Monday, November 20, 2017

AccorHotels Food & Wine Festival 2017 Highlights


The inaugural AccorHotels Food & Wine Festival blew into town and gave us a taste of the diverse offerings within the largest hospitality group in Singapore.

There certainly were dining and party venues galore. The AccorHotels network includes Raffles Hotel, Fairmont Singapore, So Sofitel Singapore, Sofitel Singapore City Centre, Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, Swissôtel Stamford Singapore, Swissôtel Merchant Court, Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy, Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay, Novotel & Mercure Stevens Road (opening Oct), Mercure Singapore Bugis, ibis Styles Macpherson, ibis on Bencoolen and ibis Novena.


The #accorhotelsfoodfestival (4-12 Nov) is kicking off with a VIP event at @barrougesingapore @swissotelthestamford. The event will culminate in a huge Sunday brunch at @sofitelsingaporesentosa - I’m so looking forward to that!
After a swanky VIP launch at Bar Rogue, Swissôtel Stamford, the nine-day festivities kicked off with pool parties at five hotels.


SO Sofitel poolside
The one was at SO Sofitel felt really cosy and exclusive. It's a lush oasis right in the heart of the CBD, and kicking back here at the pool is an extra luxurious feeling.


Pool party food!

Perfect #poolparty #food @sosofitelsingapore! Juicy #satay, #grilled #sausage, #coucous and mutton #curry. #accorhotelsfoodfestival #accorhotelsfoodie
There was marvellous food - grilled sausages, satay, cous cous and mutton rendang just to name a few.


What you need on this scorcher of a day - an ice cold @theauchentoshan cocktail (Ye Olde Soda Sour) at the indulgent #accorhotelsfoodfestival pool party @sosofitelsingapore! #accorhotelsfoodie
Auchentosan hosted a drink bar as well. This is the super refreshing Ye Olde Soda Sour - perfect for the scorching hot weather.


All throughout the festival, the hotels prepared signature dishes in affordably priced set menus, starting from S$15++. I am quite sure Michelin-starred JAAN was all sold out for these but there are gems from the various other restaurants too.

3. Szechuan Court (dinner) set


What I really enjoyed were the workshops and masterclasses.

I hosted some readers at the Peranakan cuisine workshop at Ellenborough Market, Swissôtel Merchant Court. This cuisine is notoriously laborious and requires so many ingredients and patience to get right, so a workshop is really valuable as a session where you can see how it's done and ask questions.

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Executive Chef Louis Tay and Sous Chef Lok Jun Wah gave enlightening tips and live demonstrations on how to prepare Itek Tim (Salted Vegetables and Duck Soup), Tau Yu Chicken (Dark Soy Sauce Chicken), Ikan Asam Pedas (Spicy Tamarind Fish), and Sambal Bendi (Okra with Sambal paste).


The #AccorHotelsFoodFestival #Peranakan #cooking workshop yesterday @swissotelmerchantcourt taught us how to make Itek Tim – Salted Vegetables and Duck Soup, Tau Yu Chicken – Dark Soy Sauce Chicken, Ikan Asam Pedas – Spicy Tamarind Fish, and Sambal Bendi
The best part was being able to try the food. And what a feast this was! I love how colourful everything was.


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Chef Louis also generously treated us to the stunning durian pengat that's been the the no.1 hall of fame dish at Ellenborough Market.


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Photo with the talented chefs! By the way, Chef Louis Tay is also the one who took home gold for Singapore in the Culinary Olympics 2016.

After that we adjourned to Anti:dote at Fairmont Singapore, where award-winning bartender Bannie Kang gave us a hands-on session on making a couple of cocktails.


Cocktail Masterclass

So much hands-on fun at Anti:dote
The cocktail masterclass was aptly small and cosy, allowing not just questions but experiential depth. It was really fun and casual, so we could all really just dive in.


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I really liked this one with Sage and Jackfruit. What a unique but refreshing combination!

The AccorHotels Food & Wine Festival culminated in a super-charged Sunday brunch!

Photo courtesy of Karen Chang
All the hotels each showcased their dish of pride. And there were plenty of drinks to be had at the pool, plus spa massages and entertainment for the kids!

Photo courtesy of Karen Chang
I can’t wait to see what they have planned for next year! Raffles Hotel will be fully open after a thorough renovation; I’m sure it will be the jewel in the AccorHotels collection!







This post is brought to you by AccorHotels. First photo and set menu photo courtesy of Accor. Final two photos courtesy of Karen Chang.
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Friday, November 17, 2017

SORA Japanese Gourmet Hall at T2 Changi Airport


There's a new Japanese gourmet hall at Changi Airport Terminal 2 called "SORA" (meaning SKY) featuring six restaurant brands. The 300-seater 7,760 sq ft eatery is the biggest "restaurant" across all four terminals and is ANA Trading's first food hall outside Japan. It's in the public area on level 3.




Here are the dishes we tried; you can swipe through them above:

1. Kuro Maguro: Toro Butsu Meshi (S$29.80): superb value for pink otoro!
2. Tendon Kohaku: Kohaku Tendon (S$17.70): drizzled with spicy sauce, this is going to draw long lines here as well, I bet.
3. Menya Takeichi: Special Rich Shoyu Ramen (S$17.20): incredibly rich broth!
4. Tsuruhashi Fugetsu: Mix Modan (S$21) & Mix Yakisoba (S$19)
5. Tokyo Sundubu: Health and Beauty Sundubu (S$19.30): with dollop of collagen
6. Japoli Kitchen: Mentaiko Pizza (S$15) using pizza dough from Japan (has an unusual soft and spongy texture)

Of the six brands, Japoli Kitchen and Tsuruhashi Fugetsu are new to Singapore.


Japoli Kitchen's Bolognese Pasta and Mentaiko Pizza
Japoli offers Italian cuisine like pizza, pasta, and risotto with Japanese touches from S$10.80.


Fugetsu Okonomiyaki and Yakisoba
Tsuruhashi Fugetsu is an okonomiyaki chain from Osaka. The savoury Japanese pancakes stuffed with fresh cabbage, battered meat and seafood start from S$13 onwards. I've never been a big fan of okonomiyaki or yakisoba, so I am not sure how to judge these.



Kuro Maguro's Toro Butsu Meshi (foreground) and Kaisen Meshi
Kuro Maguro is started by Japanese fish wholesalers, and they bring in fish and seafood fresh air-flown daily from Japan. The meshi (rice dishes) with kaisen (seafood) and torobutsu (tuna) start from S$18; if you love sashimi, they are a steal.


Tendon Kohaku
Fans of Tendon Kohaku will be elated to know that they can now indulge in a bite of their favourite Edomae-style tempura-don (from S$16.60). Crispy tempura drizzled with a special sauce (go for the spicy; it's got kick!) on top of Hokkaido rice. Mmmm. I hope the queues won't be too long.


Tokyo Sundubu Korean style stews
Tokyo Sundubu is Japan's largest restaurant chain serving this beloved Korean stew. I'm told this version is less tangy than the actual Korean Sundubu Jjigae, but it goes well with a bowl of rice nonetheless. Prices start from S$15.


Clear and rich broth choices at Menya Takeichi
Menya Takeichi is apparently lauded as Tokyo's top chicken ramen chain. It collagen-rich Chicken Paitan broth ramen dishes start from S$13.90. There's a clear soup and a rich broth version to choose from.



Six restaurant brands
SORA is modelled after airport lounges. You have both open tables and booth seats. You can order from any restaurant and sit anywhere you please. There are also charging stations for phones and laptops.


Tatami seating area!
I love the tatami seating area (take off your shoes as you would before entering a real tatami room). If you look closely, many of the seats and benches are made with igusa too. Murals of bonsai and pine trees are painted in a historical style.



Kids section
There's even a kids area with interactive screens, so parents can take a breather.

So there's quite a good variety of popular Japanese dishes here all under one roof, and most of them are pretty decent. All that remains is to see how they can cope with the opening crowd. I'm going to come here even when I'm not taking a flight. In fact, I probably won't risk the long lines here if I really am taking a flight!


SORA JAPANESE GOURMET HALL
60 Airport Boulevard
Level 3 #036-058
Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2
Singapore 819643
Tel: +65 6386-7005
Open daily 10.30am to 11pm
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/japangourmethallsora/
Instagram - @japangourmethallSora





Many thanks to SORA and ANA Trading for the invitation.
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

World Diabetes Day: LiHO PM Drinks and Bosch Tips for Cooking


It's World Diabetes Day today, 14 November! One in nine Singaporeans are diabetic and out of these, 1 in three were not aware they had diabetes. Also, I read somewhere even younger folks are getting it. Yes, you can look like Halle Berry and be diabetic. Get screened.

Most of us were quite surprised when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made diabetes a big part of his National Day Rally speech this year. I'm guessing he or someone close to him is affected but this rising epidemic is indeed a cause for concern.

So maybe he won't mind LiHO using his name for their latest range of healthy choice beverages.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

SnackFirst! Nuts, Seeds, Crackers, Cookies, Chips and Biscuits with Free Delivery


I got a pack of chips, nuts and biscuits from SnackFirst.com to try. They are a new site dedicated to offering (slightly more healthful) snack options with free delivery. The site was started by Jes who during her pregnancy couldn't find healthy snacks in good variety at our retail stores.

SnackFirst does offer dried fruit and seeds, granola, quinoa, flax and chia seeds. But I am betting the more popular items will be the more "sinful" choices.

Here are some of the items we tried; I'm showing you the covers so you can see the ingredients listed as well:
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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I'm Selling My House! A 5-Room HDB Home Tour


Hello everybody! I'm selling my house! You like it?




Does anyone remember this ad? It was utterly hilarious and I'm sorry that Mocca.com doesn't exist anymore, or I would certainly list it there. Haha, sans video though!

So anyway, welcome to my home tour. We are in a serene part of Marine Parade right across from East Coast Park. What you get is top floor living with incredible views. These five-room point block HDB flats are one of the most spacious in Singapore (mine is about 117sqm or 1260 sq ft) and I really appreciate the nice high ceilings.



Living room
This is the living room. There's actually a lot of space but we used shelving as dividers to carve out the TV and dining areas. It gets lots of natural sunlight, and the window gives you a view of Siglap. You can even see Kembangan MRT in the distance.



Dining hall converted to office/study
This is the dining hall but we converted it into a workspace or study area.

On the left, we built a storeroom with a dry wall painted red.


Storeroom we built
Because you can never have enough storage! There's IVAR pine shelving in there bolted fast to the wall. That's gonna stay with the house.



Balcony converted to book and music nook
The balcony has been reclaimed as an extension of the hall. You could technically make this into a fourth bedroom.






Kitchen
This is my kitchen, which I renovated some years back. It's got Blum soft-close drawer cabinetry, pull-out pantries and Teka hobs (induction and gas). I love how the bottom cabinets look suspended with the lighting.



Master bedroom
The bedrooms all have windows across the width, so lots of natural light again. We have a whole wall of wardrobe (with dresser on the side) custom built in the master bedroom.



Built-in wardrobe along one wall
Storage...not an issue. We could fit the entire family's clothes in there if we wanted.


Bedroom
The other two bedrooms are quite alike in size. One of them has become a man cave but the girls love to hang out there with all the D&D books and action figures.



Bathroom with bathtub!
The bathrooms are nice, airy and bright, unlike most HDB bathrooms I've seen. We have a bathtub! Plus a full-width mirror on the other side to reflect the ample light all round.



Stunning sunsets
One of the best things here are the spectacular sunsets.


Glorious sunsets
Every other day it is a brilliant display of jewel-like hues. Beyond sunsets, you can also view fireworks on National Day and other occasions.

My unit is not a sea-facing one, although we can still see a bit of the sea from our windows. That is fine by us, because the sea-facing units also face the highway and the noise. Apparently some of them have to close the windows all the time. I hear those units can also get winds that are too strong.



Cyclists bridge to East Coast Park
My block is right next to the cyclists' bridge to East Coast Park. They also recently built stairs for walking up, and shelter all along the bridge.



Lagoon at East Coast Park
This is the East Coast Park lagoon and on early mornings, it's so pretty and peaceful. Great for walks. And yes, the famous East Coast Lagoon hawker centre is just nearby. Satay, anyone?



East Coast Park
It really is like living next to a huge sprawling garden. There are plenty of Mobikes and Obikes around for sharing. Take one and just cycle away.

Marine Cove (with McDonald's flagship outlet) and Parkland Green are close by too, so you have your cafes and restaurants nearby.




Playgrounds galore in the neighbourhood
There are playgrounds galore every few blocks. There are good schools - Tao Nan Primary, Ngee Ann Primary, Katong Convent Primary and Secondary - all within 1km radius.

There's a wet market and hawker centre at Marine Terrace nearby, with a couple of 24-hour shops (Giant Express and 7-Eleven), along with family and dental clinics. Parkway Parade and I12 Katong are not far away, and you have all those eateries in Katong, Joo Chiat and Siglap.



The canal and tree-lined Siglap Park Connector
This is a great place to live if you love quiet greenery, water and seascapes. The Siglap Park Connector gets you all the way to Bedok Reservoir.

We are getting an MRT in a few years. Fortunately, the construction doesn't affect us as much (mostly the blocks facing Marine Parade Road) but it will be really convenient once the Thomson-East Coast line begins.

If you or someone you know is looking for a place in the East, please get in touch with me (camemberu@gmail.com) or share this post with them. If you need a floor plan, let me know! Viewings are more than welcome; there are no obligations!






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11.11 Singles Day and Black Friday: Shop Smart!



Who's waiting for the mega 11.11 Sale of the Year or Black Friday sales?

Well, people have taken to online shopping so much that physical retail stores are languishing. This is true in the United States as much as it is right here in Singapore. In fact, more folks are going holiday shopping online away from stores. Who can blame them? Every year we see and hear about crazy hordes stampeding at the malls, fighting each other for discounted goods. It's ugly.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Klook: S$50+S$50 Discount Promo for Travel Experiences



"So where are you planning to go for your year-end holiday?"

That's a common question we get especially as the year draws to a close. Year-end holidays are what many Singaporeans look forward to. We welcome the opportunity to go for a longer trip to recharge from work, and bond with friends or family.

But longer trips require a bit more planning and we normally want to pick some interesting experiences as trip highlights. One of the easy ways to discover and book experiences is by using websites like Klook.com.

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