Announcing the Winner of the Savour 2012 Ticket Giveaway

30 03 2012

Before I announce the winner of the Ticket Giveaway, let me first explain the methodology used to select the winner. I uploaded the names of all the participants into an online random random name generator and chose the first name which was generated.

Congratulations to Kelly for winning the Savour 2012 Ticket Giveaway! Hope you have fun this Sunday! I will be contacting you later tonight 😀

Anyway if you are a Nespresso fan, there is currently a giveaway contest for 3 Nespresso Pixie Machines and Nespresso Vouchers.

For a period of 3 weeks starting from 19th March, 2012, Nespresso has launched a digital engagement campaign whereby visitors to its site can take a quiz for the chance to be 1 of 3 lucky persons to walk away with the award-winning Nespresso PIXIE machines in its latest 2012 colours. In addition, the first 10 people submitting correct responses to each day’s quiz stand to win a $100 Nespresso Voucher each. The link is as follows: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/nespresso/contest.php





Savour 2012 Ticket Giveaway worth $44

26 03 2012

The SAVOUR concept is a first of its kind in Singapore, with a philosophy to unite the finest food and drink with a plethora of expert master classes, live demonstrations, fun workshops and culinary shopping, in an event that is accessible to all. Within one purpose-built venue, one can find an alfresco Gourmet Village teeming with award-winning restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs, a bespoke indoor Gourmet Auditorium complete with a state-of-the-art kitchen where culinary master classes are held, and a Gourmet Market that boasts an international showcase of artisan food and drink exhibitors.

At the alfresco Gourmet Village, 15 leading chefs and restaurants from across the globe will each present their signature creations with a showcase of over 50 tantalising dishes to tempt your taste buds. With your Savour dollars, choose your dish, indulge and then move on to your next culinary adventure. Click here to see participating chefs.

Indulge in retail therapy at a 5,000sqm air-conditioned Gourmet Market where you can sample hundreds of quality products from an array of international artisan and specialty exhibitors. Try your hand at the complimentary cocktail-making workshops, coffee appreciation classes, wine-tasting workshops, and the numerous cooking demonstrations. Click here for the full list of market activities.

Attend cooking master classes by our Celebrity Chefs at the Gourmet Auditorium. Learn tricks of the trade in a bespoke air-conditioned arena complete with a state-of-the-art Bosch kitchen. Click here for the full list of classes and activities.

There’s something for everyone at Savour so make it a great day out with friends and family!

Savour 2012 will be happening later on this week from 30 March 2012 (Fri) to 1 April 2012 (Sunday). As an official sponsor of this event, Nespresso has kindly sponsored 1 Savour 2012 Ticket worth $44 through a simple click through competition. The ticket is for admission to the event on 1st April 2012 (Sunday) and comes with $21 of Savour Dollars which can be spent during the event.

To participate in this giveaway, just click on the link below, fill it up with your name, contact number, email and answer 1 simple question correctly:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dElYZVREN1ctc2twMG1qVXFZSC1haGc6MQ

I will be accepting entries till 11.59pm 29th March (Thursday) and will be notifying the winner of the giveaway by 30th March (Friday).

For more details about what Savour 2012 is about and what activities they have lined up, do visit their website at http://www.savour.sg/





Food Republic Beer Garden – Need A Supper Place?

26 03 2012

*This meal was sponsored by Food Republic

Let’s take a short break from all the atas Restaurant Week meals and cover some hawker fare!

Surely you must have heard of the Makan Sutra Gluttons Bay @ Esplanade right? Well, Food Republic has done something very similar, bringing together a collection of famous hawkers under one retractable roof that they call Food Republic Beer Garden. Located just outside St James Power Station, it is a collaborated effort between the BreadTalk Group (who owns Food Republic) and St James Holdings, where Food Republic manages the food stalls while St James handles the alcoholic drinks Stall. Opening hours are from 6pm to 5am (opens till 6am on Fri-Sun), catering to the working crowd who want to place to grab a cheap beer over some hawker fare, tourists coming from a day out at Sentosa, hungry locals looking for supper and revelers who just want to have a snack or drink after a night of partying.

I was down for an invited tasting last week and that was actually my first time hearing of the place. After all, I’m more of a Zouk and Velvet person than a St James person.

Launched a year ago, the theme of the 400-seater open-air Food Republic Beer Garden likens that of a scene straight out of Singapore in the 60s, where you see pushcarts, truck stalls and kiosks selling all manner of Singapore-style hawker fare. There’s also live entertainment here, where a chinese band comes on stage and plays a few sets throughout the night.

There are quite a couple of decent stalls here but I will only be covering what I feel is worth coming back for. And I apologize that I’m going to be using some of their professional taken photos and I want to mention beforehand that they might not represent exactly what you might end up getting upon order.

The first on my list would definitely be the Kung Pao Frog Leg Porridge ($8/reg). The stall here is a branch from the famous Lorong 9 Geylang Frog Leg Porridge. This was so awesome that a week after the tasting, I headed down to Geylang to relive this wonderful memory and it was just as good! The congee was smooth, the frog leg tender with a winning kung pao sauce that complemented the congee well with a mix of savouriness and spiciness (chili padi was probably used in addition to the dried chili). I dare say this is one of the best Kung Pao Frogs you can get in Singapore.

Anyway the difference between porridge and congee has always troubled me so here’s what differentiates the two. Congee is a subset of porridge, and usually made using rice while porridge can be made using oats, cereals and grains.

My relationship with Tutu Kueh goes way back. I remember about 15 years ago, there was a NTUC opposite the former National Library at Marine Parade and within this NTUC, there was a stall selling Tutu Kueh and everytime I accompanied my mum for grocery shopping, we never failed to get some. It was one of my childhood guilty pleasures, alongside KFC and Muah Chee. Coming in flavours of peanut and coconut, I always had a hard time deciding what to get. Now that I’m older with more pocket money, the answer comes so much more easily, get both. Tutu Kueh stalls are quickly dying out in Singapore, so if you haven’t tried it before, do visit Chinatown Tan’s Tutu Kueh Kiosk, where your Tutu Kuehs ($0.60 each) are prepared a la minute.

Two other stalls that trail closely behind is the Bak Kut Teh and Hokkien Mee.

The Bak Kut Teh stall here is named Balestier Bak Kut Teh, but given that I have yet to try any of the numerous Bak Kut Teh shops at Balestier, I can’t testify if this is the real deal. Still, it’s hard to find fault with a Bak Kut Teh ($6.50) that has pork ribs whose meat falls off the bone. A clear peppery soup base is used for this Bak Kut Teh with just the right zing. Surprisingly however, the stall’s Pig Trotters ($6.50) doesn’t fare just as well. The trotters failed to absorb the flavours of the spices and the braising could have been executed better.

I asked Joy, our lovely PR correspondent for the night which was her favourite dish here and she pinpointed the Thye Chua Fried Hokkien Mee ($7). Served on an opeh leaf, the hokkien mee was a “wet version” with a very fragrant stock base, sure to appease one’s locally attuned tastebuds.

Last but not least, there is a Rojak stall called Aunty Jessie Rojak that serves pretty interesting Rojak renditions. Rojak means “mixed up” in Malay so who is to say what can or cannot be used as mixing ingredients? Their more conventional Black Rojak uses the usual Youtiao, Cucumbers, Peanuts and dark Prawn Paste Sauce, while in their White Rojak ($7), you get to see strawberries and a tangy Sour Plum Sauce is used instead. The Sour Plum Sauce tastes a little similar to the Lemon Lime Sauce you get at Aston’s, so while some might find the combo weird, I found it very appetizing as a meal starter.

On the whole, I find lots of potential in Food Republic Beer Garden. The standards here are definitely above the average hawker centre or food court, but just like Gluttons Bay @ Esplanade, hawker food here is priced at a slight premium given the impending inflow of tourist traffic and live entertainment. I choose to believe that I will return in the near future, for supper beckons.

Special Thanks to Food Republic for organizing this tasting session!

Food Republic Beer Garden

3 Sentosa Gateway, St James Power Station





Nespresso Boutique @ Ion Orchard – Espresso Tasting

25 03 2012

*This tasting was sponsored by Nespresso

There’s been heated debate going on about whether bloggers should accept tasting invitations. One camp argues that an element of bias will be present for invited meals, ruining the creditability of a blog. That’s why I salute the bloggers who choose to stay objective and blog on their experiences in the guise of a full-paying customer. Yet, I find myself still getting excited whenever I receive such invitations, largely because they signal that there are some people around who appreciate the efforts of my late night blogging, which just makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

So apart from the fact that I need that ego boost as a pick me up sometimes, there are other perks in accepting invitations for workshops and tastings (apart from just the free food that most people tend to associate tastings with). Firstly, its the chance to mingle and befriend other like-minded souls who are equally if not more crazily obsessed with food. Secondly, it’s the chance to interact with industry professionals like chefs, barristas and restaurant staff, where you actually get to learn more about certain aspects of dining that you were previously ignorant about.

I attended a Nespresso Tasting today and am pleased to have fulfilled the above mentioned perks, meeting bloggers from The Silver Chef, sgdessert, Superadrianme and DaintyFlair, in addition to learning more about Espresso appreciation. Nespresso is one of the sponsors of Savour 2012 and this invitation was part of their publicizing efforts. They will be down over next weekend during the Savour 2012 event to host an Espresso appreciation class as well should you be interested to attend.

We were first given a tutorial on what makes a good Espresso and one defining element is the presence of a generous layer of “Crema” or what is seen as the hazelnut coloured froth on the surface of your Espresso. The Crema is formed by a mixture of air and liquid and helps to liberate aromas above the cup after extraction, but once it stabilises, it helps to preserve the aromatic richness present in the Espresso instead. To get the perfect Crema, the water must be hot enough, the water pressure high enough and the coffee fresh and grounded finely enough.

Some interest takeaways I learnt today was that the caffeine present in an Espresso is only about half of that present is a standard 240ml mug of drip coffee and that the intensity (bitterness) of a coffee is defined by its degree of roasting (the longer the roast, the more bitter and intense flavour you get) and has no correlation to the amount of caffeine that is present inside.

I have always associated “Grand Crus” with wines but Nespresso also calls its 16 varieties of coffee as “Grand Cru“, possibly because a coffee’s flavour and tones can be just as complex and varied as wines.

Of the 16 types, 3 are Pure Origin Espressos (meaning the beans are sourced from a single location), 7 are Espresso Blends (meaning beans from several locations are mixed to create a unique flavour), 3 are Lungos (Coffees that are meant to be enjoyed in a large cup instead of a 40ml Espresso shot) and 3 Decaffeinated (consisting 2 Espresso flavours and 1 Lungo). Of the 16, I managed to sample 4 different types of Espressos and 1 Limited Edition Espresso that is no longer on sale.

Our planned tasting was to consist of the 3 Pure Origin Espressos, each with its own unique aroma.

We started off with the mildest Espresso of the lot, Dulsao do Brasil. It is supposed to taste of honey, malt and cereals but apart from being rather smooth and not as bitter as I’d imagine, I had some trouble detecting the sweet undertones. A piece of advice we were given was to slurp our espressos as we do our ramens, so as to allow the espresso to splash with around your tongue and provide a burst of flavour.

For our second Espresso, we tried the fruity Rosabaya de Colombia. In describing coffees, NEVER use the term sour unless you are describing coffee that has turned bad. The appropriate term to use is citrus-sy. I was able to detect light winey tinges in this Espresso, so I was quite happy that my palate wasn’t a total flop after all.

In relation to citrus-sy coffees, one of the bloggers asked how do we differentiate good citrus coffees from bad sour coffee. Given that question, we were given another Espresso Blend to try called Cosi. This was a very light Espresso Blend that wasn’t very bitter. What I discovered about this blend is that I didn’t detect the lemony tones until after swallowing the coffee. So it was more of an aftertaste. For spoilt sour coffees, you will be sure to notice right away once it touches your tastebuds. This was probably my favourite of the 4 coffees, probably because I found the citrus-sy flavours unique and easily discernible.

I’m not one for “Kopi Gao” but if you are, you might want to try the Indriya from India, one of the most intense and bitter Espressos that Nespresso has to offer to kick start your morning. As per the Cosi, I only discovered the intensiveness of the Indriya during the aftertaste, where I was taken by surprise with a bitter blast of flavour, causing my face to cringe. I was not the only one though, as I was keeping my eye on the guest seated next to me who had similar reactions.

I also took a look at the various Nespresso machines on sale. The latest model is the Nespresso Pixie, which is better than previous models because of its compactness and certain extra features such as an auto power-off function to save electricity and a light indicator to signal the current level of water in the machine and when it is time to top up with more water.

Truthfully, I always stick to my lattes and cappuccinos, and have often steered clear of espressos, scared that the bitterness will overwhelm me so I was pleased that this tasting gave me a chance to discover the depths of Espresso appreciation that I have yet to unravel.

Special thanks to Nespresso and Crowd PR for hosting the Espresso tasting.

Nespresso Boutique

2 Orchard Turn, #01-14 Ion Orchard





Forlino II – A Peek into their Restaurant Week Menu

23 03 2012

Forlino was named after its former head chef Osvaldo Forlino. After leaving Forlino, he has since set up 2 Italian establishments over the past 2 years, No Menu Singapore and Osvaldo Ristorante, both of which I’m dying to try. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and just focus on Forlino for today.

I was here just over a year ago and fondly remembered that the food was palatable, though the experience was not impressionable enough to lure me back till now. Accompanying me for this Restaurant Week Lunch, priced at $40++, were fellow food bloggers Christine from Crunchy Bottoms, Jing Wen from The Dirty Stall and Issie. I’m relatively easy to please but I can’t say the same for my fellow guests, who are definitely more discerning when it comes to their nom noms.

When I saw Stuzzicappetito as the first course, my mind drew a blank. Had no idea whatsoever what that meant. Googling it after I got home, I discovered that it is the Italian equivalent of an appetizer, and means to tease the appetite. We were given a warm bread roll each with cheese shavings. Crunchy Bottoms bakes her own bread from time to time and postulated that the bread we got was machine-made, which is a bummer. The cheese was awesome though, tasted like a mild cheddar though I reckon it’s probably a type of cheese whose name is long and unpronounceable.

Anyway just some side info on cheddar cheese since I’m on the topic. Have you ever come across the terms “mild”, “tasty” or “vintage” no your cheese packets and wondered what the different styles of cheddar actually mean? Well, these terms refer to how long the cheeses have been aged with mild being the youngest and vintage being the oldest and carrying the most pungent flavours.

My favourite course of this meal was the Tagliolini with Spanner Crab, Sweet Peas and Tarragon Cream. The Tagliolini was cooked towards the softer side, with a light tomato base sauce (which I assume the crab was cooked in) whose tanginess was downplayed by the green tarragon sauce. The portions were large enough to qualify as mains and I was adequately satiated by the end of the course to retire for the day. Then again, the pasta was so good that I was quietly anticipating what was to come next.

Crunchy Bottom’s Mediterranean Seabass Fillet with Braised Artichoke and Apricot Sauce was very well executed in my view. The fish was fresh and moist, going well with the foamy apricot sauce, which was only subtly creamy so as not to musk the natural sweetness of the fish.

I was rather disappointed with the Crispy Duck Leg Confit with Vin Santo Sauce. For duck confits, it is usually the case where either the duck skin is pure decadence or the meat is moist and succulent. You seldom get the best of both worlds. In this case however, the duck confit failed on both accounts. The skin was moderately soggy and the duck meat was stringy and excessively salty. Vin Santo is a type of sweet dessert wine and together with the lentils, they helped to alleviate the saltiness somewhat. I guess I was going through this course with a very unsatisfied look, like I just scored a B+ on a test. B+ is an Asian F 😀

For desserts, we had the Amaretti & Duck Chocolate Pudding, Vanilla and Wild Berry Compote. Amaretti means Macaroons or Cookies in Italian, which I guess is what was sprinkled on the top of the chocolate pudding. The pudding wasn’t very smooth, as I could still see air bubbles like pimples scarring the surface of the pudding. Taste-wise, I didn’t really enjoy it and felt that the berry compote was not the ideal complement for the pudding. My tastebuds might be part of the minority though, since accounts from my friends who have visited Forlino for restaurant week paint a very different picture.

I’d say Forlino might be a little overrated. They do a decent job with their pastas and possibly foie gras dishes, but they should leave the duck confits to the French.

Forlino

1 Fullerton Road, #02-06

Tel: +65 6877 6995





Le Saint Julien – French at its Finest

23 03 2012

We all have meal spending thresholds. Most people will try to stick within the range of $5-$10 for daily routine meals, $10-$25 for gathering-type meals and perhaps $25-$40 for celebratory occasions. This is probably the reason why I have trouble sometimes finding lunch kakis’ when I want to go out for a nice lunch out of the blue.

I guess it’s because of this blog and my routine uploads of food pictures on facebook that leave many people assuming that my meal spending threshold is non-existent but sadly, that is purely a myth. That is why Restaurant Week is so important to me. While not every participating restaurant offers a huge discount off their usual set meal prices, some do take the effort to cater to the humbler than usual crowd and Le Saint Julien is one of the latter.

Before today, I would never dream of dining at Le Saint Julien without a reason to celebrate. An ala carte meal without wine would probably set you back $150-$200! Prices of their 3-Course Set Lunches and 6-Course Set Dinners are slightly more palatable at $46++ and $168++, though I would still think think twice if it were just a regular meal to catch up with friends. After lunch today however, I have to admit my propensity to spend at Saint Julien has been elevated somewhat.

There’s a nice lounge and bar area to have an aperitif should you arrive ahead of your guests. I was browsing through Saint Julien’s website when I came across their wine outlook, where I saw the phrase “$60 for 750ml”. At the back of my mind, I was like “Wa, that’s super reasonable for a fine dining restaurant!”. Then reality struck, it was the corkage charges…

Walking into the main dining area, what you see is sleek furnishings and a high ceiling. This is important so that it doesn’t get too noisy as the crowd starts streaming in. Ms Edith Lai, wife of Chef Julien Bompard, whizzes around the restaurant ensuring everything is in order. She has after all been in the hospitality industry for much of her career and given the level of professionalism and training of her wait staff, we know we are in good hands.

Diners aren’t given much flexibility for the Restaurant Week 3-Course Set Lunch Menu. Appetizers and Desserts are fixed, while there are 2 choices for Mains. An extra course can be ordered at an additional price of $26-$32++, depending on which additional course (Foie Gras, Lobster Bisque or Escargot) is chosen. I decided against it as I have already overkilled my dining budget for this and next week.

We started off the meal with the Slow Cooked Egg with Foie Gras Emulsion, Mushrooms and Black Truffle Oil. Initially, I thought the Foie Gras Emulsion was the white liquid in the cup but it was actually the thin layer of brown paste coating the brioche and it totally blew me away. The white liquid is actually just the whites of the Slow Cooked Egg. I wasn’t paying attention when the wait staff explained it to us, but I’m certain this is no normal soft boiled egg as the yolk is semi-solid while the whites are extremely delicate and runny. Typically for soft boiled eggs, it would be the reverse. I could definitely detect the traces of truffle oil in the egg cup as well, which is an added treat.

We are lucky that Aries chose the Roasted Daurade Fish with “Arbois” Wine and Avruga Caviar Sauce as her main, as it makes for a lovely picture. Daurade is more commonly known as Sea Bream or Tai, a mild tasting fish. I would say that on its own, it is unspectacular, but with the creamy gravy, we swooned. This just highlights the importance of synergizing different elements of a dish. Just fyi, Arbois is a type of white grape found in France and is considered one of the less acidic grape types. I haven’t really heard of it before because it’s a minor grape, compared to the ubiquitous Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.

For the rest of us, we opted for the Braised Pork Belly with Sauerkraut in Filo Pastry, served with Apple Calvados Sauce instead. We all wondered how Chef Julien managed to transfer the pork filled filo pastry onto the plate, as the pastry crust was paper thin, shattering upon light proding. The pork belly was savoury and flavourful, balanced well by the sour zing from the Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) at the base of the pastry, as well as the mildly sweet apple brandy sauce.

The Parfait with Banana, Chocolate and Pralines came with slightly disjointed elements, especially the Chocolate Almond flavoured (for want of a better word I shall just use) biscuit, whose presence I thought was totally unnecessary. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Parfait which was banana flavoured. The caramelized banana was nice, tasted more alcoholic than sweet (perhaps soaked in alcohol before caramelizing?), but still just an accessory adorning the main attraction (the parfait).

Despite being a discounted Restaurant Week lunch, this experience was definitely memorable enough to justify adding Le Saint Julien to my list of favourite restaurants. After all, if $47 bucks got me all this, just think what a $168 set dinner will get me?

Le Saint Julien

3 Fullerton Road, The Fullerton Water Boat House

Tel: +65 6534 5947





Win Nespresso PIXIE machine and Nespresso Vouchers + Savour 2012

21 03 2012

Whenever someone decides to fly off to London,  you often hear of people jumping at the opportunity for a free courier service to procure a relatively cheaper Prada or Gucci bag. Increasingly however, Nespresso machines and capsules are fast becoming the new in thing. That’s why I believe many would jump at the chance to win free Nespresso PIXIE machines and Nespresso Vouchers.

Nespresso PIXIE

For a period of 3 weeks starting from 19th March, 2012, Nespresso has launched a digital engagement campaign whereby visitors to its site can take a quiz for the chance to be 1 of 3 lucky persons to walk away with the award-winning Nespresso PIXIE machines in its latest 2012 colours. In addition, the first 10 people submitting correct responses to each day’s quiz stand to win a $100 Nespresso Voucher each. The link is as follows: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/nespresso/contest.php

In addition, Nespresso is also the proud sponsor of Savour 2012, a gastronomic event where 15 reputable chefs will be coming down to showcase their culinary skills. We will be witnessing Chef Alain Passard of 3-Michelin Starred L’Arpege restaurant, Chef Hans Valimaki of 2-Michelin Starred Chez Dominique and Chef Emmanuel Stroobant of locally acclaimed french restaurant Saint Pierre in action, just to name a few.

It will be held in the F1 Paddock and Pit Building from 30th March to 1st April 2012 and tickets are priced at $40 for the afternoon timeslot and $60 for the evening timeslot. (tickets come with $30 food credits that can be spent at the event). Complimentary masterclasses ranging from but not exculsive to Wine, Vodka, Whiskey and Cofee appreciation, Artisan Bread making, Cocktail making, Cheese tasting, Food styling and Photography and Tiramisu making will also be held during the event so it definitely promises to be an eye-opener! More details can be found at: http://www.savour.sg/

So if you are a foodie and have a few extra bucks to spare, why not spend half a day gaining enlightenment on the finer things in life? And if you are wondering if I’m going, the answer is yes, on the Friday night slot on 30th March.








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