Sunday, December 20, 2015

Emporium Shokuhin Dry Aged Beef and Gyuu Yakiniku Restaurant

Wet aged and dry aged beef - what's the difference? Why is dry aged beef so expensive and hard to get in supermarkets? What is aging anyway and why does beef need it? Isn't freshly slaughtered beef better?

All the answers in my detailed story on dry aged beef:

This was after an insightful interview with the folks at Emporium Shokuhin which has an on-site dry-aging facility, Singapore's first such customised facility that ages beef for retail.

Beef needs aging in order for the meat to become more tender and tasty. Dry aging is lengthy and laborious, but produces more depth of flavour. Wet-aging came out in the 60s and 70s as a faster and cheaper method that ensured no shrinkage, but meat aged in its own juices in vacuum sealed plastic tends to have a sour metallic taste. Most of our supermarket beef is wet aged.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

MobileFun: Olixar Boombrick Wireless Speaker Review & Giveaway!

I've found the perfect wireless speaker for my study and playroom. We've been looking at Bluetooth speakers for a while but not quite liking what we saw on the market.

And then MobileFun, the site for all mobile-friendly accessories, sent me this Olixar BoomBrick Bluetooth Speaker (one to test, one to give away):


It's very affordable, only S$52.99, but I was really pleased with the quality.

Firstly, it worked right out of the box. The Bluetooth pairing using iPhone 6 was simple and instantaneous! Good start. With minimal but well thought out buttons, operation is fuss-free.

And the sound - smooth bass with decent treble and mids! Very nice!

The Bluetooth coverage is excellent - works in 5-room HDB flat; you can control it from one end to another (unless you have too many walls in between).

We tested the speaker with MacBook Air for movies and YouTube. Wow, the sound experience becomes much more immersive. For S$50+, this turns your bedroom into a small media lounge. It should work with the iPad and other mobile devices with Bluetooth.

This doesn't take up too much space (180 x 65 x 48mm) but it's a good front-firing speaker equipped with a passive radiator to enhance the bass of such a small speaker.

The small size also makes it totally portable. Charging is via a standard Micro USB cable, and the battery gives you 8 hours playtime.

On the back, it's smooth and clean, with just a line-in port and the micro USB port for charging.

It's got a nice bonus: a built-in microphone for hands-free calls and even conference calls. Many expensive speakers don't even have this.

This is a sturdy brick speaker too; it doesn't vibrate or tremble even at loudest volume.


You can check out the full specs and more photos online:

The reviews from other users are also extremely positive. People have come back and bought more for others as gifts or for themselves.

The item is out of stock already at the moment. Well I'm not surprised. It's a good product. They tell me they are restocking soon. Meanwhile feel free to browse their other items - they have quite a few interesting things that work with most mobile phones.


Now for the Olixar Boombrick Speaker giveaway! All you have to do is:

1. Share this post (make it public)on your social media platform(s), tag friends who may like this, and leave me the link(s) in the comments.

2. You can also get extra chances on the Facebook Fan page or Instagram:

As I'll be away in Hokkaido 15-21 December, the deadline is will be 23:59hrs, 21 Dec 2015. I will pick a winner (by random draw) for the prize to be given out before Christmas. However, I may prefer to award this to someone whose page is not filled with contest entries.

Happy Christmas.

Many thanks to Mobilefun for sponsoring the review unit and prize. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas and New Year Dinners and Festive Buffets at St Regis Singapore

Where will you be celebrating Christmas and New Year's Eve?

If you're looking for turkey that's more tender than chicken (yes, seriously), try the St Regis. I don't know how they did it (sous vide first before roasting?), but it's like no turkey I've ever had.

Also, they had glazed yam to go with it, which is the absolute bomb. Savoury fried wedges of yam coated with a sweet gravy-like glaze (see browned items in the background). Loved the Brussels sprouts too.

St Regis has three dining outlets - Brasserie Les Saveurs,  LaBrezza, and Yan Ting - and they each have festive promotions.

Brasserie Les Saveurs (Lobby Level)

Amuse Bouche
Slow Cooked Egg with Smoked Salmon Tartare and Horseradish Espuma

An Extravagant Christmas Eve Dinner, 24th December
7pm – 10pm
$298++ per person with complimentary flow of “R” de Ruinart
$268++ per person with complimentary flow of wines
$208++ per person with complimentary flow of coffee and tea

Hors d’oeuvres and an array of luscious seafood on ice, highlights such as Pan-seared Sea Bass Fillet served with Butternut Squash Gnocchi, Parsnip Purée, Salt-Roasted Purple Beetroot, Sauce Vierge and Lemon Balm, and Roasted Young Grain-Fed Lamb with Puy Lentils, Orange and Anise Braised Carrots, Crushed Pistachos and Pomegranate Gastrique Sauce, and from our live carving station, Honey-Glazed Gammon Ham with Roasted Spiced Pineapple and Natural Jus and Whole Roasted Turkey with Buttered Brussel Sprouts, Glazed Chestnuts, Caramelised Yam, Cranberry-Orange Compote and Giblet Gravy.

A Joyful Christmas Champagne Brunch, 25th and 26th December
12 Noon – 3pm, with complimentary hour of apéritifs from 11am to 12noon
$218++ per person with complimentary flow of “R” de Ruinart, wines, beer and juices
$198++ per person with complimentary flow of wines, beer and juices
$178++ per person with complimentary flow of freshly brewed coffee and tea

An indulgent brunch beginning with an assortment of luscious seafood, with Freshly Shucked Oysters, Black Mussels, Alaskan King Crab and Boston Lobster and delicate canapés including Foie Gras with Sauternes Jelly and Toasted Brioche Espuma and Roast Duck Consommé with Soya Flan and Goji Berries. Tuck into a selection of gastronomic main course selections such as Char Grilled Halibut Fillet with Celeriac Fondant, Braised Leeks and Shimeji Mushrooms, Browned Butter and Citrus Nage, and Duo of Kurobuta Pork with Savoy Cabbage, Red Currant Jelly and Calvados Reduction.

A Jubilant Christmas Day Dinner, 25th December
7pm – 10pm
$108++ per person

On Christmas Day, celebrate with your loved ones with a buffet spread of masterfully crafted plates like the Oven-baked Sea Bass Fillet with Braised Endives, Orange Segment and Orange Zest and traditional French Duck à l’Orange. Prepared with the finesse of the St. Regis masterchefs à la minute, savour Foie Gras indulgences, and relish in an array of traditional Christmas desserts.


Grain Fed Angus Beef Tenderloin
with Rock Lobster Tail, Black Trumpet Stuffed Dauphinoise, Heritage Carrots, Sauce Périgord

A Momentous New Year’s Eve Dinner, 31st December
7pm – 1am
218++ per person

Kick off the New Year with an exquisite dinner buffet spread. Begin the evening with butler-passed canapés of Fines de Claire Oysters with Yuzu Jelly and Granny Smith Apple Salad and Foie Gras Royale with Red Wine Reduction and Brioche Crouton.

Along with a tantalising spread of delectable offerings, complete the festive dinner with gastronomic main courses like Potato Gnocchi Tossed in Champagne Beurre Blanc, Shaved Matsutaki Mashrooms, Glazed Globe Artichokes and Celery Leaves and draw the evening to a close with desserts such as Kaffir Lime Pâte à Choux and Mango & Almond Panna Cotta, and countdown as you enjoy a dessert buffet served till 1am.

Raspberry Lamington with Whipped Chocolate Chantilly Cream, Royaltine Sable and Raspberry Foam

A Triumphant New Year’s Day Champagne Brunch, 1st January 2016
12 Noon – 3pm, with complimentary hour of apéritifs from 11am to 12noon
$218++ per person with complimentary flow of “R” de Ruinart, wines, beer and juices
$198++ per person with complimentary flow of wines, beer and juices
$178++ per person with complimentary flow of freshly brewed coffee and tea

The New Year’s Day Champagne Brunch features hors d’oeuvres such as Pumpkin Velouté with Nutmeg Chantilly and Gingerbread Crumb. Savour delectable appetisers including an array of Home Made Charcuterie, accompanied by fresh seafood on ice, fresh salads, and exquisite offerings from the carving station.

Select from a choice of gastronomic main courses such as Goat Cheese and Spinach Ravioli with Roasted Pumpkin, Shaved Winter Truffles and Basil Oil and Trio of Barbary Duck with Roasted Breast, Seared Foie Gras and Leg Confit Wrapped in Feuille de Brick, Pumpkin Fondant, Baby Turnips and Orange-infused Duck Jus, and complete the experience with a spread of luxurious desserts.

For enquiries and reservations, please contact Brasserie Les Saveurs at +65 6506-6860, email bls@stregis.com, or visit brasserielessaveurs.com.

LaBrezza (Level 2)



Foie Gras and Boston Lobster Terrine with Dates and Shallots Compote, Bitter Cocoa Sauce and Lobster Essence

An Exuberant 6-Course Christmas Dinner, 24th  & 25th December        6pm to 10pm
$178++ or $198++ per person with wine pairing

Fancy trattoria-style Italian cuisine amidst lush tropical surrounds? LaBrezza gives you this Christmas 6-course experience beginning with Smoked Eel and Venison Loin with Steamed Broccoli, Dried Apricot and Fig Compote, followed by Sardinian Artichoke Soup with Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab Tempura, Egg and Mandarin and Dried Taggiasca Olive Compote.

You'll also enjoy Chestnut Risotto with Monkfish Medallion Wrapped in Parma Ham, Pale Ale Reduction, Tropea Red Onions and Prosciutto Tuille and Oven-Baked Black Cod with Walnut and Fresh Herbs Crust, Castelluccio Lentil Purée, Asparagus Tips and Confit of Cherry Tomatoes along with Avruga Caviar and Sour Cream. Complete the splendid experience on a sweet note with Croccante Semifreddo, with Torrone Ice Cream, Panettone Biscuit, Amedei Dark Chocolate Sauce and Candied Fruit Powder.

Polenta Ravioli
Filled with Porcini Mushroom, Pork Belly Sauce and Crispy Savoy Cabbage, Parmesan and Black Winter Truffle Espuma

An Intimate Festive Prosecco Brunch, 25th, 26th December & 1st January 2016 
12noon to 3pm
$138++ with complimentary flow of Franciacorta, wines, beer and soft drinks
$118++ with complimentary flow of Prosecco, wines, beer and soft drinks
$83++ with complimentary flow of freshly brewed coffee & tea

LaBrezza is well-known for its brunches with free-flow Prosecco and a delicious spread of antipasti including 24-month Cured Parma Ham, Mortadella and Salami Milano along with Burrata served with Mixed Green Salad. Delight in Grilled Lamb Chop with Hazelnut Crust, Potato Gratin and Avocado Salad, and Calamari and Prawn with Tomato Gravy Capers, Oregano and Lemon Zest, all fresh from the grill. Served à la minute, enjoy gourmet pizzas like Fresh Mozzarella and Basil and Vesuvio Pizza with Tomato Sauce, Italian Sausage and Roasted Sweet Pepper.

Savour specially crafted festive highlights such as the Guinea Fowl Rollata with Parma Ham and Foie Gras, Potato Gratin and Wine Reduction and Roasted Veal Shank with Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables and Romanesco Cabbage, Herbs and Meat Natural Jus and complete your meal with specialty desserts like Tiramisu served with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese, Espresso, Ladies Finger Biscuits and Cassata alla Siciliana served with Ricotta Cheese, Candied Fruit Terrine and Citrus Coulis.

Oven Baked Black Cod
with Walnut and Fresh Herb Crust, Castelluccio Lentil Purée, Asparagus Tips and Confit of Cherry Tomatoes, Avruga Pearls and Sour Cream

A Glorious 6-Course New Year’s Eve Dinner, 31st December  
6pm to 10pm
$208++ per person

Welcome the New Year with fine Italian creations at LaBrezza. Masterfully created by Chef de Cuisine Luca Moioli, the menu features Foie Gras and Boston Lobster Terrine served with Date and Shallot Compote, Bitter Cocoa Sauce and Lobster Essence. Continue the epicurean journey with Slow Cooked Capon Roulade served in Double Consommé with Shaved Marinated Egg, and Polenta Ravioli filled with Porcini Mushroom, Pork Belly Sauce and Crispy Savoy Cabbage, with Parmesan and Black Winter Truffle Espuma.
For the main course, luxuriate in Breaded Sirloin Medallion and Slow Cooked Shank Roulade with Sweetbreads Ragu, Sundried Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan Shavings, along with Onion Confit and Kipfler Potatoes.   Finally, savour a sweet Panforte Cake served with Vinsanto Reduction, Brûlée Persimmon and Yoghurt Sauce.

For enquiries and reservations, please contact LaBrezza at +65 6506-6884, email labrezza@stregis.com, or visit labrezzarestaurant.com.

Yan Ting (Level 1U)

Baked Beef Ribs with Ee-fu Noodles

A Cherished 6-Course Christmas Dinner, 24th & 25th December 
6pm to 10:30pm
$178++, or $228++ person with wine pairing

A traditional Cantonese feast for Christmas? Why not? The food at Yan Ting usually never disappoints. Enjoy a Trio of Appetisers of Shredded Turkey with Jellyfish, Hand Roll wrapped with Scallop and Pine Nuts and Crispy Roast Pork. Savour a nourishing Double-boiled Sea Cucumber Consommé with Maca Root and Braised 5-head South African Abalone with Fish Maw.

Menu highlights include Baked Beef Ribs with Herbs and a hearty Braised Prawn with Pumpkin Soup. Complete the epicurean experience with the Walnut Paste served with Silky Mango Roll.

An Exultant 6-Course New Year’s Dinner, 31st December & 1st January 2016
7pm to 10.30pm
$228++ per person

Commemorate a year of success with a Trio of Appetisers – Crispy Suckling Pig, Pan-fried Goose Liver and Scallop with Champagne Sauce, and Chilled Crab Claw, and enjoy specially crafted dishes like Double-boiled Superior Bird’s Nest Consommé, Braised 5-headed South African Abalone in Superior Oyster Sauce and Stir-fried Wagyu Beef with Bell Peppers and Garlic. Delight in Braised Flat Egg Noodles with Lobster in XO Sauce and end off your evening with a sweet indulgence of Refreshing Jelly with Ice Cream served in Young Coconut with Silky Mango Roll.

For enquiries and reservations, please contact Yan Ting at +65 6506-6887, email yanting@stregis.com, or visit yantingrestaurant.com.

Private Party?


If you want an entire space all to yourself, be it for an intimate gathering or lavish year-end party, the John Jacob Ballroom or other event spaces are available. The St. Regis Culinary Events team will tailor a festive experience the way you want it. Festive menus start from $108++ per person.

Contact the Events Specialists at +65 6506-842/819 or email events.singapore@stregis.com or visit www.stregissingapore.com/meetings-events

Festive Takeaways


St. Regis Festive Cookies & Breads

Freshly baked staples - Christmas Stollen complete with Dried Tropical Fruits; Christmas Brandied Cherry Fruitcake; buttery Cranberry Orange Blossom Brioche; and Blue Corn and Whole Grain Baguette.

They have traditional Christmas cookies too, including Christmas Cinnamon Stars, Gingerbread Man and Girl, Orange Sable, Chocolate Chip with Macadamia Nut and Vanilla Crescent.

Over at La Pâtisserie from 1st to 25th December, there are more handcrafted sweet and savoury specialties like smoked salmon, roasted lamb leg, marinated beef tenderloin, gammon ham and foie gras terrine.

Enjoy Christmas and New Year!

Thanks to St Regis for the Christmas dinner!

Save A Stranger: Help This Head Chef Beat Cancer

Shucks, I just saw this. Cancer is bad enough, but four types? That's just brutal and cruel, especially for someone so young. Please help to spread the word, and help support Sebastian in any way possible.

Save-A-Stranger Dine for a good cause on Tuesdays, and help save a stranger. He may be a stranger to you, but he’s an important member of our Strange family. Sebastian, our dear friend, and the head chef of Strangers’ Reunion since the beginning – has been recently diagnosed with four different kinds of cancer at just 26 years old. The treatments are proving to be substantially costly, as he unfortunately does not have the appropriate insurance coverage to tide him through this period of time. We are sure he’s touched the lives of many who have been to Strangers’ Reunion, and the many people who have worked with him. He’s been there for countless blogger events, food-tasting sessions, and tirelessly working in the kitchen, making sure that the food on your table tastes good. In order to lend support to someone who has given us much of his, Strangers’ Reunion and Curious Palette will no longer be closed on Tuesdays. Instead, both our cafes will be open for business every Tuesday from 12pm – 9pm. All staff working on Tuesdays will be volunteering their time, and all proceeds from Tuesdays’ sales will go to a fund to support Sebastian through his treatments. All we need from you, is to simply help to spread the word about our Save-a- Stranger initiative - Come dine for a good cause, either at Strangers’ Reunion or Curious Palette. Any bit of help will be greatly appreciated – please, bring your family and friends down if you’d like to contribute. Save-A-Stranger commences 8th December, and we will be open for business every Tuesday till we hit our target. Strangers’ Reunion 35 Kampong Bahru Rd, 169356 Tel: 6222 4869 Curious Palette 64 Prinsep St, 188667 Tel: 6238 1068 Questions? Please email us at enquiries@strangersreunion.com or leave a comment.
A photo posted by Strangers' Reunion (@strangersreu) on


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Fullerton Hotel Hippo Charity Art Workshop, Christmas Light-up and Buffet at Town Restaurant

We had such fun last week at the Fullerton Hotel Hippo Charity Art workshop.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Travel Skincare Favourite: SK-II R.N.A. Radical New Age Power

You know how we tend to overpack skincare items when we travel? Yes, so many bottles of this and that that we feel we will need just in case the weather turns dry or cold, plus sample sachets because they're so portable?

Well, I have found two very useful travel companions that do well in all climates - dry or humid; hot or cold. The SK-II R.N.A. Power Radical New Age duo of moisturiser and essence.

With these two, I only need a make-up remover, cleanser and maybe a mask to complete the ziplock bag skincare essentials.

TIP: Put these in your handcarry luggage; little bottles of liquid doesn't do so well in cargo with changes in air pressure and temperature. Plus you don't want to risk losing these!


SK-II: #ChangeDestiny and the R.N.A. Power Radical New Age Duo

Wow, seeing Anggun in person (middle) is just phenomenal. She was at the first of SK-II's #changedestiny forum series, which also featured Sha (right), Thailand's social influencer and author.

SK-II's new philosophy - Change Destiny - is inspired by stories of women who have overcome personal and societal limitations to change their destiny and achieve success.

Because "destiny is not a matter of chance; it's a matter of choice".

Anggun shared the challenges she faced in trying to break into the international scene with her music, and how she persevered and surmounted setbacks to achieve success in Europe.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Singapore Michelin Guide: Which will be deemed Singapore's Best Restaurants?

Yes, everyone by now has heard that the Michelin guide is coming to Singapore.

Hopefully it will not be a duplicate of the winners on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list, although some overlap is inevitable. How many restaurants will be awarded, I wonder?

The bigger question is whether the Michelin inspectors will understand Singapore style cuisine (like Peranakan and zichar). And some are also asking if hawkers could one day be decorated with a star as well. Should they be included? Well, some of them certainly are worth traveling for, which is in line with the spirit of the guide!

Anyway, we are all having fun predicting the winners. These days there are plenty of food guides and online reviews and references, but the Michelin guide remains highly venerable and gives the F&B industry incredible recognition.

Here are my 10 or so guesses (and part wishlist, in no particular order) on who might get stars.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Festive Dining: It's All About Family and Friends

Are you looking forward to the festive feasting this Christmas? For many families, this is a great time for catching up with loved ones and friends. How many of us have spent way too much time at work, leaving very little time and energy for friends and family? The year end holidays are a good way to balance that out a little!

It's also about gorgeous epic treats like this Bourbon Marmalade Glazed Leg of Ham (above) from Morganfields. And I don't know what it is about Christmas, but it's very much a Coke® season too! Must be all those ads I watched as a kid.

Even better for sharing with family and friends - a festive platter with the works!


Monday, November 30, 2015

Starbucks Anna Sui Limited Edition 2015 Christmas collection

OMG. Want!

Starbucks has teamed up with Anna Sui to create this gorgeous limited edition collection: Anna Sui Starbucks® Double Wall Mugs (two designs - boutique and rose stripe), Anna Sui Starbucks® Reusable Tote, Anna Sui Starbucks® Card and Anna Sui Starbucks® Card Carrier. 

The Complete Anna Sui Set - S$128

- 1 Starbucks® Tote Bag
- 1 Double Wall Mug
- 1 Anna Sui x Starbucks® Card + Pouch (comes with $50 value)

*Only available at the following 5 Starbucks outlets: Liat Towers, Westgate, United Square, Raffles City, and Capital Towers. Only 100 sets available at each store

The Anna Sui Mug Set - S$59.90:

- 1 Boutique Double Wall Mug
- 1 Anna Sui x Starbucks® Card + Pouch (comes with $20 value)
Available at all participating Starbucks stores except Changi Airport stores (other than T1 Arrival Hall) and only 1,000 sets available

I already have too many totes and mugs but these are so pretty. Time to Carousell the old stuff. Well, Christmas is coming soon, but I think these Anna Sui babies will disappear faster than you can say Father Christmas. This is one of Starbucks' best Christmas sets yet that I've seen.


Cassia at Capella Singapore: Lunch, Dim Sum and Treasures of the Sea

I have been wanting to visit Cassia at the Capella Singapore for a while, especially after hearing about the good dim sum. I'm glad I finally got to try this fine-dining Cantonese restaurant and it certainly doesn't disappoint.

Stepping in, you'll be greeted by stately elegance and plush opulence. Dining spaces are carved out into cosy nooks but the tables are set apart far enough for privacy. The whole thing oozes serious sophistication.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Hotel Amba Zhongshan in Taipei

On our final day of the Taiwan farmstay trip, we got to stay a night in Taipei. Woohoo! Farmstays are sweet but you can't miss exploring Taipei and all it has to offer.

Anyway, I was really pleased with the hotel we stayed at. The Hotel Amba at Zhongshan is a modern boutique hotel with a hip, youthful vibe, right in the heart of the commercial and shopping district of Zhongshan.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Taiwan Hualien Danongdafu Forest Park 大農大富平地森林園區

In Guangfu town within Hualien county, Taiwan, there is a forest park stretching over 1,250 hectares (that's more than 1,250 soccer fields) with outdoor recreation facilities.

The Danongdafu Forest Park 大農大富平地森林園區 will take your breath away with its vast open spaces, majestic mountains and peaceful natural scenery. But it isn't just for beautification.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Mmmm! Gourmet Menu for Christmas

Christmas will be upon us soon. How many of you are looking forward to cooking a feast from scratch? Stressful, isn't it sometimes? But we still want to put good food on the table. I don't like to take shortcuts but have learned that sometimes, a little help is not necessarily a bad thing.

Recently, I discovered "Mmmm!", a purveyor of premium gourmet meats and ready-to-heat comfort food. Yes, I'll admit, I cringed at first thinking of ready-to-heat retort pouches but I'm glad I kept an open mind.

They have a Christmas menu featuring hams, roasts, and ribs. Bone-in Gammon ham, roast wagyu rump, roast ribeye (grassfed beef), roast Iberico pork collar...it does sound good.


I tried the Roast Turkey, courtesy of their food hamper. Even straight out of the vacuum sealed bag, the turkey smelt delicious.

The turkey has already undergone sous vide cooking, so the roasting is just a simple final step that took less than an hour (not the 3-4 hours that you normally need). The bird is not very large (3.6kg to 4.5kg) but it came out really tender, with flavours well-infused within.

My family loved it. My kids who normally don't like meat devoured this thing, asking for second and third helpings. I was quite surprised it all turned out so well.

I haven't tried the other ready-to-heat items, but this is a promising start.

The Christmas items must be pre-ordered at least three days in advance, and before 20 Dec. You can do so either at http://mmmm.com.sg, or in person at any one of their four stores located at Anchorpoint, Square 2 @ Novena, West Coast Plaza, and Changi City Point.

With every $150 spent on the Christmas menu, you will receive a complimentary 1 kg packet of soup (either the Leek & Potato Soup, or the Zucchini Soup).

All food items are cooked and chilled to maintain freshness, and come with a cooler bag and heating instructions.

Many thanks to Mmmm! for the experience. First photo courtesy of Mmmm!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

European Cheese Pairing with Tea, Whisky and Wine! Plus Giveaway!


I love cheese; you can probably gather that from the name of my blog itself. But European cheeses have an extra special place in my heart, especially the raw (lait cru) ones, so bold in flavour and intensity.

France, in particular, with more than 1,200 varieties, is home to some of the most celebrated cheeses while other European countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece and the Netherlands have earned repute for specific varieties of cheese.

Cheese produced in the European Union undergo stringent checks throughout all production processes. All cheese in Europe needs to be traced through every stage of product development dating back to its origin. I like that they take such pride in accountability for the quality and safety of the cheese that they create and supply.

We recently had the pleasure of listening to food and wine expert Edwin Soon give a talk on cheese appreciation at Scotts 27. He gave a fascinating summary from its history, process, types and existence in so many cultures (from Europe to India), to the worlds of tea, whisky and wine in terms of pairing options.

And what better way to truly grasp cheese appreciation than tasting those cheeses with the suggested pairings. Cheese and wine, sure, that's common. But cheese with tea and whisky? Oh man, I am such a cheese person and a tea person, but have never thought of enjoying both together. My eyes have been newly opened.

Here are the combinations we tried (and you can win some of these cheeses to try yourself; see end of post later):

1) Gouda paired with Jasmine Gold Tea
The Gouda and light floral black tea pairing really surprised me - I absolutely loved it. The mild saltiness of the semi-hard cheese danced well on the tongue when awash in tea.

2) Comte paired with Earl Grey Tea
A lot of people liked this combination. The Earl Grey also seemed to work well with quite a few other cheeses on the platter.

Different types teas will likely affect the cheeses in different ways - black tea being malty and woody, green tea being grassy with a hint of seaweed, and white tea being sweet and soft. Oolong with its medium body and flavour is probably the most versatile to pair with cheeses.

3) Brillat-Savarin paired with Cote du Rhone, E.Guigal Blanc
The Brillat-Savarin is another of my favourite cheeses, but this one was the mildest and possibly creamiest one I've ever tried. The white wine is perfect for cutting through the fatty triple cream cheese with its acidity.

4) Munster paired with Bourgogne VV, Henri Perrot Minot
Some of us still fondly recall the pungent yet memorable Munster we had at Stroobant's Saint Pierre - he interestingly paired cheese with beer that time back in 2010; it worked brilliantly. I've been looking out for Munster ever since. We had this Munster with red wine from Burgundy. It becomes a totally different creature altogether.

5) Fourme d’Ambert paired with Quinta do Silval 1997
Blue cheese is often eaten with port. This classic combination of a strong cheese with a fortified wine only makes sense. The port tones down the saltiness of the blue cheese, and lets the background flavours bloom.

Also, if you want to tone down the flavour of an overly strong cheese, you can use this trick as told to us by Edwin: spread some butter on your bread or cracker before you add the cheese.

6) Aged Mimolette paired Laphroaig 10
Oh how the Laphroaig burns like a live dragon down your throat. But it sure makes hard cheeses like Mimolette come alive. You certainly don't normally think of whisky to have with cheese, but if you like the drink, you should try this combination.

7) Calvados Camembert paired with Singleton
This divine Camembert is finished with a soak in Calvados apple brandy (I actually have a bottle of that at home, fresh from Normandy). Sorry my tasting piece of Camembert was too smashed up to photograph, so here's a picture of the whole gorgeous slab.

This ripe and intense Camembert went superbly with the Singleton whisky which is a bit fruity and sweet. I found it is available here (yay!) from Julien Bompard's La Fromagerie! But I know I will be banned from eating this at home as this raw and unpasteurised cheese is so strong.

In a nutshell, here's how you can appreciate the nuances of cheese, tea, wine and whisky.

But generally, for cheese pairing, there are no hard and fast rules; in fact, you may be pleasantly surprised when you go rogue and try out brave new combinations.

European cheese is also ideal for cooking. In fact, before the talk, we were treated to delicate cheese canapés: Cheese Fondue with Bacon Emulsion (featuring Emmental and Gruyere) and a Blue Cheese & Orange Marmalade Butter Toast.

Owner of Scotts 27, Chef Julien Bompard (right) says, "There are numerous applications for European cheese when you are cooking with it and endless varieties to choose from. Depending on the cheese and your chosen cooking method, its flavor mellows or heightens, making it very interesting to work with. Even a final grating of a specific cheese over a dish can serve to enhance it further with an additional savoury note not found in any other seasoning. Or you can enjoy it simply in the form of an elegant cheese platter with crackers, fruit and condiments. European cheese is a truly beautiful product to cook with and savour."

Giveaway [Closed]

Meanwhile, we have a nice giveaway of cheese products worth S$50 for one lucky reader!

Yes, you can win a set of these lovely cheeses and my envy:
a) Comte
b) Munster
c) Fourme d’Ambert
d) Mimolette
e) Calvados Camembert


1. Like the European Cheeses Facebook page.

2. Share this post on any of your preferred social media platforms, and tag me or leave me your link or account below in the comments. Please make the posts public so I can see them.

You can also easily join the contest via the Facebook Fan page post or Instagram post. Share and tag your friends whom you'd love to enjoy the prize with! The more you share, the more chances you'll have to win.

Contest deadline is 30 November 2015, and the winner (chosen by random draw) will be notified by email or via the social media platform.

UPDATE Dec 2015: 
And it's a lucky no.13 who has won, and that's Vincent Nyeo from Facebook!

Thank you, CNIEL and the European Union for inviting us to the cheese appreciation session, and for sponsoring the prize.
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