Monday, September 20, 2010

Food Bloggers' Dinner 2010

This cow is not dead. In fact, it is still hungry and now a little tired after about 2 weeks of event work. While I recuperate, I shall blog! Moohahaha.

So before the next Food Bloggers' Dinner comes knocking on our door, here's my memory of this year's.

A common sight at every year's dinner- bloggers working their cameras before touching their forks.

It's not just a bread basket to hungry people! The joys of having warm bread when the stomach growls. And it comes in handy to mop up sauces too.

Dinner started when the cameras started flashing Crabmeat Cake with Avocado top with Mesclun Salad, Beetroot Paint & Balsamic Reduction arrived. This was one crabcake packed full of crab meat. All it lacked was a big shell. Moohehehe. I like the play of different light flavours here. Somehow to me, this dish oozed loads of Aussie appeal.

The pasta course featured Short Tube Pasta with chunks of Tuna in Homemade Tomato Sauce with Capers, Olives, Chili, Garlic, Basil, White Wine & rich Fish Broth. A shorter name would be Simple and Delicious. The pasta tubes were firm and held the sauce (tomato, garlic and fish broth flavours) nicely. The cubes of very fresh tuna were just lightly seared and patted with black pepper.

My choice of main was Breaded Veal Scallopine pan fried in Butter glace with Veal Jus, Cherry Tomato Salsa & Lemon Wedge. A flat piece of veal was bread-crumbed and deep-fried. Reminded me a little of grandma's biscuit-crumbed pork chops. By itself with the sauce, I found it not to my liking. There was something a little too sharp and distracting in the sauce. Worcestershire maybe? But when eaten together with the small heap of tomatoes, the fresh juiciness and sweetness of the tomatoes balanced everything beautifully.

I spied my neighbour's neighbour's Sea bream blanket with crispy Brick Phyllo on Butternut Pumpkin Puree top with Tomato Salsa and ended up with a piece on my plate. Thanks, A 1/2 Food Blog! This dish was a winner. Light, flaky, crispy. This I could polish up quite a few as snacks. :)

Lastly, we had the Pistachio Financier with Strawberry Salsa & Mint for dessert. After the amount of food we had, this dense financier could have sunk us like the Titanic. Just that we're hardly as big. As I do not like almond and pistachio flavoured items, this dessert unfortunately didn't make it for me.

And I won one of quite a few prizes kindly donated by Pantry Pursuits! Recent Runes said that I win a prize every year. After some careful recalling of past years' dinners, I think he's right. :)

Anyway, my family who drinks tea almost daily would certainly be happy with this teapot with a warmer base.

It was a pleasure meeting old familiar and new food blogging friends. The community is certainly growing and with the diverse reasons, styles and characters of food blogging, it is nice to see bloggers seated together and enjoying food and good company.

Big thanks to Recent Runes who arranged this dinner and the menu and for donating almost all of his veal to me, and to all who came, ate, chatted and made this Food Bloggers' Dinner 2010! And no, there was no credit card throwing.

We paid for our food.

44 Jalan Merah Saga
#01-60 Chip Bee Gardens
Tel: 6475 9069

Chew On This: Some of the above dishes were specially made for this dinner and not listed on the menu. But if you like, call and request ahead of your visit and I am sure Executive Sous Chef Dennis Ong would be happy to oblige!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Big Bowl of Wanton Mee for Me

While bigger is not always better, this upsized bowl of wanton mee is.

The Wanton Mee ($3.50 for large size) came with a good portion of noodles topped with a generous list of ingredients: two boiled wantons, one fried wanton, fried meat dumplings, blanched chye sim and char siew. The noodles had a softer texture though they were not mushy. I like the dark sauce, oil and chilli mix that came together very nicely.

But the star for me was the char siew. No bright red/pink slices masquerading as the real stuff. The char siew at this stall was relatively lean but with small fatty bits that added flavour. The outer surface was beautifully caramelised with charred edges that gave a smokey appeal against the sweet marinade and the flavour of the pork.

I think I won't be trying their $2.50 wanton mee ever. Not after enjoying the perks of their $3.50 bowl.

Tiong Bahru Wanton Mee
#02-32 Golden Shoe Car Park
50 Market Street
Tel: 9100 2303
Opens: Mondays-Fridays: 9am-7pm
Saturdays: 11am-3pm
Closed: Sundays & Public Holidays

Chew On This: As this stall is located in the CBD and lunch time brings quite a crowd, remember to beat the rest who use boring packets of tissue, umbrellas (and even an iPhone cover!) by bringing a shawl or sari to chope seats for the whole lunch bunch! Moohahaha.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fried Chicken Time

Yes yes yes. Fried stuff are unhealthy but once a while, the craving for fried chicken hits! Then it's time for Ikea's chicken wings and cze char stalls' har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken).

Here's another option- Texas Chicken.

I visited the Expo outlet on a weekday lunch and it was pretty quiet which makes it a perfect spot to chill out, study, enjoy a quiet lunch, hide from the boss.

The 2 Piece Meal ($7.40) comprised two pieces of chicken, a side, biscuit and a drink. I ordered two meals to try both the Original and Spicy chicken.

The Original chicken was very good. Fried till its skin was crispy while its meat remained tender. The chicken tasted fresh and well...original. :p

The Spicy chicken was similar but with a spicy kick. However, skin-wise, it was the Original that was delightfully more crispy.

The biscuit was scrumptious- buttery with a good play of salty-sweet flavours.

The side of Coleslaw was refreshingly crunchy and as the veggies were not shredded to smithereens, there was a better bite.

My other side of Fries was alright though it could have been better if it was really hot! Rather nice potato flavour.

Jalapeno (70 cents) was also available for those who enjoy its spicy, tangy flavours. Personally, I didn't think it went well with the fried chicken. I would gladly have chilli sauce or ketchup, please!

Having had the fried chicken at a popular fried chicken fast food chain both in Singapore and KL, I think the fried chicken at Texas Chicken gave me a much better least for this visit.

Texas Chicken
Singapore Expo (outside Hall 4)
1 Expo Drive #01-42
Tel: 6789 4174
Opens: Monday-Friday: 11am-9pm
Saturday-Sunday: 11am-10pm

Chew On This: If the oil is hot enough, fried food need not be excessively oily. Like good tempura...expertly fried and not queasy greasy! The fried chicken here was pretty well fried. :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

YES 93.3FM 美食鉴定团 @ Heart Bistro!

Yay! The new season of YES 93.3FM 美食鉴定团 is back! I am honoured to be invited back to join DJs Jiafa and Weibin, and their listeners on their foodie escapades.

And this time round, we headed to Heart Bistro for brunch.

Located at the spot vacated by The Marmalade Pantry at Palais Renaissance, Heart Bistro exudes a stylish, chic yet comfortable vibe. As its name implies, a lot of heart has gone into the menu and the dishes...literally too, as we will see.

A welcome drink of chilled Oolong Tea and Wolfberries was fortifying and a good thirst-quencher with its small nuances of herbal notes and natural sweetness.

Saturday Brunch costs $32 and includes a choice of starter, main course and dessert. Very good value.

For my starter, I chose the very intriguing Pickled Tea Leaves with Ripened Tomatoes & Mung Beans. It turned out to be outstanding! The mix mash of flavours (tangy! salty! sweet! savoury! spicy!) and textures (crunchy! toasted! soft!) made this one hell of a starter. The fish sauce in here provided body and depth while the shredded cabbage, toasted lentils, pickled tea leaf etc made every bite exciting. A lovely spicy kick was initially subtle but grew in intensity with each mouthful. Oh btw, do you see the (green) heart in my starter? Moohaha.

And where's the fun if one does not peek at thy neighbour's food? Here's what some of the others picked as starters:

Homemade Bircher Muesli with Mixed Nuts & Berries

Tropical Fruit Salad with Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

William, the owner of the bistro, highly recommended this: Marinated Salmon Poke ($14; say po-keh; don't any how poke!) Salmon sashimi was mixed with ebiko (prawn roe), sesame seeds and sesame oil. Delicious!

Heart Bistro offers many juice concoctions. I had the Botox- a blend of freshly-squeezed watermelon, red grapes and mint. At $7, this must be the cheapest botox in town! Btw, not that this cow needs botox but this combination sounds yums.

William and his family are big on juicing and he recommends mixing the juices of both fruits and vegetables. Why? 100% fruits = too much sugars. 100% vegetables = unpleasant taste.

Moo-ving along, here's my main course of Braised Beef Cheeks. Cooked over three hours, the meat was so tender that I could eat this with a spoon. Love the gelatinous texture! The sauce tasted well made with good depth and the mashed potato oozed a lovely buttery fragrance.

As with the starters, let's see what main courses some of the others ordered:

2 Eggs Sunny Side Up with Onion, Fresh Herbs, Mushroom, Grilled Tomato and Sausage. See the heart? ;)

Roasted Snapper with Spinach, Edamame in a Ginger Broth

Poached Eggs with Chicken Hash & Hollandaise Sauce

Grilled Kalua Chicken with Avocado Burger

And finally we hit desserts.

My pick of Carrot Cake was alright. But in a situation where my starter and main course were really good, alright was a little disappointing. The cinnamon was a tad strong and the cake was a little too dense for my personal liking.

Sticky Date Pudding rocked. This would be my dessert the next time round!

A cup of Earl Grey rounded up this very satisfying brunch. Heart!!!

At $32 for a 3-course brunch, this offers great value. The food here is prepared with love and proof that healthy eating does not equate to having to chew cardboard or settling for boring choices. Nothing here is deep-fried though.

Tasty and with a sense of wellness, I like.

All smile for the camera!

That concludes this episode of YES 93.3FM 美食鉴定团- singles special. Thanks to DJs Jiafa and Weibin for the invitation and Heart Bistro's William for hosting us. Check out Aromacookery's post too!

Note: Brunch is only available on weekends and public holidays. Dinner is not available on Sundays.

Heart Bistro
Palais Renaissance
Tel: 67372148

Chew On This: For a chance to join DJs Jiafa & Weibin on YES 93.3FM 美食鉴定团, be sure to tune in on Wednesdays at 6.30pm!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Saybons = C'est Bon

After visiting At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy thanks to Cheryl, we ended up at Saybons for a small bite.

Heard plenty of good things about its soups and crepes by its Le Cordon Bleu-trained owner. What used to be a small stall with about 3 seats is now a small shop space with about 4-6 small tables.

The apparently limited number of seats is no problem with their handy packaging- a disposable paper cup for soups and a paper pocket for crepes. Perfect for a bite on the go!

But for dining in, the paper cup was substituted with a plastic mug. The Seafood Bisque ($4 for regular size) was very flavourful with crustacean, seafood and vegetable sweetness. This is one hearty soup that won't induce jalak-ness!

This is their Bacon Avocado Tomato Crepe ($4.90). A thin crepe that was nicely soft with a crispy edge wrapped the filling of freshly-grilled bacon, thin avocado wedges and tomatoes. It was simple, delicious and light.

Those with a bigger appetite should order their focaccia breads as an add on. Pay an additional $4.50 to any crepe order to make it a soup combo. This gives you a choice of a regular soup and either a fruit, packet of chips, iced lemon tea or 2 slices of focaccia.

Oh and there's escargots (previously not available before Saybons expanded), salads, and sweet crepes with ingredients like nutella, strawberries, rum & raisin banana!

But for this cow, this was a neat snack and dinner beckoned. So the escargots and dessert crepes will have to wait for the next visit.

#B2-32 Plaza Singapura
Tel: 6884 9018

Chew On This:
Check out the wall paper! The raised outlines of the buildings give a sense of depth and added dimension.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Old School Hainanese Chicken Rice

There are many places that I have been wanting to try but somehow dining there does not happen. Yet Con is one such place...until now.

Thanks to Shilin who pushed for this place for dinner one Friday evening. It was swarmed with people and we had to queue for a bit.

But while queuing, I did a quick scan of the place and liked it already. It oozed old school charm which contrasted with the many pubs, cafes and restaurants along the same street.

And hey, I think I haven't seen that orange coin phone in a looong time!

Here's what we ate:

Hainanese Chicken. The skin is a little rough and the meat is a little tougher than the usual poached chicken found at most chicken rice stalls. But it was also more flavourful....not from the soy sauce and sesame oil dressing usually splashed over chicken. In fact, there wasn't any of that sauce. The chicken meat itself contained enough flavour.

The Chicken Rice was also rather different from most other stalls. Instead of a heavy aroma of garlic and pandan, the rice here was flavoured with chicken fat and shallot oil. Tasty without being overly oily.

The Chilli Sauce and Garlic were rather gentle. Nothing too sharp or spicy. This I felt complemented the flavours of the chicken and rice rather than overpowering it.

Another dish that is a must-try here is the Hainanese Pork Chop! Pork fillets coated with cream cracker (I think) crumbs and deep fried, reminded me of my paternal grandma. A sauce of tomatoes and onions with flavours of ketchup, HP sauce and Worcestershire sauce was redolent of colonial times when Hainanese chefs cooked western food for the British. Sweet, sour, savoury and a taste of true Singaporean fusion food.

Lastly, we also had the Chap Cai. It was a medley of chopped vegetables, seafood and pork slices. The slightly starchy sauce was deliciously flavoured by these ingredients.

As the chicken got sold out towards the later part of the night, the crowd thinned. The next time I will try their steamboat!

The chicken rice here is very different. A refreshing change from the tender, smooth-skinned versions out there. With Yet Con's added dose of rustic appeal, this is certainly one chicken rice place in my books.

Yet Con
25 Purvis Street
Tel: 6337 6819
Opens: 10am-10pm daily

Chew On This: Most of the "Hainanese" Chicken Rice here are actually Cantonese variations. Young birds are used for their tender flesh and cooked in a stock before being dipped into iced water. Lashings of soy sauce and sesame oil are then splashed over the chopped chicken. Apparently, true blue Hainanese-style Chicken Rice uses older birds for their higher fat content and better flavour. The Hainanese like their chicken tougher and also do not pour any sauce over it or display the cooked chickens by hanging them.