Friday, October 31, 2014


I need to do more short and simple posts, even if it's a photo using a cameraphone. Posts with over 20 photos can really kill, and take too much time to craft.

Anyway, I was craving kway chap the other day and went to this tried and trusted stall for my fix. Hai Fa at the Bedok Interchange food centre. I opted to omit the egg and fishcake, to focus more on the real meats. The well-cleaned intestines are absolutely toothsome and like the meat and taupok, they have absorbed all the sweet rich flavours of the braising stock. The kway (rice sheets) are a littel thick but super smooth and slurpalicious. Oh, and the chili is perfect. One little dipping dish sometimes is barely enough.

The only thing is - with something this tasty, you'll inevitably find the portion a little wanting. For S$3.90, you get this set that just about half fills you. Next time, I'll order a two-person's portion.

HAI FA GUO ZHI
#01-67, Bedok Interchange Food Centre,
207 New Upper Changi Road
Singapore 460207
Tel: +65 64443963
Open: 7.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed Thursdays)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ensalada El Mero Mero
Remember American Express and the 30licious promos? Yes, S$30 fabulous meals for 30 days. It's back and runs Nov 3 to Dec 2.

Booking started yesterday at http://book.hungrygowhere.com/30licious - yes, that's where you sign up for these scrumptious deals (S$30++ for Amex cardholders).

I tried out the $30 three-course dinner at El Mero Mero (30 Victoria Street, #01-20 CHJIMES, tel: +65 6337 1377) and it is such fabulous value for money.

For starters, you have the El Mero Mero Salad (above, normal a la carte price S$21). A gigantic bowl of fresh butter lettuce, tomatoes (marinated and sundried), Caesar dressing, sunflower seeds, and chunky skewers of braised pork belly (so divine). And folks, this is the full size dinner portion. They are not skimping for the S$30 promo!



Pork Carnitas
After that healthy start, indulge in your main courses. There are two options - this is the Carnitas (a la carte price S$32): slow cooked pork, pico de gallo (fresh tomato salsa) cutely served in an onion cup, a smoky pepper sauce and corn tortillas kept warm in a pouch.

It tastes best when you assemble a little bit of everything on the pork. Let the acidity of the tomato salsa cut through the pulled pork, and the pepper sauce to bind it together. It's incredibly filling though. After two wraps, I started eating just the pork alone minus the tortilla carb. Seriously, it's a lot of food for one person. That meat pot just kept on giving...I wanted to take it home.



Tacos al Pastor with Kurobuta Pork
Or you could go for the other main course - Tacos al Pastor (a la carte price S$26): Kurobuta pork done al pastor ("shepherd" style, but really a shawarma fusion with guajillo rubbed pork), grilled pineapple, chopped onions, coriander and lime, plus a green pepper sauce to spice things up a little (spice level - don't worry, it doesn't bite).



Nitro Sorbet
Dessert, thankfully, is light. Nitro sorbet (a la carte price S$12), freshly made. This tastes like it's been spiked with tequila! Cold and refreshing, served interestingly in a wooden bowl that looks like a coconut shell. Flavour changes weekly.



Daily juice of the day - papaya spiked with key lime
What's interesting is your meals include water and daily juice - today it's papaya with a hint of key lime. Get your vitamins, antioxidants and fibre all in one lovely drink.

I hope those restaurants who charge diners for plain water will sit up and take notice!



El Mero Mero has a nice show kitchen
El Mero Mero is small and cosy, but has a large show kitchen. There's a bar just outside where you can also indulge in smaller bites and drinks. For both restaurant and bar, there's a small Hispanic wine list, beers imported from Mexico (three exclusively - Rosarito Beach, Bufadora, 8 Reales), cocktails, and of course a wide selection of tequila and mezcal.


El Mero Mero at CHIJMES
El Mero Mero means "the go-to guy" in Mexican. It's aiming to be the go-to place for contemporary Mexican cuisine in Singapore. Many of the ingredients are flown in from Mexico. However, they've partnered with ComCrop (Singapore's first rooftop garden) to start growing Mexican ingredients like habanero and Serrano chillies, green tomatillo and epazote. This will help them minimise their carbon footprint while giving us fresher and tastier chillies, herbs and vegetables. Salsas and sauces are made fresh inhouse.




El Mero Mero is just one of the 35 restaurants offering the Amex 30licious deal. Check out http://book.hungrygowhere.com/30licious for more venues and make your booking online.




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Mouseover the restaurants to see details of the special S$30 menus. On mobile apps, you can just tap the restaurant description and it will expand to show the menus.

I have already spotted some I want to go for. Bookings are open now, and the 30licious meals begin 3 Nov! Enjoy the treats! #30liciousAmex FTW!



This post is brought to you by HungryGoWhere and American Express 

Saturday, October 25, 2014




Sometimes before you travel overseas, you want to get your hair nicely done. I had asked my friend Renzze to recommend me a good stylist from her regular salon Naoki Yoshihara by Ash at Liang Court. She has jaw-droppingly amaaazing curls and colours. Anyway, the salon contacted me and told me they had a second branch now at International Building, which I could try.


Komachi at International Building #02-03/04
They have taken over Komachi on the second floor (opposite ANZ Bank), and will eventually change the name. The salon decor is a bit different here: Stark monotones rule in an almost masculine atmosphere. It's balanced by some flowers and a black chandelier.


At Naoki Yoshihara's second branch (still called Komachi for now)
There's that black chandelier, me doing an arm workout taking a selfie with the heavy 5D MkIII, and the guy who would cut and colour my hair, Shinya Ikumi.

I had been growing my hair out since Jan 2013 (it was a short bob then). I didn't cut it for a long time. As you can see, it was getting a bit unruly and bottom heavy. Shinya layered my tresses, trimmed the excesses, and gave me more volume on top.

As for colour, he advised me not to go too light, and gave me duo tones at the bottom for more dimension.


Ready to step out
Tada! This is the final result. But it actually got better after I left the salon.



Selfie with the 5DMk3
At lunchtime an hour later, the temporary curls had softened nicely.


I'm glad I didn't bleach it
At home, the hair still felt light and soft. I'm glad I didn't bleach it.

I love the new hair, and I am getting compliments for it, like never before. Sometimes it's a bit funny, it's as if people have just noticed that, "Hey, you have long hair now! Very nice!"

So many thanks to my stylist!

Shinya Ikumi the hairstylist fresh from Japan (just came over in Sept!)
Shinya is fresh in from Japan, having arrived in early September. He loves it in Singapore so far.

You can look for him at Naoki Yoshihara by Ash's THIRD outlet opening in Isetan Tampines on 1 Nov 2014! He is the Outlet Manager there. The salon has also kindly extended a promo for readers:

Promotion (20% off all hair services) for readers!


(click to see bigger photo)


Quote: Catherine’s blog 
(yes, we will spare you guys the trouble of trying to pronounce Camemberu) 

20% off all hair services
Naoki Yoshihara by Ash @ Isetan Tampines, Level 1
Promotion valid for “Catherine's readers ONLY’ from 1st Nov 2014 to 30th Nov 2014.
By appointment only please; walk-ins will not be entertained.
Opening hours are from 10am to 10pm daily.





Naoki Yoshihara by Ash is a chain from Japan. I'm glad they are expanding in Singapore too.


NAOKI YOSHIHARA BY ASH
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NaokiYoshiharaByAsh
Instagram: http://instagram.com/naokiyoshiharabyashsg

Flagship outlet
177 River Valley Road
#02-15/16 Liang Court
Singapore 179030
Tel: +65 6333-5662
Open 10.30am to 8.30pm (closed Tuesdays)

Second outlet (Komachi)
360 Orchard Road
#02-03/04 International Building
Singapore 238869
Tel: +65 6339-9432/6836-3391

Third outlet (Isetan Tampines), opening 1 Nov 2014
Level 1
4 Tampines Central 5
Singapore 529510
Tel: +65 9387-7852 (English); 9387-8805 (Japanese)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


How many of you are absolute coffee maniacs? Plenty enough to keep the hipster cafe scene going for sure. But I'm just curious - do you care where your coffee comes from and what impact it has on the environment?

Here's a company you may not have heard of - Puro - that believes people and the planet are just as important as profits. Puro was created in 2005 by a company called Miko which has been roasting coffee beans in Belgium for 212 years. Born out of growing environmental and ethical concerns, Puro has always sourced Fairtrade, organic and shade grown coffee.

Well, it has to be good coffee first, right? Fortunately it is. Puro kindly sent me a sample of some of the beans:
Fuerte: dark roasted blend of high grown Arabica blended with Congo Robusta beans (50%). Almost like bittersweet chocolate.
- Noble: mild, smooth, floral Guatemalan Arabicas blended with Peruvian Arabicas, and 20% premium Robusta
- Bio-organic: 100% Arabica from Peru and Honduras, the most delicate blend of the three, with soft notes of chocolate and citric sweetness.

My family likes the intense and full-bodied Fuerte best of all. But back to the conscientious part.

Fairtrade coffee is grown by small farmers or plantation workers meticulous about their crops, and the Fairtrade Foundation helps lift their working conditions and the lives of workers in the coffee growing dependent communities in the developing world.

Puro is also at the forefront of buying and protecting rainforests and is actively working alongside the World Land Trust, whose patron is Sir David Attenborough. Together, they even put a webcam in the  Ecuadorian rainforest to keep an eye on endangered species and raise awareness for conservation. Special forest reserves also keep near extinct species like the Golden Poison Frog alive.

For every cup of coffee sold, money is given to buy and protect areas of rainforest in South America. To date, Puro has saved over 5,600 acres (about 6,000 football fields) of rainforest across three Puro reserves in Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia.

Watch their story in this video they made in the heart of South America.



Puro Fairtrade Coffee Film from Puro Fairtrade Coffee on Vimeo.

They don’t have their own coffee shops but they supply some of the UK’s leading chains of cafes and restaurants, such as National Trust, Le Pain Quotidien, Leon, and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. I have seen their ancillary products in hotels (sugar sachets in W Bali, for example). You'll find Puro widely available in mainland Europe, Africa, Australasia and recently in Canada (they are currently looking for a US distributor).

It's great that you can have amazingly good coffee that helps the environment and the community that grows it. I've not seen any other coffee producer that is this dedicated to the cause.

For more details, visit the
Main Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/fairtradecoffee
Singapore Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/purocoffeesingapore
Singapore online store - http://store.purocoffee.com.sg
(Oooh, they now carry Puro Caremelized Speculoos Biscuits and Puro Belgian Hot Chocolate Drink)



Many thanks to Puro and Tamara Wolf for sending me the coffee from the UK!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I can see this being a hit with pregnant ladies, those doing confinement and busy executive workers. Freshly cooked bird's nest delivered to you wonderfully warm and ready to eat in a porcelain bowl.

Yu Xiang Yan sent me a sample. The bird's nest is pristine and clear, with visible strands of varying thickness. What I really like about it - it's not too sweet. Sometimes I feel too much rock sugar gets in the way of us truly enjoying the delicate nature of the bird's nest.

I have personally seen the benefits of bird's nest when regularly consumed. I can't comment on whether this brand will bring the same perks since I am only eating it once, but it certainly is a luxurious treat for the tastebuds. So warm and soothing.



Prices seem reasonable for the portion served. A single bowl with delivery goes for S$26, two bowls for S$46, four bowls for S$84 and 10 bowls for S$227 (you get one extra bowl free, so it's 11 bowls). You can serve it immediately or store it in the fridge for later consumption.


Xu Yiang Yan bird's nest delivery

The package comes in a heat retentive bag, a sturdy box and also includes a porcelain spoon. You can reuse the bowl (it has a resealable lid) either for eating, or as they suggest for planting a bonsai.

Yu Xiang Yan is also part of the team that does Purer Skin skincare using bird's nest essence. I'm currently using the serum (smells like SKII) and night moisturiser. Skin does look more smooth and hydrated when I use it more regularly.

Friday, October 10, 2014


It is the Bloody Mary's 80th birthday!

This classic vintage cocktail was perfected at The St Regis New York in 1934 when bartender Fernand Petiot at The King Cole Bar spiced up a tomato juice and vodka libation with celery salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon and Worcestershire sauce.

Today it remains the signature cocktail of the St Regis brand, and every hotel has its own localised version. Here at St Regis Singapore, you can try the Chili Padi Mary, which carries a thrilling kick from the strong chili heat, along with sweet hints of lemongrass and ginger root. I like it.

By the way, this photo above is taken at Astor Bar on a HTC One Max from HTC Singapore. I was pleasantly surprised it turned out so well!  No editing (except for cropping the bottom slightly) and no filters applied. My best shot so far, using the HTC. Still learning how to use it!

The St Regis Singapore is also presenting epicurean celebrations to showcase the Bloody Mary.

The month of October will see the St Regis Bloody Mary Anniversary Brunch on Sundays (5 to 26 Oct 2014) at Brasserie Les Saveurs. It's a four hour affair, starting with complimentary aperitifs at Astor Bar at 11am, progressing to the full brunch from noon to 3pm.

Here are some of the highlights:


Seafood on Ice

The highlight for many folks at a brunch - the bountiful seafood on ice!



Sashimi

Fresh sashimi laid out in what some might term an orgasmic mess.




Prime Rib of Grass Fed Beef

The chef carving out exquisite slices of Prime Rib of Grass Fed Beef.



Bread station

The bread station for all your carb cravings.


Cheese board

A small but satisfying cheese board. Yes, they have Camembert. Brownie points!




Cold cuts and charcuterie

Cold cuts and charcuterie - a pretty decent spread. Look at the leg of Jamon...mmmh!



Salad station

Salad station - for that balanced breakfast with greens and vitamins.



Make your own Jamon Salad!

Create your own Jamon salad! Sometimes I like to mix things from different stations.



Foie Gras sizzling

Generous lobes of fine foie gras sizzling upon order.



In addition to the cold seafood, there's hot dishes too - mussels and grilled prawns. I kinda preferred these - much more flavourful.

In addition to the regular brunch dishes, the Bloody Mary anniversary brunch also features pass around canapes and main dishes made with ingredients normally found in the cocktail.


Tomato and Crabmeat Maki Roll with Bloody Mary Vinaigrette

Tomato and Crabmeat Maki Roll with Bloody Mary Vinaigrette



Yellow Fin Tuna Tataki coated with sesame seeds, citrus salsa

Yellow Fin Tuna Tataki coated with sesame seeds, served with a tasty citrus salsa



White Mary Liquid - Bloody Mary Sherbet and Vodka Celery Jellies

White Mary Liquid - Bloody Mary Sherbet and Vodka Celery Jellies



Poached Cod Fish with White Mary Vodka Beurre Blanc, Sauteed Leek and Celery, Slow Dried Cherry
Poached Cod Fish with White Mary Vodka Beurre Blanc, Sauteed Leek and Celery, Slow Dried Cherry - this was the main dish

There are various other main dishes you can also order.



Poached egg with foie gras foam and parmesan cheese

More pass around goodies like the Poached Egg with foie gras foam and parmesan cheese. Break it up, mix it up, and inhale. Say "Oh my god..."



Ruinart Champagne

There is a bespoke Bloody Mary trolley for you to experiment with. But if you prefer, you can also opt for Ruinart Champagne for the brunch.



Dreamy desserts

By the time you reach desserts, they will probably look this dreamy.



Tomatoes

Well, who knew tomatoes could bring such joy. The Bloody Mary would not exist without them.


And here's a quick recap of the brunch, done using the Zoe video feature on the HTC. It puts together photos and videos with music and effects, easily.



The St Regis Bloody Mary Anniversary Brunch offers tiered options:
- Epicurean Delight ($148++) with complimentary flow of freshly brewed coffee and tea.
- Astor Indulgence ($180++) with complimentary flow of wines, beer, soft drinks and juices.
- Connoisseur Experience ($195++) with complimentary flow of Ruinart champagne, wines, beer and juices.


Here's the recipe for the Chili Padi Mary (click to see bigger version), should you be inclined to try it at home.



If you would like to see how other SPG restaurants are celebrating the Bloody Mary 80th anniversary, check the website - http://www.spgrestaurantsandbars.com//bloodymary80


ST REGIS SINGAPORE
29 Tanglin Road
Singapore 247911
Tel: +65 6506 6860

Thursday, October 9, 2014

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Imagine having your own stash of beautifully creamy homemade yoghurt - free of additives, sweeteners and preservatives - to enjoy at any time. It's easier than you think, and could save you a pretty penny in the long run.

Gene Mok of Selfish Gene Cafe kindly shared with us his method for making yoghurt, simplified for home cooks. It took him several months to perfect the recipe, and I have to say - the yoghurt tastes really good!



The full recipe, along with tips for making yoghurt nice and creamy, are in my story on Yahoo and Makansutra:

https://sg.entertainment.yahoo.com/news/yoghurt-home-062937139.html

http://www.makansutra.com/stories/6/1254/Howtomakeyoghurtathome


Gene also showed us how he uses yoghurt in some of the cafe's dishes. Aside from the obvious Homemade Yoghurt with summer berry compote and granola (S$6, in the pretty jar, available 10am to 3pm), it also goes into dressings and cakes.



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For the daily lunch, Gene has come up with a list of specials only for weekdays. Roasted Atlantic Salmon Fillet with Dill-scented Potato and Homemade Slaw (S$16). Portion shown above is just a tasting portion, but oooh, the fish was done perfectly. Slightly rare in the middle and so very moist and tender. The smear of yoghurt dressing adds a nice tang, and even the drops of oil are not for decoration, but are infused with a nice scent.

Other lunch specials include Pasta Alla Olio with Hickory Smoked Bacon Lardons, Fried Egg, Garlic, Chili and Parsley (S$14). Add a mini soup and salad (S$4) if you wish. There are also homemade soups like Cream of Pumpkin and even Soto Ayam - Asian-inspired leek, potato and chicken soup, with deep-fried shallots and chili oil.


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He also makes his own ricotta, which he uses in the Mushroom Tartine (foreground). It's amazingly savoury, this little bite of thyme scented sauteed mushrooms with homemade ricotta on multigrain bread. This is just a tasting sample. I need to come back for the full-sized version.



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The Orange Yoghurt Cake (S$6) is quite a treat too. The citrusy aroma is a lovely pick-me-up for tea. The yoghurt I think helps to keep the cake moist - in fact, Gene used yoghurt as a substitute for buttermilk, which is hard to get here.

All the cakes are made inhouse using French techniques, and no emulsifiers.


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Gene is a psychology graduate but could not resist returning to his creative inclinations. He explored pottery, baking, and then enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu, Sydney, to learn the fundamentals of French cooking. Upon his return, he trained under Emmanuel Stroobant of Saint Pierre from 2007 to 2011.

"I want to offer simple, honest food to guests at Selfish Gene Cafe. But there's also a thought process behind every dish. It's a symbiotic relationship between chef and guest," he says.

Some people have wondered if the name of the cafe would conjure negative connotations, with the name "Selfish", but it explains Gene's philosophy: he is selfish because he will not serve food that he himself will not eat. That and the clever nod to Richard Dawkins' book.

But it's a great place to chill, whether alone or with a friend. Breakfast is served from 10am til 3pm. Lunch is noon to 2.30pm. Sandwiches from 11.30am onwards, and desserts served all day.

Coffee here is excellent - Gene uses a blend of Arabica beans from Sumatra, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Brazil (Highlander Coffee). But he also has great taste in tea, which is his first love. He stocks Dammann Frères, one of the very best (and my favourite too). You'll also find Chinese style teas like Tie Guan Yin, Osmanthus and Pu Er, supplied by a local merchant.


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SELFISH GENE CAFE
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/selfishgenecafe
Twitter: https://twitter.com/selfishgenecafe
40 Craig Road
Singapore 089678
Tel: +65 6423-1324 (no reservations, walk-in only)
Open
Mon-Fri 10am to 5.30pm (last order 5pm)
Sat-Sun 9am to 5pm (last order 4.30pm)
Closed on certain public holidays (refer to their website)
 
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