Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Macarons from Sweet Spot

Macarons from Sweet Spot
I'd heard good things about Sweet Spot's macarons. They are very delicate indeed. The shells are a crisp airy lattice, held together by the filling of chewy rich ganache.

For me, I discovered that they taste even nicer after some time in the fridge, because the sweetness gets muted, and the flavours then really come out. My favourite is the plain vanilla (or is it lychee-vanilla?). There's also coconut, passionfruit chocolate, raspberry chocolate, double chocolate and milk chocolate - I'm really guessing here as there's no indication of flavours.

Macarons from Sweet Spot at Marina Bay Sands
I got these as part of the Marina Bay Sands press kit for the celebrity chefs event. The macarons were encased in a sturdy magnetized casing (almost like a jewelry box) that's almost too solid to throw away.

Thanks, Marina Bay Sands, for the treat! Remember to check out the celebrity chef tastings, if you haven't already!

Tastings, Part 1 - Tetsuya Wakuda, Guy Savoy, Santi Santamaria

Tastings, Part 2 - Daniel Boulud, Wolfgang Puck, Justin Quek


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tastings, Part 2 - Daniel Boulud, Wolfgang Puck, Justin Quek

Daniel Boulud will open db Bistro Moderne at the Retail Mall of Marina Bay Sands
Continuing from yesterday's Part 1 (featuring Tetsuya Wakuda, Guy Savoy and Santi Santamaria), here's more signature samples from the celebrity chefs who will be setting up at Marina Bay Sands.

Daniel Boulud had his station right upfront near the entrance and he certainly spared no expense in making this one of the most lavishly decorated and bountifully stocked. He even had printed menus, which were very helpful. His db Bistro Moderne will open at the Retail Mall in Q4 of 2010, offering contemporary French-American cuisine.

Chef carving the spice glazed ham fringed by the crispy rillons
Chef carving the spice glazed ham fringed by the crispy rillons.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Tastings, Part 1 - Tetsuya Wakuda, Guy Savoy, Santi Santamaria

Tetsuya Wakuda's Waku Ghin will be opening soon at Level 2 at the Casino Building
After the press conference with the celebrity chefs, we got to sample some of the signature items from the chefs' menus. I had thought it might be a sit-down lunch, which would do better justice to the food. But it was canape stations and everyone had to queue up. So it was really hard taking good photographs of the food, jostling with 300 hungry journalists and camera crew. I apologise for the quality of the photos, but some of the food is really worth sharing.

Let me start with Tetsuya Wakuda. His restaurant Waku Ghin will be opening soon.

Scampi in Sea Water and Lemon Scented Olive Oil
Scampi in Sea Water and Lemon Scented Olive Oil - you pull the scampi out, and it gets coated with the olive oil. Down it and taste the freshness of the sea.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Celebrity Chefs Celebrate Marina Bay Sands' Launch

Five larger-than-life celebrity chefs held court before 300 international media
Marina Bay Sands created quite a buzz when they first announced six internationally acclaimed celebrity chefs setting up restaurants under its roof. They have now added a seventh, with the homecoming of Singapore's very own Justin Quek.

Five of those chefs came together yesterday to help celebrate the hotel's official opening. They held court before a massive audience of some 300 international media. From left to right - Daniel Boulud, Guy Savoy, Santi Santamaria, Tetsuya Wakuda and Justin Quek. Unfortunately Mario Batali and Wolfgang Puck were unable to make it but it was still surreal seeing these five accomplished chefs all in the same room.

"Individually these celebrity chefs are all culinary stars in their own right. But collectively, these chefs - with their talent, repertoire and dedication - make up a dream team that is nearly impossible to surpass," said Marina Bay Sands CEO and President Thomas Arasi, who officiated at the event.

Pleasantries before going on stage
The chefs intend to bring as authentic and close as possible the culinary experience one would get at their existing stellar restaurants. Of course, there will be variations as the team will be different and the produce will not be identical. Tetsuya however, noted that in Singapore, seasonal procurement will be interesting as he can source both winter and summer ingredients very quickly.

Guy Savoy and Santi Santamaria both own 3-star Michelin restaurants in France and Spain respectively. So the media were curious if this might lead to Singapore getting some Michelin stars eventually as well.

The chefs, of course, all echoed that customer satisfaction comes first, and they want to meet the needs of this market first. If they earn stars, well and fine, but that is not their main preoccupation.

A candid display of brotherhood!
At one point in time, Santi got up from his seat and yanked Tetsuya and Justin up as well, identifying his accomplices who helped lure him to Singapore.

The Sydney Morning Herald asked Tetsuya if the waitlist for Singapore's Waku Ghin will also mirror that of Tetsuya's in Sydney (reservations are famously needed 2-3 months in advance). Tetsuya's huge 8,000 square feet restaurant here will only take 28 diners at a time. But he says because diners will move from zone to zone, he may be able to accommodate more guests than a sit-down arrangement would.

And how did the culinary stars feel about the cult of celebrity chefs? Tetsuya humbly brushed aside the concept and said what matters is good food. Daniel piped up, saying everyone knows a celebrity chef when he's made it, but nobody knows the hours he's had to put in to get there. Touché!

Are they going to break out into a cancan dance?

And then the moment we were all waiting for - the actual food from the chefs (well, ok, cooked by their teams here). In a separate ballroom, we were treated to select menu highlights from all seven celebrity chef restaurants, and there were some real gems in there.  I'll have to blog the food shots separately as I have 38 photos that I can't squeeze in here! Stay tuned, they're coming up soon.

Meanwhile, this is where the restaurants are located.

Restaurants at Level 2 Casino Building (accessible by public)
  • Santi by Santi Santamaria (open)
  • Guy Savoy by Guy Savoy (open)
  • Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakua (opening soon)

Restaurants at Retail Mall near Theaters
  • db Bistro Moderne by Daniel Boulud (opening Q4, 2010)
  • Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza by Mario Batali (opening Q4, 2010)
  • CUT by Wolfgang Puck (opening Q4, 2010)

Restaurant at Sands Skypark
  • The Sky on 57 by Justin Quek

Marina Bay Sands will offer over 50 dining spots in all. They are planning a Restaurant Concierge service which will provide information on all their dining venues and take reservations from both guests and the public.

10 Bayfront Avenue
Singapore 018956

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tung Lok Classics at Chinese Swimming Club

Peking Duck
Everybody loves Peking duck. Tell me if you don't. I am not fond of duck normally, but ooh, I can never get enough of this delicacy, no matter how good or bad it is.

Tung Lok Classics handled the 110-strong group well
This is last month's Makansutra dinner, held at Tung Lok Classics at the Chinese Swimming Club. It's only been open a year, so I had not heard of it (despite living so close by) until this dinner was announced in the forums. As usual, it was a multi-course meal for a steal (around S$40 per pax).


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ye Lai Xiang's Special Cheng Tng

Ye Lai Xiang "Special" Cheng Tng
I've blogged Ye Lai Xiang before, but didn't find it that impressive back then. But recently, I was back at Bedok Food Centre and I could not resist a cold dessert because the hot weather seems to have come back after that ominous flash flood in Orchard. I decided to try the S$3 cheng tng (cold) which has the works, and I was blown away. Wow!


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pot Roast and a Very Happy Father's Day

Homemade Pot Roast
Happy Father's Day to whoever's celebrating! Hubby is a very happy dad today cos he got some homemade pot roast. Men just love pot roast. Well, what's not to love? Nicely browned and braised hunk of beef, swimming in flavoursome gravy.

Homemade Pot Roast
This is my first time making pot roast, actually. I don't have a recipe mainly because I winged it. Basically spent 20 minutes browning the meat (which I'd rubbed salt and pepper on while waiting for the olive oil to heat up) and then some chopped onions and carrots, before tossing everything together to simmer slowly in chicken stock with bay leaves, bits of thyme and a splash of sherry (port is even better if you have it). It was pretty much ready 99 minutes on my induction cooker, but I let it cook for a further 30 minutes (and the onions turned to mush - hey, instant thickener!). 

Hope you all had something nice to eat today!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Soon Heng Noodle: Wantan Mee at Pepys Road

Wantan mee at Pepys Road
This wantan mee stall is next to the Fei Zhai pork rib prawn noodles at the junction of Pepys Road and Pasir Panjang Road. The texture of the noodles was perfect - springy and firm. The sauce is all right, a mixture of dark sauce with generous sambal chili, but no epiphanies to be had here. Pity the char siew is the paper-thin and dry variety. This part so often drags down the experience of wantan mee.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Fei Zhai Pork Rib Prawn Noodles at Pepys Road

Prawn Noodle Soup
A small group of us came to the junction of Pepys Road and Pasir Panjang Road to check out a really good kway chap, but the stall was closed (owner went on holiday). But all was not lost - we tried the prawn noodles at the same coffeeshop, which were quite good.

Pleasant-tasting pork rib prawn noodles with flavourful stock, fresh-tasting prawns, tender ribs and the all important bits of crispy fried lard.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Din Tai Fung - XLB Workshop, New Dishes and Voucher Giveaway

Din Tai Fung's top xiao long bao chef shows us how it's done
We all know that xiao long bao is not easy to make. Especially the folding of the delicate skin to make those famous 18 pleats. But it wasn't until I tried my own hand at manipulating the dough that I truly appreciated the full extent of the skills required. This was during a Din Tai Fung (DTF) hands-on workshop where their head chef in Singapore (he is originally from Taiwan) gave us a demo.

It's a lot of precision work. You can check out the beautifully photographed step-by-step process that Aromacookery, Keropokman and TheLittleTeochew have put up. No point in me repeating similar photos!

The ugly xiao long bao I made! Yes, complete with torn skin!
This is the xiao long bao I made. Yes, the torn skin is quite a giveaway! Auto #fail I think!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Jerry's BBQ & Grill at Club Street

The Most Talked About Buffalo Wings (S$13.95 for half dozen)
Hooyeah! "The Most Talked About Buffalo Wings" at Jerry's BBQ & Grill. The skin is deliciously crispy despite being smothered with that spicy hot sauce. And the meat inside these jumbo wings are sweet, tender and juicy. These are now my absolute favourite for buffalo wings. Just S$13.95 for half dozen. Hubby and I had two each and already felt quite full (note that we're not small eaters).

There are three levels of spiciness. We wanted the highest rank - Chef's Challenge - but were warned that it is tongue-numbingly hot. The waitress very kindly offered to give us that sauce on the side for us to try, while we take the middle rank (Intensi-Fire) for the wings. She was right, Chef's Challenge is quite a beast. But we had fun dipping our fries in it. Thank god the creamy dip helps put out the fire.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Panasonic's Eco Ideas & Contest

I haven't blogged tech in a long while (yes, every now and then my inner geek goes on a rampage and takes over the blog).

I attended a press event recently where Panasonic made a declaration to become the no.1 green company by 2018. Ikuo Miyamoto, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, spoke at great length about their "Eco-Ideas". They've already exceeded targets set in 2009.

The focus is on three green areas: products, manufacturing processes and lifestyle habits. Green products were defined as energy and water efficient, as well as long-lasting.

The "long-lasting" bit caught my attention.

Because I'm tired of recent products that seem precision-engineered to break down right after the warranty expires. My oven did that a month ago. And today, to my horror, my DSLR kit lens too, has sputtered and gone kaput. They died 3 and 11 months after their respective warranties expired. Are we in the era of disposable electronics?

But wait, how do you make your green product sales targets if your products last longer and thus require less churn? That was one query posed by a journalist. Panasonic answered that they hoped to win more consumers via innovation. In a way, they are on the right track - consumers need to buy less, but buy something good. If Panasonic successfully makes good (and green) products that last, they can win consumer brand loyalty.

I realized during the conference, that the Panasonic products I own have indeed served me quite a long time. My 15-year old CD stereo refuses to die and let me get something more hip. The Viera plasma TV is still pixel perfect despite being an overused display model we picked up at a sale. And do you remember that simple blue rice cooker that only had two functions - warm and cook? My, how many generations grew up with that?

Well, I have to go shopping for a new lens, although I still have my 50mm as my backup.

Meanwhile, here's a chance for you to win one of three 50-inch eco-friendly TVs worth over S$3,000 each. Just "design" their next Eco-Ad (from templates) with your own message, and you could see it published in KrisWorld. Three ads with the most "likes" on Facebook will win. Good luck!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Truffs the Chocolate Atelier

Darkest of pleasures...these truffles will bring you places you never knew existed
What are your deepest, darkest pleasures? How far will you go?


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Roszy's Tiffin House

Roszy's is cosy
You've probably heard of Roszy's Tiffin House. They've been well featured in the press as one of the first to serve authentic nasi ambeng (pronounced "um-bng"). Nasi ambeng or "togetherness rice" is a Javanese dish, traditionally served at big family gatherings or kenduri (celebration feasts). Side dishes are piled high upon a mound of rice set upon a dulang (large serving tray). Usually a group of 4-5 people will share this communal dish, and pack home what they cannot inevitably finish.

I totally love the concept of communal dining. Food is so much more wonderful when shared and enjoyed in good company, don't you agree?

What I like even more are stories of dreams coming true. This restaurant has been a dream percolating for 18 years. Roszy and her husband Ian James were finally able to set up shop in January 2010. Her mother is the chef, and they use recipes from her grandfather who comes from Semarang, Java. Note that Javanese food is more gentle in flavours compared to Sumatran nasi padang.

The aim is to serve food that tastes like home-cooking, and they've succeeded. Over 20 dishes are available, and everything from sambal to gravies is made from scratch. There is no "jelak" feeling to plague you afterwards either, as they don't like the heavy use of oil and salt. Many restaurants use oil to seal the surface and keep food fresher longer. Here, they just cook smaller batches to keep things fresh.

Nasi Ambeng - single person's portion (S$18)
I do have to apologise that when Keropokman, Momo and I were there, we kinda confused our orders. I'd thought one portion was the standard two-pax serving (S$36) since it's a communal dish, but apparently they do serve single person portions too (at S$18) - see above.

 OK, I borrowed a photo to show you what the double portion looks like...
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