Monday, April 30, 2012

Fort Canning Hotel Staycation and The Glass House

The high ceiling gives a fabulous sensation of space

More Singaporeans are choosing staycations over holidays abroad, because there are less hassles and travel downtime. But Singapore hotels are not the cheapest in the region, so it makes sense to do a bit of research and choose wisely.

We had a chance to experience the Hotel Fort Canning, and were absolutely stunned by the rooms and facilities. It is truly a plush oasis in the middle of the city cocooned by verdant greenery and the stillness of nature. They took three years to convert this colonial building into an 86-room heritage boutique hotel.

I particularly loved the sense of space you get from the high ceiling (you don't get this often in newer buildings). This is the Deluxe room (above) which opens out to a bathroom set against a picture window offering you panoramic views of the park or city. There are 43 of these rooms measuring 30-35sqm. Six of these at Level 1 open up to a private garden and patio.


Catch KF Seetoh Ambushing Malaysia in "The Food Surprise" - TLC Starhub Ch 427 from 7 May, 10.30pm

Hahaha! Look at their faces! Watch KF Seetoh as he makes surprise visits to hawkers, restaurants and street food centres in Ipoh, KL, Penang, Johor Bahru and Singapore in "The Food Surprise" new series premiering in Singapore and Malaysia on TLC (Starhub channel 427) Monday, 7 May 2012, at 10.30pm.

More details here at Makansutra!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oasia Hotel Celebrates First Anniversary; Weekend Package Offer

Oasia Hotel recently celebrated its 1st anniversary
Oasia Hotel recently celebrated its first anniversary and introduced a whole slew of perks for its Executive Lounge - artisanal chocolates, gourmet coffee, organic tea and snacks. These will be available at The Living Room (above) on the 22nd floor for Club Room and suites' guests.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

JAAN: Julien Royer's Seasonal Menu

Chef Julien Royer of JAAN

Chef Julien Royer seems almost too young to be behind the sophisticated menus he creates at JAAN.

He's just been crowned ‘Meat and Livestock Australia Rising Chef of the Year’ at the World Gourmet Series Awards of Excellence 2012 last month. This award singles out an individual aged 32 years or below with exceptional culinary talent and skill, one who is driven to raise standards of culinary excellence within his working environment.

This was the Friday that I got to try two eateries on my most wanted list - JAAN and Andre. Yes, both in the same day - it just fell into place that way - one for lunch, the other for supper. Even though it's been a while since he left, Andre Chiang's mark on JAAN is so strong that it's evident that comparisons will continue to be drawn with his successors.

But Julien is a different chef with his own style and execution methods, and perhaps should be viewed as such.

This native of Cantal, Auvergne in Central France comes from a family of farmers from four generations. So he grew up understanding carefully grown vegetables and animals, including how each of these had their own time of the year when they would embody the best. He is devoted to drawing inspiration from seasonal produce, so his menu changes quarterly to reflect what's best from the season's finest.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jason Dell Recipes Using New Zealand Produce at FHA

Chef Jason Dell at the NZTE Booth at FHA 2012

Well-known New Zealand chef Jason Dell made an appearance at the New Zealand booth at Food Hotel Asia 2012. He demonstrated a few dishes using New Zealand produce, and I was fortunate to be invited as a food judge/critic along with Violet Oon.

Some of you may remember Jason during his days at Graze at Rochester, but he's now with the Regent Bali, which will open Sept 2012. I first got to try his cooking at the New Zealand ambassador's lunch.

New Zealand is renowned for its fresh and quality produce ranging from seafood, meats, fruits and specialty products like honey. Jason is showing us king salmon from New Zealand, which is sweetly buttery and yet light-tasting.

They have generously shared with us the recipes for the following dishes:
  1. Pan Asian inspired Kumara (a sweet potato), Coconut and NZ Mussel Salad with Hot & Sour Dressing
  2. Singapore Style Noodles with Manuka Smoked New Zealand Lamb
  3. Curried Mussel and Kumara Fritters with Green Chili and Apple Salsa

Chef Jason Dell demonstrated a few dishes

After the jump.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Greenfields: Surprisingly Good Mozzarella from Indonesia!

Mozzarella cheese from the highlands of Malang in East Java, Indonesia
This has got to be one of the most eyebrow-raising products at Food Hotel Asia 2012 - mozzarella, not from Italy, but Indonesia! The most curious question is - how good is it?

Well, pretty darn impressive, actually. It's got a pleasant bite, with a smooth and mild taste. An Italian passerby who tasted it insisted it must be from Italy, and was incredulous that it was from Asia.

Here's the cheese served with diced tomatoes, shredded basil, cracked black pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Mozzarella from Indonesia - surprisingly good!
Mouthwateringly addictive!

So I was really curious about Greenfields, and got to sit down with their Head of Marketing and Sales, Jan Gert Vistisen.

Greenfields is produced by AustAsia which owns an integrated dairy on the highlands of Malang in East Java. It was set up in 1997 by a group of Australian and Indonesian agribusiness entrepreneurs, and they have been supplying the region with fresh milk for almost 15 years. With over 6,000 Holstein cows, they are South-east Asia's largest dairy farm. The cows are imported from Australia from specially selected healthy stock.

The secret to their milk success? Happy cows! Over at the highlands, temperature is just right, there's lots of fresh air and water. The cows feed on a mixture of grains (from Australia) and grass from neighbouring farms.

At the integrated dairy, there is no transport between milking, processing and packaging - it's all at the same site. That means less bacteria in the milk, because handling, transferring and travel time is all highly reduced.

They chose to start with mozzarella first, because of the freshness factor.

"Being in Indonesia lets us be the 'dairy next door' for major Asian capitals - we can get the mozzarella into kitchens faster and fresher," Said Vistisen.

Chef Fahmi Widarte is corporate chef at Greenfields
Here's Chef Fahmi Widarte, Greenfields' corporate chef, who has been busy creating dishes using their milk and mozzarella. Some of you may know him as one of the judges for Junior Chef in 2008.

Otto Weibel, former Director of Kitchens at Swissotel The Stamford and Fairmont Singapore and Director of OSIA Restaurant, Sentosa, had said, "The mozzarella is very fresh when it arrives, and the taste is perfect when paired with our wood-fired pizzas."

Well, Greenfields did fly in an Italian cheesemaker to impart his knowledge on making mozzarella. Language was almost an issue as they could not find an Italian translator, but they got a French one, and luckily the cheesemaker spoke French too. And that's how this Indonesian mozzarella came into being.

Melted on pizza, stringy and stretchable mozzarella made fresh in Indonesia
When the cheese is melted, like on pizza, it blends well and is nicely stretchable. There are five qualities to look out for in a good mozzarella, says Vistisen. "Stretchability, meltability, a light springy texture, mild taste and the right amount of oil - you don't want too much oil or it will run, but there must be enough of a nice sheen."

That's Jan sitting in the background - ah, I'm always forgetting to take photos of people, because I'm so focused on the food!

Anyway, Greenfields also has other products - namely milk, which they have been producing and supplying to Singapore and the region for years. There's also whipping cream.

Greenfields also has milk and whipping cream. The chocolate malt is smooth and delicious!
The chocolate malt is delicious! A smooth, roundly creamy mouthfeel and just the right sweetness (not toothachingly so). I got to take home a couple of packs, and the kids absolutely love it!

Well, I am definitely going to look out for Greenfields milk in the supermarkets, as an alternative to my (increasingly expensive) Meiji. And I'm glad now we can get fresh mozzarella that didn't have to travel so far.

The cheese goes so well with a 2009 Gancia Pinot Grigio
Oh by the way, the cheese goes MARVELOUSLY with a 2009 Gancia Pinot Grigio. Hope you get to try it. FHA is still on today - last day! If you are going, do visit the Greenfields booth at Hall 6 (right at the entrance).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DBS Masterclass with Chef Takashi Kimura at AFC Studio this Thurs!

Takashi Kimura, one of the best Japanese chefs from Malaysia, is here in town! His fine contemporary French-Japanese cuisine has been wildly popular at Cilantro and Sage, renowned restaurants in Kuala Lumpur. Cilantro is the first Malaysian restaurant to be included twice in the prestigious Miele Guide’s “Asia’s Top 20”.

After honing his skills in France, Chef Takashi became personal chef to the Japanese ambassador to Senegal. He followed the ambassador to Malaysia, where he became chef de cuisine for the embassy, cooking for royalties, dignitaries, ministers and top businessmen.

You can witness his culinary prowess right here, without having to travel to KL! He'll share his fresh food philosophy and tales of culinary stints in the exotic West Africa and Malaysia at this one-night-only event.

Date: Thursday, 19th April 2012
Time: 7.30pm - 9.30pm
S$100 nett per person (for DBS/POSB Cardmembers)
S$120 nett per person (for non-DBS/POSB Cardmembers)

Dishes Featured:

Tartare of Wagyu with Mollet Egg and Winter Truffles, served with Anchovy Toast

Cold Capellini Pasta with Hotaruika and Fruits Tomato Sauce

Seared Hokkaido Scallop with Sea Urchin and Seaweed Emulsion

Perrier water and wine pairings from The Straits Wine Company will be served with Chef Takashi’s dishes in this Masterclass.

*The next 20 persons who sign up for this masterclass receive a complimentary AFC Studio class ticket! You must register between now till 18 April 2012, 6pm. 
*Terms and conditions apply. 
*Not applicable for Kenwood Kennoiseur Club Member Classes. 
*Tickets are valid for 3 months.

For reservations, please call
+65 6505 9800 (Weekdays: 10am – 12pm and 1pm – 6pm), or
+65 6834 4829 (Weekdays: 6pm – 8pm, Weekends: 12pm – 8pm).

More details on the AFC website and DBS Indulge website.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Earth Day Menu at Novus Features Local Produce

UPDATE: Chef Stephan Zoisl is no longer with Novus

Novus has rolled out a special menu featuring local produce, for Earth Day, 22 April 2012. We all know how using local produce helps reduce carbon footprint by not requiring air-flown ingredients. But local farms in Singapore? Yes, we have a few, and rather charming ones.

Watch Novus Executive Chef Stephan Zoisl breathe in the joy of discovery and nature as he checks out these farms.

Stephan is used to working with fresh, local produce back in Austria, and has always wanted to do create a menu based on local produce here in Singapore. What better occasion than Earth Day, to make this come true, to showcase the beauty of nature on a plate.

It may be a six course dinner, but there are three amuse bouche presentations!

Amuse bouche I
oyster, clam, mussel, coriander, seaweed foam, edible sand

What a stunning opening act! This just blew me away. The presentation is just amazing - it really evokes memories of seaside walks and marine life. I loved every item. Appetising seafood, and that amazing crunchy, salty "sand" made from fish, potato, maltodextrin and various ingredients.


Spa Park Asia at Grand Park City Hall - Promo for Readers

There's nothing like a spa treatment to complete a staycation. The Grand Park City Hall has Spa Park Asia right on its premises. Some of you may remember St Gregory Spa that used to be here. The management changed but many of the staff are still here.

I got to try their signature award-winning treatment - a two-hour long therapeutic experience comprising Asian massage techniques (Ayurvedic, Chinese Tui Na, Indonesian, Shiatsu and Thai), a hydrating Body Polish and a cleansing Back Masque.

You are served a cup of warm lemongrass tea which helps to aid digestion and calm the senses, just before your treatment.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Indulge at Park" Buffet Dinner (Grand Park City Hall)

Cold platter
What's a holiday without pigging out a little? At our staycation at Grand Park City Hall, we got to try the buffet dinner at Indulge at Park on the ground floor. Here's my cold platter.

Deep-fried treats - cereal prawn, cha gio, ngoh hiang
Deep-fried treats - cereal prawn, cha gio, ngoh hiang - that we kept replenishing. Yummy.

Sushi of various kinds.

Nowadays I prefer salads to main dishes
I'm usually not too fond of buffet hot mains, but there were a couple of stews that were pretty decent. Since my Taiwan and Okinawa trips, I am veering more towards salads (centre).

Cheeses, dried fruit and nuts, breads
Cheeses, dried fruit and nuts, kind of dessert.

Dessert pile!
But here's the real dessert pile! Egg tarts, lychee in jelly, eclairs, cakes, sesame glutinous rice balls, churros, donuts balls, etc.

Chocolate fountain
Of course, every buffet has to have a chocolate fountain.

Durian Pengat, Mua Chee, and Cheng Tng!
Durian Pengat, Mua Chee, and Cheng Tng! The durian pengat is creamy and deliciously chilled.

The Portuguese egg tarts are not bad!
The Portuguese egg tarts are not bad!

Indulge at Park is the buffet and all-day dining restaurant at Grand Park City Hall
Indulge at Park has offered a dining promo for Camemberu readers.

Dining promotion

· “1 Dines for Free for 3 Full Paying Guests” for buffet lunch or buffet dinner
· Validity: Redeem by 31 May 2012
· Current prices for April 2012 are:

Lunch: 12noon to 2.30pm
S$36++ (Adult)
S$18++ (Child under 12 years old)

Dinner: 6.30pm to 10.30pm
S$48++ (Adult)
S$24++ (Child under 12 years old)

· For reservations, please call (65) 6432 5888 or email and quote ‘Camemberu’ as the offer code.

Grand Park City Hall
10 Coleman Street
Singapore 179809

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Port of Lost Wonder (POLW) launches at Sentosa!


Wow, we had a blast this morning! Look at this stunning pirate ship water playground! Water slides, water guns, water spouts, water fountains, tipping cones of water, and a giant bucket that unleashes upon all!

The Port of Lost Wonder launched today at Palawan Beach, Sentosa Island. It's the first kids club by the beach. The pirate ship is super fun. I think we spent nearly three hours there, and the kids absolutely refused to leave! The only thing that "saved" me was the rain and lightning alert. They switched off all the water and got everyone out. Phew.

But the rain also meant we were stuck there since it's a five-minute walk back to Beach Station and we had no umbrellas. Fortunately there were other activities. We had a bite at the cutely named Port Belly restaurant/cafe/bistro, and bought some stuff at the Just Wonder shop which sells edutainment toys along with apparel, beachgear, stationery and souvenirs.

There are also stations like Curiosity Island, which had some animal/bird shows.

And there are indoor games and story-telling at the PlayDen, which the kids seem to enjoy very much.

The Wonder Crew are a specially selected team who have undergone children first aid, child development and psychology. Even the caretakers at the water play area seem good with kids. I took it as a good sign that Nadine spontaneously went to hug one of the PlayDen crew a few times!

Each child also gets a pack of Curio Coins to trade in for activities or surprise snacks. Good way to get young children started on the concept of money. The kids also get a Port Pass in which they can collect ink stamps whenever they complete an activity. Prizes await you when you finish various collections! We got some nice toy pirate swords!

Well, it looks like you can easily spend a whole day at this place. Jolie wanted to get back into the pirate ship water play area after the playden when she saw the water fun had resumed after the rain. She was so sad to leave! I promised her we'll be back.


Port of Lost Wonder opens daily from 10am to 6.30pm (water play area closes at 6pm).
The restaurant stays open til 11pm.

Entrance costs S$8 (weekdays), S$15 (weekends). Or pony up S$90 for an annual pass - it's unlimited admission. Parents get in free when accompanied by kids.

All photos taken on the iPhone. Many thanks to Sentosa for the invitation.

Staycation at Grand Park City Hall Singapore, Special Camemberu Promo!

Grand Park City Hall is like an oasis in the middle of the city. I have always liked this spot where it's so quiet and green, a mere few minutes walk away from Raffles City. My family recently had the chance to experience a weekend stay here, courtesy of the hotel (and they've offered a special promotion just for Camemberu readers - see end of post later).


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Titanic: Mystery Solved, on History Channel

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking. This epic tragedy has been shrouded in mystery. We know an iceberg did it, but not how this legendary and supposedly unsinkable vessel broke apart so quickly and plunged to its icy grave on April 15, 1912. The sinking took less than three hours and around 1,500 lives.

The History channel joined top underwater experts in an expedition to map out in exhaustive detail the ENTIRE wreck site, and made unpredecented new discoveries. Finally we will glimpse what truly went wrong in this century-old disaster.

It's all going to be revealed in "Titanic: Mystery Solved" which will premiere Sunday, April 15, at 8pm on the History channel (StarHub channel 401 in Singapore), one of my family's favourite cable channels!

This exclusive two-hour special documentary will also reveal for the first time the complete picture of the ship's breaking and sinking by the use of a virtual hangar.

Using space shuttle and aircraft accident investigation techniques, the experts have created a virtual holographic reconstruction of the wreck site in a hangar.

I want to watch it just for this alone! While we won't get a Star Wars rebel alliance princess pleading, "Help me, Obi-wan, you're my only hope!", I think the holographic image will give us a closer 3D sense of the massive ship and all its parts strewn on the ocean bed. Next best thing to being there yourself, I reckon.

While there are many programs on the Titanic, this one seems intriguing because of the focus on real-world evidence and scientific emphasis on analysing what went wrong.

So this isn't best-guess theories and land-based speculation, but actual HD-quality recording of every inch of the site and every piece of the ship. Nearly half the wreck area has remained unseen until now. From the detailed analysis, we’ll find out who or what was at fault and who or what has been blamed unfairly.

So remember to catch the show on Sunday, April 15 at 8-10pm on the History channel. See more videos here.

P.S. A bit of food trivia - there was a lot to eat on the Titanic: 75,000 lbs. fresh meat, 15,000 bottles of beer, 40 tons of potatoes, 3,500 lbs. of tomatoes, 7,000 heads of lettuce, 1,500 gallons of fresh milk, 40,000 fresh eggs, 3,500 lbs of onions, 800 bundles of asparagus, 800 lbs of tea, 36,000 apples, 36,000 oranges.

All photos from the History Channel minisite. Visit it for more details on the show.

Canton Paradise 乐天小香港 at 112 Katong: Dim Sum and then Dinner

Canton Paradise at 112 Katong
Canton Paradise is the latest brand in the Paradise Group - offering Cantonese and Shunde specialties (Shunde is a culinary city in Guangdong, reputed to be the birthplace of Cantonese cuisine). My family and I came here to the 112 Katong branch to try the dim sum one weekend not too long after it opened. We were there early, right before the 11am opening time, and yet we almost could not get a seat!

But we're glad we waited a while. The dim sum's pretty decent, and available til 5pm.

Har gau, siew mai, custard buns
Staples - Har kau (S$4.80), siew mai (S$4.50) and steamed custard buns (S$4.50) - all nicely done.

Steamed chicken claw with black bean sauce
One of my favourites, Phoenix Claws, or steamed chicken claw with black bean sauce (S$3.80) done just the way I like it. There's nothing like slowly picking at savoury claw joints. Do you leave yours clean? Mine are always cleared of all cartilage!

The char siew is the bomb!
The char siew is fantastic. I so rarely prefer char siew over roast pork. But this one was beautifully caramelized, moist and flavoursome. Super instant win. Noodles OK too. Just a tad pricey at S$9.20 BBQ Meat noodles (two varieties of meat). Single meat is S$7.20.

Steamed organic brown rice cheong fun stuffed with eggplant and minced meat
They have some unusual items too, like Steamed organic brown rice cheong fun stuffed with eggplant and minced meat (S$4.50). The translucent reddish cheong fun is a little chewy as though glutinous in texture.

Mini egg tart
Mini egg tarts (S$4.20) in light and crisp flaky pastry.

Deep fried ham sui kok
The only thing we didn't really like was the deep-fried ham sui kok or Teochew dumpling (S$3.50). It looked a little too pale and the skin was too thick. But we rarely get to see this dim sum in most restaurants because it's not easy to make and fry.

Watch chefs in action in the display kitchen
There are two display kitchens where you can see the chefs at work.

Nadine with best babysitter ever - the iPhone
Nadine was a little spooked by the restaurant's dark ambience, stark lighting and noisy chatter, but luckily there's iPhone to the rescue!


Later on, I got to know some of the restaurant's signature dishes at a dinner tasting session (thanks to Carlyn and Chenyze of Sixth Sense for hosting). There were hits and misses, but I think more due to personal taste than execution of cooking.

Here's the pork belly version of the char siew.

BBQ Pork Belly with Honey Sauce
BBQ Pork Belly with Honey Sauce 秘制肥婆黑叉烧 (S$15.80). Pork belly should be even better, no? In this case, perhaps it's too much of a good thing. Too rich. I'd stick to the lean meat version which gives better texture and bite. The same rich honey glaze and caramelized finish is still delish though.

Canton Crispy BBQ Pork
Canton Crispy BBQ Pork 脆皮叉烧 (S$15.80). I can best describe this as a honeycomb of fat. The delicate crispy cubes are practically laden with liquid lard. If you love fatty pork, this could be your thing.

Steamed Kampong Chicken in Canton Style
Steamed Kampong Chicken in Canton Style 水晶真味山芭鸡 (S$15 half / S$28 whole). I've never been a fan of steamed chicken or pak cham kai, so I can't comment on this. Gimme roast bird any day!

Canton Paradise ginger tea and BBQ Honey Pork Buns
We also started with some Baked BBQ Honey Pork Bun 脆皮叉烧包 ($4.50). Memories fly immediately to the Tim Ho Wan version, but while this is not the same, it's still very good on its own. Enjoy it with some warm ginger tea.

Steamed Lingzhi Tofu in Supreme Soya Sauce
Steamed Lingzhi Tofu in Supreme Soya Sauce 清蒸灵芝山水豆腐 (S$8.80)
The tofu is super delicate and smooth - I wondered how they manage to plate it so nicely without breaking it! But the seasoning could be more interesting; it was a little too flat.

Poached Sea Bass with Pickled Cabbage in Fish Stock
Poached Sea Bass with Pickled Cabbage in Fish Stock 辣辣地酸菜沸腾鱼 ($28.80)
Ma la fish in seafood broth - OK, that's nice! It's spicy for sure, but not so ridiculously numbing that you can't taste anything else. The delicious savoury broth comes through the spiciness, so it's very well-balanced. You'll find yourself reaching for a second helping instead of a drink to douse tastebuds in torture.

Of course a drink isn't a bad thing either, and they do have nice teas.

Gula Melaka Milk Tea
Gula Melaka Milk Tea 黑糖冰奶茶(S$3.80)
The gula melaka fragrance is really evident here. However there seems to be a hint of packaged coconut milk here too. That's RubbishEatRubbishGrow or RERG in the background and you can see his review at the link.

Wok-fried pork belly with salted fish 咸鱼花腩锅
Wok-fried pork belly with salted fish 咸鱼花腩锅 (S$14)
Oh this pot is love! It's like bacon but more chewy and savoury. With the aromas of fried salted fish, garlic, soy and leek, it's just sizzling good!

Fried Pumpkin Coated with Salted Egg Yolk & Mixed Nuts
Fried Pumpkin Coated with Salted Egg Yolk & Mixed Nuts 秘制坚果炬南瓜 ($7.80)
We tried to be polite and not attack this dish, but this was so tasty, it was gone in sheer seconds. Yum.

Wok-fried Bean Sprout with Vermicelli and Salted Fish
Wok-fried Bean Sprout with Vermicelli and Salted Fish 乡下佬炒银芽 ($12.80)
I also liked this. It actually has more bean sprouts than mung vermicelli!

Dessert is simple.

Chilled red bean and yam 'pastry'
Chilled Red Bean & Yam Jelly 芋头红豆糕 (S$4.20) - refreshing palate cleanser.

We also had a Custard Glutinous Rice Ball with Grated Oat 金沙汤圆 (S$4.80 for 3 pieces), which was not stellar. I found the dry grated oats not really complementing the mochi-like rice ball.

Canton Paradise - looks a bit brighter on my second visit
Canton Paradise is pretty good for family and group dining. Prices here are definitely a bit more than say Crystal Jade, but you do get a more dramatic and flamboyant atmosphere. Executive Chef Hu Shu Sheng is a native from Guangzhou who also knows Sichuan food (hence the presence of some Sichuan dishes like the poached bass). I'll certainly be back to try more dim sum and other dishes.

112 East Coast Road
I12 Katong #B1-15
Tel: +65 6344 8201
Open daily
Mon-Fri: 11am – 10pm
Sat, Sun & PH: 10.30am-10pm

Canton Paradise has opened a second outlet at JCUBE on 2 April
JCUBE, #02-09,
Jurong East Central 1
Tel: +65 6684 5080

A third one is opening at Compass Point #03-19/20 soon!
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