Saturday, February 27, 2010
The heavens have opened up and I hear cherubs singing! Supremely moist, dense and sticky - all the qualities I have been looking for in sticky date pudding...found! If anything, this one probably over-delivered in these respects. And as if that's not decadent enough, the warm pudding comes with a gob of buttercream and creamy (real) vanilla ice cream, and then the whole thing is drenched in butterscotch syrup!
Thanks to Marina who tipped me off on this dessert (S$10) at Boomarang! Sorry, Marmalade Pantry, but this is what I was really expecting when you say sticky date pudding!
Boomarang is a sprawling bistro, cafe and bar that's taken over the old Simply Bread at Robertson Quay. It's Aussie tucker, as close as you can get to the real thing. There's lots of outdoor seating, especially wooden tables and chairs. But in this weather, unless you have a melanoma deathwish, the shade is probably a better idea.
Boomarang serves all-day breakfast on weekends and public holidays, and from 8am-11.30am on weekdays. Their breakfast menu is extensive and portions are hearty! I went for the works - "Kings Cross" (minute steak, beef sausages, crispy bacon, fried eggs, mushrooms, roma tomatoes on sourdough, S$20). The minute steak was a little dry but I enjoyed the bacon and herbed beef sausages. Eggs are still runny. The roma tomatoes are delicious (I usually balk at breakfast grilled tomatoes but had no trouble with these).
We also could not resist ordering the Wagyu Corned Beef Hash (S$16) - sauteed potatoes, fried eggs on Turkish toast. Unfortunately, the hash was bland and we could barely taste the wagyu. Potatoes were a tad more flavourful with herbs. And the soft Turkish toast was addictive - I used them to mop up the butterscotch of the sticky date pudding!
Boomarang welcomes kids and families - you'll see lots of these on weekends. There are children's menus (click for bigger photo, sorry for the mess!) and colouring kits to keep little hands busy. Boomarang is also pet-friendly. Bring your dog and they can give you a dog bowl.
Of course, Aussies are never far from their beers! I also noticed a well-stocked wine cellar. But do try their coffee - it's really good. Apparently they bring in Campos, raved by the New York Times as worth flying from New York to Sydney for. Even my 2-year-old Jolie was hooked, assiduously stealing teaspoons of it from her daddy's cup.
Boomarang can be a nice place to chill out by the riverside. However, when it gets crowded, service and food can be slow. I should like to come back perhaps on a weekday and try their Pepper and Lime Calamari, Wagyu Steak, and Peppered Kangaroo Loin. Anyone in the mood for marsupial meat?
BOOMARANG BAR & BISTRO
60 Robertson Quay
#01-15 The Quayside
Tel: 6738-1077 (reservations advised)
Open daily 8am til late
Posted 12:32 AM
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Local celebrity cookshow host Asmah Laili has her first DVD out! I like her, she's very detailed, meticulous, and clearly loves preparing food to feed loved ones. Sometimes she reminds me of a "nenek yang suka berleter" (a granny who loves to nag) but one whom you totally cherish and adore.
My mom-in-law and my domestic helper used to be hooked on Indonesian drama series like "Hikmah" and various other Suria channel programs, so we inevitably came across Asmah Laili in her popular "Dapur Mami" (Mummy's Kitchen) cooking shows. It's not showing anymore, but with "Tanya Mami" we can continue to enjoy her motherly coaching and cooking demos.
Recipes in the 125-minute DVD include Orange Roast Chicken, Nasi Ayam Penyek, Pineapple Laksa, Kampung Grilled Fish, Fresh Mango Salad, Spicy Peanut Butter Crabs, Mami's Casserole, various pastas and even a drink called Slurpy Joe!
I did not know until watching the bio in the DVD that Asmah Laili is actually such a broadcast industry veteran. She started with Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (wow, remember SBC?) in 1959 and was one of the first people to say "This is Singapore television." Asmah has even received various awards and medals for her involvement in broadcasting. But what's most heartwarming are her recollections about family and advice from her mother.
The "Tanya Mami" DVD is in Malay but comes with English, Japanese, Malay and Mandarin subtitles and commentary. There's also a full-colour booklet of the 18 recipes (in both English and Malay) for easy reference in the kitchen.
The DVD retails at S$24.90 at:
- Toko Warisan (Joo Chiat Complex)
- HMV (Heeren & Citylink)
- Muzika Records
- Kampung Glam Café
- Museum Shop by Banyan Tree (Asian Civilization Museum, Peranakan Museum and National Museum)
Postage is free if the readers in Singapore would like to purchase the DVD from production house Muse Pte Ltd directly. They also provide a fixed postage for orders anywhere in the world (S$29.90).
So yes, as the title of the post states, it's a contest and I am very happy to have five copies of the DVD to give out to you. Just answer the two questions below:
1. "Tanya Mami" can be enjoyed in four languages - English, Malay, Mandarin and Japanese. True or False?
2. Name any one of the places where you can get "Tanya Mami"
First five people to comment with correct answers win. I will announce them in the comments as well, so standby to send me your mailing address!
Now I must go check out her cookbooks...
Posted 5:27 PM
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Restaurant Week has come to Singapore! This culinary event in cities like Amsterdam and New York sees fine dining and mid-market restaurants offering a three-course menu for a special fixed price during a one-week period. It's pioneered by DiningCity.com, an online restaurant guide which now features Singapore restaurants as well.
For Restaurant Week in Singapore, you'll get to choose from more than 50 restaurants including Absinthe, Garibaldi, FiftyThree, Bedrock Bar & Grill, The Cliff, Mimolette, The Nautilus Project, Novus, Brasserie Wolf, One On The Bund, Oso Ristorante, OTTO, Picotin, The Prime Society, The White Rabbit, Krish, Private Affairs, Tatsuya, The Song of India and Takumi Tokyo. They will be offering a S$25++ three-course lunch and S$35++ three-course dinner from 22 to 28 March 2010.
Sounds like a good way to try out that restaurant you've always been eyeing?
Bookings are online only via www.restaurantweek.sg, and open 23 Feb 2010 (but it's not yet available as of time of posting). The website looks a wee bit spartan but at least all the basic information is there. Hope they will put up an updated list of restaurants soon, but at any rate, here is the list as of today.
LIST OF RESTAURANTS AS OF 23 FEB 2010
2 Al Qasr
3 Bedrock Bar & Grill
4 Bollicine Restaurant
8 Dim Joy
9 District 10 Bistro Wine Bar
11 Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar
12 Gattopardo Italian Grill & Pizzabar
14 Mimolette Restaurant & Bar
15 Novus Restaurant, Bar, Café & Courtyard
16 One on the Bund
17 Orgo Bar & restaurant
18 Oso Ristorante
19 OTTO Ristorante
20 Picotin Bar Bistro Epicerie
21 Private Affairs
22 Red House Seafood Restaurant
23 Red House At The Quayside
24 Ricciotti at The Riverwalk
25 Ricciotti at China Square Central
26 Takumi Tokyo
27 Tatsuya Japanese Restaurant
28 The Cliff @ The Sentosa Resort & Spa
29 The French Kitchen
30 The Garden @ The Sentosa Resort & Spa
31 The Song of India
32 Tiffin Club
33 Pasta Brava Restaurant
34 Brotzeit Bier, Bar & Restaurant
35 Restaurant Da Mario
36 Seven on Club
37 The Prime Society
38 The Nautilus Project
39 Brasserie Wolf
40 Esmirada At Orchard
41 Esmirada At The Pier
42 Bodega Y Tapas
43 The White Rabbit
44 Il Lido
48 Senso Ristorante & Bar
49 Original Sin
51 Julien BOMPARD
55 Villa Enrique
58 Magma German Wine Bistro
Posted 9:58 AM
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Happy "Valunar" New Year! Valentine and Chinese New Year both fall on the same date this year! I thought I'd bake some heart-shaped pineapple tarts to celebrate both. Anyway, it is my first attempt at making pineapple tarts, and I'm glad I had Ju's very easy recipe to follow. When I read the "buttery, melt-in-your-mouth pastry" description, I knew I had to make these!
You can make them in all shapes and sizes. Have fun testing! The dough is so good, I think I am going to use it as a base to make many other cookies!
Here's a summarised recipe for my own reference. The only permanent change I made was an increase in salt (my family likes it that way). I encourage you visit her recipe page to see the lovingly detailed instructions, explanations and step-by-step photos.
- 1kg pineapple jam (readymade)
- 400g plain flour
- 50g corn flour (helps pastry become more "melty")
- 280g cold, unsalted butter (do not allow it to soften)
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 3 tbsp cold water
- 6 tbsp icing sugar (helps soft pastry keep shape during baking)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (I used 1 tsp vanilla essence as I didn't have extract around)
- For glaze, mix 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water
1. Pre-roll pineapple jam into little balls. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C if necessary.
2. Sift flours, icing sugar and salt.
3. Cut butter into flour mixture using a fork. Flake the butter until you get a breadcrumb texture.
4. Beat egg yolks, cold water and vanilla extract.
5. Add it to the butter-flour mixture. Gently coax all crumbs into one large dough ball, then stop. Do not knead.
6. Chill dough in fridge for 10 mins or longer, covered.
7. Roll out to desired thickness (about 8mm). Dust flour liberally on rolling pin as this is an oily pastry.
8. Cut out shapes using cookie/pastry cutter.
9. Arrange shapes on baking tray and glaze the entire surface.
10. Place pineapple jam balls on centre of each pastry shape.
11. Bake at 160 degrees C for 20 minutes.
Depending on the size of your cookies, this may yield about 100 tarts.
And this what happens when you have a three-year old with itchy fingers. But I can't blame her!
Hope you all are having a great time with friends, loved ones and family!
Posted 12:28 AM
Friday, February 12, 2010
My mother-in-law's friend brought these and I was wowed. I love "kai zai peng" (雞仔餅 - biskit anak ayam?) or those savoury-sweet chicken biscuits from Kampar. Somebody had distilled the flavour of those greasy biscuits into crunchy wafer-thin cookies! So addictive! So hard to stop at just one! Fortunately for me (though not my waistline), the rest of my family don't like these, so I had the whole tub to myself. These are from this shop below (try calling to see when they are open during CNY period).
BEAUTY WORLD NIANG RE GAO
144 Upper Bukit Timah Road
#04-54 Beauty World Plaza
Posted 11:00 AM
Thursday, February 11, 2010
The Lunar New Year will be very soon upon us. Have you started tossing your yu sheng? We've done quite a few. Here's one certainly for abundance, with more than 20 ingredients, including Alaskan King Crab, from Palm Beach Seafood at One Fullerton.
Palm Beach has got a great location near the Merlion, and of course the million-dollar view of Marina Bay and Esplanade. When you're craving local-style seafood right in the Central Business District, or need to bring business guests, this is one place to consider.
The Alaskan King Crab Yu Sheng (S$58 or S$88) is a pretty platter. I like that this one has shredded fried yam on top.
Alaskan King Crab certainly ups the ante on this festive salad. You can taste the deep-sea sweetness of the crustacean in the mix.
Seafood Deluxe Combination (selection of five seafood items): $23.00 per person.
Here we have Canadian live oyster, Hokkaido scallop sashimi, New Zealand king salmon sashimi, Scottish bamboo clam, and live poached prawns. Other options include US Alaskan king crab or half-shell Chilean scallops.
Australian Lobster with Vermicelli in Superior Stock : $16.80 per 100g
This is an award-winning dish also known as Coco Lobo. It came steaming hot in individual claypots, and the beautiful complex aroma immediately sends your expectations soaring. Looks and even smells spicy, like a laksa, but it isn't at all. There isn't even coconut milk in this! Confused? Well, my tastebuds did a double take but were happy nonetheless. The lobster is incredibly fresh (it was live, apparently) and tasted gorgeous.
Honey Tangy Marble Goby: $7.50 per 100g
Another name for sweet and sour fish, you say? No, this is more than that. There are spices (I think lemongrass for one, and lots of hot chillies) that make this dish rise above the common sweet-sour rendition. It's almost like a Malay dish, an intensely flavoured and spicy one. Loved this - possibly my favourite of all.
Prosperity Vegetables: $48 or $68
Large dried oysters battered and fried, placed atop broccolini decorated with hair moss ("fa cai"). The oysters are smoky but a little dry (guess that's what the sauce is for). Vegetables are blanched just right though.
Chilli Crab $4.50 per 100g
These are some of the biggest Sri Lankan crabs we've seen. My friend Mei Ling who came with me kept pronouncing this (and pretty much every seafood item here) as "Fresh! Very fresh!" The thick sauce may look fiery red, but it's not spicy at all - quite tourist-friendly, I'd say. Personally I still think crab is best done with black pepper or salted egg.
Double Baked Crab a la Singapura: $4.50 per 100g
Well, Palm Beach has 11 styles of crab. They even concocted their own unique dish of double-baked crab with cheese. The whole crab is coated with crusty parmesan cheese - makes you want to lick the shells. I preferred this to the chili version.
Two Preparations of Nian Gao: $18 or $28
Nian gao (sticky New Year cake made from glutinous rice flour) we often see as the battered and fried sandwich (between yam and sweet potato slices). But here it's also presented like "kueh kosui", covered with shredded coconut (see background). Clever.
White Fungus, Red Dates & Dried Longan Served in a Coconut : $5.80
Warm and syrupy, this will satisfy any sweet tooth. Too bad you can't eat the coconut.
I have to say the fruit blends (S$3.80) here are good value, especially the mango. They are thick and rich with real fruit blended with ice.
Palm Beach has modern chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling greenery on one side, with large mirrors that almost look like an entrance to another room. Service so far was brisk and good; one of the wait staff even helped me deshell a crab claw.
They also have a daily lunch seafood buffet (check website promo page for details) but it's not available for February.
I would like to thank Karin of Palm Beach Seafood and Gail for hosting this seafood feast. It was an honour to meet Mr Han Jin Juan, the Managing Director. Thanks also to Fullerton Heritage for making the arrangements. This marks our final stop in the fantastic Fullerton Heritage food tasting series.
PALM BEACH SEAFOOD
One Fullerton #01-08,
1 Fullerton Road
12noon – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 11pm
Posted 9:59 PM
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
One of my happiest discoveries from the Fullerton Heritage series of food tastings is Boathouse. This cosy restaurant serves contemporary European cuisine, and is located above Le Saint Julien's at the Fullerton Waterboat House. I hadn't heard much of Boathouse (not to be confused with the Bacchus Boathouse that it took over), and didn't know what to expect. It's really new, just opened in Jan 2010, but if this preliminary tasting is anything to go by, I think it's going to be one of my favourite eateries.
Walking in, you feel transported into a different world. The interior is stark, spacious and lofty, dominated by whites and natural woods. Historical photographs and decor pieces lend an air of classical sophistication, as befits the building's heritage. Full-length glass doors open out to the vast wooden deck but seating is only indoors and is limited. In fact, Boathouse's full capacity is only 40. Tables are spread a good distance apart for dining and conversation privacy. You won't have to tolerate elbow-to-elbow dining like you get at some places.
[UPDATE 18 Feb 2010: A group of 4 bloggers reported a disappointing experience, possibly due to the restaurant still finding its feet within 1.5 months of opening. I'd be glad to hear anyone else's feedback in the comments. But anyway, it's always wise to temper your expectations, or allow them a couple more months before trying them out. I'm still going though! I really enjoyed the dining experience there. But of course, I had marvellous company, so what can I say!]
But of course, we're all here for the food. Fortunately Boathouse delivers, and with bright, strong flavours.
The Amuse Bouche - perks up your palate for the good things to come. This had hints of mint, peach and melon in it. The amuse bouche may vary according to the menu or meals chosen.
Fish Chowder Sea Bass Carpaccio (S$15) is one of their signature items, and I recommend it as a must-have. You are first presented with a delicate rosette of raw sea bass slices. But no, we are not having sashimi.
The waitress then pours hot chowder in circular movements around the carpaccio until it is almost fully submerged. The heat of the soup cooks the fish slices just perfectly.
A dash of black pepper completes the presentation. The chowder is not only dramatic, it is extremely delicious. Possibly one of the tastiest I have ever had. It was a "wow" moment for me. We were almost licking the remnants clean.
For the mains, Brad and I both had Wagyu Beef Ribs with Aged Red Wine Jus (S$33). The ribs are appropriately fatty and fall-off-the-bone tender. They've been braised 6-8 hours, so they've soaked in all the flavour too. The creamy mash potatoes too are delicious - they've got cubes of potato in them for added texture.
I didn't try the Atlantic Pink Snapper (S$25) with truffle mash in a fish bouillon, but it sure looked appetising. Ju said it was very good. Portions at Boathouse are not large but satisfying and just enough to leave you wanting more.
Tagliatelle Wild Mushroom in a Truffle Sauce (S$19) - the sauce is incredibly umami from a seafood bouillabaisse stock. The intensity of flavour might be too overwhelming and salty for some, but the pasta carries it well. I love the little mushrooms bits in the creamy sauce. And to top it off, the truffle oil is truly fragrant.
As if that wasn't enough carb, we went for more of their sundried tomato bread and glorious fresh butter. I also used this to mop up the sauce from the pasta and beef ribs. [NOTE: they serve only one to two of these slices as complimentary bread. The platter shown above was given after we all requested extra bread halfway into the meal.]
This is the bookcase bar. They have a selection of fine wines, whisky, champagne and rare vintages to complement the menu.
And now for desserts. Caramel Apple (S$15) comes with toffee, walnuts and sorbet or ice cream. Normally the apple tart is bigger than shown above - these are three tasting portions with hazelnut, coffee and vanilla ice cream (customers get to choose flavours). Loved the ice cream, even though melted by the time we finished photographing everything. [UPDATE 18 Feb 2010: seems the restaurant reduced the price to S$12 but served this mini tart portion shown above, which is still really too tiny. I sincerely hope the owners will take the feedback into consideration.]
Creme Brulee (Traditional Custard Caramel, Lemon Verbena and a most interesting Licorice Reduction). The custard is exceedingly sweet and I was afraid to pour on the licorice reduction lest it added more syrup to the equation. But I should not have hesitated, because the brown licorice wasn't sweet at all. Instead, it added a slightly bitter but refreshing herbal taste that took the sweet edge off the custard and balanced the dessert perfectly.
Panna cotta isn't on the Boathouse menu, but from the rooftop bar Prelude upstairs. Smooth and sweet.
White Chocolate Semifreddo (Gelato-based) with Fruit Compote. The tart berries cut the sweetness of the semifreddo. There's real chocolate in the centre of the pyramid too. Some of us liked this the best.
And upstairs, we have the rooftop bar called Prelude. They serve different items here, including a reputedly good tiramisu.
It is gorgeous up here! With the stunningly lit Fullerton Hotel on one side, and Marina Bay/Esplanade on the other.
A panoramic view of the Esplanade and Marina Bay. It's nice and breezy up here too.
The place has a laid back vibe, and is marvellous for chilling out. You can't help but feel relaxed.
In all, this is a fabulous find. And all you people working near Raffles Place who are always having a headache as to where to eat (I know I used to be one of you), fret no more! Just walk over to the Boathouse and be transported into a peaceful haven of pleasure for an hour or two.
For the quality of food, the prices at Boathouse are really affordable too. Check out their lunch sets (2-course for S$22; 3-course for S$29). Their entire menu is online too, complete with prices. They also have Valentine's Day menus too, that include wine or champagne (see photo here for full description).
If you are driving, please park at the nearby Fullerton Hotel or One Fullerton. There is a valet service in front of the Waterboat House.
Thank you, Fullerton Heritage for arranging this tasting session. Warmest thanks also to Sophia and Kannan of Boathouse for hosting this fabulous dinner. We enjoyed ourselves very much and almost didn't want to leave!
#03-01, The Waterboat House
3 Fullerton Road
Open Monday – Saturday
Lunch 12pm to 2pm
Dinner 6.30pm to 11pm (last order 10.15pm)
Posted 2:55 PM
Monday, February 8, 2010
I had earlier thought Society Bar was more for drinking than dining. But a visit there proved me wrong, deliciously wrong. Our third stop in the Fullerton Heritage series turned up some unexpected good eats at this far end of One Fullerton.
Of course, since this is a bar, there are drinks of all kinds, including a special cocktail for the Lunar New Year. The "Golden Prosperity" (S$16 nett, only available 1-28 Feb) is a festive mix of brandy, Malibu rum, Southern Comfort and sparkling apple juice presented in frosted martini glass. Valentine's Day also sees a special twin cocktail called Sweet Seduction (see Valentine menu link below).
For the festive season, we get a special raw salmon yu sheng salad (S$12 nett, 1-28 Feb) that's quite unusual - it's served in individual portions! It does away with the oft-messy communal tossing, and lets you enjoy the salad as it is. You get a generous portion of raw salmon (at the bottom), rice noodles, shrimp crackers, finely shredded white radish, carrot, red pepper and sweet pickled ginger topped with chopped peanuts and toasted sesame seeds. But an extra ingredient not mentioned - shredded kaffir lime leaves - really give the salad an aromatic punch.
Beef Burger, Bacon, Cheese, Beetroot + Sunnyside Egg (S$14.50)
Brad and I shared a beef burger. Hearty portion with well-toasted sesame seed buns, a sweetish salad and really good crisps.
The egg yolk is still semi-soft, and the patty is well-seasoned.
Tiger Beer Battered Fish & Chips
Ju who does not take beef chose this dish and shared it with us. The fish & chips won my heart even before I had a bite. Behold, how crispy the batter looks! The fish was also fresh and moist inside.
Tunisian Braised Chicken Leg Pilaff With Brown Rice (S$16.50)
Beautifully browned chicken with exotic spices, atop a savoury pilaf with pine nuts and corn kernels. Brown rice never tasted so good. Nice.
Spaghetti With Mediterranean Tomato Sauce, Olive Oil and Parmesan (S$12.50)
The pasta was sadly overcooked, and the sauce failed to save it. This was the only dish we didn't finish.
The Chocolate Duet is part of the month-long Valentine's Day menu. It's a tower of rich chocolate sable cookie, white chocolate ganache, fresh strawberry slices and raspberry sorbet. Can I say that everything here was good, from the light-as-air sable cookie to the intensely fruity raspberry sorbet? And when combined, it all came together even more wonderfully.
Individual Baked Apple Tartlet + Toffee Sauce + Ice-cream (S$7.50)
So good, you won't want to share it!
Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding + Toffee Sauce + Ice-cream + Candied Walnuts (S$8)
This sounds irresistible, doesn't it? It was certainly good but the toffee pudding part was a bit of a letdown, being neither moist nor sticky enough (for me). Am still on the hunt for good sticky toffee pudding!
The Blueberry Cheesecake was competently done. Dense, creamy and not too sweet. This rich dessert is probably best enjoyed on its own rather than with too many other desserts like we did!
There's a nice al fresco area for you to enjoy your drinks with the view of Esplanade and Marina Bay. There are several Happy Hours:
5-9pm: 20% off housepour spirits and draft beers
9-10pm: S$7+ martinis
10-11pm: S$8+ shooters
Check out also their Valentine's Day menu (Only S$30 nett per person), available all month.
Many thanks to Fullerton Heritage and Society Bar for this tasting session, and to Marina Mathews of Crocmedia for being such a warm and engaging host.
1 Fullerton Road
Posted 5:13 PM