilli Chocolate Corals. Those who are not able to grab these limited (and highly coveted tickets, if I might add), can still sample her dishes, when the Singapore Takeout opens its doors to all members of the public (see times below). Complimentary tasting portions of these dishes will be given out to all visitors at these times:

THE ‘WHEN’:

10th June 2011: 5.3opm – 7.45pm

11th June 2011: 12.15pm – 3pm, or 5.30pm to 7.45pm

THE ‘WHERE’:

London’s South Bank, The Riverside Walkway (by Gabriel’s Wharf), South Bank, London SE1 9PP

THE ‘WHAT’:

Admission is FREE, with 2 complimentary sample dishes from the menu.

THE ‘HOW’:

To have a taste of inventive flavours of Singapore at London’s Southbank, all you have to do is to register HERE.

Being nosey, I might stick around after the private session, so if you see me at the public event at 5.30pm on 10th June, please come up and say hi!

For more updates on the Singapore Takeout event, follow the Facebook page here or @YourSingaporeUK on Twitter for the London leg. Don’t worry if you aren’t in London for this, remember that Singapore Takeout is going to drop by Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Moscow, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Sydney, so look out for registration details!

Singapore, ahoy!

Photo credits: Singapore Eats Facebook Page


About The Author
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Read about my food-gasmic adventures in San Sebastian here! Also please come by and check out the prettiest cake I've made over here!
Macarons: Be Inspired
Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cookies
Rose & Lychee Chiffon Cake
Pan-seared scallops, jamon iberico chip, pomme puree, jamon iberico foam and chestnut
Red Velvet Cake
An English-themed Dessert Table
Chocolate & Hazelnut Salted Caramel Cake
Gula Melaka Salted Caramel Buttercream Macarons
The Ispahan Cake
The Ispahan
Sunflower Seed Macarons with Black Truffle Salted White Chocolate Ganache
Lemon Cupcakes with Lime & Ginger Whipped Cream
Portuguese Egg Tarts
Ba Zhang - Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Braised Pork Belly
The Fat Duck
Strawberry and Cream Pancakes
Pandan Souffle Roll with Toasted Coconut Whipped Cream
Red Velvet Cake
Lychee and Emperor's Seven Treasures tea-infused macarons
M's Spanish Paella
M's birthday cake - Japanese Cheesecake with Rose Whipped Cream
Lor Bak Gou - Fried Radish Cake
Pandan Chiffon Cake
Homemade Scones
Marmite & Coffee Pork Chops
Quick and Easy fried rice recipe!
Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons
Pumpkin & Chocolate Brownies with Cream Cheese Swirls
Matcha, Milo and Plain Polvorons
Kampar Chicken Biscuits - A popular Malaysian snack
White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies
Hustling the Xiao Long Bao in my kitchen
Bailey's & Coffee Macarons

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