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


Includes:
- 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:


Includes:
- 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.




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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.



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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!
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

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

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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.


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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.


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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):

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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.



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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.




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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.



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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.



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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.


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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.




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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

Just

1. Like the European Cheeses Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/europeancheeses.singapore/?fref=ts

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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Maki-San Food Delivery in Singapore


In my last post, I featured five fabulous delivery options:
http://www.camemberu.com/2015/11/5-local-food-deliveries-in-singapore.html

Here's one more I'd love to add to the list! Maki-San! It's not local cuisine, but who doesn't love sushi? And this one is certified halal too!
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Monday, November 16, 2015

5 Local Food Deliveries in Singapore You Probably Didn't Know About

Many of us have long and tiring days at work. Sometimes we are so busy, we can't even leave our desk for lunch. Or maybe you don't want to fight with the lunchtime crowd, or go into the midday heat and come back sweaty and smelly from a hawker centre.

Don't despair; you don't have to reach for cup noodles and compromise on a good meal.

We have quite a few food delivery services popping up of late. No, I'm not talking about the usual fast food or cardboard pizza, but local food that we love. Yes, comfort food we grew up with. Don't you think we need more of these? Plus it's great to support local businesses!

We can summon a nice meal with just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on the smartphone. The only thing easier to get is probably reaching out for a drink of Coke®, which is easily available all around! Many online food vendors also carry Coke, making it easy to complete your meal experience with a refreshing beverage.

So let's check out the food delivery options for local cuisine:

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Morton's Singapore Introduces Fall Menu


Morton's The Steakhouse is well known for keeping to its traditional steakhouse menu that its regulars love and can reliably come back for. But this November, Morton's is bringing on six new items in a Fall seasonal menu that will last til Feb 2016.

Seared Sea Scallops Rossini (above, S$56) are a quartet of plump sweet scallops grilled just right with nicely caramelised edges but still rare in the middle. The scallops are drizzled with foie gras butter and sit atop black truffle leeks. Rossini dishes typically involve foie gras and truffle; it's named after an Italian composer who was a noted gourmand.



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Another decadent starter is the Lobster Stuffed Roasted Mushrooms (S$39). Large mushroom caps seasoned with garlic butter are roasted and stuffed generously with lobster meat filling. It is full-on umami!




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Of course we had to start with this too. The gigantic but pillowy soft Onion Loaf still has that crisp crust and madly enticing aroma.

They always say don't eat too much bread. But I don't need to save stomach space; some people have a separate stomach for desserts, but I have a separate stomach for bread.

But let's see the mains!



UntitledThe Bone-in Filet Mignon (S$122) is 14 ounces of premium US beef. Yes, thank god they lifted the ban on bone-in meats from the US. The lean and tender double filet is broiled to order.



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Seared perfectly still pink in the middle.



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But what really stole the show was Nueske's Bacon Steak. Really, now two of my favourite words in one dish - how could you go wrong?

This is 12 ounces of thick cut slab bacon coated with honey bourbon glaze. The piquant cracked pepper adds light spicy heat.


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The bacon steak is so deliciously and intensely savoury in every bite, it is best savoured slowly. I really hope this becomes part of the regular menu; it's just too good not to have.



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If you feel you need some healthy greens, go for the steamed jumbo asparagus. But don't miss the Fall Menu's Mashed Black Truffle Cauliflower (S$22) - creamy cauliflower puree with black truffles and parmesan cheese, lightly sprinkled with chives. This is SO GOOD!

I know that low-carb followers have been using cauliflower mash as an alternative to mashed potato, but this version with black truffle and cheese is enough to convert even carb lovers.




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If you'd like more greens, the Spinach with Bacon salad (regular menu) is fabulous. You'll be reaching out for second and third helpings.



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The Fall menu dessert is this gorgeous White Chocolate Bread Pudding (S$25). Homemade bread pudding with white chocolate chips and pecans, served atop a zingy bourbon caramel sauce, crowned by a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream with white chocolate confetti.



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They have quite a few good desserts here. The Carrot Cake is based on Morton's CEO's mother's recipe. It's so rich, dense and decadent with walnuts, coconut and pineapple.



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Chocolate Mousse, probably one of the lightest desserts you can have here.

The Fall menu is the start of seasonal menus to come. It's based on what the US branches are offering. While I love the traditional menu, I do like the new dishes very much too. I can't wait to see what they will roll out next. It gives diners more reason to come back, and not just for steak.

By the way, if you haven't been back in a while, Morton's has changed its interiors quite a bit.


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After Landry's Restaurant Group acquired it, Morton's underwent a renovation, swapping the dark wood panels and heavy masculine air for a more contemporary look. It now has actually has windows! The atmosphere is still very romantic and relaxing, with soft glow lighting.


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Even the bar within is much more open; you can see it from the outside now through glass panels.

It used to look like this:

The Bar within Morton's
I had to brighten this picture a lot, as it would be too dark to see much if I didn't.

You can see my previous experience here (I still remember the ribeye fondly as one of my best steaks in Singapore):
http://www.camemberu.com/2013/11/mortons-is-still-steakhouse-to-beat.html

One of the things they have (sadly) discontinued is the steak cuts show-and-tell. It was such a great tradition that everyone talked about. The huge platter of all the steak cuts is still available for viewing upon request, but I guess these days most people already know what the cuts are.


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They also still have the dessert tray, useful for deciding which (HUGE) dessert you'd still have space for. It probably will make me order more than I can eat.

As usual the service is excellent, and they have knowledgeable sommeliers on hand too, to advise on wines.




Giveaway



Morton's Singapore has kindly given me vouchers I can share with you: four martini drink vouchers valid at the Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai and Beijing outlets (until Feb 2016), and two bar bite vouchers valid at the Singapore branch only (no expiry listed).

Just share this post on your preferred social media platforms and leave me the link in the comments below. If you're not sure how to get the link, just link your accounts. Do make the posts public so I can view them!

You can also share/repost (and tag the friends you'd like to bring) on my Facebook Fanpage post or my Instagram post, for more chances to win. Winners will be chosen by random draw, and contacted via those social media platforms.

Deadline is 21 Nov 2015 at 23:59hrs.

So good luck sharing and start thinking about who you'd like to bring along!



MORTON'S THE STEAKHOUSE
Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Fourth storey, 5 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039797
Tel: +65 63393740

Open daily

Bar
Monday to Saturday 5pm to 11pm
Sunday 5pm to 10pm

Dining room
Monday to Saturday 5.30pm to 11pm
Sunday 5pm to 10pm





Thanks to Morton's Singapore for the warm hospitality and the prize sponsorship
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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Taiwan Farmstay 5 of 5: Master Bear Resort 小熊度假村 in Taitung



Master Bear Resort is located at Beinan River (Luming Bridge), surrounded by forests of East Rift Valley.

The resort certainly seems to be targeted at families. It has plenty of recreational options - roller blade area, children’s outdoor playground, wood restaurant, badminton court, animals enclosure, multi-purpose court and so on.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Taiwan Farmstay 4 of 5: Matai'an Wetlands 马太鞍湿地 and Shin Liu Farm 欣绿农园 in Hualien


The Matai'an (Mǎtài'ān) or Matthew Saddle Wetlands (马太鞍湿地)is about 12 hectares of natural marshland located at the foot of Xishan in Guangfu, Hualien.

Shin Liu Green Farm 欣绿农园 is a guesthouse located at these wetlands. It has been operational since 1999, and is a place that lets you get close to nature. You'll see plants and insects in different seasons: Lotus in summer, firefly season in spring, canola flower and cosmos plants in autumn and winter. There are glow in the dark mushrooms in the hills.


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The wetlands are a haven for aquatic plant life and is home to over 100 plant species. 

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Taiwan Farmstay 3 of 5: Shin Kong Chao Feng Ranch & Resort 新光兆丰休闲农场 in Hualien



Raccoons on a farm? We were so thrilled by these at Shin Kong Chao Feng Ranch & Resort (新光兆丰休闲农场) which is fully licensed as a zoo. I have never seen white raccoons before.

This leisure farm in Hualien is also Taiwan's largest, at 726 hectares. That's a lot of land, and that's why they can have so many facilities - orchards, flower fields, pastures, dairy farm, zoo, netted butterfly garden, ecological bird park and botanical gardens. It's HUGE!


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You will need a buggy to get around! This is fun!

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Maggie Joan's at 110 Amoy Street: Not Your Average Grandma's Joint!

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Everybody's talking about Maggie Joan's. Yes, we have another dark and edgy underground eatery, one that serves Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with modern artisanal flair.

It's new, it's hip, and it's hard to find. Entry to this windowless bunker-like restaurant is not via Amoy Street, but the alleyways behind it. Look for a rusted steel door with potted olive plants at the backlane off a backlane (Gemmill Street). It would have been anonymous if there wasn't a small cut-out sign that says "Maggie Joan's".


Photo courtesy of Maggie Joan's

The Mediterranean slant is not surprising considering it's started by Greek-Australian father-son culinary team Glen and Daniel Ballis (above, right) who are behind Moosehead Kitchen (which is interestingly enough at 110 Telok Ayer Street, while Maggie Joan's is at 110 Amoy Street the next street over). Daniel's college mate Darren Micallef (above, left) joins them here as new partner and general manager.

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