Wednesday, November 30, 2011

White truffles from Alba
Who would have thought knotty, spotty, globular knobs of fungi like these could be so divine? White truffles from Alba are in season, and if you haven't tried any, you should soon as the season is ending.

Executive Chef Alessandro Delfanti of il Lido is presenting Italian classics made decadent by the lavish pairing with white truffles. Each of these comes with 3g of shaved white truffles. You can also request for white truffles to be shaved over a la carte dishes, at market prices (about S$15 per g).

Angus Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with White Truffle
For starters, we had the Angus Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with White Truffle (S$58).

This is a huge platter! The beef slices have been cured just ever so slightly, and are nicely marinated. There is just enough tangy sauce for the salad and beef. We were lucky to have truffles that had reddish marks too (I later found out it's due to symbiosis with linden trees).

Homemade Tagliolini with White Truffle
I had the Homemade Tagliolini with White Truffle (S$58), which was insanely delicious and addictive. I didn't want this dish to end, and I totally love how something so simple (just butter emulsion with a hint of garlic) can be so fantastic. One of the best pasta dishes I've had this year!

‘Carnaroli’ Risotto with White Truffle
My friend Mui Yee had the ‘Carnaroli’ Risotto with White Truffle (S$58). It's comfortingly creamy without being overly rich, and it had a more tangy edge compared to the pasta. We all loved how the inherent heat of the risotto released the truffle's aroma in gorgeous wafts.

Herbed garlic crostini
A whole large basket of herbed garlic crostini is yours to enjoy throughout the meal as well. It goes very well with conversation. I wished I had some of the carpaccio's delicious sauce to dip this in!

You command a seascape view outdoors at il Lido
Enjoy all this with il Lido's famous view overlooking the greenery and sea.

Indoors it is lush comfort
Or dine inside in plush, cool comfort.

The seasonal white truffles will be on the menu until mid December (while stocks last).

This is my first visit to il Lido, and I'm quite pleased with what I've experienced. I like it when chefs keep things simple but effectively tasty. I think I'm going to go nuts trying to replicate the pasta's buttery emulsion at home...

Sentosa Golf Club
27 Bukit Manis Road
Singapore 099892
Tel: +65 6866 1977
Open daily
Lunch: 12pm to 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.30pm to 10.30pm

Big thanks to Roxanne of il Lido for hosting the very enjoyable lunch!
IKEA chicken wings are their top seller
Who here doesn't like IKEA? OK, I see some chickens don't, and I can see why. It really looks like we can't get enough of IKEA's fried chicken wings. They move close to 25 tonnes of these each month from the Tampines outlet alone! TWENTY FIVE TONNES! Yes, in Singapore, the wings outsell the world famous Swedish meatballs.

Two IKEA veterans take us through the Tampines outlet
I learnt those astounding facts from a special tour that IKEA Tampines held for bloggers. We also found out many other insider and interesting facts, thanks to the two IKEA veterans who led us through the outlet.

Store displays give inspiration on how to use IKEA products
Yes, the festive decorations are out in full force. The store displays help inspire ideas on how to use their products. IKEA actually visits real homes to get a sense of the dimensions, and plans the store displays accordingly. Some of the best store ideas also come from employees instead of designers.

IKEA likes you to try out its products to your satisfaction. Most of us know the Sleep Studio lets you test out the mattresses to see which fits you best. But we tend to just test it by sitting and bouncing on it. The best way is actually to fully recline on the mattress. Yes, they want you to do that. Go on, don't be shy!

IKEA tries to minimise waste and use less chemicals
At IKEA, they try to make reduce materials wastage. The LUSY BLOM cushion, for example, makes use of leftover materials from quilts for its filling. The bedding materials you see in the background? Notice that they are generally off-white in colour, as IKEA does not use any optical brighteners, thus reducing the amount of chemicals that you'll have in contact with your skin.

Here's a list of about 80 improvements IKEA has made over the years. There are so many areas: forestry and wood, cotton, climate change, emergency relief, food safety, elimination of harmful materials, sustainable living, renewable energy, social initiatives, prevention of child labour, transport logistics, and waste minimization.

IKEA donates one euro from the sale of each soft toy to UNICEF
And under social initiatives, there is the partnership with UNICEF. For every soft toy or kids' chicken nuggets meal that IKEA sells, it will donate one euro (about S$1.75) to help educate kids. This was started in 2003, and since then, the effort has raised 35.2 million euros (S$61.6 million) benefitting more than eight million children in 40 countries.

(Pssst...the children's section in IKEA is my favourite!)

Toys, toys everywhere
IKEA is one of my key retail therapy sources. Even when you buy something small, it just feels good.

But I confess I have way too much IKEA stuff at home. I should start a photo album to document every item I have, just for the fun of it. I might shock myself.

AKG K3003
My hubby is a serious audiophile, so this post is dedicated to him and his craze for earphones.

When I first held these AKG K3003 earphones, they felt like precious gems. Yes, very beautiful S$1,599 gems. But it was only when I put them to my ears that I realised how priceless they are. It was like stepping through a portal into a magical realm, where you can still see things happening around you but you're in a crisp sonic cocoon. So cool it was, I couldn't help putting them on and taking them off a few times, just to experience that transformation. The sound is seriously clean and with incredible detail.

The K3003 are the world's smallest three-way reference class earphones. It comes with three pairs of sound filters for neutral reference, high boost and bass boost.

They are painstakingly handmade in Austria. Each earphone housing is finely chiseled from one piece of brushed stainless steel, so it's a solid piece that won't break at the seams (because there are none). Inside the housing is a work of mad precision and audio engineering excellence. It's a masterpiece with features and performance that have wowed some reviewers who have admitted it's one of the best. See it unboxed here.

Check out what other local bloggers have to say on the K3003 microsite, and then go have a listen for yourself at Stereo outlets at ION Orchard (#B4-23/24) or Plaza Singapura (#04-06). One of us will get to win this, and voting starts tomorrow! What an amazing Christmas present it will be!

Hubby will also give me his take on the K3003 later on. I am also going to do a giveaway of one of the three AKG ear/headphone sets (with warranty intact) that I received. I'll be putting up the reviews soon (first one here). So watch out for that!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Held outside the Maritime Experiential Musuem and Aquarium, Resorts World Sentosa
The Wine Restaurant Experience 2011 brought nine esteemed chefs together at its Gourmet Brunch buffet event yesterday.

The four hour (11am to 3pm) brunch at Maritime Experiential Museum and Aquarium, Resorts World Sentosa, also featured a bevvy of wines and bubbly (see official page for full list).

So much food at the WRX2011 Gourmet Brunch!
There was so much food (check out the menu), it was impossible to try everything.

Here are the chefs who lent muscle to the event:
  • Arabic: Chef Khaled Elelimi, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
  • Cold Appetiser:  Ken Ling, My Humble House
  • Antipasto:  Lino Sauro, Gattopardo Italian Grill & Pizzabar
  • Spanish Tapas:  Emilio Zamora, Bilbao Restaurant & Gastrobar
  • Egg & Italian Hot Dishes:  Diego Chiarini, OSO Ristorante
  • Egg & French Hot Dishes:  Francois Mermilliod, Absinthe
  • Asian Chinese Hot Dishes: Chung Yiu Ming, Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant, Sheraton Towers Singapore
  • Indian Hot Dishes:  Chintan Pandya, Yantra
  • Vietnamese Hot Dishes:  Luu Duc Duy, Le Tonkin, Restaurant Lounge
The Bakery, Carvery, Cheese, Local Delights, Salad Bar & Soup stations were provided by Resorts World Sentosa.

Kheema Pav from Yantra
Hubby liked best the Kheema Pav from Yantra. It's like murtabak on a bun!

Kurobuta pork belly by Francois Mermilliod of Absinthe
My personal favourite was the pan-fried Kurobuta pork belly with daikon and star anise by by Francois Mermilliod of Absinthe. The flavours are very Asian, and blend well with the caramelised fatty goodness melting in your mouth.

I guess the brunch is a good way to sample in one convenient location what the nine restaurants offer. It also gives you the opportunity to meet the chefs who were personally there, diligently dishing out their specialties, and explaining what's behind each delicious morsel.

My only hope is that for future events, we can have air-conditioning! The heat and humidity can really kill your appetite!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kunihiro Oysters: Raw on the half shell
Kunihiro oysters: large, plump and juicy here, raw on the half shell. Soon we can look forward to more of these in Singapore restaurants. Kunihiro Inc., the largest producer of oysters in Japan, has appointed Toyo International Trading as sole distributor here.

Ikuzo Kawasaki, the President of Kunihiro Inc., speaking to partners and media at the launch
Mr Ikuzo Kawasaki, President of Kunihiro Inc., was in town to speak to partners and media at the launch held at Kuriya Penthouse. He gave an overview of how the company started and the painstaking process they employ to process fresh oysters cultivated in the sea. The oysters go through a series of advanced inspections (e.g. high-performance liquid chromatography) and tests to ensure optimum safety and freshness.

The oysters for raw consumption are purified with alkaline electrolysed water to kill bacteria, remove surface dirt and offensive smells. Separate oysters are grown, harvested and frozen for cooking.

According to Kawasaki-san, what sets Kunihiro oysters apart from others in the market is the longer cultivation period: 1.5 to 2 years. This results in bigger and fleshier oysters, which is important, because when you cook oysters, they tend to shrink.

We got to see several ways the oysters can be prepared, both raw and cooked.

Oyster chinmi sushi
There are frozen ones that can be thawed to be used in sushi or sashimi-style.

Oysters in batter, sauteed with vegetables
These oysters are battered, fried, and then sauteed with assorted vegetables.

Kaki furai - breaded fried oysters
Kaki furai - breaded fried oysters - another popular choice.

Claypot rice with oyster
Claypot rice with oyster - the scent of the oysters gently perfume the rice.

Oysters in bacon roll
Oysters rolled in bacon, like pigs in blankets. Two indulgences in one.

Oyster Hot Pot
Oyster Hot Pot. A rich broth with cabbage, carrots and mushrooms.

Medley of oysters
So here you have a medley of oysters done different styles. Personally, I still feel oysters are best enjoyed raw on the shell! There are more recipes on the website (in Japanese, but you can run it through a translator).

The Kunihiro oysters are indeed very clean-tasting and smooth, without any "fishy" smell.

Some of the freshest sashimi - toro and lobster
Along with the oysters, Kuriya Penthouse served some phenomenal sashimi - toro and lobster. So firm, fresh and sweet. We were all swooning.

I was also honoured to meet the highly spirited Master Chef and General Manager Yoshihiko Koezuka, and even more so to hear that he reads and likes this blog. Wow! This is the chef who once served the Emperor and Empress of Japan! I had better improve my blogging!

Anyway, do look out for Kuriya's fugu promotion in December and January. From what we saw today, I'll definitely be back at the Penthouse flagship outlet to try some of their dishes.

And yes, more oysters is always good news.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Outside, you have the SkyBar overlooking the observation deck
The power of location. At KU DÉ TA, the view from the 57th floor of the Marina Bay Sands is simply unbeatable. Up there, 200m in the sky, everything takes on a majestic aura as you survey the city below. And now you can have a lazy brunch here stretching from 9am to 3pm on the weekends.

It feels cosy like you're in someone's home
The setting of the restaurant is quite cosy, and almost feels like someone's home (well, someone's rather posh home). I love the long wooden table upon which they lay out the savoury goodies. It just says, "Let's feast!"

The desserts are pretty nice
You can also start with desserts. And you should, because desserts here are probably the best things they do. Chocolate chip meringues, canelés, strawberry mousse, tiramisu, strawberry marshmallows...

Desserts - you can start here first! cakes, creme brulee, bread butter pudding, cupcakes, pound cakes, biscotti and so forth!

Cheeses with dried fruit and nuts
But of course, for me, cheese counts as dessert too. They come with the usual dried fruit and nuts. Croissants and danishes lie close by.

Cold cuts, parma ham and melon
Next to the cheeses, you'll find the cold cuts, including some very nice parma ham and melon!

Some nice bread rolls and croissants for brunch
Little rolls and crisp mini baguettes with butter and jam.

Soba and salads
A DIY soba station (obviously well-ravaged). And yes, salads if you must.

But these are just the little things you can amuse yourself with as you wait for your a la minute orders. I like that most of the dishes here are made that way, and not sitting in buffet warmers.

And there's plenty on the menu to try. The dishes are meant to be shared, but ironically, that does not mean huge portions. In fact, they encourage you to try many little things.

Coffin Bay Oysters with citrus mignonette, tosazu jelly
Coffin Bay Oysters with citrus mignonette, tosazu jelly. Free-flow oysters = win, for many seafood-crazed locals. These were a little on the briny side, but really fresh.

Eggs benedict, with paris ham or manuka-smoked salmon
What's brunch without eggs? You can choose Eggs Benedict, with paris ham or manuka-smoked salmon (I love the mushrooms). Or two eggs done as you like, with applewood-smoked bacon, duck and potato hash, plus garlicky beef sausage. The eggs baked in claypot with shakshuka sauce were sold out - I wonder what that would have been like.

Pan-roasted foie gras & green mango pickle
Pan-roasted foie gras & green mango pickle. Oh yes, foie gras for breakfast. Personally I didn't think it needed any garnish or the puffed rice cracker below.

Next time, I'd love to try the grilled yellowfin tuna steak, and the kaffir lime marinated tiger prawn skewers.

Chicken-fried Steak & Eggs
Chicken-fried Steak & Eggs. There is no chicken in here. It's a beef steak fillet coated with herbed and spiced batter, and deep-fried as you would chicken. OK, this is one dish that comes in a huge portion, so one order should feed quite a few!

Japanese influenced dishes: braised australian black angus beef in house-blend curry; 'forty flavor' fried rice, and assorted vegetable tempura
Executive chef Dan Segall likes to play around with Asian food, so you'll find Japanese or Chinese influenced dishes on the menu. Left: braised Australian Black Angus beef in house-blend curry (thick and rich but not enough spicy heat for me). Centre: 'Forty flavour' fried rice (now this was quite spicy, oddly enough). Right: assorted vegetable tempura (part of the several vegetarian options).

Soba in broth that's pretty strong on mirin
Soba (from the DIY station) in a broth that's pretty strong on mirin, and definitely not watered down.

Waffles - plain version with maple syrup
Waffles - plain version with maple syrup, or "inspired" - could be with chocolate or even beef sausage!

Pity there's no ice cream to go with the waffles, but you do get smoothies!

Cherry Choco Smoothie
Cherry Choco Smoothie - chocolate and cherries go so well together.

Lychee Coco Smoothie
Lychee Coco Smoothie - now this one I like! Lychee, coconut milk and yoghurt. There are also kiwi pineapple smoothies, mango banana smoothies, Oreo shakes, mocha vanilla shakes.  The buffet also includes various tea and coffee selections, soft drinks and juices.

Kids under 6 eat free at Ku De Ta's weekend brunch!
It's a great place to bring the family. Kids under 6 eat free!

Observation deck at Skypark
After brunch, it's nice to take a stroll on the observation deck (which normally requires the S$20 Skypark charge).

The six hour brunch starts from S$68++ for adults, and S$38++ for kids aged 6-12. You can choose the cocktail or champagne version, for a bit more.

Given that the festive season is coming, surcharges will apply for those holiday weekends: Christmas Brunches (24th and 25th Dec, 10am to 3pm) and New Year’s Day Brunch (1st Jan, 10am to 3pm).

  • KU DÉ TA Brunch S$68++ (Xmas and New Year S$98++)
    includes complimentary flow of juices, coffees, teas, smoothies, milkshakes and soft drinks
    *child (6-12 years): S$38++ (Xmas and New Year S$58++)
  • KU DÉ TA Cocktail Brunch S$128++ (Xmas and New Year $158++)
    includes complimentary flow of KU DÉ TA cocktails, sangria, draft beers, juices, coffees, teas, smoothies, milkshakes and soft drinks)
  • KU DÉ TA Champagne Brunch S$178++ (Xmas and New Year $208++)
    includes complimentary flow of Louis Roederer Brut Premier, selection of white rose & red wines, KU DÉ TA cocktails, sangria, draft beers, juices, coffees, teas, smoothies, milkshakes and soft drinks)

There will be extra festive items on top of the usual brunch items to celebrate Christmas and the new year. *subject to changes

Christmas Brunches
Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce
Honey Glazed Ham
Roast Striploin of Beef
Festive Cookies
Yule Log

New Year’s Day Brunch
Chicken liver Parfait
Whiskey marinated salmon
Five spice roasted duck with braised red cabbage
Champagne Marshmallows
Chocolate Truffles

1 Bayfront Avenue,
Sands Skypark
Marina Bay Sands
Singapore 018971
Tel: +65 6688-7688

Many thanks to Pei Rong from KU DÉ TA for inviting and hosting us!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas. What will you be doing this year? Gourmet food, fine wines, parties and presents? I know one of you is winning a pair of S$88 tickets to the WRX Wine Journey (draw closes tomorrow)! All well and good. But here's something that might bring even greater satisfaction.

This year MINDS has teamed up with 18 Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) to give 5,000 Christmas Stocking goodie bags to disadvantaged or intellectually disabled children/adults. The MINDS Christmas Stocking Challenge 2011 (see Facebook page) would really appreciate your sponsorship of S$10 per stocking and they hope to get as many as possible by 15 Dec 2011.

Each of these stocking goodie bags will be produced and packed by the intellectually disabled adults in the MINDS Sheltered Workshop program. The proceeds from your sponsorship will go to them as allowance for their livelihood.

So you will benefit two parties by your gift. The stocking producers, and the stocking recipients.

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There is no minimum required. Even one stocking will do. If you are schooling, ask your friends to band together. If you are working, ask your colleagues if they will join this. Ask your boss or HR department if they'd like to contribute. Or simply ask your friends and family to help in this good cause.

Just go to the website, download the sponsorship form, and send it in with your cheque. Or you can head down to the MINDS office at 800 Margaret Drive with a cash sponsorship (Mon-Fri; 9am to 5.30pm).

You can indicate the VWO you prefer the stockings to be given to, or let them allocate. Here are the VWOs involved, (info from the sponsorship form; click for larger photo):

I'm going to the office tomorrow to give my sponsorship for ten stockings. I know, times are tough for many people. My family's finances are at their tightest ever, but there are always those who have even less. Sometimes unimaginably so. Low-income families for whom a 90 cent piece of chocolate is off-limits (see story that inspired the MINDS Christmas Stocking iniative).

And every week at Nadine's school, I see kids with all kinds of conditions, in limb braces, wheelchairs, oxygen tubes, hearing aids, and occasionally, some really esoteric medical contraptions. Tired as I am, I really should not complain that Nadine is always running recklessly all over the place. Because she can.

Nadine's school (Rainbow Centre Margaret Drive) is not in the list of beneficiaries, but the Yishun branch is. So she won't be getting a stocking, but the kids there did get S$200 worth of Kit Kat recently, thanks to a blog contest by Hpility who so graciously let me win.

It doesn't matter whether you believe in karma or Christmas. Whatever little we can give, let's just do it.
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