2am Dessert Bar – Contemporary Desserts with Wine Pairings

22 10 2012

It’s no secret Singapore lacks a wine culture. For most, the urge to splurge on a bottle of wine costing as much as the meal itself just doesn’t seem all that appealing. It doesn’t help that when a wine menu arrives, one meets lines and lines of words that seem all too foreign. Not wanting to buy something that we might not enjoy, we typically settle for a lesser soft drink or a more approachable beer.

Harbouring such feelings for the longest time, I decided to take a little more initiative over the past 2 months by attending wine tastings. Rather than just buying bottles off the rack, I think wine tastings are the best way to get a crash course on wine appreciation. That’s because by trying different wines one after another, you will be better able to appreciate the subtle and not so subtle differences between different labels.

The latest wine tasting I attended was at 2am Dessert Bar, an event organized by the SMU Wine Appreciation Club. I paid a nominal fee of $30 for 3 desserts with wine pairings and if you are vaguely aware of 2am’s price catalogue, you would have realized that I probably saved about $90, much thanks to SMU subsidizing my meals! Now you now why SMU charges school fees that are 20% higher than NUS’s and NTU’s…

While there’s classical fare like Tiramisu, Cheesecake and Chocolate Cake available, I’d imagine that 2am prides itself more on creating contemporary desserts that play on all your senses. To enhance the whole dessert experience, every dessert on the menu also comes with a recommended wine pairing. Friend R tried their degustation menu a while back and told me for one of the courses, she was given a test tube smelling of Popcorn to whiff at while having her Popcorn dessert. Interesting much?

The first dessert I had was the Popcorn ($17++) but it wasn’t the same one as what R got previously if that’s why you are wondering. It’s a creative concept, where 2 different types of popcorn mousses (sweet and salty) sprinkled with dehydrated popcorn are at the opposite ends of the dish, with Passionfruit sorbet in the centre. The silky popcorn mousses totally worked for me, with both varieties tasting exactly how actual popcorn tastes like. Despite being polar opposites, I still found trouble deciding on my favorite. My only gripe was that the sorbet was extremely sour, much too sharp for the delicate tasting popcorn mousse in my humble opinion.

Pairing this dessert was Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris Central Otago 2oo8 ($18++), a white wine from New Zealand. Despite taking down tasting notes, I shan’t go into describing the wines because I believe the articulation of wine flavours varies quite greatly from person to person and I’d hate to sound like a pretentious snob saying the wine tastes of vanilla, pine nuts and lychee.

For the 2nd dessert, I had the Kayambe H2O ($18++), which is essentially Chocolate Rocks with Caramel, a Burnt Caramel ball, Chocolate Soil and Yuzu Sorbet, made using 72% Michel Cluizel Chocolate (a French chocolate with 72% cocoa content), and Evian water. This dessert didn’t quite agree with me as the chocolate comes across as a little too heavy. The best thing in this dish was probably the yuzu sorbet.

This dessert was paired with Finca Constancia Petit Verdot & Syrah 2010 ($21++), a red wine from Spain that smells of matured fruit (imagine stewed fruit) rather than fresh ones. Anyway a random wine tip I learnt at this juncture was that as red wines get older, it gets a lighter shade. When white wines get older, it gets a darker shade.

Lastly, I had the Cheese Avalanche ($18++), a deconstructed Cheesecake with Biscotti, Candied Figs, Spanish Corn and sous vide Cantaloupe (a classy synonym for Rock Melon). My favourite of the 3 desserts, I was amazed at how balanced this dish was in flavour. The cheesecake was smooth but by itself, it would have been merely pleasant and uninteresting. I liked how the rock melon cubes added the extra sweetness while the spanish corn (tastes like those corn snacks you get from Philippines) added a savoury tone and distinct crunch.

This dessert was paired with Pauleczki Tokaji 3 Hungary 2000 ($16++), a sweet dessert wine that goes down pretty smoothly, downplaying the actual alcohol content.

Desserts take centre stage at 2am Dessert Bar so apart from the few snacks like Fries and Drumlets, there isn’t much “proper food” here. Then again, you might be surprised at how 3 desserts can fill you up quite nicely for dinner.

2am Dessert Bar

21A Lorong Liput, Holland Village

Tel: +65 6291 9727

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Ticktok – New Eatery Queue Time App

20 10 2012

Have you ever been frustrated of long waiting times to get seats at eateries? Don’t you wish there was an app that could feed you real time information on estimated queue times? Well, there’s a new app that just launched on 17 October that does just that and it’s called TickTok. In addition to giving real time info on queue times, the app is also location sensitive and provides additional features such as giving you a list of restaurants within your vicinity, providing restaurant reviews and informing users on promotions that these restaurants are offering.

The interface is user friendly so you should be navigating your way around it like a pro in a jiffy.

To incentivize users to share real time info, the app also gives out dining rewards in the form of discount vouchers for active users. Well, I think the idea is novel but it must be driven by a large user network to be successful and whether or not it can attract a large enough user base, TickTok…only time will tell.





Paulaner Brauhaus – Singapore’s Longest Standing Microbrewery and 2 Affordable Ways to Get Smashed

11 10 2012

The concept of microbreweries was first conceived in Singapore in the early 1990s, by a small brewery called Orang Utan Brewery, located where Zouk now resides. The market just wasn’t matured enough then and it winded down shortly after. Next came Paulaner Brauhaus in 1996, currently Singapore’s longest standing microbrewery. Brewerkz was another early player which opened in 1997. Over the years, names such as Pump Room, Archipelago Brewery, Level33, Reddot Brewhouse and Tawandang have also jumped on the microbrewery bandwagon and added vibrancy to our domestic beer market.

I first visited Paulaner slightly over 2 years back for a friend’s birthday. We had the Sunday Brunch Buffet, which is still ongoing and comes with either free flow soft drinks or free flow beer at $48++/$58++ respectively. This time however, I was back  for an Oktoberfest dinner event organized by the SMU Gourmet Club.

In light of the Oktoberfest festivities, a German band was playing what I guess were German drinking songs and going around dancing with selected audience members. The party was still pretty mild at this time, especially since the night was young and few had had their fill of food and drink.

I started off the meal with the Caesar Salad with Air-dried Pancetta Ham and Garlic Croutons ($14++). I would say its not worth the money as there’s better alternatives on the menu. Come on, you are in a German Restaurant! Act like it and order some MEAT!

It’s weird that there’s Sauteed Escargots with Herb Garlic Butter ($16.50++) on the menu, since snails are more of a French dish. Still, it’s prepared rather legitimately here and the snails are plump and juicy, with a savoury garlic butter sauce that I didn’t hesitate to soak my garlic bread in.

Someone took our preordered meatloaf by mistake, so being the magnanimous individuals we like to think we are, we swapped for their Munich’s Famous White Sausages with Freshly Baked Pretzel ($13.50++) instead. The pretzel is not worth mention but the sausages and dipping sauce are. The sausages are on the salty side but is toned down by the tangy mild BBQ-like sauce.

I’m still on the fence about the Potato Rosti with dry Smoked Ham Gratin with Gruyere Cheese ($13.50++). It’s nothing to shout about really, and the fried potato strips weren’t even crispy when the dish was served but there’s something about rosti that one finds it hard to complain about. You know that feeling too, it’s akin to complaining about hash browns and you just don’t!

Never leave Paulaner without having their Paulaner’s Famous Grilled Pork Knuckle on Sauerkraut with Gravy and Bread Dumpling ($29.50++). It’s one of the better grilled pork knuckles I have tried so far and for some reason, it came conveniently deboned. The meat is suitably moist with a nice layer of crackling and the portion was indeed generous enough for 2 to 3 people to share comfortably while allowing for stomach room for other dishes. The only thing I didn’t like in this dish was the Bread Dumpling, which tasted like a dry savoury muffin with random bits of vegetables inside.

The biggest surprise today came from the Sirloin Steak 250g with Sauteed Mushrooms, Roasted Potatoes & Seasonal Vegetables. It was done as per request of medium rare, well marinated and tender. I had no qualms eating it without any condiments. The Roasted Potatoes are great too, lightly charred on the edges for that crisp texture and light smoky flavour.

Paulaner offers 2 types of fresh brews on a regular basis, the Munich Lager and Munich Dark. Seasonal beers are offered at special times of the year so instead of the regular brews, only Oktoberfest Beer was available today. Beer girls were also going around with German Pear Schnapps. I tried a shot and it’s rather potent, the beer girl said it’s stronger than tequila but it definitely tastes better with a refreshing fruity aftertaste.

At the end of the meal, the band came out for a second set and fuelled with food, Oktoberfest Beer and Pear Schnapps, the crowd was really participative, standing on chairs while following the lead of the lead singer with his hand gestures, truly uncharacteristic of typical Singaporeans. I loved the spontaneity of it all and would return just to soak in the atmosphere again.

PS: Don’t tell mommy you heard it from me but for the love of booze, I have 2 suggestions on how to get smashed whilst on a budget. While it’s not cool anymore to buy booze off the shelf, especially when there’s fresh beer from all the microbreweries around, canned beer is definitely the cheapest way to get smashed. Specifically, Baron’s Strong Brew. At 8.8% alcohol, it’s one of the stronger brews around and three 500ml cans will translate to roughly 11 shot of vodka, all for the price of $19.50 (assuming $6.50 per 500ml can).

If you have slightly deeper pockets, I would suggest Bar on 5 @ Mandarin Orchard. I know you must be thinking I’m mad for suggesting a hotel bar as a cheap way to get smashed but with their current promotion for non-premium hard liquor (ie.Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker Black Label, Smirnoff) at $250++ for 3 bottles, which comes with mixers and some generic bar snacks, you can get smashed on approximately 9 vodka shots with just $35 bucks. Did I mention you can store your bottles there up to 2 months if you can’t finish? Awesome Possum 😀

Paulaner Brauhaus

9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-01 Millenia Walk

Tel: +65 6883 2572





The Fabulous Baker Boy – Keep Calm and Eat Cake

2 10 2012

“It’s hard to find cafes that can be categorized as hidden gems nowadays. I’d die for a quiet place on the fringe of town, where they serve great food and is supported by a team of interactive and friendly staff…” is exactly what I would have said a week ago but no longer.

Just over a month old, The Fabulous Baker Boy is the brainchild of Juwanda Hassim, an ex-theatre performer who also has had experience running f&b establishments. From what I hear, he used to retail his cakes online but due to the increasing popularity, he decided to take the leap into opening a cafe.

Joining him in this venture is Haryanto Soemito, head barista from the now-defunct Pause Cafe. Dropping by on a lazy Thursday afternoon when there wasn’t much of a crowd, we managed to chat with him for a bit when he came to the al fresco area to see how we were doing with our cakes. And yes, we are happy to say that he’s a friendly and charming chap.

Almost all the seats are al fresco so it might get a little warm in the mid-afternoons if the sun is out. That’s why friend P got the Iced Tea, a cold brew of Earl Grey. From my very limited understanding of brewing, I would say there are 2 main ways you can brew iced tea. First would be the tradition way, steeping tea leaves using hot water and subsequently adding ice. Or, you can do it by means of a cold brew, meaning to steep the tea leaves in cold water over a couple of hours. The difference lies in the taste and texture. In general, you can associate cold brews with having a more subtle, smoother and sweeter tasting tea, which was the case for the Iced Tea P had, where there wasn’t any bitter aftertaste nor tannic texture from the tea.

The cafe interior is not that spacious but large enough to surround you with a variety of desserts that leaves one spoilt for choice. I love the little touches of creative potential, like how a cake recipe adds character to the wall at the till area. It just makes the place feel more personalized and less commercialized.

The main menu isn’t all that extensive but sufficient if you need something warm and substantial to fill the tummy before getting down to desserts. However, there is a separate brunch menu which is only available on Sundays.

On this occasion, I had a latte which was done reasonably well but what was most remarkable was the Red Velvet ($8.50). It was moist, light as a cloud and did not crumble apart like how some other annoying cakes do. It wasn’t too chocolatey either so it didn’t leave us cringing with dry throats.

We also tried the Green Tea Cake. It had the texture of a butter cake, meaning it was slightly denser and drier than the Red Velvet. Given the sweetness of the cream, I couldn’t detect the matcha flavours. It didn’t trouble me however, since I’m no green tea fan.

The Fabulous Baker Boy is a nice hideaway just opposite Liang Court, somewhere you can just take out a magazine and while the day away but with ample media attention surround this new gem, I suspect afternoons here might just get a little rowdier.

The Fabulous Baker Boy

70 River Valley Road, #01-15 The Foothills

Tel: +65 6694 8336








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