Friday, July 31, 2009

Veuve Clicquot champagne
Sunday champagne brunches are such indulgent affairs. I don't just mean the unlimited bubbly, booze and beer. When you need more than one hour to take photos of the buffet, you know there's just too much food! I found myself ironically wishing there were fewer dishes!

The brunch at Global Kitchen (Level 3, Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore) offers more than 100 culinary selections, but what's noteworthy is their five live stations for food that's best prepared a la minute (eggs, pasta, oysters, vol au vents, and crepes). And if you love freeflow Veuve Clicquot, that alone is reason to come.



Desserts perched and suspended
But forgive me as I start with their desserts, as they are the first thing you see when you walk into the restaurant foyer. All sorts of mini cakes and tarts suspended on metal tiers, and perched on shelves. Their appeal lies more in dramatic presentation than taste though. They surround the crepe live station and chocolate fountain. Try the caramel banana crepes - so addictive! Or you can have fresh strawberries, mixed berries compote, with chocolate, vanilla or maple syrup.



The chocolates look too pretty to pluck off!
A tower of chocolates! They looked so pretty, I almost felt bad plucking them off. Almost. The ones with nuts are thankfully less sweet.



Cakes
There were half a dozen cakes, but none had labels so I can't tell you what's what, but you can roughly guess from their appearance.



Chocolate souffle in a cup, baked a la minute!
Chocolate souffle in a cup, baked a la minute! These are next to the crepe live station. Be careful not to take the cups straight to your table to eat (a few people did) - pass them to the chef for baking first!



Many kinds of salmon and cured fish
There were 4-5 different kinds of cured salmon and fish, located near the mini-pies, puffs and stews.



Chilled Seafood
Chilled seafood is what most folks make a beeline for. Especially when you have Alaskan king crab. Oysters, crab, mussels, scallop, crayfish and prawns complete seafood on ice line-up.



Many cold items
There were many cold salads, terrines and dishes that I didn't try. Ditto the bread station, a cheese board with dried fruit and nuts. (Have I told you there was too much food?)



Eggs benedict
What's brunch without eggs? Besides readymade eggs Benedict (above) in the warmer, there's a live station to prepare eggs however you want them - poached, boiled, scrambled, fried, baked, omelette and even egg white omelette.



Pan Pacific brand sausages
Pan Pacific makes their own brand of cold cuts and sausages (which retail at places like Cold Storage). Here, of course, you'll get to sample the wide variety available. The sausages were not bad.



Oyster live station prepares it eight ways
Oysters (from France and Canada) prepared eight ways - freshly shucked or Au Naturel, Oyster Shooter, Martini Oyster with Olive, Baked Oyster with Cheese, Crispy Oyster wrapped with Bacon, Oyster Carpaccio with Spicy Tomato, Oyster Tempura and Oyster with Spicy Coriander & Garlic. Not surprisingly, this was a popular station.



Oysters Gratin
Oysters baked with cheese - if you're squeamish about eating freshly shucked live oysters, this might be a way for you to enjoy them.



Bacon wrapped oysters and tempura oysters
Bacon wrapped oysters and tempura oysters. These were snapped up faster than the chef could prepare them!



The fish and chips station was one of the best
The fish and chips station was one of the best, I felt. There's even some mashed peas and curry sauce to go with your freshly fried platter.



Carving station gives you roast beef and lamb
The carving station yields roast beef and lamb, accompanied by Yorkshire puddings and appropriate sauces. Both meats were still pink in the middle, but I often find the meats from such carving stations rather tough and chewy for some reason.



Foie gras vol au vent
From the Vol Au Vents live station: choose from Prawn with Brandy Sauce, Duck Confit with Foie Gras (pictured above), Chicken Ragout with Mushrooms and Ham & Cheese Ragout. Ladyironchef said this one was delicious. I was tempted to take one for myself but was already too full.



Mains, so many!
There are so many main courses, both Asian and contemporary. Duck breast, baked salmon, spring chicken with thyme, paella, steamed vegetables, seabass in tomato-garlic stew, pork loin, beef tenderloin, grilled vegetables in balsamic glaze, and boulangere potato. Stuff in warmers tend not to be stellar but I wasn't able to try EVERYTHING, so maybe there were one or two good items I missed.


I liked the pan-fried mixed mushrooms
I liked the pan-fried mixed mushrooms though - hearty and delicious. You can't go wrong with mushrooms.


The duo "Los Cheros" really livened up the atmosphere
The other thing that made Global Kitchen stand out from other brunches was the live entertainment. This band, Los Cheros, lit up the place with cheery tunes, playing tirelessly for the entire 3-hour duration.


Global Kitchen had entertainers too
There are also two entertainers performing magic tricks and balloon sculpting. Enthralling for kids and kids-at-heart!


Very nice gourmet teas
Surprisingly, I enjoyed the gourmet teas (21 varieties of Taylors of Harrogate premium tea) much more than the alcohol. Very soothing after a heavy meal. You can brew entire pots or just use one teabag for a single cup. Don't look down on the humble teabag - I tried two (peppermint; orange and mango) and both were potently fragrant!


I could only take one glass of champagne
There were lots of expats with their families at the brunch. Quite a few had birthday parties (yes, you will be serenaded by the band). Thanks to Cheryl and Merissa of Pan Pacific Hotel for hosting the media tasting session which included Ladyironchef and Aromacookery. Look out for their posts!

The champagne brunch is on Sundays from 12.00pm to 3.00pm.

Price:
$98++ per adult (with Champagne, wines, cocktails, beers, juices and soft drinks)
$88++ per adult (with wines, cocktails, beers, juices and soft drinks)
$78++ per adult (with juices and soft drinks)

As part of the “Petit Gourmet” programme, children aged 6 to 12 years are charged a dollar for each year of age.


GLOBAL KITCHEN
Level 3, Pan Pacific Hotel
7 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square
Singapore 039595
Tel: 6826-8240

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Assam Stingray
Two Sundays ago, I had the notorious pleasure of queueing up for my iPhone 3GS at Comcentre. Luckily Momo was with me, and Keropokman was hanging around nearby.

By the time we had finished, we were famished. We went over to Kiliney Road to have lunch. There were more queues at most eateries there, but surprisingly, Warung M. Nasir was half empty. Hurrah! I've been wanting to try this nasi padang place for the longest time. The place is quite charming with retro knick knacks, marble tables, a skylight and cosy lighting.

We began with some assam stingray. Nice tangy gravy. The dishes here are fairly spicy.

Beef Rendang
Their famous beef rendang is quite different from the Malay type which uses more coconut. This is the old school Sumatran rendang - dry, immensely spicy and very dark in colour.

Stirfried Beansprouts
We also had some stirfried beansprouts.

Sambal Vegetables
And sambal goreng (with tofu and vegetables). Everything tasted good with rice. I packed home some more rendang for hubby who relished it with gusto.

Jolie has already figured out how to unlock my iPhone and access apps!
Meanwhile, 18-month old Jolie has already figured out how to switch on the iPhone, slide the unlock bar and flip through stuff (haha I now have like 9 pages of frivolous apps). She loves it as much as I do!


WARUNG M NASIR
69 Killiney Road
Tel: 6734-6228
Open daily 11.30am - 9.30pm

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Toying around with utensils
Nadine turned 3 years old on 23 July. Ever so happy-go-lucky and tough as nails.

We're grateful for her progress. She's got more than 200 words in her spoken vocabulary now. Of course, not every word is crystal clear, but hey, at least she's vocalising. Starting to chant the alphabet and numbers too (TV helps!). She can also (very enthusiastically) give you the thumbs up sign for "good"!


Nadine and Jolie, very loving and goofy together
Nadine loves her sister Jolie. They are such goofy playmates. Jolie is now 1.5 years old, and fast catching up in size. We often get asked if they are twins (even when we don't dress them alike).


Nadine - always curious and happy
Yes, some social discrimination has started. A couple of older kids refuse to play with Nadine at the playground; they complain she looks "funny". But the rest don't care that she is different. We do see more young people with Down Syndrome out and about town, so maybe by the time Nadine grows up, she will have less discrimination to deal with.


They both love the gorgeous kitchen set - it's got light and sounds!
And since it is also her daddy's birthday, we held a small party last Saturday for hubby's office colleagues. They gave Nadine a toy kitchen set, among many other things, which both kids loved! Thank you, guys!

This thing has lights to simulate cooking fire, and even makes boiling and frying noises! Back in my days, we had to imagine or add our own sound effects when playing "masak-masak" (cooking).


Watch out, Gordon Ramsay!
Watch out, Gordon, Jamie and Nigella!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It still feels surreal!
It was a surreal afternoon.
I still haven't come down from Cloud 9.
OMG we got to meet BOB BLUMER from The Surreal Gourmet and Glutton for Punishment!

The Surreal Gourmet is still one of the more original and quirky food programs ever made. Everyone who has seen it loves the Toaster Mobile and the fun food ideas each episode brings. Glutton for Punishment has Bob taking up unusual food-related challenges, and pitting himself against the pros (sometimes trouncing them too!).

And thanks to a special Makan (Eating) Tour organized by Discovery Travel and Living, we (media and bloggers) got to spend a few hours yesterday afternoon exploring eateries with him in the eastern part of Singapore. Bob is really nice in person and we all had tremendous fun despite the scorching weather.


The popiah skin master on the right has been doing this for 40 years
First stop - Kway Guan Huat, home of Singapore's finest popiah (fresh spring rolls). This is where popiah skin is still made by hand. The popiah skin master on the right has been doing this for 40 years (and his father did it for 60 years). He says it takes 1-2 years to master the skill.

The rice flour dough is really soft, goopy and cold. You're supposed to flip it into a smooth round ball around your fingers (easier said than done). That's what makes a nice circular skin on the hot griddle.

It's actually very addictive, trying to get it right
When you have the shape ready, smear it onto the griddle in one decisive circular movement and lift the dough ball back up. You'll need the right amount of force, speed, and elegance to create the perfect paper-thin popiah skin. This is an exercise in calculated strength and agility, but it is also a ridiculously addictive challenge.

Leslie and I had the chance to try our hand before Bob arrived. You just keep wanting to perfect it. My first attempt was surprisingly good enough to earn a thumbs up from the master, but thereafter I think it sort of went downhill. Ah. The harder you try, the more you will fail, little grasshopper.


Bob listening attentively as Zita introduces the ingredients
And now we come to the filling. Kway Guan Huat does it Nonya (Peranakan) style. There's sambal belachan (prawn paste chili), minced garlic, shredded omelette, cucumber, coriander, braised turnip and carrots with crabmeat, toasted pounded peanuts, and a crispy fritter bits made from flour and fish. Bob likes what he sees, and listens attentively as Zita carefully introduces each ingredient.


Bob says the popiah is like "...an insanely delicious burrito, but with complex Asian flavours..."
Mmmh, but will he like the final product? He's not had fresh spring rolls before. All of us look on with anticipation as he starts trying a piece. Oh my, you should have seen him light up. He describes it as "an insanely delicious burrito but with complex Asian flavours" and loves how the sweet, savoury and spicy flavours and textures combine into one heavenly explosion of sensations.

Most of us probably take the humble popiah a bit for granted, having grown up with it all our lives. I love popiah but even I got some new-found appreciation for it after this session.


Moderation goes out the window in Bob's popiah
Now Bob tries his hand at rolling the popiah. Yes, you know how it can get messy. Bob piles on the ingredients - they are so delicious, it's natural to throw moderation out the window. But fat popiahs are the hardest to roll!


Wrapping a popiah (spring roll) is easier if you've learnt how to roll sushi before
It takes skill to fold and roll a popiah tightly enough but without breaking the delicate skin.

Turns out he's really good at this!
Tada! Turns out Bob is really good at it! There were hoots of surprise and approval at his amazing first attempt. He reveals that he's had some sushi-rolling training in California. Yes, there are similarities in rolling both, and he was clever to have spotted it when observing Zita roll the popiah.

Anyway, Bob says this popiah is one of the better things he's tasted in a while, and he's quite eager to come back for more. We had to move on, as we were already running late.


Fruits! Fresh produce!
Second stop was in Geylang, and Bob hopped across the road to check out a local fruit stall. He tried some mangosteen and recognised the smell of durians even before we saw them (he is one of the few foreigners who isn't revulsed by this heavily maligned fruit).


Buon appetito!
Buon appetito!

No, he didn't really eat that. But hey, excellent chopstick skills!


We had quite a feast at Old Mother Hen
We brought Bob to Old Mother Hen, a really old-school "cze-char" (literally "cook-fry") outfit. Quite a feast there of their signature dishes - claypot chicken rice, steamed homemade beancurd, kung pao claypot frog legs, KL-style dark Hokkien fried noodles, hotplate herbal kampung chicken, stir-fried Fallopian tubes (oh yes) and even steamed shark's head (which I have never tried, and well, still haven't).


Let's all pay attention to the baked salt sculpture, and not the stir-fried Fallopian tubes
OK. Let's all pay attention to the baked salt sculpture, and not the stir-fried Fallopian tubes. Bob is not into crazy, bizarre, chewy and crunchy entrails. But the rest of the bloggers and media gained some new bragging rights (and probably a few "OMG that's sick!" responses from friends).


What did you say fish maw was again?
For the final stop, Bob really wanted to go for laksa, but acquiesced to try bak chor mee (minced meat noodles) and fish maw soup instead. There was no time for both. We ended up at Seng Kee, where the soup and noodles are generously flavoured with "ti po" or dried solefish. The umami factor is really strong here.


Bob trying out bak chor mee (minced meat noodles)
Here's Bob trying out bak chor mee. The old man running Seng Kee is well known for theatrical flipping of bowls as he prepares the noodles. Bob took 3 plates and started juggling them in the tiny, dark, cramped kitchen! I wish I caught it on video.

Anyway, the tour ended all too soon. Bob, thank you again for spending your time with us. If you do come back to Singapore, we'll take you to all the laksa and other places you want to try, and we promise not to foist anymore weird food on you!

Big hearty thanks also to Priya and Rita of Weber Shandwick, and to Discovery Travel and Living for making this a reality!

Glutton for Punishment 3 premieres Thursday at 2230hrs starting July 23. Encores air on Sunday at 0200hrs and Tuesday at 0800hrs on Discovery Travel & Living (Starhub Channel 16).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Samba Masala kicked off the launch of the Singapore Food Festival 2009
The Singapore Food Festival (SFF) is here again! For 10 days from 17-26 July, you can look forward to feasting and festivities. The Singapore Tourism Board kindly gave me an invite to the launch held yesterday at Clarke Quay Central Square.


Singapore Food Festival with a Peranakan theme
This year the Peranakan (Straits Chinese) theme takes centrestage. Peranakan food can probably be called a fusion success story - a marriage of Chinese ingredients and cooking techniques with Malay spices. Throw in some Indian and British influences and you have a multi-ethnic heritage cuisine to be proud of. Along with the food came the colourful culture of the Nonyas and Babas. We had true blue Peranakan ladies in full regalia, singing and dancing in coy retro fashion. See a video here.



I thought Samba Masala was a great opening act - cheery and chirpy high-energy dance percussion (itself a fusion mix of Brazillian samba and Asian instruments). This is a small segment of their performance. My first video taken with the iPhone 3GS!


Sweltering weather! Chang Beer to the rescue!
Oh yes, it is Singapore, so the weather was relentlessly warm. Thank God for the Chang Beer (official beer) booth. It's been said that this beer goes well with spicy Peranakan food. The beer tastes very mild and clean, so that may be why. Well, at any rate, it certainly was refreshing in this weather.


Food Street on Read Bridge
One of the highlights of the SFF is the Food Street featuring about 30 stalls. This is at Read Bridge linking Clarke Quay to the other side of the river. You buy F&B coupons to exchange for food at these stalls. There were huge crowds eagerly snapping up the food. It's nearly impossible to get a seat (or breathing space). Buy your food and sit by the river steps outside The Central, maybe? I didn't try any of the food as I thought it may be a better idea to visit the actual restaurants or establishments separately.


Straits Chinese
One of the first stalls you will see (if you are coming from Clarke Quay) is the Straits Chinese stall (no.29). This is by the Guan Hoe Soon Group, one of the oldest Nonya restaurants in Singapore.

Ooh, they have a "Tok Panjang" Nonya buffet at S$18.88++ (adult) and S$10.88++ (child) at the Shenton Way and Queen Street branches. Click on the brochure to see it full-size. Looks like a good deal. Ayam buah keluak, bakwan kepiting and Spicy assam fish are some dishes mentioned.


Ayam buah keluak and dry laksa
Ayam buah keluak and dry laksa from the Straits Chinese stall. Other well-known Peranakan names like Kim Choo with their Nonya dumplings and snacks, and Blue Ginger were also there. Swissotel Merchant Court Hotel had a couple of stalls too (yes, their durian pengat is available!)


Popiah from Florence Gourmet
Here's Florence Gourmet dishing out spring rolls. They mainly do catering and DIY popiahs.


My what lovely things grow on trees...
It's not all local food. The Tapas Tree also has its offerings. Mmh, lovely. Yes, of course I am talking about the paella, churros and tapas.


Cuba Libre stall
Cuba Libre, like the Tapas Tree, is also a restaurant at Clarke Quay. They too, have a stall here, should you like to preview some of its fare.


Thye Hong fried hokkien mee
Prepare to queue at the Thye Hong fried hokkien mee stall, as you would at most of its other locations.


Indian Curry House
There are several Indian stalls too. This is Indian Curry House. Their restaurant is near Siglap, and they do delivery too.


Casuarina Curry - hey is that Seetoh?
Casuarina Curry - hey, is that K.F. Seetoh who just walked into my frame of view?


Ivory kitchen
Ivory and The Indian Kitchen. With easy to see sample boxes of food. Looks great.


Chen Fu Ji selling chili crab and black pepper crab
If you're hankering for crabs - chili or black pepper - Chen Fu Ji sells whole crabs at S$12 each. Yes, fried rice and fried chicken wings too.


R Burger
There's an official burger? R Burger. R for Revolution. It's a Japanese chain, and the burger is a fusion product, using Chinese "mantou" for the bun, along with Asian sauces and ingredients. More in this press article. Their shop is opening at Orchard ION on 21 July. I have vouchers to give.


Jo Napot Bakeries chimney cakes
OK, this stall - Jo Napot Bakeries - was trying very hard to sell the chimney cakes (S$2 for short one, S$4 for tall one). The cake is of Hungarian origin. But because it is so new (and pricey!), I think they should have had samples. I didn't see anyone buying.


There's even gelato - Frutta La Viva
There's even gelato! From Frutta La Viva. Wait, six chopsticks rating from Makansutra? Wow, die die must try indeed! Oh why are they located so far away from me? Upper Bukit Timah!


Largest Peranakan Buffet Line
When the Food Street ends its run, the largest Peranakan buffet line will take over the bridge with up to 100 dishes. I think it will be even more packed than it already is!


One of the best media gifts I've seen - gorgeous tingkat or tiffin carriers, packed with real food too!
Each of the media and VIPs got a gorgeous tingkat or tiffin carrier, packed with nasi lemak, ayam buah keluak and Nonya kuehs (sponsored by Swissotel Merchant Court). This is one of the loveliest media gifts I've seen.

Thank you, Benjamin of STB, for the launch invitation.

OK, I am giving away all the vouchers that I got.
- S$10 worth of F&B coupons for Food Street (note you have until 25 July to use them)
- 5 x R Burger vouchers (S$1 off each combo)
- a 15% discount voucher for Swissotel Merchant Court F&B outlets, valid until 31 December 2009.

First person to ask for them in the comments will get the whole set. Meanwhile, you can check the SFF website for more details on promotions, cooking classes and activities.
 
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