Sunday, July 31, 2011

DBS Masterclass with Michael Han of FiftyThree

The July instalment of the DBS Masterclass featured Michael Han of FiftyThree at 53 Armenian Street. Michael ditched his law degree to pursue his dream of being a chef, working 16 to 18 hours a day. He began at home with Au Jardin and then at The Fat Duck, L'Enclume, Anthony's in England and Mugaritz in San Sebastian. He combines inspirations from nature with modern cooking techniques and sciences to bring about unique dishes.

I like Michael as he seems really sweet, shy, straightforward and honest. And for the most part, he had to be totally serious, as the three dishes he was demonstrating were not child's play.

His food is beautiful, but looking at the preparation work required, I would say, "Don't try this at home!" Yeah, just go to FiftyThree and eat there. Take a look at the recipes and you'll see.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Homemade Sundried Tomato and Cheese Bread

I've been baking a lot. Bread, that is.

Early in July, I revisited the "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day" technique, and I just couldn't stop after that. I already liked it when someone taught me in 2008, but this time I have the book, and it is a gem. You can turn out all kinds of breads, bagels, flatbreads and pizzas, enriched breads and pastries, etc.

What I really like about the basic bread recipe is the crust. Oh my! If there's anything I love more than crackling roast pork skin, it's crackling bread crust. And how it sings when it comes out of the oven, crinkling as it cools.

Last week I tried the Sun-dried Tomato and Cheese Bread, which is an extension of the basic bread formula. Anyone can make this, without kneading too.

I'll list here a basic framework of how I made this bread:


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cold Stone Creamery now has 2nd outlet

Cold Stone Creamery has taken awhile to come to Singapore but they've become an instant hit the moment they opened at Orchard Central in March 2011. It's packed to the gills, especially on weekends. A second branch has opened in Far East Square on 27 July.

Banana Caramel Crunch®  (French Vanilla Ice Cream, Roasted Almonds, Banana, Caramel)
Keropokman, Momo and I braved the OC crowd on a Friday night and tried several of the Signature Creations (in "Like It" size of 4 oz, S$5.50). It's an additional $1 for freshly-made waffle bowl and $1.50 for chocolate-dipped waffle bowl (I much prefer the plain waffle bowl).

- Banana Caramel Crunch® (French Vanilla Ice Cream, Roasted Almonds, Banana, Caramel)
Nice combination, with very strong banana flavours. Keropokman found the bananas a little too young, but I didn't mind.

Germanchökolätekäke®  (Chocolate Ice Cream, Pecans, Brownie, Coconut, Caramel)
- Germanchökolätekäke® (Chocolate Ice Cream, Pecans, Brownie, Coconut, Caramel)
If you are trying to pronounce that morass of words - just think "German chocolate cake". Personally, I am not sure what language that's in, since chocolate cake in German is Schokoladenkuchen. I could only make sense of "chökolätekäke because of Dora the Explorer episodes showing a "Cho-co-la-te" tree.

Berry Berry Berry Good®  (Sweet Cream Ice Cream, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries)
- Berry Berry Berry Good® (Sweet Cream Ice Cream, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries)
This must be bursting with anti-oxidants!

Apple Pie A La Cold Stone®  (French Vanilla Ice Cream, Cinnamon, Graham Cracker Pie Crust, Apple Pie Filling & Caramel)
- Apple Pie A La Cold Stone® (French Vanilla Ice Cream, Cinnamon, Graham Cracker Pie Crust, Apple Pie Filling & Caramel)
Even the apple pie filling is shipped from the U.S., along with pretty much all the other toppings and ingredients! We tried to ask where they source their milk from, but learned that it's all in the pre-mix that comes in from the U.S.! No milk is added here!

Our own creation - Cotton Candy and Orange Ice Cream, mixed with Gummy Bears
We also tried out a crazy combo for our DIY cup. Blue cotton candy flavoured ice cream with orange ice cream mixed in with gummy bears and rainbow sprinkles. Even the staff thought this was weird. They recommended not "mixing-in" the two flavours! Hahaha! Well, actually the flavours are pretty mild, so even if they did jumble everything together, it would not be a disaster.

I have to say the ice cream is unusually thick and dense, with an almost chewy texture. It's unlike the common air-whipped varieties that melt very quickly. But this also means one scoop is a lot more filling than what we might be used to, and we might over-eat quite easily. I seriously had trouble buttoning my pants the next day!

PB&C Milkshake
Their Signature Shakes go for $8.50 (16oz). Here's the infamously rich PB&C (Chocolate Ice Cream, Milk & Peanut Butter) milkshake. I don't think I could tackle this on my own!

Cold Stone Creamery staff doing the mix-in
Cold Stone Creamery staff mixing in the ice cream with toppings. They sometimes will do flaring, acrobatic throws of the finished scoop and catch it in the cups or bowls. Or let customers have a go at it!

Yes, one wasted scoop, but all in the name of fun
Not all the scoops land perfectly, of course. It's all in the name of light-hearted fun, which is what Cold Stone is about. The merry bunch there will sometimes even sing and dance, in addition to all those ice cream tricks!

The waffle bowls are so popular, there is a dedicated station making them non-stop
The waffle bowls are so popular, there is a dedicated station making them non-stop. And you know, the smell of freshly made waffles is just so inviting! There's also an open show kitchen where you can watch the ice cream being made. It's the only such kitchen in the Cold Stone chain (of over 1,400 outlets) around the world.

Choose from all sorts of flavours
The ice cream is made on-location, fresh every day. With all the different toppings and flavours, there's an estimated 11.5 million different combinations. Have fun trying some out!

Thanks to Leroy of Foodnews for hosting us, and Cold Stone for the treats.


181 Orchard Road
Orchard Central #01-09/10
Singapore 238896
Tel: +65 6238-9060
Open daily 11am – 11pm

49 Pekin Street
#01-01 Far East Square
Tel: +65 6557-2979
Opening Hours
Mon–Fri: 10am – 9pm
Sat: 10am – 8pm
(Closed on Sun)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fisherman's Market: A Japanese-Western-Asian Seafood Buffet

I like the decor - it puts you in a soothing and relaxing mood
Fisherman's Market at The Central is a gorgeous place. As you ascend the escalator into the primarily white hall filled with beautifully presented seafood, you'll feel like you've just floated up to heaven.

There are so many Japanese buffets in Singapore (see my list of almost 40 Japanese buffets here), but this one is positioning itself as a premium Japanese-Western-Asian seafood buffet.

The name may be similar to Manhattan Fish Market, which is also at The Central, but there is no relation. Fisherman's Market is a Japanese brand set up by Create Restaurants, a conglomerate with 110 F&B concepts in Japan. This is their first endeavour in Singapore.

I will have to say, I absolutely love the soothing decor of white, wood and glass. There is ample space and a high ceiling for one half of the restaurant. Double-storey floor-to-ceiling windows give you a grand view of the Singapore River and Clarke Quay. Of course, I was too distracted by the food to take a photo of that view until it was too dark.

Seafood on ice - prawns, oysters, mussels
The food does look amazing. Seafood on ice - oysters, prawns, mussels, etc...all of which I did not try, but I heard raves about the oysters and scallops from others.

There are nearly 90 dishes to choose from!
Everything is neatly and compactly arranged, so it does not look like an overwhelming lot, but there are up to 90 dishes available! I wasn't even able to try a quarter of the stuff there.

As with a buffet this size, there is definitely something for everyone, but it will also be tough to do everything perfectly.

Best tempura in any buffet - these are fried a la minute
I appreciate that the tempura is fried only upon order. Every table is given a few clip tags, which you present to the stations (there's teppanyaki and tempura) and they will bring your order to your table once it's done. No waiting necessary. How nice.

Sushi rolled by native itamae
There are various kinds of sushi available, all done by native itamae. The Japanese sushi chefs do manage a bit of English, and can tell you what ingredients are used.

The hot dishes were pretty decent
The hot mains are fairly decent. The kids loved the pasta vongole bianca (what is it with kids and pasta?) and seafood fried rice. However, the chili crab and black pepper crab did not have much meat in them, so it may be more worthwhile trying other items than cracking those shells.

The dessert station may be small but it's one of the better stops here!
The dessert station may look small, but it holds some of the best goodies here. We all loved the DIY soft-serve ice cream machine, and I am glad to say the ice cream tastes way better than McDonald's (which now has this almost artificial milk powder flavour).

Don't miss the creme brulee - it's divine! Super rich and eggy too. You can ladle some of the "Macedonia" fruit cocktail mix onto your ice cream too. The tapioca pearls in the coconut milk are a little undercooked though.

Fisherman's Market is a Japanese and Western buffet
On the whole, great score on decor and presentation. Foodwise, there are hits and misses, as is normal with most buffets. It's a pity I wasn't able to try everything! Maybe I missed some good stuff somewhere in there...

The buffet is dinner only, but there is also a la carte downstairs for lunch.

Mondays to Thursdays : S$39.90++ (Adult) / S$22.90++ (Child below 12yo)
Fridays to Sundays : S$49.90++ (Adult) / S$27.90++ (Child below 12yo)

Thanks to Word of Mouth and Create Restaurants for the invitation.

6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#01-16 , #02-17 The Central,
Singapore 059817
Tel: +65 6221-3177
Open Daily:
11am–11pm (1st Floor, Ala–carte)
6pm–11pm (2nd Floor, Buffet, dinner only)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Singapore Blog Awards 2011

Singapore Blog Awards 2011 Party
The Singapore Blog Awards 2011 on Saturday was a lot of fun! The minute you walked into the venue (Shanghai Dolly at Clarke Quay), you were greeted with festive cheer and energy.

Singapore Blog Awards 2011 Party
It felt bigger and better this year. It helped that this year the venue was well-lit, and we could see just how many bloggers were involved. We also had lots of entertainment. Local singer Shimona Kee performed some really nice numbers. Later on there was a costumed skit too, by some bloggers, I believe.

Singapore Blog Awards 2011 Party
It was great meeting old friends and new friends.

I was also very enthused to finally meet in person some folks I had only known on Twitter or online. Thanks to everyone who came up to say hello!

Singapore Blog Awards 2011 Party
And then we had the opening sequence, complete with confetti. The guest of honour was Major-General (NS) Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports and Minister of State, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. He gave a speech glowing with praise for bloggers, even singling out notable examples.

Singapore Blog Awards 2011 Party
The results were announced in quick succession. No "after the break" pauses to keep us in suspense. The Best Food Blog 2011 award went to Foodeology! Congratulations, Yiwei! In fact, congratulations to all ten winners this year!

Singapore Blog Awards 2011 Party
As Domino's was a sponsor this year, we certainly got to sample some of their pizzas. We also had free-flow Tiger Crystal beer courtesy of Asia Pacific Breweries. There were other finger food and mini-cakes. The food is a lot simpler this year, which suited the occasion fine, since it was held at tea-time (2-5pm).

Singapore Blog Awards 2011 Party
There was an award for Best Dressed (Male and Female). The theme was "History Goes Social" so we could dress up as any historical figure, famous or otherwise. So we had (from left to right): Pocahontas, Cleopatra, Liang Po Po, Cleopatra no.2, shepherdess and shepherd, Alexander McQueen, Marilyn Manson, Dick Lee (the "widescreen" version) and er, Michael Jackson (yes, that's Steven Lim who also did a somersault in his intro, accidentally knocking the beer bottle out of widescreen Dick Lee's hand.

Singapore Blog Awards 2011 Party
We had a full reunion of the Royal Caribbean travel bloggers! Well, this photo is missing the bikini girl (she ran up a tad late) who incidentally also showed up in a bikini top at the awards.

Singapore Blog Awards 2011 Party
Great job, OMY team! Now, we're all looking forward to SBA2012!

Full set of photos on Flickr and Facebook.

Yes, that's Darren up to his shenanigans. He should have been crowned Best Entertainer!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stacked Dim Sum Bar

Mildly Spicy Salted Egg Squid
Ever had a craving for dim sum and drinks late at night? Now you can have dim sum for supper, together with cocktails, bottled beers and wines too. Stacked Dim Sum Bar (Facebook) at The Quayside (Robertson Quay) was started to do exactly that.

The al fresco joint is associated with Red House Seafood and is right next to it, so they probably share the same dim sum expertise. However, at Stacked, you'll see several more contemporary and fusion creations along with traditional stalwarts.

My absolute favourite item at Stacked is the Mildly Spicy Salted Egg Squid (S$12). These well-seasoned savoury nibbles are just so addictive!

North Taiwan Lychee Beer
North Taiwan Lychee Beer (S$12) is an interesting brew they offer. It's really light and sweetly refreshing. There's a version with Honeydew too.

Strawberry Margarita
My friend had the Strawberry Margarita, which came looking like a giant slushie. In our outdoor weather, this melts fast, so you also have to drink quickly too, so it doesn't overflow!

Asparagus Prawn Cake
The Asparagus Prawn Cake (S$10.50 for 3 pieces) is a juicy patty of chunky diced shrimp and sliced asparagus. Nice.

Steamed Chilli Crab Pau
Steamed Chilli Crab Pau (S$8.90 for 3 pieces). These soft, fluffy, bite-size buns have a dollop of chili crab gravy and crabmeat in them. A little too sweet for me though. I found out later that there is a fried bun version, which I think would do better (more fried mantou-like?).

Char Siew Pastry
Char Siew Pastry (S$5.90 for 3 pieces). These are rich, soft and crumbly. Most of us enjoyed this.

Stacked Platter
Now for the fusion dim sum. We tried the following Signature Stacked Dumplings (S$8.90 per basket):

Top: Shredded Duck Dumpling with Hoi Sin Sauce (shredded duck with thinly sliced cucumber)
Bottom left: Scallop Pesto Dumpling with Mayo Dip (diced scallop with Italian basil pesto)
Bottom right: Margherita Dumpling with Balsamic Vinegar Dip (diced tomato, mozzarella, Italian basil)

These can be a mixed bag though. The duck dumplings had lots of meat in them, but the skin is a tad chewy. The scallop pesto dumplings were a little too greasy for me (perhaps the shape of the dumplings retain more oil?). The Margherita dumplings had a lot of cheese within, but it somehow masked the tomatoes and basil (mozzarella as a cheese is a bit bland).

Stir-fried XO Carrot Cake
Stir-fried XO Carrot Cake (S$8.50) - this was quite soft and moist, and it carried a heavy aroma of Chinese sausage.

Teochew styled Noodle Pancake
Teochew-style Noodle Pancake (S$6.90 for 3 pieces). These egg noodle patties are apparently a traditional Teochew snack, and require a lot of work to make. You have to boil, season, pan-fry and cut into shapes. I'm sure I missed out a few steps. Well, it tastes almost exactly like wantan noodles (without the wantan), but with crispy sides.

Stacked Mango Sago Pomelo with Peach Vodka
Stacked Mango Sago Pomelo with Peach Vodka (S$7.90). This lies in between a drink and dessert. It's quite thick, yet drinkable. I rather liked it. The peach vodka lends a fragrant kick.

Stacked Dim Sum Bar is at The Quayside
Interior image courtesy of Stacked

The interior decor is a mix of organic and industrial, using unfinished wood panels, concrete and corrugated siding. No air-conditioning here, but there's a 'Big Ass Fan' to help keep things cool. Stacked also has large TV screens showing football and movies. The bar overlooks the river, and is probably great for people-watching as well.

I don't know why there haven't been more dim sum bars in Singapore. I guess mainly because good dim sum is labour intensive and requires a full kitchen. If you are sick of regular bar food, maybe Stacked is an alternative since not many places offer dim sum in the evenings.

Thanks to Sixth Sense Communications and Stacked Dim Sum Bar for the media tasting session.

60 Robertson Quay
#01-13 The Quayside
Tel: +65 9677-8281
Open Mon-Thu: 3.30pm-11.30pm
Fri: 3.30pm-1am
Sat: 1pm – 1am
Sun: 1pm-11.30pm

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Donnie Yen at GV Vivocity for "Wu Xia" Gala Premiere

Looking straight at ya!
OK totally off-topic but no less of a treat - martial arts actor Donnie Yen was at Golden Village Vivocity this evening for the gala premiere of "Wu Xia"!

He was really charming, friendly and humble. No airs or pretensions at all. You don't often get this vibe from celebrities. And I don't know how he's managed to stay so young-looking after nearly three decades of film-making!

Meet Donnie Yen!
I caught this by sheer chance (no, I was not invited!). Walking this morning past a taxi stand in my quiet neighbourhood, I spotted the movie poster with a tiny little blurb saying "Meet Donnie Yen 19 July at 7pm!"

Oh my god, that's today, I thought! I had to tell my friend who is a huge fan, and we both decided to go for it. I rarely bother going to see movie stars, but I have always liked Donnie Yen. My earliest memories are of him demonstrating those stunning martial arts moves in Once Upon A Time in China II, sparring with Jet Li....nearly 20 years ago!

He's put out a lot of good movies in recent years, and I'm glad for that. His star is finally rising.

A lot of people thronged the red carpet for a glimpse of Donnie Yen
We came early around 6pm, as we expected it would be crowded. That was a good move, as we managed to secure nice places near the front. I had a taste of how difficult it is to be part of 'paparazzi' (even if unofficially), and also envied the several fans in the audience who proudly wielded their footlong L lenses.

There were some local celebrities too, but we all wanted Donnie Yen
They trotted out some local celebrities as well before Donnie and Peter appeared. Most of them I don't really recognise, but it's always nice to see Wong Lilin and Allen Wu.

Donnie Yen with director Peter Chan
Finally, after more than two hours of standing and waiting, Donnie Yen appeared with director Peter Chan. My friend got to shake hands with Donnie as he walked past along the red carpet!

Donnie Yen with director Peter Chan for the movie "Wu Xia"
Donnie and Peter talked about the movie for a bit. Donnie was saying something about people watching less movies not because of money issues, but a lack of time. So every movie they put out, they want to do it well, and worthy of people's time. They focus on making sure everything is great - from the script to post-production.

Here's Donnie with his wife Cecilia. They gave him a surprise birthday cake, and we sang Happy Birthday to him!
Here's Donnie with his wife Cecilia, with whom he has two kids. The organisers gave him a surprise birthday cake (he turns 48 on 27 July, and he joked that he would soon be 18), and we all sang Happy Birthday to him!

Wu Xia movie promo screen at Plaza Singapura
I have been wanting to catch this movie since I saw the promo screen at Plaza Singapura. Donnie Yen and Takeshi Kaneshiro in the same movie? And a cool movie at that (see trailer below)!

Donnie plays a paper-maker in a rural village, living the peaceful life with his wife and two children. But one day, two hardened murderers threaten the shop where he works, and he kills them. Takeshi Kaneshiro dons a Sichuan accent along with cute hat and glasses as he plays the highly determined investigator who isn't convinced Donnie is as simple as he appears to be. There are great fight sequences with House, M.D.-style medical insights (zooming into your innards).

I am so going to watch this movie when it comes out on Thursday, 21 July 2011. Tickets are available from Wednesday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pho 99 at Amoy Street

Vietnamese beef noodles (pho)
My friend Eri suggested a nice place for dinner over the weekend. We both love Vietnamese food, and prefer casual dining places to chitchat in, so Pho 99 hit the mark well. The pho (beef noodle soup with beef slices and meatballs, S$9 nett) is decently comforting. It comes with a small handful of basil and sawtooth coriander, a lime wedge and sliced chili padi. Among the condiments in the bottles on the table is a surprisingly tasty dried ground chili in oil - it adds fiery oomph to the gentle-tasting broth.

Spring roll platter - goi cuon and cha gio
We also shared the spring roll platter (S$7 nett) which comes with both goi cuon (shrimp fresh rice paper roll) and cha gio (deep-fried minced pork rolls, I think there's yam in this version). Man, I could eat a bazillion of these. I love spring rolls!

Iced sour plum drink
Wash it all down with an ice-cold sour plum drink (S$2.50 nett). There's Trung Nguyen Vietnamese drip coffee here too.

Pho 99 has been at Amoy Street for quite a few years
It's a really small and simple place, and the food is pretty home-style. The owners are Vietnamese, and the shop has been around for at least 4-5 years. Look for it opposite the Amoy Street Food Centre. I'll certainly be back to try the other dishes. And yes, prices are nett because there is no GST or service charge!

PHO 99
57-58 Amoy Street
Telok Ayer Conservation Area
Open: 11.30am – 7pm
Tel: +65 9768 8735
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