Thursday, April 29, 2010
By now you would have seen that McDonald's has brought back the Quarter Pounder burger. It was in store since Sunday and now comes with two slices of melted American cheese, so the name is Quarter Pounder with Cheese (QPC for short). I remember the old Quarter Pounder fondly - I think it was the first burger I ever bought from McDonald's (anyone else remember the little standalone outlet next to the World Trade Centre carpark?). Back then it was just beef, chopped onions and pickles. But hearty nonetheless. For that time.
So when I heard that the Quarter Pounder was coming back, I was elated! I immediately began to fantasize about something substantial, but TheHungryCow reminded me that a quarter pound (or 113g) isn't much these days. He's right - this is the era of monster burgers and giant 250g patties.
Indeed, at the special preview McDonald's held for bloggers and supporters who have been requesting the QP to be brought back, the QPC (S$4.60) looked only slightly bigger than the existing double cheeseburger. But the single thicker patty was definitely better than two thin ones.
But wait - there's also the DOUBLE Quarter Pounder with Cheese (S$6.10)!
Whoa yes, NOW we're talking!! Two quarter-pound (i.e. half-pound total pre-cooking weight) patties of beef certainly makes for more juicy and meaty flavours. Since the preview, we've bought this a couple times more times and it seems to taste better and better.
Yes, go for the half-pounder (or is it quarter kilogrammer?) and you won't regret it. If it's too much for you, share it with someone special! Or me!
Meanwhile, McDonald's is pitting Beef vs Cheese on Facebook. Go cast your vote on which you prefer and you might win a special edition "Beef Rules!" or "Cheese Rocks!" t-shirt. Each week, 500 winners will be picked.
You can check out Keropokman's review on the QPC too. He was at the preview as well.
110 restaurants in Singapore
p.s. Did you know McDonald's tray liners are food-safe? Made from safe paper and ink. Well I've been dumping fries and chili sauce on them for ages, so it was nice to learn it's safe to do so!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Unhappiness is a form of self-indulgence. A little abstract, but it is true. You may need to think deep and hard about it, or you may get it immediately (I needed a bit of thought!).
A luxurious afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton is also a form of self-indulgence, but this one is clear to see. Well, for a spot of indulgence, I quite readily picked the tea.
This was not just self-indulgence but a shared indulgence. A couple weeks back, Julia and I decided to play "tai-tais" for an afternoon, complete with high tea. Hey, just FYI, we actually do work; just not in an office, and not following office hours or getting substantial remuneration or benefits. So this was a real treat for us.
Right after settling into those thick, plush comfy chairs, we spied the little jars of Hediard jams. Already a splendid start.
You get to choose a pot of Bernadaud gourmet tea each, and you can change the tea as often as you like, or opt for coffee. Waitresses clad in gold and black glide around discreetly, always refilling your cup whenever it gets empty.
The nibbles. This set is for two. It's not a lot of food, we noticed, but when savoured slowly with tea and good conversation, these can go a long way too. I love the golden circular tray holder; it's dramatic and elegant at the same time.
They probably vary the items from time to time. But this is what we got that day. For sandwiches, there was an egg mayo and caviar on herbed bread, pastrami with tangy tomato on tomato bread and smoked salmon with roe on brioche.
Don't these just say "Eat me!" with their open mouths?
The second tier gives you raisin scones, crab croquettes, chicken and fig rolls, and mushroom-potato quiche tarts. Even before we finished these, we were feeling a bit full already, from the sandwiches and tea.
The dessert tray yields cheesecake, chocolate cake, lemon custard tart and coffee cream mille feuille. The custard tart tasted like it had salted egg in it! That fragrance only comes out when you eat BOTH the custard with the pastry, but not when you test them separately. Quite intriguing.
Tea stretched a leisurely three hours, and yet it seemed like time flew as we chatted and savoured the little bites. Chihuly Lounge is airy, well-bathed in sunlight and surrounded by greenery you can view through the large windows. Something about it is quite relaxing. We soaked it all up and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Sometimes I feel how much you enjoy something is up to you, and what you choose to focus on. This afternoon tea (S$36++ per person) was pretty damaging to our skinny wallets. Some may feel it may not be value for money, given the limited tangibles you get. But for us, we felt the whole experience was lovely and worthwhile. Will we be back? Honestly, no, because there are just too many other teas to try out!
P.S. Please note that this is the Traditional Afternoon Tea on weekdays (2.30pm to 5pm). On weekends, they have a buffet (more Asian-style food).
I'm also adding this review to my High Tea Buffet and Afternoon Teas List. One down, many more to savour!
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore
7 Raffles Avenue
Tel: +65 6434-5288
Monday, April 26, 2010
It was a starry, starry night indeed at the World Gourmet Summit 2010 closing event on Saturday, 24 March. Award-winning chefs presented their signature samplers at the beachfront Sapphire Pavilion on Sentosa. No, I did not get to see Ferran Adria at this invitation-only event, but it was still good fun.
Chef Milind Sovani from The Song of India prepared exquisite Konkani Prawn Masala. These went well with the piping hot naans with herbs and chili flakes. There was also Punjabi-style spatchcock char-grilled in tandoor.
The White Rabbit followed the Alice in Wonderland theme for decor. Clockwise from top left: Caramelized shallot tart tatin, roquefort parfait. Fig gel in little tubes that were then piped on to truffled brie toasties. Torchon of foie gras, prunes, armagnac, toasted brioche. Chef Daniel Sia. Truffled brie toasties.
Chef Carmine Eposito of DOMVS laid out a pretty table. From left to right: Fiocchetti ia formaggi e pere con salsa di polpa di Granchio piccante (Cheese and pear stuffed mini ravioli with spicy crab meat sauce). Beef brisket in crepe with spicy coriander barbecue sauce. Grigliata di Ribeye e verdure di stagione servita con selezione di salse BBQ All'taliana (Barbecued beef ribeye, seasonal vegetables served with Italian BBQ sauce).
Barbecued duck breast in kueh pai ti. Sauteed minced seafood tossed with salad cream. Stewed beef with special sauce. Cantonese specialties from Chef Chung Yiu Ming of Li Bai at The Sheraton.
I've not been to Brasserie Wolf but the food they presented was pretty good! Marinated lamb spareribs, duck rillete on grilled bread, and some huge chunky beef on skewers that looked so tempting, I forgot to take a photo of the description. Thank you, Chef Philippe Nouzillat.
Chef Jason Dell of The Nautilus Project prepared small bites like Prawn cocktail; petite pure vanilla and raspberry pannacotta, mini macaroons; and barbecued chermoula-rubbed salmon and bamboo skewers.
It was nice to see Chef Damon Amos again, from The Prime Society. No gunpowder steak this time, but there was an interesting smoked grass-fed sirloin with three kinds of tomato (warm tomato gel, freeze-dried tomato and dehydrated cherry tomato). Next up (middle photo) was a Scallop Salad of char-grilled Hokkaido scallops, seawater braised baby leeks, ovoline, 12 micro herbs salad and roasted sesame dressing. Even dessert was no less elaborate - a Pavlova of kiwi fruit gel, Italian meringue, freeze dried mixed berries, micro mint, and toasted almonds.
I missed taking the poster of affable Chef Zeng Feng of Si Chuan Dou Hua, but here he is in person! The shrimp with red and green chili he is stir-frying on the hotplate look so good! The enoki in minced garlic sauce looks simple but is a potent mouthful. The chicken, qual egg, cucumber and bell pepper on stick dipped in boiling hot spicy Sichuan sauce tasted like a steamboat kebab!
Au Petit Salut has Alexandre Lozachmeur helming the kitchen now. The beef brochette with capsicum that he is grilling were absolutely divine! Perfectly medium-rare and juicy. There was also a forest mushroom tart, and mixed crab on French baguette.
Texas-style barbecued beef ribs, stunningly delicious. I had not heard of Le Lifestyle before, but had met Chef Kenny Yeo previously when he was the Executive Chef of Sentosa Leisure Group. Le Lifestyle turns out to be the Singapore Airlines Terminal Services (SATS) Food Solutions Group. Airline food this good? Please don't tell me I have to fly to taste these again! The barbecued Hokkaido scallops with salmon roe, cucumber and sour cream were quite good too.
The last row seemed to be creations from Chef Kenneth Francisco of the Singapore Youth Olympics Organising Committee's F&B and Culinary Operations.
Top left: Red snapper on smoked eggplant and spinach with cured cherry tomato.
Bottom left: a chef carving out a chunk of roast wagyu!
Middle: lamb moussaka with grilled eggplant, tomato and Turkish mozzarella.
Bottom right: herb-infused chicken.
There was lots to drink too: San Pellegrino sparkling water and juices, Nespresso coffee, Austrian wines, various beers and others.
Anyone there could easily feel the whole world was their oyster. It was a lot of food, and I couldn't manage to taste everything. But this was a nice little peek at the food that the participating restaurants offer. I wonder what next year's event has in store for us.
Major thanks to the World Gourmet Summit organisers and Sentosa Leisure Group for the invitation.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Today I have an organic recipe to share with you. A lot of foodies still debate whether organic is really that much better, tastier or more nutritious. I haven't eaten organic in a long time. But here's my experience.
ORGANIC PAN-FRIED SALMON WITH BASIL-CORN SALSA
(I've tweaked the recipe a little, as the original one calls for four salmon steaks and I only had one. Feel free to adjust it to your own taste)
One salmon steak (about 225g)
Organic corn kernels, cut from half a cob
One organic shallot, sliced thinly
One sprig organic basil, sliced thinly
About 50g organic cherry tomatoes, halved
Juice of half an organic lemon
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
A bit of canola oil for pan-frying
1. Rub salt and pepper on salmon and set aside.
2. Brown shallots in olive oil.
3. Add corn, cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add basil and lemon juice and take the pan off the fire.
5. In a separate pan, fry salmon skin-side first in canola oil.
6. Serve on top on corn-basil-tomato salsa.
So what was it like cooking organic? Right off the bat, the organic basil smelt beautiful - I didn't even have to hold it up to my nose to catch the aroma. I had some regular basil from Cold Storage for comparison and there was just no fight.
Well, the leaves did not look as gorgeous but that was not a concern for me. I have read that organic produce tends to look imperfect, as no pesticides or genetic tampering is done. The shallots also looked very different and elongated. The corn cobs were smallish and pale yellow, but the lemon and cherry tomatoes looked extra bright. Juice from the lemon turned out to be extra tart and sour - does this mean more Vitamin C? I certainly hope so.
The salmon? A marvellous whiff of ocean freshness hit me when I opened the sealed pack. But when it was cooked, the salmon taste was notably more muted than the sometimes stinky salmon I get from the wet market.
My family enjoyed the salsa in particular. It was supertangy (mainly because I used the whole lemon), so I reduced the amount for the recipe. I think I overcooked the tomatoes a little though!
Acknowledgement: The recipe and main organic ingredients were provided by Supernature. Photos for this recipe post were commissioned by and belong to Supernature, but the review is mine.
Friday, April 23, 2010
OK confession time: I love collecting food savers, containers, tiffin carriers and bottles (hubby's screaming in the background, "Noooo!!! Enough!"). I admit, however, some of them are even more throwaway or easily ruined than the plastic containers used by hawkers. So I guess it makes sense to invest in sturdy, good-looking containers that will last a long time. Less plastic for the landfill, less repeat buying hassle.
Tupperware's got this Eco-set as part of Earth Day celebrations. It's a sandwich container and a water tumbler in a cheery yellow drawstring bag (see above, but napkin not included). All backed by a lifetime warranty.
All you have to do is share a tip on saving the environment, and you'll get to buy this set at S$10 (normally S$20). You can go to these outlets, or call a Tupperware brand consultant.
- Tupperware Singapore: 85 Defu Lane 10, #01-00, Singapore 539218 - Tel: 800 601 1345
- Causeway Point: 1 Woodlands Square, #03-42A, Singapore 738099 - Tel: 9271 1406/6893 7768
- Bukit Batok: 273 Bukit Batok East Ave 4, #02-80, Singapore 650273 - Tel: 9368 5252
- Tampines: 419 Tampines St 41, #01-82, Singapore 520419 - Tel: 9389 3066, 6789 8133
I'm going to get one for Nadine and one for Jolie. Perfect for playschool snack time!
Hmmm, tips on saving environment? I'm sure many of us are already religiously recycling, reusing plastic bags instead of just throwing them away, bringing our own shopping bags (glamourous or otherwise), using less electricity by switching off appliances when we don't need them, taking showers instead of baths, reusing laundry water to wash bathroom floors or water plants, taking public transportation instead of cars, printing on both sides of the paper (even if it mucks up the ink cartridge), bringing own cups and containers for takeaways, installing water-efficient fixtures, choosing energy-efficient appliances, and not having the tap running while you shave or brush teeth. You could also use the timer to shave off 1-2 hours of air-conditioning at dawn - the air will still be comfortably cool, and you might wake up less sluggish.
The Baltimore Sun gave 40 tips (for Earth Day's 40 year anniversary). Some are quite unusual, and although many are U.S. centric, they do set the mind thinking.
For myself, I will add these to the list...
1. Stop Nadine and Jolie from opening the fridge and freezer doors so often and jacking up my utility bill.
2. Go meatless more often, 2-3 times a week. Meat production they say is resource intensive, and veges are still better for you. My domestic helper tells me her village folks in Indonesia get to eat chicken only once a month, and other meats only on festive occasions. Her grandmother lived hale and hearty to 93. While I don't want to live that long, I certainly wouldn't mind the healthy bit.
3. Stop spending so much time on the Internet. Yes, every second you are here means electricity consumed! Hmm, right. OK, scratch this, I'll find some other green thing to do...
Let me sort the photos according to the lifestyle sections they have on the website (which I really like). With the exception of a few brands, most of the products were new to me. So I went online to find out more about some of them, and I'll share what I found.
MOTHER & CHILD
Organic choices don't just stop at food. You can get organic cotton clothes with no toxic dyes and synthetics that sometimes cause itchy skin reactions. There are clothes, bodysuits, blankets, mittens and socks.
Organic cotton plush toys! Cuddlies from Coosh Baby.
There are even toys and balloons made from eco-friendly materials. The bio-degradable balloons use latex from sustainable forests.
There's still some food here. Organic infant formula and cereals.
Lots of purees, mixes, juices and rusks.
There are also healthy snacks, biscuits and crackers for little ones.
A whole section of organic baby toiletries and skincare items. Right opposite this is the adult toiletries.
BEAUTY & WELLNESS
There are a lot of hair care products. Organic brands strive to remove known carcinogens and harmful chemicals for better scalp and hair health. This is the COMO Shambhala line of shampoo and conditioners, near the John Masters Organics personal care line. Further down you'll even find organic home hair-colouring kits!
COMO Shambhala massage oils. There are also other brands of therapeutic grade naturally harvested essential oils and aromatherapy products.
Balance Me is an award-winning UK line of "certified natural" hair, skin and bodycare products made without parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, mineral oils, silicones, artificial colours and fragrances. All products are blended with essential oils.
I don't know how good they are, but I like the simple designs. Here are the shampoos, conditioners and body balms and scrubs.
More holistic skincare, notably from Dr Hauschka. There are other beauty and spa products - Purestuf, Antipodes, Fushi by Eva and some others which I have never seen before.
Cosmetics from Dr Hauschka. These are the testers.
Some Burt's Bees (a familiar favourite for many) and a curious range of homeopathic medicine kits at the cashier. Supernature also stocks lots of organic health supplements, tinctures and alternative therapy medicines. Those who are into holistic health will welcome the all-natural, herbal healing ranges like homeopathic distillations, Bach Flower Remedies, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic-based treatments.
HOME & LIVING
Yes, we know, most of the household cleaning agents we have are pretty toxic. But there are just too many products claiming to be green these days. It's up to us to read the labels and find out the truth. Here's the Eco Store line of non-toxic detergents and laundry powders that are super-concentrated and have no nasty chemicals. The Greenest Dollar reviewer gave it five stars.
There sure are a lot of cleaning agents here! Fabric softeners, surface cleaners, dishwashing liquids, carpet shampoo, window cleaners, etc.
I immediately liked these old apothecary style brown bottles. Murchison Hume is a premium line of organic cleaning products designed to look and smell great (using natural essential oils). They use colloidal technology (same thing used to clean up oceans in event of oil spills) for effective and non-toxic cleaning. Look at the raves on this blog. I want to get the cutely named "Boy's Bathroom Cleaner" in White Grapefruit scent, and the "Counter Intelligence" food safe surface spray for my kitchen counters and tables. Fragrance free versions also available.
Organic diapers and umm, feminine personal products. There are also eco-friendly disposable plates, paper towel rolls, natural loofahs and kitchenware like graters and olive wood chopping boards.
Wash your pet, fruit and vegetables the organic way. There's also organic pet food - supposedly much better than commercial pet food that contains so many unnatural fillers.
And when your home is all nice and clean, you might like to add some safe and eco-friendly scents. There are sculptural aroma reeds, scented candles, room sprays and fresheners.
I totally missed the gardening section - they have seeds, tools, and organic potting soil - everything you need to grow your own herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables! I would love a herb garden...I should check this out next time I visit.
So there you have it. Supernature is a fabulous place to visit, even if you aren't into organic living. The sheer number of unusual products alone is an eye-opener.
Tomorrow I will post an organic recipe I tried out. Let's see if organic ingredients really do taste better!
21 Orchard Boulevard
#01-21/23 & 27 Park House
Tel: +65 6304-1338
Monday - Saturday: 10am - 7pm
Sunday: 10am - 6pm
Public Holidays: 10am - 5pm
Acknowledgement: Photographs in this post were commissioned by and belong to Supernature, but the blog post is mine.