Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sprouts Are Good For You

There's something just so sensual and inviting about mussels especially when they are fresh and look like the one above.

Three days after my Dad's birthday is my Sis' birthday. So the birthdays of my Mum, Dad and Sis are all three days apart from the one before in that order. Quite interesting and I was telling my Mum that her timing for my birth was quite 'off'. Born in April, mine is months away to theirs. But life is not about asking one's mother about her planned timings of one's birth.

Life is about celebrations and celebrations about food. So on a cool Friday evening, we headed to Brussels Sprouts. Here, it's all about Belgian beers, mussels and fries.

Sounds like a lot of delicious fun.

Moules Frites come in a 300g starter portion ($18) and a 700g main portion ($38). There are like a dozen styles to have your mussels cooked but deciding on the Vin Blanc, I had no regrets.

Cooked in a metal pot with onions, celery, parsley, butter and white wine, the sweetness and freshness of the mussels were allowed to shine. The mussels themselves were not large. They were more small-ish but size doesn't matter when they were sweet, plump and juicy. Their slight chewiness proved the good timing of their cooking. The cooking liquid had a slight bitterness which I like but others found it a tad too strong.

The fries here are thick-cut, golden planks of potato just so lightly salted. Crisp on the outside while fluffy and starchy on the inside, I was instantly hooked. Good eaten on their own but also yummy with mustard, mayo and ketchup. Fries and mayo may be a fat-laden pairing but it works...sinfully. The better news? There's free refills of fries with every order of mussels.

Non-mussel fans (no such thing here) could also try other items in the menu such as the Chicken Forestier ($22). A whole chicken thigh was roasted and served with red wine, mushrooms, shallots and thyme. The chicken was tender and I was surprised that it went really well with the red wine sauce. On the side, there was a small portion of some kind of beans in a bit of cream. The starchy, rich taste of the beans tasted good with the cream.

Cheeky people would be happy with the Braised Veal Cheeks Infused in Brune Beer Served with Baby Potatoes ($26). Three generous chunks of veal cheeks sat in a delicious gravy that had been flavoured with beer. The cheeks did not melt-in-the-mouth but were still wonderfully tender. The edamame beans on the side was simply tossed in butter, pepper and salt. It provided a refreshing touch to the robust beer-infused gravy. The pickled tomato was too tart for me but practically did a good job of cleansing my palate, together with a few sips of water.

Beer is certainly taken seriously here with a mind boggling stock of 70 plus different types for one to choose from. In fact, ask the wait staff or consult the menu for recommended beer-food pairings. I tried the Leffe Brune and the Leffe Blonde (each $10.50 for 330ml; $7.50 each during Happy Hours) The dark-coloured Brune was robust and malty with a strong metallic zing at the end. The Blonde had a golden hue and was lighter in style, offering more fruit.

And if you're wondering where's the Brussels sprouts... don't bother. There isn't any. Who needs those small, round veggies when they've got great fries, mussels and beer here?

Brussels Sprouts
80 Mohamed Sultan Road
#01-12 The Pier @ Robertson
Tel: 6887 4344
*Reservations recommended

Chew On This: Towards the end of my dinner, I saw Emmanuel Stroobant walk out of the kitchen. And literally, he was a Chef in Black, just like the name of his show on Arts Central. Brussels Sprouts, along with Saint Pierre and San Marco, is one of the eateries under this Muscles from Brussels. Don't play play.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Lunch to Crave for

Taking over a committee is never easy and I've been busy with the Deli Aprecio Club. Lots of admin work, planning, coordinating and organising with new inclusion of members and committee members. Thankfully, the current main com members have been supportive. :) I apologise for the long wait for this post as I struggle to squeeze time out for this. It's only week 3 of the new school year and my hooves are already well-seasoned.

Now back to the post with thehungrycow reporting from Dempsey Road. Dempsey is fast becoming the next 'hot' spot on the island. Look out, One Rochester!

With its lush green surroundings, small clusters of quaint bungalows and small winding road, Dempsey (aka Tanglin Village) has lots to offer especially for people who enjoy eating with a bit of fresh air, sunshine and in a place steeped in colonial history.

With this in mind and the fact that my family enjoyed the meal at Au Petit Salut the last time, we headed to their new place at Dempsey to celebrate my parents' birthdays. My dad's one comes just three days after my mum's.

The ever-popular three-course set lunch ($25) per person still attracts throngs and the beautiful lush surroundings beckon the weary soul. We joined in the throngs without much hesitation.

The beauty of having four people choosing different selections for each of the three courses means that more than 1/2 of the lunch menu there will be blogged about.

To start off with erm, starters, Sis had a very healthy dose of veggies in her Mixed Green Salad with Herbs and Raspberries Dressing. Certainly adds to the whole greenery effect with an almost calming presence.

Dad had the Vitello Tonato, thinly sliced roasted veal in a light tuna sauce. This description on the menu intrigued me a bit. The flavours of the veal cut by the sharp bitterness of rocket and the fragrance of olive oil made it interesting. The aftertaste of tuna though was a little too fishy for my liking.

We had this the last time and it was still as good. Mum's Half Dozen Burgundy Snails with Tomato and Garlic Butter were plump and juicy. Each one, soaked in the delicious garlic butter in individual wells, was a delight. I couldn't resist asking for more bread to mop up the sinful liquid.

For myself, I decided on the Salmon Tartare Seasoned with Lemon and Olive Oil Served with Mixed Green Salad. This whole dish had a very 'fresh' taste to it. Simple and clean flavours.

For mains, Sis ordered the Seared Escolar Fish Served with Saffron and Clams Risotto, Rocket Salad. The fish was a tad too dry probably due to too long a time in the pan, which was a pity. I have a hunch that the white flesh of the thick Escolar steak could have offered more.

Dad's US Pork Shoulder Stewed with Bacon, Onions, Red Wine and Polenta sounded really good on the menu. But my jaws dropped when it was served. The word 'shoulder' prompted me to expect a big chunk of meat, not the small cubes that were on his plate. Taste-wise, this was a let down for me. There was none of the distinct, salty bacon-y flavour. Instead, the dish had a stronger hint of celery.

Mum had the Pan-seared "Onglet" Beef Served with Confit Shallots and French Fries. The beef was remarkably tender and flavourful. I like the confit shallots which provided an aromatic touch. What was disappointing for the second time here were the French fries. With the French and their pride in everything French, the fries here sucks. Limp, lifeless sticks of potato embodied everything that a true French fry ought NOT to be. Soggy imposters! Blasphemy! I would most likely ask for a substitution for them the next time I order the "Onglet" beef.

My main course was the Red Wine Braised Beef Cheeks, Carrots, Mushrooms and Parlsey Potatoes. For a $3 top-up on the set lunch price, these cheeks are more than worth it. A big, succulent chunk of meat that had turned into an amazing beauty with its muscular strands exuding an almost gelatinous texture. It was so tender, no knife was needed here. The red wine and beef combination was spot on. Tasty tasty tasty.

For desserts, the special that day was Lychee de something something something. Pardon me, I'm no good with French names despite my own name being one. Such irony.

This turned out to be a lemon sorbet with fresh lychees. The lychees here seemed really different from the normal lychee that you and I know of. Its flesh was firmer and of a light brownish shade. It had hints of duku langsat. Its sweetness balanced off by the sourish passion fruit seeds. The lemon sorbet was just average, I thought.

Like the Beef Cheeks, the Warm Apple, Pear, Banana and Pineapple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream would require you to add an additional $3 to the set lunch. The medley of cinamon-spiced stewed/baked fruits was warm and sweet. Together with the crumble and vanilla ice cream, it was good. But I felt that the fruits could be cooked longer, rendering them softer.

I'm begining to appreciate creme brulee and so jumped at this one. The Creme Brulee Infused with Madagascar Vanilla Beans had a nicely burnt sugar top that added a burnt caramel flavour to the custard below. Digging into the custard revealed black spots of vanilla beans that lent their characteristic sweet fragrance.

The Choux Buns Filled with Vanilla Ice Cream with Warm Chocolate Sauce, Sliced Almonds turned out to be boring. Perhaps I've not learnt how to appreciate it.

Looking back at this meal... It's lunches like this where there's no rush, no hurry, no fuss but with the joys of being with loved ones and good food plus the added touch of being away from all the hustle and bustle of life, that I so crave for especially now.

Au Petit Salut
40C Harding Road (Minden Cluster)
Tel: 6475 1976
*Reservations recommended

Chew On This: The original place at Chip Bee Gardens has been converted to a more casual Bistro Petit Salut, where the popular $22 set lunch is still being served.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Happy 42th Birthday Singapore!

9th August will always be a special day. A day to comemorate the rags-to-riches story of the island state. A day where the annual parade draws people to the parade venue and thousands more to their TV or computers. A day where red and white are the predominant colours. A day where a medley of National Day songs are sung and fireworks light the sky.

This day, patrotism swells within hearts as the National Day message and songs are broadcasted. This year, I realise they are in line with the Government's call for Singaporeans to be creative and daring to venture forth and seize challenges. Singaporeans studying or working abroad are asked to 'connect' back home.

'One people, one nation, one Singapore.' 'Count on me Singapore.' 'Stand up for Singapore.' 'This is home surely.'

Call it propaganda, but it's messages that will enforece unity, committment and ensure our nation's progress in the ever-changing world. Home is where the heart is, where family and friends are. And I'm thankful that it's also where good food is.

I love you, Singapore.

Monday, August 06, 2007


For quite a long while now, bored board games cafes have been rolling in the bucks, luring people into their cafes where board games are a plenty and gaming time is charged by the hour. A novelty that seems like a hit going by how many of such cafes have sprouted up and their expansion.

I don't really feel inclined to step into a cafe, play board games and be charged for the time I spent there so I generally shun these places...Till an Osiris outing was scheduled at Pitstop Cafe.

Warning. A long, steep flight of stairs await those who insist on ascending to the cafe at the top.

Food wise, I'm glad I did not have high expectations. After all how can one appreciate the food while playing games concurrently? So I shall take this into consideration.

I took the Pitstop ($14.90) under Party Game Packages, which entitled me to one soup, one main course, one drink and two hours of gaming.

The Soup Of The Day arrived first. The minestrone here is quite light and has chunks of chopped veggies. But, I would have liked it to be richer in taste.

While I usually avoid ordering steaks at non-steak places, I just had to have beef that day and so went ahead with the Black Pepper Ribeye Steak. As you can see, the thin slab of beef more than confirmed my mistake of ordering steak at non-steak places.

The ribeye tasted clearly of its marinate and the generic black pepper sauce wasn't too bad but did little to revive the steak. Au natural with lighter seasoning would allow the flavour of the meat to shine...Unless of course if there isn't much flavour in the meat in the first place.

For drinks, I picked the Iced Honey which was a great thirst-quencher despite being a little on the diluted side.

Games wise, this place is really stocked with all sorts of board games from retro Hungry Hungry Hippos to the ever popular Pictionary. I would suggest asking the friendly staff there for recommendations as they are more than happy to introduce games and also explain how they are played. Very helpful indeed.

Overall, Pitstop's a fun place to spend time (Don't we all wonder what to do sometimes?) with friends. Board games don't come cheap off the shelves so I guess it's board games buffet here.

Thanks Brian for the group pic!

Pitstop Cafe
14B Circular Road
Tel: 6535-5383
Opens: Monday-Thursday: 5-11pm
Friday, Saturday, Public Holiday Eve & Public Holiday: 12pm-1am
Sunday: 12-9pm

Chew On This: Consolidate a bill of above $100 within a month and you get a Pitstop Cafe membership card aka Pitstop Mini. This entitles you to a 10% on the total bill among other benefits.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Happy Mee

While many children have a sparkle in their eyes whenever they lay their hands on a Happy Meal from MacDonald's, mine sparkled when I had my Happy Mee. It's probably the Happy Meal toy that they're more interested in anyway.

Happy Mee (noodles) refers to this prawn noodles which really made my day. Hey, it doesn't take a $XXXX 3-Michelin-starred haute dinner to make my day ok... Although that could possibly make my year! But I digress.

The prawn noodles here at Beach Road Prawn Mee Eating House (Note, it's in East Coast Road and not Beach Road despite the name.) are really good.

For the Prawn Noodles in Soup ($4), I opted for chor bee hoon (thick vermicelli). The soup was nicely prawny and the hours of boiling with pork bones really showed. But it somehow got 'diluted' by the chor bee hoon I guess. The soup that came with the dry version was much more robust. A good thing that it didn't have that strong rock sugar sweetness that most stalls tend to over do, by a lot. The dish was beautifully enhanced by the shallot and pork oil that was drizzled over it.

The two decently-sized prawns were succulent and thankfully not overcooked. They also did not have the 'super alkaline treatment' which would have transformed them to 'super alkaline prawns' with super crunchiness. Super (artificial) crunchiness is some thing that I don't quite favour. A little may be alright but any more and it's a turn-off. The prawns here are a bit more 'natural' in that sense i guess.

For $1 more, you can have pork ribs added to your prawn mee, but at the sacrifice of a prawn I must say. I found the servings of small, scrawny pork ribs unsatisfying, especially at the cost of $1 and a prawn.

I wish that they had added more kang kong and bean sprouts.

But the dry version of the noodles was delicious. It evoked memories of myself as a primary school boy eating at the tuckshop in the old Saint Andrews Junior. It must have been that same mix of pork oil, fried shallots, ketchup and chilli in the yellow egg noodles. And here I present to you the 6th taste after sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami.... Nostalgia! It's a powerful taste that is so very personal. Food that evokes memories of yesteryear are indeed powerful and most often flavoursome. Food taste better with memories added to it. Don't you agree?

School starts next Monday, bringing an end to the long holidays. Now what a spoiler.

Beach Road Prawn Mee Eating House
370 East Coast Road
Opens: 8am - 3pm daily
Closed on Tuesdays.

Chew On This: According to this stall, prawn mee originated from Xiamen and was first introduced to Singapore by the Lee family who learnt the secret recipe from the Xiamen immigrants. The stall is currently run by the 3rd generation of Lee's.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hushie's 23rd @ Wiener Kaffehaus

Having always been wanting to try out this place, I was happy that Hushie picked Wiener Kaffehaus for her birthday dinner. I love the fact that we Singaporeans love using celebrations as excuses to eat, not that we need one anyway.

The insides of the Kaffehaus was warm and inviting to stay, with the dark wood stair rails and cupboards providing an understated touch of elegance. The interior was slightly dim at night but soft orange light that bounced off peach-coloured walls made dining comfortable.

I ordered the Tafelspitz ($19) which according to the menu was 'boiled beef brisket with cream spinach and rosti potatoes'.

While boiled beef brisket didn't sound too exciting, it turned out better than that sounded. The beef was tasty but unfortunately its strands were tough. That made sense not to offer a bigger portion as doing so will only torment the jaws.

What I was disappointed with was the 'rosti potatoes' which were totally nothing like rosti that I had in mind. No shredded potatoes that were crispy on the outside and yet soft inside. It was more like diced potatoes fried with onions and, if I wasn't hallucinating, bits of bacon. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't rosti.

The greenish stuff above looked like Martian baby food, freshly beamed down from some UFO. It was actually cream spinach, which tasted a little too bland for my liking. Smooth but bland. Maybe some roasted garlic or flavoured salt would jazz this up.

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the Sachertorte. I've long heard about it but have yet to try it so it wasn't a difficult decision when it came to desserts.

The Sachertorte ($4.80/slice) was moist and had a nice chocolate layer on the outer surface but the taste of the cake itself was kinda confusing. To a certain extend, weird. I just can't describe it. Perhaps my taste buds went into hibernation. It certainly didn't taste like the raspberry and chocolate combination that I was expecting.

A second attempt at dessert brought the Linzeraugen ($2.80) to the table. Talk about weird. One spoonful into my mouth and it blew my the toilet. Descriptions such as 'toilet freshener' came to mind. I found that highly disturbing and had to suck on a tea bag to remove any horrid aftertaste. After the cardboard-mixed-with-meat-in-a-pau hoax, the last thing I want is some toilet sanitiser flavouring my tart.

I don't know if this is how desserts taste like in Austria, but I think I'll be giving these two a pass and try something else the next time.

Funky, weird desserts aside, Happy 23rd Birthday Hushie! It sure was a present-loaded one. Thanks for the group pic.

Wiener Kaffehaus
148 Neil Road
Tel: 6226-3148
Opens 10am-10pm daily.

Chew On This:
Here at Wiener Kaffehaus, the coffee beans are roasted in house. That's some thing you don't find at a regular Starbucks or Coffee Beans & Tea Leaf. While I didn't order coffee this time, I'll definitely try it the next time round.