Thursday, June 28, 2012
I love the strikingly macabre sight that greets you near the entrance of Quarter Twenty One in Sydney. Will you choose to view this display of carcasses as deathly or delicious? Mmmh, ribs...you know what I'm thinking.
Destination NSW arranged for the media arriving on Scoot's inaugural flight to Sydney to visit Quarter Twenty One for a cooking class. It was the first thing on our itinerary after landing in the morning.
Quarter Twenty One is a gourmet store, a restaurant, a cookery school and external catering/take-home meals. That's the four quarters that "Feed the Soul", and the Twenty One refers to the weight of the soul (that 21g that mysteriously leaves the body upon death).
It's owned by celebrated chef Justin North and his wife Georgia, and is part of a group that also includes three-hatted restaurant Becasse, casual eatery Etch (at InterContinental Hotel), Becasse Bakery and Charlie & Co burgers, and Le Grand Cafe at Alliance Francaise, Sydney.
There are certainly lots of enchanting treats here at Quarter Twenty One to capture your soul.
Fine foods, epicurean finds and handmade products, many of which are fresh and locally sourced from artisanal producers. You can also take home ready-made meals which they prepare daily.
Here's our cooking school in session with Chef Michael Robinson.
A few quick bites first to calm the lunchtime stomach. From left to right - a fritter sitting on the most amazing aioli, petunia ocean trout on a delightfully ethereal cracker, and a sinful cube of caramelised pork belly. Oh we were told it was Tetsuya Wakuda who made petunia ocean trout famous by including it in his menu.
Our entree: salad of heirloom carrots, goats' curd, hazelnut and cocoa. This is the plating as demonstrated by the chef. We would later be given the chance to plate our own salad.
We dealt with five kinds of heirloom carrots - golf ball, Dutch, purple, white and yellow.
It's the first time I've seen purple carrots in real life, and yet I learned that most carrots were originally purple. Apparently, mankind has tweaked them to become orange because we have been conditioned to see blues and purples in nature as "not food" or possibly poisonous, and the warm orange colour is much more appealing as a food.
This is my plate - I'd like to say my vision was a garden-like setting, but really I started with a blank plate and a blank mind, improvising as I went. But plating didn't really matter. The salad was as tasty as it was colourful, and the produce really spoke for itself.
Our main was prepared by the chef - roast and braised suckling pork leg, caramelised scampi and wild mushrooms. The sauce was insanely delicious, and I really loved the mushrooms.
On the restaurant side, Chef Michael Robinson serves modern European cuisine. The setting is casual yet elegant.
We also got a tour of the kitchen. Here's the stock section, with huge vats boiling.
There is a separate and smaller kitchen area for Becasse, a degustation-only fine-dining restaurant.
This is what Becasse looks like.
We ended things on a sweet note - chocolate fondant. Too bad we didn't have time to actually try and make this, but I do have the recipe!
It was lovely meeting the folks at Quarter Twenty One, and we enjoyed the cooking class. I was sad to read that the whole group went into administration just a few days later. It's too early to tell which venues will close but hopefully Quarter Twenty One will survive the restructuring.
QUARTER TWENTY ONE
LEvel 5 Westfield Sydney
Corner Pitt Street and Market Street
New South Wales 2000
Tel: +61 (2) 9283-3440
For the cookery school, contact Libby Travers (Director) at +61 (2) 8064-7900
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted 8:00 AM
I have been using the L'Oreal Paris White Perfect Laser products for two weeks now (see first post here on product background and the trial involving non-beauty bloggers).
The twice daily routine is simple. First the L'Oreal Paris White Perfect Laser Anti-Spot Brightening Essence (S$39.90) which features Ellagic Acid to correct spots, and then the L'Oreal Paris White Perfect Laser All Round Protection Whitening Cream SPF19 PA+++ (S$32.90) to protect against sun exposure and suppress melanin production.
I'm supposed to wait eight weeks to see full results, but I do have to say there is already a visible difference. I noticed it even during my first week of use when I was in Sydney (Scootin' around!)
So this is the end of week two: freckles and pigmentation seem to have reduced a little, and skin does seems softer, fairer and smoother. My friends have also commented that my complexion looks healthier and more radiant.
Posted 5:00 AM
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Chef Alvin Leung of two-Michelin starred Bo Innovation in Hong Kong will be in town for the next DBS Underground Supperclub! Get up close with the Demon Chef as he interprets "Food for the Soul" in his signature style of combining innovative techniques with tradition old recipes. Seats are very limited as the Supperclubs are kept small and intimate.
Date: Thursday, 5 July 2012 (RSVP closes 2 July)
Time: 8:30pm - 12:00 Midnight
(*Note: Registration starts at 8:00pm)
Venue: The China Club Singapore, 168 Robinson Road, 52/F Capital Tower, Singapore 068912
Cost: S$250++ per person (DBS/POSB cardmembers only)
More details and registration form at the AFC website.
For an idea of what DBS Supperclubs are like, see my posts on previous sessions with Andre Chiang and Anthony Genovese.
Posted 8:44 PM
Monday, June 25, 2012
Catch KF Seetoh tonight as he surprises street food masters in Johor Bahru in episode 8 of "The Food Surprise" 10.30pm tonight on TLC (Starhub ch 427). I hear there's bone marrow noodles, mud baked chicken, and some personal saga over a meal of rice.
Posted 11:35 AM
Friday, June 22, 2012
The day is finally here! Many of us have been eagerly awaiting Dean & DeLuca opening on our shores. The New York gourmet and fine food purveyor will welcome its first customers 8pm tonight (22 June 2012) at its first Singapore store (#04-23/24 Orchard Central). The first 50 guests will get a S$25 goodie bag, and you can start queueing from 7pm onwards (yes, folks, it's Singapore - so queue up!).
The 3,200 square feet store is an emporium of epicurean treats. Most of the goods here are items you will not be able to find in other stores. The store features artisanal products sourced from around the world, a bakery and signature cafe.
Right upfront they have placed their cheese and charcuterie counters - these are star products that will they expect local customers will be most attracted to.
Oh I spy one of my favourites - the Brillat Savarin among the soft cheeses! There's also White Stilton with apricots, St Maure, Robiola in leaves and Triple Cream. The semi-soft cheeses include Wensleydale with Cranberries, Smoked Northumberland, Morbier, St Nectaire, and Double Gloucester.
Hard cheese lovers can pick from Comte, Mimolette, Bella Lodi, Reyoenaer XO Reserve 30 months, Quickes Goat Cheddar and Stripey Jack to name a few. I'm looking at the blue cheeses too - St Argur, Fourme d'Ambert and Gorgonzola (Dolce and Picante). Fresh cheeses like burrata and mozzarella are also available, as well as washed rind cheese like Epoisses, Langres and Red Square.
If you are looking for recommendations, a maître fromager will be on hand to guide you with recommendations.
The charcuterie is small but will still set hearts racing with items like Jamon Serrano Reserva, 5J Iberico, Coppa Sweet, Artisan Spanish Chorizo Bilbao, Saucisson Pur Porc, Big Sopressata Sweet, and Mortadella with pistachios.
Dean & DeLuca will also have a bakery where you can pick your breads and pastries to go with your cheeses, meats and preserves.
Here's Mr Kenneth Low, Director of Kitchen Language, showing us the wines. Most of these are specialty labels from California for now, but they will expand the selection to include artisanal wines rarely found in Singapore.
Lots of breakfast goodies here. Jams, jellies and preserves, including Oprah's favourite - Sarabeths! There's a nice maple syrup here too, along with honeys, American Spoons pumpkin butter, Rosebud Farms Mint Jelly and Oregon Shippers Vanilla Pear Butter.
You'll also find all kinds of herbs, spices, dry rubs and premium salts. Looking for sumac, ancho powder, nigella, or za'atar? Wild porcini sea salt, Murray River salt, Sal de Ibiza, Japanese Ancient Sea Salt? Gold and silver flakes for garnishing? It's all here.
There are various private label gourmet coffee blends. They also have Papa Palheta here!
Here's the "Palais De The" featuring a collection of 12 teas from around the world - great as a sampler, and so very pretty too.
So exotic and beguiling - a tea named "Fleur de Geisha" - I want the cherry blossom container! Next to it is a gift set of various Kusmi Teas.
You can take a break while shopping - the 50-seater cafe has lots of baked goods, cakes and pastries. Enjoy these with gourmet coffee, tea and juices, or some of their more unusual drinks like the aptly named Dirty Chai Tea Latte, Green Tea Chendol or Mango Sticky Rice Shake.
You can have a full meal here too. Pick the mains and sides you like and compose your own set meal. Or pick from sandwiches like BBQ Chicken Panini, Italian meatball and cheese, Honey Roast Ham and Gouda.
The cafe also serves all day breakfast! Choose from American Country Breakfast, The Belgian Stack, The New Yorker, Eggs Ibericho, or Sauteed brioche French toast wtih caramelised bananas and fresh berries. Brunch and high teas are available weekends.
Back to the goods - there are some quaint items like coloured coarse sugar. The rainbow one looks like crystal sprinkles.
Here's the Chateau dEstoublon oil and vinegar table duet - they look like perfume bottles.
And the oldest one of the aged balsamic vinegars - the Giuseppe Giusti - yours for just S$220 a bottle.
Dean & DeLuca has lots of tinned goodies too - sweets, nuts and dried fruit. These would make great little gifts.
Speaking of gifts - they can customise packages for individuals and corporate customers alike. They do baskets, boxes, hampers, bags. Ask for their catalogue. Dean & DeLuca also supplies to hotel minibars.
I like their kitchen accessories and equipment too.
Absolutely love the test tube spice rack. And they have a cookbook too (it's all black and white though, no photos, but still interesting).
So that's a quick preview of the store. I hope you enjoy going even if just to see what kind of unusual gourmet goods are available and how to use them. But bewarned: It's hard to go there without picking something up!
DEAN & DELUCA SINGAPORE
181 Orchard Road
#04-23/24 Orchard Central
Tel: +65 6509-7709
Open daily: 11am to 10pm
Posted 6:28 PM
Monday, June 18, 2012
Yes, folks, Singapore's newest low cost carrier Scoot has officially started flying!
Its inaugural flight made it from Singapore to Sydney two weeks ago, and I was really honoured to be invited to take part in and witness this bit of history, along with a host of broadcast, print and online media.
My fellow passengers included Michelle Chong (above) and Chua En-lai of The Noose, both of whom entertained us on the flight later on. We also saw radio personalities from YES 93.3, and Class 95FM. I also made nice friends with people from the SPH and Mediacorp stables.
There were lots of crew and staff dressed brightly in yellow at the check-in row welcoming the full load of 400 passengers. Here are some ladies (and one gentleman) in their official crew uniform. After check-in, we were ushered into the boarding gate area immediately.
CEO of Scoot, Campbell Wilson and Guest-of-Honour, Choi Shing Kwok, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, both gave some short speeches. Mr Choi says almost a quarter of Changi Airport passengers now travel on low cost carriers. Mr Wilson (or "Call me Campbell") says Scoot will be flying to seven destinations by end October.
Ribbon-cutting ceremony - a must for most official launches...
Followed by something more snazzy...a dance routine by the actual staff and crew! They did one at the check-in row, but treated us to an encore at the departure gate.
Scoot is all about chill, casual yet vibrant energy. Some of their crew are former Singapore Airlines staff, so they're all well-trained, but now they can let down their hair a little too.
OK, onto the flight itself!
This is what the retro-fitted Boeing 777-200 looks like. Decent seat space and legroom.
Some of you may have heard of the delay we had taking off, due to technical issues. But it was good that they were extra particular about safety. The CEO was on board too, but he was very calm. After we took off, he went around to every single passenger, toasting a drink to them and apologising for the delay with a cheerful smile. Nice.
The rest of the flight went fairly smoothly.
Here are the four bloggers who were on the trip - Dawn, Brad, myself, and Alvin. Interestingly, all of us would jump out of a plane a couple days later at 14,000 feet. But not this plane! More on skydiving in another post - it is awesome!
On such a long flight (seven hours Singapore to Sydney), you might be craving some entertainment even though the best thing is to sleep through the night flight. They have tablets (iPads) loaded with movies, TV shows and games available for rent at S$22. These are really nifty because they save the plane a lot of weight from all those built-in video systems. More eco-friendly too, I reckon!
Also optional are the meals - you can pre-book online too, and there might be more options listed than on the inflight menu. Scoot also has a shopping catalogue, a movies/TV guide, and an inflight magazine.
Oh we finally reach Australia at dawn...but still a bit more to go before Sydney!
(photo by James Morgan)
Finally we touch down at the Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport! Safe and sound!
(photo by James Morgan)
CEO Campbell Wilson waving from the cockpit. Flight TZ2 has successfully arrived!
It was a beautiful morning, and we started our day immediately with a full itinerary by Destination NSW - come back and see the three amazing days they arranged for us!
So that was the milestone first flight. Would I fly Scoot again? Absolutely. With some flights as low as S$98 (or about S$158 with taxes all in), it's really good value. I'm already planning to bring my girls to Sydney to see their cousins! And I'm extra excited that Scoot will also be flying to Taipei and Tokyo!
Posted 11:00 PM
What's Sleepytown Sekinchan's Secret? KF Seetoh of @Makansutra Reveals All On The Food Surprise 10.30pm Tonight on TLC
What on earth is it!? KF Seetoh talks about a culinary secret at Sekinchan. OK, I didn't even know where Sekinchan is, until now. It's a small town in the major rice-production area of Selangor, and a fishing village. But what's the food secret here? Guess we'll only find out tonight at 10.30pm on TLC (Starhub ch 427).
Posted 10:03 AM
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
You probably have heard about Carnivore's weekday 1-for-1 lunch promo at their Marina Bay Sands and Vivocity branches. It's a pretty good deal at S$34++ per adult, S$15++ per child (noon to 3pm), so we only paid about S$20 nett per person. Promo is on until 22 July 2012.
My story in Makanation tells you more about this Brazilian churrascaria experience. But be warned - places are fully booked way ahead. But try and score a late seating (like 1.30pm) and you might still get a chance (like we did).
Posted 10:07 AM