Saturday, August 27, 2011

Moooo-n Cakes!

Some festive foods like bak chang (rice dumpling) are now available year round. Thankfully, mooncakes only make their appearance once a year during the lunar mid-autumn festival. That means, eat now or think about the calories and live to regret for a year. Nothankyou.

This year, I received two boxes of mooncakes- one from Crystal Jade and the other from Marina Bay Sands (MBS). Interestingly, both are the snow skin varieties and are not the usual lotus paste ones.

Personally, I still prefer the traditional lotus paste mooncakes- both baked and snow skin. New fangled flavours are interesting but some can be really weird. Heard from a media friend that she received gummy bears mooncakes! I think Chang Er would puke. Moohaha.

So let's see how the Crystal Jade and MBS mooncakes fared.

The ones from Crystal Jade came in pink, yellow, green and brown. Flavours were pretty experimental and bold. The green one (Green Tea & Plum Paste) tasted like the plum liqueur, umeshu, with a gentle green tea flavour coming at the back. A little intriguing but seems to grow on moo. LOL. Pinkies were Red Wine Cranberry. I didn't enjoy this due to its strong taste. Almost a little medicinal to me. The brown ones (Cognac Coffee) packed a strong slightly bitter coffee punch. Perfect for sleepy heads and students studying for exams!

My favourite was the yellow one (white lotus with egg yolk). :)

MBS' packaging was just beautiful! Yes, report says that mooncake packaging are excessive and wasteful. But then again mooncakes are a gift to family, friends and business associates. Wouldn't gifts be elaborately dressed up? Shaped like a lantern, the outer box encased an inner column which could be slided out...

...and opened to reveal 4 layers of mooncakes! Very chio indeed.

There were two flavours- Salted-Caramel Almond Crunch and Dark Chocolate Orange Grand Marnier. While the former had the nice salty-sweet balance, it was the later that killed me. How to not resist the smooth, dark chocolate flavours with the citrusy orange hint? Crunchy bits provided a nice textural contrast to the smooth paste and ganache.

This hungry cow wishes one and all a happy mid-autumn festival with delicious mooo-ncake moments with family and friends. But please don't contribute to the haze.

Thanks to Jolynn Lai of Crystal Jade and Venetia Chung of MBS for the mooncakes.

Chew On This: with a good pot of Chinese tea!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Laid Back NomNom Spot

Quite a few relatively remote parts of Singapore all seem to have a common formula for eateries- a mix of both local and western favourites. Where hor fun and grilled lamb racks coexist. Bark Cafe and The Bunker in Changi, Beaulieu House and Galley by the Straits in Sembawang come to mind.

The ulu-ness of these places adds to the charm. Away from the city skyscrapers, modern shopping malls and the maddening crowd. Often, lush greenery, serenity and sometimes a gentle sea breeze caress the urban soul.

I had this experience again when Miss Tam Chiak shot out an sms and soon after I found myself grazing at Labrador Seafood.

Their house signature- Labrador Breeze ($12) is a good mix of kiwi, passion fruit, lychee syrup, mangosteen jello and vodka. Fruity sweetness with the alcohol hitting the back for a nice kick.

But alcohol might not be everybody's thing. I have a friend who used to be allergic to alcohol....until she stayed in UK for 4 months. Ok, before I get stoned by the League members for bringing up this old story, I should recommend this Mixed Juice ($7.80). It was a combination of apple, orange and watermelon. Perfect for people who can't decide which juice to order! Moohehe. Freshly-squeezed and sans syrup.

If you are a fan of the flavours of those chilli-spiked fishballs/cakes, try the Deep Fried Tofu Fritters ($12). Leaning more towards the rough and rustic than smooth and creamy version, the mashed tofu filling is encased in a crispy batter, which some how reminded me of goreng pisang.

The Chinese-style Ponggol Mee Goreng ($10) was pretty tasty with hints of chili and ketchup, and with squid rings and prawns.

For ang moh noodles, there was the Spaghetti Aglio Olio Prawns ($11). Not too bad with the taste of garlic and chilli padi coming though. Wished they had fried the prawn shells in the oil. That would have upgraded (yes, you Singaporeans! moohahaha) this dish by a few notches.

For seafood, I've always loved the simpler the better. This BBQ Giant Squid ($4/100g) was such an example. With just a squeeze of lemon for sharp acidity and the gentle grilled aroma from the charcoal grill, it was delish.

These Pearl Clams ($6/100g) were giant sized. Check out their size compared to the crab-cracker tool. These were fresh though not really sweet. I quite like the sauce which tasted like those used in steamed fish.

Crabby people should check out the Black Pepper Sri Lankan Crab ($4.50/100g). The sauce was peppery and had a very savoury edge to it.

But if salted egg yolk rocks your boat, go for the Salted Egg Sri Lankan Crab ($4.50/100g). Instead of a sauce/gravy, the salted egg yolk coated the exterior of the shell....which made me suck on them. Nice salty, savouriness with rich flavours of salted egg yolk and a background of curry leaves and dried chilli.

The Fried Beef Hor Fun ($10) was said to be good so an impromptu order was made. Hor Fun lures moo like magic. There was some wok hei but pity that it was just a tad underseasoned. The beef was, thankfully, not over-tenderised.

And since the whole country was preparing for curry wars.... Hey we even protest through food and eating! I love SG. LOL! Anyway the Indonesian Curry Large Tiger Prawns ($7.50/100g) here was delicious! The prawns could have been fresher but the curry itself was fragrant and could have easily made me demolish a huge mound of rice. But I didn't want to scare the nice people at the table lah. Moohaha.

Jumbo Kajang Satay (Chicken, Mutton, Beef- $9/6 skewers)! Skewered meats over a charcoal flame. Yums. See? A ruler was even brought in to prove the 4.5 inches length of the meat on the stick! We is porfessional okay. LOL.

Fresh Fruit Platter ($15) was a healthy way to end the meal. No added sugars, no fat, no guilt.

With a rustic, outdoor feel combined with a homely vibe, Labrador Seafood is ideal for a break away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Take a short walk to the near by coast front. Look at Sentosa, wish you were a resident enjoy the seabreeze. Let time pass and don't forget to smell the (yellow frangipani) flowers.

Check out Labrador Seafood on Miss Tam Chiak and Gourmetestorie. Thanks to Angela and Paul for hosting us.

Labrador Seafood
No. 8 Port Road
Tel: 6273 2779
Opens: 11am-12.30am daily

Chew On This: It is best to either cab or drive in! Parking is free by the way. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lor of Attraction

Law #1: Thou shall add a good spoonful of minced garlic.
Law #2: Thou shall drizzle lots of black vinegar.
Law #3: Thou shall throw in chopped chilli padi and chilli paste.

Next, it's not a law but freakin dig in and eat already! Moohahaha.

The law Lor Mee ($3) here is a bowl of deliciousness. The fragrant starchy sauce redolent of five spice, thick egg noodles that are a little flat and more waxy, fried bits of fish meat (red snapper), ngoh hiang, crunchy beansprouts, hard-boiled egg and oh-so-yummy juicy pork belly slices!

Zhen Hao Lor Mee

The stall is inside:

Food Hub @ Chai Chee
26A Chai Chee Road (Opposite Technopark @ Chai Chee)

Chew On This: Apparently many of the stalls in this coffee shop are either 24 hours or open untill really late at night!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

One Dessert to Lure Moo Back

It's not very often that a dessert has such powers to draw me back to a place...what more when the place isn't even a dessert shop.

I first found out about Le Chasseur from one of the monthly Makansutra forum dinners. Traded my soul (yes, so drama) for that one bowl of sweet soup and then I returned for more.

Ok, I'm going to break moo own history by blogging about dessert first. Icannotbelieveijustsaidthat.

Looks like an ordinary bowl of tau suan? This, my friends, is the art of doing something simple really, really well. The Tau Suan ($2.20) was fragrant with the aroma of pandan and spilt mung beans. The beans were soft yet held their own integrity amidst the runny sweet soup. A must to order together with the Tau Suan is the You Tiao (50cents)- grilled over charcoal for that characteristic smokey aroma.

In the words of a once famous song- Hit me baby one more time!

Unfortunately life is more than just tau suan. Even awesome tau suan.

We had other stuff too. The Watercress Soup ($5.20) was decent with pork ribs, watercress, dates, dried figs and Chinese almonds.

The Lotus Root Soup ($5.20) didn't fair well. It was pretty diluted and didn't taste like much.

For something interesting, try the Otah Omelette ($6). Fried eggs are yums and when paired with the spicy flavours of otah, it's a winner which goes perfectly with rice...hey or even baguette!

Ladies Fingers ($4.80) were fried with sambal. Not too bad and had nice heat.

The Emperor Sprout ($4.20) was a tad slimy. I like some slimy things like natto and ladies fingers but Emperor Sprout...hmmm...

Oh I quite enjoyed the The Claypot Chicken Rice ($17 for 3-4 pax's portion). The rice grains were long and fluffy. They used basmati rice! This claypot rice was flavourful (chicken, mushroom, salted fish, lup chiong) with restrain. Nothing over powering. Well-balanced.

Balance. Ah the delicate way of life...

Le Chasseur
31 New Bridge Road (opposite The Central)
Tel: 6337 7677
Opens: 11.30am-3pm; 5.30pm-10.30pm

Chew On This:
Check out their letter box. Cool!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Shooting at Level 70

Despite the gloomy skies outside, it was a soothing lunch at Swissotel The Stamford's Equinox, 70 floors above the ground. Such a luxury and treat in this mad, hectic world. My last meal at the Equinox was dinner with the 938LIVE deejays and fellow foodie lunch pickers almost two years ago. Such fond memories.

Anyway, it was lunch this time round.

A canape was served to whet the appetite. Potato chips with ikan bilies, mayo and spring onions Ahem. I mean Potato Crisp with Anchovies, Aoili and Chives. Served in a sardine tin, this was cute, fancy and so easy to over-munch!

Then came the breads- a choice of about 4-5 varieties. I love the baguette and butter. All I need now is a bottle of red wine and the scenic comforts of the countryside.... Yes, it's no crime to (day) dream. :D

My dream bubble burst with the soft citric tang of the Tomato Soup with Basil Oil.

The first official course was Veloute of White Beans, Confit Oxtail and Mushrooms. There was a nice, creamy sweetness of the white beans and earthiness of the mushrooms though the oxtail flavour was drowned. Overall very light dish with all the foam....maybe that's why the portion was small? Eat too much later will float. LOL.

Next came the Seared Escalope of Foie Gras, Beetroot and Cherry Composition. Very pretty dish and for a usually robust-tasting item, this foie gras felt almost feminine. Nice coarse salt flakes gave bursts of saltiness against the creamy foie gras. The beetroot jelly and cherry meringue (I'm guessing) kept things well-balanced.

Here's the Pan-Roasted Crispy Seabass, Fricassee of Squid and Fava Beans, Farfalle Pasta. The seabass had a crisp skin and moist flesh. The pasta, squid rings and beans were a tad under seasoned I felt.

Roasted Ballotine of Sakura Chicken, Trompettes, Roasted Salsify and Hazelnuts. This was lean and tender chicken. I like the texture of chopped hazelnuts. What's Salsify? Here's the answer from everyone's favourite online guru- Wiki. Moohehe.

Lastly, dessert was served. Elderflower Chibouste, Compote of Rhubarb and Strawberry Sorbet. Dig (deep) into this and get perked up by the tangy rhubarb compote at the bottom. This dessert leans a little more to the sour side than sweet.

I don't know if you did notice but the photos in this post look vastly different from my usual ones, no? That's because all these photos were taken using the newly launched Panasonic LUMIX GF-3!

Yep, the above lunch was served at the GF-3 media launch. Well, actually the GF-3 was served before lunch. :p

Here's the GF-3, big brother of the GF-2. It is the world's smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens system camera! It's LUMIX G Micro System makes auto-focusing just 0.18 seconds.

Here are the specs from DP Review:
•12MP CMOS sensor (standard Four Thirds size)
•ISO 160-6400
•3.8 fps continuous shooting (2.8 fps with live view)
•GF2-style touch screen interface
•1080i60 AVCHD shooting (from 25p sensor output)
•All-area AF point selection
•'Pinpoint' AF mode (magnifies focus point to allow confirmation and fine-tune of AF position)
•Tracking AF in video mode
•Picture-in-picture manual focus magnification
•460k dot LCD

Price: $899 (with standard pancake lens) and $1099 (with dual kit lens).

I like the GF-3's slim, compact body. At 222g, it is also very portable! I needed a bit of time to get use to a touch screen cam but once ok, I like that one touch on the LCD screen could command the camera to focus on that spot. In fact, they have a function that can create a bit of bokeh even for someone who doesn't know anything about aperture! Cool.

The White Balance and Exposure controls were also very handy. Simply push a button and scroll to the desired setting.

While the plastic exterior, together with its light weight, makes it feel like a toy, thankfully the images are pretty solid.

I think the GF-3 is good for those who want good quality images without the bulk of a DSLR. Manual freaks would appreciate the manual controls available while those who simply prefer to point and shoot would benefit from the smart and easy to use iA+ mode.

My trusty LX-3 has served moo well for the past 2+ years. Having bought it at about $650, hmm....tempting indeed.

Thanks to Glenn Woo of The Right Spin and Panasonic Singapore for hosting this hungry cow.

Panasonic LUMIX GF-3 Launch @ Equinox Restaurant
Swissotel The Stamford
2 Stamford Road
Level 70
Tel: 6837 3322

Chew On This:

LUMIX GF-3 candies!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

My First Group Coupon Buy

With National Day coming, I am reminded of what it is to be Singaporean. Among the many quirks and traits, being able to sniff out and secure a good lobang (deal) is definitely one of them.

Maybe it's this drive for good lobangs that has led to the proliferation of the many group buying coupon sites here. I even have a friend who signed up with many of these websites and receives nothing but email updates promoting the latest deals everyday! LOL.

Anyway, I saw dangling a 4-course set meal for $18 at Friends and... I bought 4 coupons and brought the family for lunch.

What was in the 4-course set meal?

First Course: Chilled Angel Hair Pasta & Lumpfish Caviar OR Caesar Salad

First course: Chilled Angel Hair Pasta & Lumpfish Caviar Tossed with Konbu, Chives & White Truffle Oil. This was a very nice starter. Well-chilled and delicately packed with umami flavours. Reminded me of the version at Gunther's but there it's $60 a plate. The one at Friends Moohehehe.

The other choice of Caesar Salad was also not bad. Creamy dressing, crunchy lettuce, hard-boiled egg and bacon bits are quite hard to go wrong.

Second course: Wild Forest Mushroom Soup (foreground) OR Vongole Flower Clam Soup (background)

The soups were disappointing. They tasted watered down and could do with a lot more body and flavour. :(

Third course: Pan Fried Dory Fish OR French Styled Chicken Stew OR Grilled Ribeye Served with Au Jus (220g). * Additional $5 for ribeye.

The Pan Fried Dory Fish was a simple dish. Tender dory fillet lightly dusted with flour, pan fried and served with pineapple salsa. Ok but nothing to moo too much about.

The French Styled Chicken Stew arrived with less gravy than I had expected. Stew mah. Moohaha. Anyway, it seemed more like pan fried chicken with sauce. Tasty. I like the sauce a lot...especially with the mashed potatoes that had a nice hint of butter. :p

This was the Grilled Ribeye Served with Au Jus. Additional $5 supplement to the set meal price but worth it! Yah, this cow can be biased by supporting his own kind but sometimes nothing like a nice piece of grilled cow! The doneness wasn't spot on but it was a day when I would rather have peace prevail.

A simple meal with peace and love beats a lavish one with strife.

Fourth course: Daily Dessert of the Day- a small piece of cheesecake.

What are my thoughts on this lobang that almost sounded to good to be true? Hmm...the portions are generally small (check out the photos with the fork to act as a size gauge) but should be sufficient for most. Food was ok though with the "special deal" pricing, I think it was not representative of what Friends could offer. The price of $18NETT still makes this very good value. There was coffee and tea too.

Cold Storage Jelita Building
293 Holland Road Level 2
Tel: 6463 1011

Chew On This: Friends offers a 1-for-1 set lunch daily at $35 for 3 courses! See here for the set lunch menu.