Friday, November 30, 2012

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It's that time of year again when we put Yoda up in a tree

It's that time of year again, when we put Yoda up a tree, like a guardian angel overlooking the home. Yes, it's Christmas! OK, so he's totally unrelated to the festive season, but we like him there anyway. And Chewie is that brown furry thing just below on the left.

It is also that time of year when we splash out a little on those nearest and dearest to us. Actually, to be honest, I don't believe in presents at Christmas but it's nothing Scrooge-like -- I just believe in presents ALL YEAR ROUND! Hahaha! Aren't they more fun when gifts come as surprises? But Christmas is when there are lots of sales and giveaways, so it's a good time to get stuff that you do need.

For me, I like presents that bring experiences, new skills and knowledge. Books are a big favourite, but I have way too many that I can barely finish. Good food is a great sensory experience, and travel is one of the best gifts in life. Did you know American Express is giving out 6 pairs of round-the-world tickets? Someone is winning every fortnight! You'll get to choose from destinations like Moscow, Houston, Frankfurt, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul.

I'm daydreaming here, but I definitely want to go to Moscow, Tokyo, and Houston (hopefully I can pop over to see a friend in Oklahoma). I want NY too, as the last time I was there was in Aug 2001 (yes, right before Sept 11). I haven't been to LA or Frankfurt. Seoul too, was just a stopover.

So yes, we went shopping with hubby's Amex card. Took shots with the trusty old iPhone.


The kids chose their goggles at Ocean Paradise
Proper swimming goggles for children. There's nothing Nadine (right) loves more than swimming, so we're getting her the ability to see underwater. It helps with swimming skills and confidence, according to a coach who teaches kids with special needs. Nadine is a bit on the fearless side, but the goggles will help her swim towards the right directions.


Zoggs kids' swim goggles
The flowery designs did it for the girls. Well, I'm taking them for a staycation soon at The Sentosa Resort, and they'll be able to use these right away. They'll go nuts at the Port of Lost Wonder too.


Jolie and a shocking pink tutu at OKH Ballet
Speaking of Moscow, the ballet there is world renowned. I wish I could take Jolie there one day. But for now, perhaps better-fitting supplies for her ballet class are more urgent. She is outgrowing stuff fast!


We got her new shoes, a skirt, and I spied some cute teddy bear earrings
So new shoes and a lovely wrap-around skirt with lettuce edges and a shiny ribbon waist. There was a 10% Christmas sale too at the OKH Ballet shop where we picked these up. Oh and the earrings were just too cute to resist, so I had to throw them in (only S$3 too!).


Jolie looks like a dream dancer with that flowy wrap-around skirt
There she is! This was really a good find! We love how pretty it is!


On the homefront, there are a couple of items still on the wishlist:

NESCAFÉ DOLCE GUSTO
The NESCAFÉ DOLCE GUSTO Piccolo machine (about S$189) makes all kinds of hot and cold drinks. It's not just coffee but some teas as well (Green Tea Latte and Chai Tea Latte). I just like popping in capsules, pressing a button and seeing a drink miraculously appear. More fun than vending machines.

Nestle loaned us a unit, and we liked the Vanilla Latte Macchiato best. See how it actually comes out in such pretty layers? You don't even need a separate milk frother. I hear there's a S$40 discount right now in stores.

So many flavours - not just coffee but tea too!
There are so many flavours -- the one I really want to try is the Chai Tea Latte, not pictured here.

I also need a rice cooker. Thanks to modern technology engineered to fail at the right time, our rice cooker that's nicely out of the warranty period has retired itself. Truly, gone are the days when appliances used to last decades! My mom's rice cooker (you know that simple type) lasted forever. In fact, I think it still works!

So maybe for Christmas, I'll get hubby a rice cooker. Hehehehe. Either that or he can start cooking his own rice. Manually.

We are using a claypot right now to cook rice, and actually it works quite well. So I'm still deliberating.

Yes, this all seems so terribly non-festive and overly practical, but fun stuff we get at other times of the year.


Care bears galore

Here's wishing you all happy shopping and may your festive season be filled with warmth, care and love!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mille crepe

I have been wondering whether to tell people about Doutor's divine mille crepe. You see, each day, they only serve 40 slices, because the cakes are limited in quantity and imported from Japan (I hear only six chefs know the closely guarded recipes).

They surely have to bring in more soon. It is so wonderfully indulgent, those layers of thin crepes sandwiching cold sweet fresh cream. And yet, like so many Japanese confections, it is so light and tasty.

Yes, those of you on my Instagram will have seen me posting about it (luckily I don't have that many followers, so only a few will see my real-time quick bites). One of my dear friends went to try it and said, "Oh my God, now I know why you posted about it - it's so good, I can eat all 40 slices!"

So yes, eventually most of you will find out, and this is really too good to keep to myself. So here it is.

Of course, they also have other selections (all their cakes are very simply and reasonably priced at S$6).


Matcha and Red Bean Cake
The Matcha and Red Bean Cake is also really quite a treat.


Pumpkin Tart
The Pumpkin Tart is pretty dense and rich.


Lettuce Hot Dog
Oh the hot dogs are not bad. There are four kinds, this is the Lettuce Hot Dog (S$4.50), which is a decent size, and the sausage has that nice snappy casing that I like.


Matcha Latte and Cappucino
The drinks are also quite good. Matcha Latte (S$5.80 for small) and Cappucino (S$5, small) here. I'm not a big coffee fan, but I do tend to like Japanese coffee - just the right flavour characteristics for me.

I did also try the Royal Milk Tea, but felt that was a bit weak. A lot of milk but the tea was not strong enough.


Simple menu at Doutor Singapore
For now, it looks like the menu is quite simple. Your teas, coffees, soy and matcha lattes, juices, and sandwiches, toast, hot dogs and cakes.


They opened in August 2012
I have been coming here a few times since they opened in August. It's not too crowded during off-peak hours. And I love the bookshelf-print curtains at the back of the cafe.

As many of you know, Doutor is a very ubiquitous coffee chain with thousands of outlets in Japan. Somehow in Japan, I never quite caught on to them, but I'm really liking the Singapore outlet.


DOUTOR SINGAPORE (Facebook page)
12 Marina Boulevard
#01-05 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3
Singapore 018982
Tel: +65 6604 6082
Open daily
Mon-Fri: 7.30am to 9.30pm (last order 9pm)
Sat-Sun: 8.30am to 7.00pm (last order 6.30pm)
DianXiaoEr

My, that was a fun giveaway with lots of people participating (170 shared the post, and 127 left comments on Facebook)! I think a lot of people genuinely like Dian Xiao Er!

Congratulations to Tay Kay Khng, Yippee Woods, Kaori Lizaso, Sarah Chua-lala, and Janet Chirpy for winning the S$50 Dian Xiao Er vouchers!

I've dropped most of the winners a Facebook message to arrange for vouchers to be sent. But a couple of you may not have enabled Facebook Messages, so if you see this post, email me.

Well, if you missed the chance to join in earlier, fret not. My friend Alvin is also giving away five S$50 Dian Xiao Er vouchers. See his post for details on how to win! Good luck, and keep connected to Dian Xiao Er on Facebook, because they will continue having promos and giveaways there too.

Me? I'm not cooking tomorrow, I'm bringing my kids there for makan. I'm sure they'll love the cod and vegetables with macadamia nuts, and I'm going to try some new dishes too. Menu looks amazing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


AsiaRooms is celebrating the end of 2012 with a mega sale! For 24 hours starting now (10am, 27 Nov), there will be discounts of up to 70% on hotels in popular destinations across Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong.

This is the last leg of their Year End Sale, and it offers deals from 120 sought-after hotels. Just in time for the school holidays, I'll say, but you can save it for travel until 31 May 2013 too.

“The destinations chosen for the inaugural AsiaRooms.com Year End Sale are hot spots for many holidaymakers during this time of the year, especially families and those looking for a short getaway during the year end season,” says Mr Clarence Lin, Brand Development Lead at AsiaRooms.

I have used AsiaRooms before to book a hotel in Taipei, and I do like the fuss-free interface - it was amazingly fast and easy (plus it was a good deal).

If you'd like to stay connected for future deals, you can link up through these platforms:

Twitter - http://twitter.com/AsiaRooms
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/Asiarooms
Google+ - http://gplus.to/AsiaRooms
Visit the AsiaRooms website and subscribe to the mailing list! http://www.asiarooms.com

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Herbal Roast Duck from Dian Xiao Er

OMGWHEREHAVEIBEEN?? I cannot believe I've been missing out all these years!

Thanks to someone in the family who hates food eating out, hates duck and hates Chinese herbs (and I really mean "hate"), we have never ventured near Dian Xiao Er. And I never knew much about this casual dining chain's food beyond the herbal roast ducks that it's famous for.

Then along came the opportunity to meet the founder Samuel Yik and his wife Eliza. The two are very passionate about their food and Samuel is fun to talk to about the little secrets behind each dish. This dinner was for me a humbling moment of discovery - man, there is a lot of good stuff here at Dian Xiao Er beyond the very good duck (as my friends all affirmed later on when I posted photos on Facebook and Instagram)!

Some people say the standards have declined in the past couple of years, but now that the founders are back in control again (as of mid-2012), there's hope once more of them getting the chain back to what it used to be.

Anyway, you guys probably know all these dishes better than I do, but I'm going to go through each one and give my two cents anyway. And yes, I have five S$50 vouchers to give away, so please do continue reading.


Dong Po Pork from Dian Xiao Er
Dong Po Pork
This slab of pork belly has been thoroughly marinated before being steamed until tender. It's also given a special treatment (similar to what folks do to roast pork) so the skin releases excess fat. The result is a beautifully soft mouthfeel without any gamey greasiness. You can also tell that the skin has been finished with some hot oil for better texture. For me, that little step makes a world of difference.


Stir-fried Lotus Roots with Macadamia Nuts
Stir-fried Lotus Roots with Macadamia Nuts
All vegetables should taste this good. Flash-fried with a light but tasty sauce, the carrots, water chestnuts, ginkgo nuts and sugar snap peas all retain their crunch and sweetness. The cheery colours also make it very appealing. The addition of macadamia nuts make it a real treat. Notice how pristine and delicate the lotus roots are? They are a particular variety that's extra crisp and delicious. Samuel won't tell me where he gets them from!


Mongolian Spare Ribs from Dian Xiao Er
Mongolian Spare Ribs
This is yet another house signature. Deep-fried ribs still crispy and generously coated with a spicy and garlicky plum and black pepper sauce. The ribs are done just right - still tender and juicy inside while retaining that slightly crisp exterior (but eat fast or the sauce will soften that crispy part quickly).



Silver Cod Fish in Superior Soy Sauce
Silver Cod Fish in Superior Soy Sauce
My heart was completely won over by the cod. It's clear it went through a quick but very hot oil bath, but it must take skill to make it so delicately crisp on the outside but not overcooked on the inside. And then the premium soy sauce seasoning just matches it perfectly.



Claypot Frog & Jumbo Prawn Bee Hoon with Wine
Claypot Frog & Jumbo Prawn Bee Hoon with Wine
I have never seen this combination done anywhere else before. Frog legs and jumbo prawns in a comforting stock spiked with Shaoxing wine. And beehoon to soak up all the goodness.


Claypot Frog & Jumbo Prawn Bee Hoon with Wine
Here, you can see the beehoon better in this much bigger pot!


Chefs roasting ducks in the show kitchen
And oh, have I described the duck (the very first photo above) yet? They've developed their own techniques. A mixture of Chinese wine and herbs are sealed within the duck during marinating, and the duck is roasted with all those goodies inside their stomach. I think the herbs, wine and duck start infusing each other with flavour, and the delicious sauce that ensues is so good, it's served alongside the duck.

You can choose from Dang Gui (Angelica Herb), Shi Quan (Ten Wonder Herbs) and Pao Shen (Wild Ginseng). We tried the sauces from all three. I like the Dang Gui best, although the Ginseng is really strong, and the Shi Quan rather sweet.

Their full menu is online, so you can take a look at in-depth descriptions, photos and prices.


Dian Xiao Er - Romancing the old era of hospitality
But food is not the only appeal at Dian Xiao Er. It's almost like dining at a theme restaurant. The concept is that of those traditional Chinese inns that are pit-stops for travelers on long journeys, so often depicted in wuxia literature and movies.

Some areas are more grand, some are more rustic. Each outlet differs slightly for variety's sake. This one above is at NEX Serangoon. It's got a mixture of dramatic and cosy areas, as it's quite a large outlet.


A private area with wedding murals
There's also a private section right at the back of the NEX outlet, which features a festive but slightly quirky wedding mural. An interesting option for wedding solemnisations, for sure.





OK contest time! Three easy steps to win a S$50 voucher:

1. Like the Dian Xiao Er Facebook page. Here's an easy button you can click.



2. Share this page on your Facebook. Just click.



3. Tell me what you like best about Dian Xiao Er on this entry on my Facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=442519392470875&set=a.178955052160645.45602.157377377651746&type=1.

I will pick five winners by 11:59pm, 25 Nov 2012, and announce them on my Facebook fan page. I will also contact the winners via Facebook.

Go check out the Dian Xiao Er Facebook page too, as they are also giving out five $50 vouchers each week until the end of Nov 2012.


Dian Xiao Er at NEX

Dian Xiao Er now has eight outlets in Singapore. There's bound to be one near you.


DIAN XIAO ER

1. Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard #02-203/4
Tel: 6337 1928

2. Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk #02/137/8
Tel: 6376 9786

3. Ang Mo Kio, 53 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 #B2-02
Tel: 6484 2268

4. Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2 #03-26/27
Tel: 67926268

5. Lot One, 21 Choa Chu Kang Ave 4 #B1-32/33
Tel: 6766 1776

6. Terminal 3, Changi Airport #03-42/43
Tel: 6542 3789

7. Tampines One, 10 Tampines Central 1 #04-07/08
Tel: 6783 6068

8. Nex Serangoon Central #02-09/10
Tel: 6634 4828


Many thanks to DXE for the vouchers and dinner. Now I shall have to plan how to bring the family back here to eat!
Sponsored post




Yes, traveling around the world. One of our bucket list items, is it not? For many of us yes but takes a bit to save up for. Well, for 12 people, that dream is going to come true sooner than later.

American Express is giving out six pairs of round-the-world business class Singapore Airlines tickets! From 8 Oct to 31 Dec 2012, one winner will be picked every fortnight to win a pair of tickets.

The campaign includes nine highly sought-after travel destinations around the world: Moscow, Houston, Frankfurt, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul.

You can select one of the six different flight routes. Which one would you pick?

a. Singapore-Hong Kong-San Francisco-Houston-Moscow-Singapore
b. Singapore-Seoul-San Francisco-Houston-Moscow-Singapore
c. Singapore-Tokyo-Los Angeles-Houston-Moscow-Singapore
d. Singapore-Hong Kong-San Francisco-New York-Frankfurt-Singapore
e. Singapore-Seoul-San Francisco-New York-Frankfurt-Singapore
f. Singapore-Tokyo-Los Angeles-New York-Frankfurt-Singapore

Dang...it's hard to choose, isn't it? But what a nice dilemma to have!

OK, so how do you win these tickets?

- Spend S$10 on your Amex card to earn one chance
- Spend S$10 at ION Orchard, Singapore Airlines or The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands for two chances
- Apply for a new or supplementary card and get 10 chances

Not a Cardmember? No need to fret - visit americanexpress.com.sg or call 6298 1504 to apply.

Keep up with details on the American Express "Round the World" Facebook tab.

When you make purchases, you will also receive Membership Reward (MR) points or Krisflyer miles (if you have the American Express Singapore Airlines Credit Cards). And your points do not expire! Boy do I hate keeping track of points evaporating into the ether. More details on how you earn reward points here.

Well, you guys know I love travel. So this just means I am going shopping with hubby's Amex card this Christmas! Hahaha!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Kyushu Sashimi Mori Seven Kinds
Those of you following me on Instagram will have seen me going on my first trip to Kyushu a couple weeks back, checking out wagyu and produce farms in Saga prefecture, and the Fukuoka fish market. It was a glorious three days where I got to try Kyushu food in Japan itself (yes, will be blogging that soon).

When I got back, I was glad to see that Japanese Dining Sun had partnered with the Fukuoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry to offer the Kyushu Gourmet Experience from 16 Nov 2012 to 8 Jan 2013. So yes, good food continues here and it starts today! Executive chef Toshio Sawaii has created a menu using ingredients from Miyazaki, Fukuoka, Saga, Kagoshima and Oita. Here are some highlights from the wide-ranging menu:


Kyushu Sashimi Mori 7 Kinds   S$88.80
Fatty tuna, yellow seabream, horse mackerel, golden-eye snapper, striped jack, yellowtail and Japanese seabream

The ensemble above is flown in twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays, if I remember correctly) from Fukuoka, which is a major shipping and fishing port. Yes, the fatty tuna belly (chutoro) is fairly decent, but don't overlook the others - even the horse mackerel is pretty fresh and without that dreaded fishy taste. Man, I did see a lot of horse mackerel at the Fukuoka fish market, and fugu too. But relax, no fugu here.



Mentai Salmon Takana Roll
Mentai Salmon Takana Roll S$18.80
Spicy seasoned cod roe, sweet omelette and cucumber sushi roll wrapped with salmon and preserved mustard leaf

Kyushu is very near China and Korea, so it's not surprising to see culinary influences crossing over. Takana - preserved mustard leaf or kiam chye - makes it as a sushi topping too. This sushi roll is not only colourful but hearty in size and gets a nice salty accent from the preserved vegetables and cod roe.



(Miyazaki) Wagyu Steak Ajikurabe
(Miyazaki) Wagyu Steak Ajikurabe S$88.80
Japanese Grade A3 – Miyazaki wagyu ribeye and sirloin steak teppanyaki

Yes, one of the best ways to do wagyu is teppanyaki. A quick sear on a hot pan nicely caramelises the meat without overcooking it. They brought in Grade A3, which is moderately fatty, because Singaporeans still tend to prefer a more "beefy" taste in their wagyu. Super high grade wagyu is often deemed too fatty by some. It really depends on your personal taste. I saw some really nice marbling in Saga prefecture. Good for shabu shabu.



(Kagoshima) Mentai Cheese Chigiri Age
(Kagoshima) Mentai Cheese Chigiri Age S$9.80
Fishcake of spicy seasoned cod roe and cheese

Deep-fried, cheesy and umami -- what's not to like? This is fun finger food. The cod roe is not overpowering, so don't worry about it being too spicy or fishy.


(Fukuoka) Shiokoji Moriawase
(Fukuoka) Shiokoji Moriawase S$15.80
Shiokoji marinated meat platter of Berkshire pork, tender chicken and salmon

Aha. Shiokoji - a new ingredient. I also saw this fermented rice yeast marinade/condiment in Saga, which is apparently the new rage among young chefs. And I wonder if it's the same thing as shiokoji, which sounds similar - rice innoculated with a safe mould, in salted water. Brings out the umami and sweetness of meats. Seems to work best on chicken, but I liked the pork belly treated with this too. Umai!



Shiokoji, Hot Parasol Japanese Tabasco sauce and Wasabi sauce
That's what the bottle of shiokoji looks like (left) -- whitish fermented gruel in a salty suspension. We also got to try the grilled items with two sauces - a green yuzu-scented tabasco sauce (middle) and a wasabi sauce. I fell in love with yuzu-gosho in Kyushu, which is a superspicy and salty yuzu-green pepper paste. The tabasco sauce is very similar, just more watery. Yuzu gosho is a Kyushu specialty because citrus fruits thrive in the region, and it's used in lots of stuff from miso soup to yakitori. Even on simple steamed white rice it's a treat! Yes, I brought back a bottle and you can get it at Meidi-ya, so the Japanese chefs tell me.


(Saga) Nori Udon
(Saga) Nori Udon S$12.80
Cold seaweed noodle

If you love your noodles QQ and al dente, this seaweed noodle will interest you. It's a lot more chewy than regular soba, with a texture almost like konnyaku. Nice when mixed with shredded nori, scallions and ginger.


(Fukuoka) Tonkotsu Takana Ramen
(Fukuoka) Tonkotsu Takana Ramen S$11.80
Tonkotsu ramen served with Japanese preserved mustard leaf

Another noodle dish, and the photo really doesn't do justice to the delicious pork bone broth. Kyushu is where tonkotsu originated, so they say, and a bowl of this ramen is a must on this menu.



(Fukuoka) Kurobuta Gyoza
(Fukuoka) Kurobuta Gyoza S$9.80
Pan fried bite sized Berkshire pork dumplings filled with cabbage, chives and garlic

The Chinese influence rears its head again but the Japanese have made pot stickers really ultra delicious with a thin skin, delicately steamed and pan-fried on the bottom. The kurobuta filling is addictively good, especially with the dip. This was the hot favourite at our table.



(Fukuoka) Kinmedai & Mentai Chazuke
(Fukuoka) Kinmedai & Mentai Chazuke S$15.80
Lightly grilled Golden-eye snapper fillet slices, spicy seasoned cod roe served with green tea bonito soup

If you prefer something a little on the healthier side, chazuke -- rice in tea. Some people may not be used to green tea as a savoury broth, but for me, it works right off the bat. Rice in hot soup, pickles and fresh fish. Comfort on cold nights, if we ever have cold nights...

There are so many things to try from the main menu, but if you still have room for dessert, here are a couple of options.


(Oita) Momo Jam Chiffon Cake
(Oita) Momo Jam Chiffon Cake $6.50
Light and fluffy chiffon cake infused with the flavor of ripe peach jam and served with homemade vanilla cream

Peach chiffon cake made with peach jam. I'm not a fan of chiffon cake, but you may like this.


(Fukuoka) Yamecha Roll Cake
(Fukuoka) Yamecha Roll Cake S$6.50
Premium Fukuoka green tea roll with vanilla cream center

This roll cake was a little more dense and dry than I expected. Help yourself to the swath of green tea powder behind it if you want even stronger matcha flavour.


(Fukuoka) Yame Tea with Goma Sable Cookies
(Fukuoka) Yame Tea with Goma Sabure (Sable) Cookies S$5.80
Premium Fukuoka English tea with sesame sable cookies

Oh I liked this "dessert" the most, strangely, because the tea is very strong (just the way I like 'em). It helps to cleanse the palate and gullet of greasy fare consumed with wild abandon earlier.


Sun's signature tofu cheesecake
Sun's signature tofu cheesecake

Of course regular a la carte items are still available, and if you'd like to spring for their signature tofu cheesecake, by all means. It's honestly more satisfying than the Kyushu desserts, and I'm glad it's a permanent item.

The Kyushu Gourmet Experience runs 16 Nov 2012 to 8 Jan 2013 at both SUN dining outlets (the one at Wheelock, SUN with Moon, is more casual and cafe-like with all-day dining).


JAPANESE DINING SUN @ CHIJMES
30 Victoria Street #02-01
Singapore 187996
Tel: (65) 6336 3166
Open daily
12 Noon to 3pm and
6:30pm to 11:00pm Mondays-Thursdays, Sundays & Public Holidays
6:30pm to Midnight Fridays, Saturdays and eve of Public Holidays


SUN WITH MOON @ WHEELOCK
501 Orchard Road #03-15
Singapore 238880
Tel: (65) 6733 6636
Open daily
Noon to 10:30pm Mondays-Thursdays, Sundays & Public Holidays
Noon to 11:00pm Fridays, Saturdays and eve of Public Holidays



Many thanks to SFBI and the 360PR team for the invite and dinner.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Have you got the Monday blues? There's no better way to chase them away than with comforting food!

Plateau de Charcuterie - cured meats, duck terrine, homemade pickles
Plateau de Charcuterie - cured meats, duck terrine, homemade pickles

Yeah, just gimme this platter and any Monday will instantly be magical instead of mundane. Saucisson sec, pork lomo, duck prosciutto, parma ham, duck terrine, pate, pork rillete and an interesting mixed terrine of guinea fowl, foie gras and pistachio (see the one below the cup of wholegrain mustard). Even the little pickles (carrots, turnip, mushrooms, cornichons) are so crisp and tart, they really perk up your tastebuds.

This platter (for 2-3 pax) is part of the "Mondays in Lyon" menu (S$68++) at db Bistro Moderne at Marina Bay Sands. Actually charcuterie is a signature item on the regular menu too, but it makes the Lyon menu very good value for money.

Mondays in Lyon? Yes, there's been a little culinary tour de France at db Bistro Moderne. After Alsace and Provence themed Monday dinners (see what the Provence dinner was like) in the past few months, Daniel Boulud is now celebrating his very own hometown of Lyon. Gastronomy city indeed. Lyon is famous for not just turning out chefs that win Michelin stars for their restaurants, but also for its everyday bistros and bouchons.


Boulud grew up in a small family farm where he learned the rhythm of using seasonal ingredients. Lyon is also where he first trained with renowned masters of the day.

He reminisces, "Growing up on a farm, I was always surrounded by an abundance of fresh, seasonal ingredients. My grandparents had a wonderful café that they ran on the farm, Café Boulud, where I have such fond memories of watching my Grandmother Francine at work in the kitchen. It was really here in Lyon that the foundations for my love of food and cooking were built. I am so proud to be able to share these memories with guests at db Bistro Moderne through this new menu of signature Lyonnais dishes that are incredibly dear to me.”

There are many Lyonnais specialties, but there are the items that Boulud has chosen to showcase. You get to choose a starter, main course and dessert.

If the charcuterie somehow does not float your boat, you can pick another starter like soup or salad.


Soupe A L'Onion - classic onion & beef consomme, Gruyere, croutons
Soupe A L'Onion - classic onion & beef consomme, Gruyere, croutons
A hearty and robust rendition, this bowl of French onion soup will warm your belly and your soul. It's hard to say no to all that melted Gruyere.


Salade Lyonnaise - Frisee salad, chicken livers, bacon, poached egg, croutons, mustard and carrot dressing
Salade Lyonnaise - Frisee salad, chicken livers, bacon, poached egg, croutons, mustard and carrot dressing

If you love chicken liver, this is probably perfect for you - they are done still pink on the inside, very tender and ...liverish. I will die for foie gras but somehow chicken liver is not my thing. I did really like the thick chunks of bacon though.


Chef Stephane Istel of db Bistro Moderne
It was nice to see Executive Chef Stephane Istel again. He is ever so buoyant and energetic, swooping in and out of the kitchen to present and explain each item to us with pizazz.

On to the mains...


Cabilleaud Poche - poached cod, fish mousse quenelles, sauce Nantua, snow peas, baby carrots
Cabilleaud Poche - poached cod, fish mousse quenelles, sauce Nantua, snow peas, baby carrots

That Nantua sauce is amazing - this classic seafood sauce has the same umami punch of the potent Bouillabaisse from the Provence collection.

The cod here is very fresh, warm, silky and firm, while the fish mousse quenelles were interestingly soft and sweet with a thin chewy skin. I'll say it again - Daniel Boulud does his fish very well. I still remember the incredible Daurade a la Plancha that we had when he was in town to launch Mediterranean dishes.



Poulet Au Vinaigre - vinegar braised chicken
Poulet Au Vinaigre - vinegar braised chicken

This is yet another Lyonnais signature, made famous by Lyon's most famous hometown chef Paul Bocuse. Apparently chickens from Lyon are considered some of the best in the world (see Mark Bittman recipe from a student of Bocuse). And when we asked where db Bistro Moderne gets their chickens, we were stunned to find out that they are French chickens specially shipped to and raised in Malaysia (free range conditions and all that jazz) before they are brought to Singapore. Oh yes, all that effort is worth it - they tasted great: plump and juicy in that tangy sauce.



Wonderful Tarragon Rice Pilaf
Tarragon Rice Pilaf that comes with the vinegared chicken.

Oh bless my basmati, this is so good, we were all saying it puts some Indian joints to shame! The rice is boldly flavoured that I enjoyed eating it on its own, but it also goes so well with the creamy vinegary sauce.



The last choice for mains is, I think, vegetarian (they usually have one).


Gratin de Cardons "Dauphinois" - cardoon & potato gratin, mushroom Fricassee, fresh herbs
Gratin de Cardons "Dauphinois" - cardoon & potato gratin, mushroom Fricassee, fresh herbs

Cardoons - now, this was a new vegetable to us, and is essentially something like artichoke stalks.  There was a celery-like crunch to it, which gave the lusciously gooey gratin some texture. Loved the mushrooms.


Wine pairing with Cotes du Rhone
Oh yes, what's a French dinner without wine? Add S$32++ for wines from one of the most famous wine regions in France, the Rhone Valley south of Lyon. Les Vins de Vienne, Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2010 and Rouge 2010 were the two labels for the evening.


After the stunning mains, it was time for dessert. All three options were so good, we thought it was cruel for diners to have to choose only one.


Apple Tarte Fine - puff pastry, Cognac ice cream
Apple Tarte Fine - puff pastry, Cognac ice cream
We hear Daniel Boulud loves apples, so here's his take on apple pie. That cognac ice cream is really strong, and is lovely with the puff pastry. On the side is a dollop of "apple pie compote" -- it really tastes like apple pie reduced to a paste.



Ille Flottante - Floating Island, Vanilla Creme Anglaise, Pink Praline
Ille Flottante - Floating Island, Vanilla Creme Anglaise, Pink Praline

What they are really proud of is this "floating island" creation. If you like vanilla, you'll love this. I did. A dream-like wedge of soft meringue in a beautifully sweet vanilla cream sauce, topped with crunchy sugar-coated almonds (whimsically in pink). These pink rocks are a French specialty, particularly in Lyon (you'll see pralines sold on the streets everywhere).


Coupe Chocolat Et Marron - Valrhona chocolate and candied chestnut
Coupe Chocolat Et Marron - Valrhona chocolate and candied chestnut

For the chocolate dessert, of course it has to be Valrhona which is made near Lyon. Two scoops of sweet chocolate ice cream contrasting with one scoop of dark chocolate and topped with crunchy pearls, fudge and candied chestnuts.

The Mondays in Lyon dinners start 6pm, but the regular dinner menu is still available, so you also can choose a la carte items from there too. Catch the Lyonnais specialties before the promotion runs out end December 2012. I'll be back for the charcuterie for sure.


DB BISTRO MODERNE
B1-48, Galleria Level
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
(Across from the Theater)
Tel: +65 6688-8525
Open daily
Lunch
Monday - Friday: Noon to 5PM
Weekend Brunch
Saturday - Sunday: 11AM - 5PM
Dinner
Sunday & Monday: 5:30pm to 10PM
Tuesday - Saturday: 5:30PM - 11PM



Many thanks to MBS and the db Bistro Moderne team for the dinner.
 
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