Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kam's Roast at Pacific Plaza

Kam's Roast arrived last month in Singapore to great anticipation. In Hong Kong, Kam's Roast Goose scooped up its first Michelin star within four months of opening in 2014 and kept the star in the the 2015, 2016 and 2017 guidebook.

Some may sneer at Michelin stars these days, but this award is probably not without merit. After all, Kam's Roast's owner Hardy Kam is the grandson of the founder of Yung Kee in Hong Kong, a culinary legend when it comes to roast goose. He is using recipes from his grandfather's days.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Better Florist: Simple, Beautiful, Affordable (Use Code Inside!)

I'm starting to like miniature Christmas trees a lot more than the really big ones. So I was really happy to get this cypress in a pot, called Elfie (S$68). It's about the size of a champagne bottle, as you can see. It'll certainly sit well on an office desk, by the kitchen window, or add oxygen-generating greenery to the bedroom or living space.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Best Christmas Takeaway Feasts & Log Cakes I've Tried: A Last Minute Guide

Christmas is almost upon us, and if you haven't yet made plans, here are some highlights you can add to your year end festivities. For me, I'm getting this Maplewood Bacon Wrapped & Roast Tom Turkey (S$168 for 5kg) from InterContinental Singapore (thank you, IHG!). Because bacon! This turkey is luxuriously wrapped with strips of bacon and slow-roasted over maple wood. It comes with baked potato, winter vegetables, giblet gravy & mushroom stuffing. I've also got some of Park Bench Deli's truffle butter gravy waiting for this bird.

Crowne Plaza has some seriously good Satay Marinated Iberico Pork Ribs (S$118+, 1.2kg). The meat is marinated overnight in a blend of Asian spices including lemongrass, blue ginger and dried chili. It tastes divine when paired with the accompanying creamy and chunky peanut sauce. Like satay but better.

Check out also their Grain-Fed BBQ Beef Ribs (S$118+, 1.2kg). The ribs have been cooked sous-vide for 24 hours, the former is tender and falls straight off the bone. Glazed with tangy barbecue sauce, the Barbecued Grain-fed Beef Ribs are absolute pleasure to indulge in. The latter is brined and sous-vide for 24 hours and is perfect when paired with the palatable mushroom duxelle and red wine shallot gravy.

The other thing we enjoyed in advance was St Regis Singapore's Marinated Beef Tenderloin (with incredible truffle mash). Even the fussy ones in the family relished this heartily. It comes with a potent Merlot sauce, but we also made our own ponzu-habanero sauce. It's a huge portion and lasts several days. We shredded the leftovers for stuffing into tacos.

For the log cake, I'm getting the Ritz-Carlton "Warmth" (Thanks, RC!) made with Almond Sponge, Joconde Biscuit, Grand Marnier, Praline Cream. It may look ordinary but it's the best tasting of the lot, in my humble opinion.

There's also four other stunning-looking creations (clockwise from top left):
Hope” with gold star dust - Dark Chocolate Ganache, Hazelnut Biscuit, Gianduja Crémeux, Raspberry Mousse, Gelée
Love” with fiery chocolate "flames"-   Dark Chocolate Mousse, Blood Orange Biscuit, Gelée
Peace” looking so green - Pistachio and White Chocolate Mousse, Cherry Biscuit, Gelée
Joy” with white snowflakes - Vanilla and Caramelised Pecan Mousse, Walnut Biscuit, Chestnut Chantilly Cream

We also liked Pan Pacific's Manjari Dark Chocolate Mousse Log Cake.

And if you prefer something more traditional, this moist red velvet logcake from Concorde Hotel is quite a treat.

This list is not exhaustive, only the stuff I've tried so far. I've seen some spectacular-looking cakes and roasts elsewhere but have not gotten the chance to try or feature them. But happy holidays, and Merry Christmas to those celebrating!


Friday, December 16, 2016

Yogurtland Launches in Singapore at Suntec City

American fro-yo brand Yogurtland launched its flagship store at Suntec City this month. It's one of the largest self-serve frozen yogurt brands from the US, and all its yoghurt is produced in the US and shipped here.

Yogurtland’s signature frozen yogurt features real California milk without antibiotics or added hormones, all-natural fresh fruits, and ingredients sourced from countries of origin (like Belgian chocolate and vanilla from Madagascar). This sweet treat contains vitamin-C, calcium, active live cultures that are beneficial to health, and is also gluten-free.

Instead of combining yogurt premix powders with local milk (ahem, we know which brand that is!), Yogurtland controls the entire frozen yogurt-making process at source, thus maintaining the standards for flavours and quality.

From its library of 200 flavours, the Singapore store will start with eight flavours such as Original Tart, Mango, Salted Caramel Pecan, Sumatra Coffee, Dragon Passion Tart and a Kiwi Raspberry Sorbet.

It's priced by weight at S$3.00 per 100g. I like how solidly dense and substantial the fro-yo was and how refreshing it tastes. The sweeter flavours like Salted Caramel Pecan and Strawberry Pop almost taste like ice cream. Choose from an array of 33 toppings to personalise your fro-yo.

Photo by May Yim Schooling. At the launch of Yogurtland Singapore.
We bumped into my sister-in-law's family May and Colin Schooling (photo courtesy of May). Too bad Joseph wasn't there but then again, the crowd would have been impossible if he had been. It was so nice to have the family all enjoying the yogurt.

By the way, Yogurtland has a promotion going on where you can customise your fro-yo and stand a chance to win an Apple Watch! From now till 15 Jan 2017, simply purchase a cup of froyo at our store, snap a picture of your creation at our photo booth, upload your image at Instagram and tag #YogurtlandSingapore and #WatchmyYogurtland to enter the contest!

*Terms and conditions apply.

So nice that #Yogurtland has #USB charging stations at the main table. It's pretty fast too! #sunteccity
I thought it was really nice of them to have USB charging stations at their main communal table. They charge pretty fast too. Thumbs up!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yogurtlandsg/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yogurtlandsingapore/
#B1-165/166 Suntec City,
3 Temasek Boulevard,
Singapore 038983.
Open daily 11am to 10pm

Thanks to Yogurtland for inviting us to the launch

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Star Wars Rogue One: Quick Review, No Spoilers

It's a fantastic time to be a Star Wars fan. We've got a new movie every year and we are delving deeper into the universe.

Rogue One, the standalone movie that links Episode 3 and 4 between the two trilogies, is one for the fans.

There are plenty of call backs to Episode 4 (bantha blue milk!) and even surprising cameos, many of which should please fans who love the original trilogy.

But I still don't like Jyn Erso.

She's supposed to be badass but I found her bland and cold, save for one passionate plea to the rebel council. Maybe it's Felicity Jones' portrayal, maybe the script could have done better to define her character than just outline her "criminal" side as a list of potential charges: "Forgery of imperial documents. Possession of stolen property. Aggravated assault. Resisting arrest."

I bloody hated her line in the trailers, "This is a Rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.”

Someone observed that the main hero in Star Wars is never the most interesting; it's usually the side or supporting characters who really fill out the show wonderfully.

Just look at Luke compared to Han, Leia, Chewie, Obiwan, R2D2...

The supporting cast completely outshine Jyn. The movie is tedious when it starts and only picks up momentum when Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen make their entry. Donnie imbues his role with martial arts grace and a mystical monk-like aura. It was even his suggestion to make his Chirrut Îmwe warrior character a blind one, as it would fit well with both the Force and real martial arts (you have to feel with your heart). He also has some of the funniest lines in the show. The other highlight is the comedy droid K-2SO which/who (?) is so much more spunky and likeable. The movie would be dreary without him.

Darth Vader is simply awesome. He truly inspired terror. I don't know who is in that suit, but I'm glad James Earl Jones is still around to do the voice!

Forest Whitaker however, feels underused as Saw Gerrera the extremist rebel. I wish they could have shown more of his relationship with Jyn.

Storywise, Rogue One is fairly focused. We get to see how the rebels steal the plans to the Death Star. I like how it neatly explains why the massive super powerful Death Star has such a weak link enabling its total destruction.

The battle scenes are well-choreographed and it's nail biting to the end. I so loved the imperial walkers; the AT-ACTs are majestic mecha-beasts to behold. And Death Troopers look so cool! :D

The rebels' final dilemma of delivering the Death Star plans seems to hinge on a primitive issue but I guess even in a world where hyperspace jumps and planet-killer battle stations are possible, some things are still too down-to-earth.

As a spin-off, I'd say this was an entertaining movie. I don't know how much the infamous reshoots changed the original take, as some parts feel a little choppy. But I do like how the movie ends. Also, it literally syncs up like 10 minutes before A New Hope, and gets us all excited at the familiar arc the story is about to take.

Would I watch it again? Yes, there's plenty to like and I'll probably find new things to appreciate even in the tedious first half. I'll certainly find more Easter eggs if I look more closely. That's all part of the fun.


Park Bench Deli Truffle Gravy and Cranberry Sauce: Ideas for Leftovers

I know it's not Christmas yet, but you know what's going to happen the day after - you'll have prepared so much food for everyone, you'll likely end up with some leftovers. Things like extra meat and gravy, and cranberry sauce.

The folks at Park Bench Deli not only have delicious gravy and sauce for the season, they also have got some clever ideas on how to stretch those leftovers into amazing bites in the days that follow:

Brown Butter and Truffle Gravy - 600ml @ $10

A reimagining of the staple turkey gravy, Park Bench Deli's version is a stock made from chicken and a vegetable trio of onions, garlic and celery. The gravy is finished with brown butter and truffle oil.

Instructions: Place in small saucepan over low-medium heat and whisk until smooth and just simmering. Serve hot.

What to do with this gravy?
i) Lubricate your mashed potatoes.
ii) Use to moisten crusty ends of bread loaves - sourdough, for instance.
iii) Pair with a well-seared leg of chicken for fun times.
iv) Add to sauteed mushrooms and caramelised onions.
v) Obtain a roast bird. Carve. Coat bits of meat liberally.

Cranberry Sauce - 200g @ $10

Park Bench Deli’s take on a classic Cranberry Sauce. A classic accompaniment to your meat selection.

Instructions: Place in small saucepan over low-medium heat and whisk until smooth and just simmering. Leave to cool before serving.

What to do with this sauce?
i) In a pinch, use it as a replacement for jam.
ii) Add it to yogurt with cinnamon, lemon juice and some fruit for a parfait.
iii) Pair it with some vinegar, virgin olive oil, salt and pepper for a salad dressing.
iv) Mix some into pancake batter for a berry twist.
v) If all else fails, make a negroni with it.

With scrumptious ideas like these, you'd want to stock up on a few more packs just to make sure you HAVE leftovers!

Park Bench Deli is located at 179 Telok Ayer St, S068627.
Tel: 6815 4600.
Opening hours:
Mon- Fri 10:30am - 4pm & 5pm-9:30pm
Sat 10:30am-4pm.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Ultimate BROcation Featuring Chef Bjorn Shen

There are days in a man’s life, when he just wants to lay low, hang with his bros and go on a crazy, wild adventure – away from the girlfriend, the wife or the family. Well, starting tonight, action entertainment channel KIX is debuting its brand-new reality show, The Ultimate BROcation, to give viewers a glimpse of that male fantasy!

It should be very interesting to see Singapore’s own maverick chef, Bjorn Shen in this five-episode reality series following four famous Southeast Asian celebrities who meet for the first time in an unforgettable, testosterone-fueled vacation in Hong Kong.

Joining Bjorn on the “brocation” are award-winning Malaysian hip hop artist SonaOne, Thailand’s “bad boy” DJ and TV host P.K., and the Philippines’ R&B sensation Billy Crawford. The funny thing is - it's not traditional bros as in friends you already know, but new friends you make when you put guys together in close quarters for a period of time.

Bringing these four strangers together is Hong Kong martial arts movie star Philip Ng, who has invited them to join him on an all-expenses-paid trip full of authentic, tailor-made experiences offering the best of his hometown.

"We are very excited to work with Hong Kong Tourism Board and Endemol Shine Group to create this KIX original production. The Ultimate BROcation is a fun-filled ride that guys will relate to and ladies will laugh at! The show captures how four guys who don’t know each other can bond over shared experiences in a foreign land. I think our viewers will really enjoy the bro-bantering between Bjorn, SonaOne, P.K. and Billy. Their antics on this ‘brocation’ are truly hilarious.” said Andy Chang, Senior Vice President of Advertising Sales, Marketing and Original Productions, Celestial Tiger Entertainment.

Mr. Simon Wong, Regional Director, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Southeast Asia, shared, “We are glad to work with KIX and Endemol Shine Group on the production of The Ultimate BROcation and now we are excited about the airing of the series. We believe that the bros’ unforgettable fun times in Hong Kong will inspire the audience to experience for themselves the best and most authentic shopping, eating and playing options Hong Kong has to offer.”

“My first thought when I heard about going on BROcation with three other strangers was if these guys were gonna be total freaks! Chemistry is an obvious deal breaker for any kind of trip and I definitely didn’t want to be around someone who’d be a total buzzkill. I’m glad to say that Billy, P.K. and SonaOne were the best choices for this BROcation – these guys were down for anything and even encouraged my antics. Even though filming is over, we all want a reunion just so we can hang out with each other again,” said Bjorn Shen.

In the series, Bjorn will see, feel and taste the best Hong Kong has to offer alongside the other bros. From tasting sampling some authentic Hong Kong dishes to wine-tasting on a tram, from to fly boarding on the south side of the island to racing up to the Peak, it was certainly a trip to remember.

So did bromance develop or did their egos get in the way? Find out what Bjorn and the rest of the celebrity dudes are really like, when they leave their girlfriends and wives at home and go on the “brocation” of a lifetime. So mark your calendars for the premiere of The Ultimate BROcation on December 14 at 9PM only on KIX (Singtel TV Ch 309 and Starhub Ch 518).

The Ultimate BROcation is produced by the top-rated action entertainment channel KIX and Endemol Shine Group, the global production house behind such popular and award-winning shows as MasterChef and Big Brother. The show is supported by Hong Kong Tourism Board, and co-sponsored by DJI, Cathay Pacific and the Harbour Grand Hong Kong.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Mario Batali in Singapore: MBS Talk, Osteria Mozza, New Book

Mario Batali is in town. Last Saturday, the larger-than-life chef and TV personality gave our culinary students an inspiring and entertaining talk at Marina Bay Sands.

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