Friday, November 30, 2012

Probably why I didn't become an accountant...

The abacus was used as the calculator of yesteryear. My late Ah Kong himself used one at his now-defunct provision shop. But moo? I rather eat it. Moohahaha.

These nuggets of chewy goodness stir fried with fragrant mix of chopped garlic, chai poh, spring onions, hae bee and minced pork were irresistibly scrumptious and homely. Think of them as Chinese yam gnocchi. The chilli paste on the side tasted fresh and added heat. $3.50 for the above plate.

Hey actually, my biology/physiology lecturers should have described the shape of a red blood cell as one of these abacus seeds! LOL. Sorry lah. Can't help it- studied 7 years of life sciences. RBC. RBC. RBC. :p

Bugis Street
380 Jalan Besar
Lavender Food Square

Chew On This: Cos it's not easy to find this Hakka delight nowadays!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Makankakis at Parco Caffe!

Instead of the usual Chinese cze char style dinner, the makankakis had an ang moh dinner for November.

Parco Caffe makes an interesting choice because it is in a rather hidden, off the beaten path location and little is heard about this restaurant. And there's (fake) grass in some areas too! Moohehe.

Hungry tummies greeted the first dish that arrived- Pizza Parco Caffe. A 7-inch pizza topped with tomato, mozzarella, hon shimeiji mushroom, Parma ham and black truffle spread. The crust was a little too thin for my personal liking but I enjoyed the sweet earthy flavours from the truffle spread and ham.

Next, was a pasta dish that reminded me a bit of Gunther's $60 angel hair pasta I had at the food bloggers' lunch. The Parco Chilled Cappellini of chilled angel hair pasta tossed with roe (tobiko), spring onion, parmesan cheese, truffle oil and fish liver Bottarga was pretty delicious. My neighbour jokingly asked if this four-stomached creature was going to finish this in one mouthful when she saw me pick up the entire small mound of angel hair with a fork. LOL. Nah, I had to stretch my enjoyment and hence gently teased strands off to eat.

The fish course of Branzino con Patate. Roasted sea bass cube served on purple mash potatoes, black olives, capers and extra virgin olive oil emulsion. Moist fish with a bit of nicely seared skin. Unfortunately, I didn't quite take to the paste made of olives and capers which was surprising since I usually like both these ingredients.

The meat course of the evening was the Costina d’Agnello- roasted Australian lamb chop crusted in bread crumbs and Italian herbs, served with mixed vegetables caponata. The slightly gamey notes of the lamb paired nicely with the acidity and sweetness of the caponata. Eat. With. Wine.

The dessert of Parfait al cioccolato (double chocolate and cherry jelly parfait) ended on a disappointing note for me and was my least favourite item of this dinner. The part soft, part gummy texture and flat flavours didn't quite appeal. Even the macaroon perched on top flopped in the flavour department. :(

Maybe that's why one moost have a bit of wine and lots of good company (seated at the same table were pioneer batch makankakis, one pinky piggu and folks from Makansutra editorial team) with dinner so it all ends on a happy note. Moohahaha. Two Italian wines that evening- an interesting tightly-wound straight Merlot that wasn't quite like Merlot, and a white blend of native white grapes that was pretty fresh for a 2007.

Then we went off for a bowl of kway teow soup at a near by kopitiam to anchor the night. :D

Parco Caffe
10 Raeburn Park
Tel: 6223 6338

Chew On This: Parco Caffe serves up both Italian and some Asian dishes. Crayfish laksa, beef short ribs rendang or bak kut teh (with whiskey) anyone? :p See full menu here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

One Bowl Hit

On one hungry weekday night, we made a stop at a random kopitiam in Geylang. Nope it wasn't for frog porridge nor beef hor fun, it was for mainland Chinese food. Moohehe.

While the stall seemed promising with their PRC staff, the food was disappointing. Mapo tofu tasted flat, guotie was sadly deep fried and their xiao long bao was a disaster.

Fortunately, there was a silver lining. Yes, ask my uni mates....despite horrible feelings after exams, we somehow all clung onto thin hopes of a silver lining. Looking back now, we were right.

Anyway, the saving grace (Hallelujah!) that evening was this bowl of Zha Jiang Mian (~$5). The noodles were rustic and had a nice bite to them. The toppings of raw cucumber shards and a very tasty stewed meat sauce added both texture and flavours to the noodle dish. Unlike most places that use minced meat, this stall used pork sliced into strips.

The next time I return here it would probably be just for a bowl of this....ok, maybe make that two. :p

Choon Hwa
238 Sims Avenue

Chew On This: The Tiger Beer auntie (no lah, not chew on the auntie. Moohahaha) here is very pro and slick in pushing her bottles. Beware. ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Prego's Truffle-rific 3-Course Meal

Ok, this cow is not dead...yet... Work has kept me rather busy these few weeks but I was glad I took time to smell the roses truffles. :)

Yes, it is that time of the year when gourmands (foodies with mooney) splurge on xx-course dinners featuring white and/or black truffles. The prized fungi is said to be more expensive this year due to the unfavourable weather conditions in truffleland.

But experiencing truffle does not have to be a nose-bleeding, pocket-busting affair. Prego's 3-course black truffle menu ($60/pax; available lunch & dinner) is pretty cool.

An amuse bouche of Burrata Cheese with Truffle Paste oozed with dairy creaminess and that unmistakable truffle flavour to signal the start of a truffle-fied meal.

Select from one of these two starters:

The Lobster Bruschetta was a delightful option with crunchy short spears of asparagus, slightly bitter rocket leaves and chunks of lobster tail dressed with a truffle vinaigrette.

Scallop lovers would be very happy with the Crusted Scallops on the Half Shell. The mollusk was juicy and cooked perfectly with a truffle butter crust.

Ok the Prego Pizza is not part of the set meal options but who could say no to a delicious pizza topped with prosciutto di Parma, buffalo mozzarella, arugula and tomato sauce? Moohehe.

On to the main course choices. Select one of these three options:

The Taglierini Pasta had an elegant yet homely appeal with sweet roasted peppers and spinach basil sauce with a scoop of truffle ricotta.  

Stuffed Agnolotti- pasta pillows stuffed with roasted meats in a truffle cream sauce. These ravioli were seriously moreish.

My favourite main was the Truffle Risotto. Hot risotto cooked till al dente with wild forest mushrooms and mixed in a wheel of pecorino cheese before being spooned onto a plate. The residual heat from the grains gently melted the sheep's cheese resulting in a deliciously creamy risotto. Freshly shaved black truffles to top it all. Earthy. Rich. Nutty.

Think the truffles stop at desserts? Think again.

Pick one of these two desserts:

The White Chocolate Hazelnut Cake was soft white chocolate sponge cake with a pretty good strawberry ice cream and TRUFFLE chocolate sauce. Yes, it seemed like an odd pairing but the flavours of cocoa and truffle worked. The truffle chocolate sauce gave this dessert an interesting savoury touch.

Housemade Tiramisu with truffle stones (I think these refer to the sandy granular bits). Perhaps missing a stronger alcoholic boost but it could be just this alkie's inner wish. Moohaha.

Prego's $60++ for a 3-course truffle meal, especially if it's dinner, seems like a good deal. But hurry as the truffle menu only lasts until 16 December 2012....then turkey season hits.

Thanks to Jacqueline Wee of Fairmont Singapore for the invitation. 

Level 1, Fairmont Singapore
Tel: 6431 6156

Chew On This:
Prego's chefs do make their way around tables at certain intervals to show off some pizza tossing acrobatics. Talk about table side entertainment!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Chef Adam Byatt Cooks at Equinox

As part of Chefs with Altitude 2012 (3-11 November), the Equinox hosts Chef Adam Byatt from Trinity restaurant, voted one of the top ten restaurants in London.

Perched 70 floors up the tower, the Equinox restaurant provides a picturesque view of the city as the perfect backdrop to dinner. 

Chef Adam's 7-course dinner featuring "comforting British dishes that pay homage to traditional values" started off with the Pumpkin Soup, Curds and Whey. There was a lovely purity and simplicity to the flavours though I struggled with the hard pumpkin seeds.

The next course of Coriander Seared Tuna, Sesame Soy & Lime also appealed with its balance of delicate natural flavours, textures and nicely cooked tuna. A tad Asian moo thinks.

A great meat dish I really enjoyed was the Roasted Quail, Sage and Onion Dumplings, Bacon, Celeriac and Pear. The quail was succulent, flavoursome (more intense than chicken but sweeter) and paired well with sage, pear and BACON in a tasty broth. Two hooves up! Sigh. Why must quails be sooo small? Moohahaha. :D

As refreshingly clean and fresh as it looked, the Scallop, Melon and Almond Ceviche was a nice choice before the next meat dish arrived.

With the excellent quail pretty hard to beat, the Crisp Chicken, Shallot Puree, Roosevelt Potatoes and Thyme Chantilly was unfortunately just a bit average for me. Sure, it was tasty but my heart has gone to the little bird.

A shot glass of Frozen Yoghurt cleansed the palate and reminded me why I enjoy cheeses at the end of meals.

To end the meal on a sweet note, here's the Strawberry Eton Mess Ice Ball.

Smash it with a large spoon and we get the...

Strawberry Eton Mess. LOL. A classic combination of strawberries, meringue and cream.

Chef Adam's cooking seems to be about clean flavours, nothing too complicated, and staying true to the ingredients.

Thanks to Merissa of Swissotel for the invitation.

70 Floor
Swissotel The Stamford
Tel: 6837 3322

Chew On This: Swing by City Space bar for a cocktail or two before dinner. Married couple mixologists Ash and Dan from Sahara Bar, UK, are in town for Chefs With Altitude and have made available some of their signature cocktails at $25 each.

Try the Ez Groni (on the left with a citrus peel), a lighter, less bitter variation of the classic Negroni. It is made with Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Aperol, Carpano Antica Formula and orange bitters. For something refreshing and citrusy, the Tukker (above right) appeals with Belvedere Pink Grapefruit, lemon, sugar, cucumber and mint.

Blame Pirates of the Carribean but I was hoping for rum in the Dead Man's Chest (with the apple slices). Mohahaha. Instead, it had Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whisky, Aperol, Fernet Branca, apricot jam and plum bitters. The very distinct tasting Fernet Branca gave an interesting flavour not unlike grass jelly.

Lastly, you've got to try the Black Cherry Tree. Made with Belvedere, Mozart dark chocolate liqueur, cherry marnier, vanilla syrup, lemon, limoncello, egg white and sugar, it's like liquid black forest, adult version! :)   

Monday, November 05, 2012

Chefs With Altitude 2012 Kicks Off

Launched since 2003 and organised by Swissotel The Stamford, the annual Chefs With Altitude is known to bring in talents from the culinary and mixology world.

This year, the event held from 3-11 November presents Chefs David Toutain (Agape Substance, Paris), Adam Byatt (Trinity, London), Natascha Schwarzer (Zurich Chocolate Academy, Zurich), and mixologists Ash and Dan Bovey (Sahara Bar, Reading) alongside the Swissotel's very own Chefs Julien Royer, Lee Bennett and Thierry Delourneaux.  

I popped by their opening night at New Asia Bar (boohoo it was raining and pity the Helipad couldn't be used) and was happy to meet Ash and Dan for a few sips. Oh and I moost say the lamb racks that were making their rounds on a platter as canapes were excellent! :p

Ok I digress. Mooving along to the bar.

Dan was mad busy preparing his cocktail for that evening for about 600 thirsty guests.

His featured cocktail was refreshingly zesty from its base of Grand Marnier and added complexity from a few drops of orange bitters. Perfect for Singapore's heat.

Next I scooted over to his wife, Ash, who was as equally as busy as Dan. Kudos to both mixologists for chatting up guests despite their hectic work pace!

Her cocktail was floral, perfumed and such a dangerous tipple. I loved the botanical flavours from the Tanqueray No. Ten.

Will be posting on my experience at the Adam Byatt dinner soon. Stay. Tuned.

Thanks to Merissa of Swissotel for the invitation.

Chefs With Altitude 2012
3-11 November 2012

Chew On This: See here for the official website with full details!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Makankakis Back at Forture Seafood

I had a very good dinner with the makankakis here at Forture Seafood years ago and it's a pity our second dinner there later wasn't as good. Now with the former chef (Ah Loy) having returned to the restaurant, another dinner was planned and 73 makankakis signed up for dinner.

Dinner kicked off with the Supreme Dragon & Pheonix Platter- an fancy starter with dry ice, pink cream and sauce that could have been sponsored by Stabilo. Moohehe. The morsel on the purple-pink sauce was a well-fried prawn. The sauce apparently had fruits like strawberry and dragon fruit and definitely mayo. The other fried item with the black sesame on top was a meaty lump of minced chicken dressed with a lemon-lime sauce.

 Next arrived the Deep Fried Fresh Mushrooms. These were meaty, robust and earthy. Good with rice.

The Steamed Garoupa in Green Curry Sauce was absolutely lovely! The fish was steamed perfectly and the green curry sauce aromatic yet not overpowering.

For me the Stir-fried Vegetables with Dried Scallops was a shame with the dried scallops being wayyy too chewy ala thick cut dried cuttlefish.

Before my jaws had recovered, the Village-Style Salt Baked Chicken struck. Thankfully, its warm, comforting flavours won me over. The chicken had a rustic appeal and was on the lean side. The minced ginger dip was awesome! Fragrant (almost floral), gingery and without any pungent heat, this dip was made from sand ginger (specially imported from Malaysia), and made the perfect accompaniment to the baked chicken.

Next was the Crispy Duck Rolls- a mini sandwich of flour crepes hugging battered and fried pieces of duck and other goodies. Very tasty and would be a great canape!

Ok, by this time moost people were already getting full. When the Braised Herbal Pig Trotter came, we thought we were gone. Jialat, how to finish? But all that was left in the end was the large bone. LOL. Braised in a herbal sauce for hours, the trotter was super tender and the pleasant herbal notes from the sauce made this "heavyweight" lighter and very enjoyable. Two hooves up!

As the de rigueur dish at the end of a Chinese meal, there was a carbs dish- the Crispy Hor Fun with Seafood scored with its creativity and unusualness. I've never experienced a hor fun like this before. The hor fun was deep fried till crispy and then topped with a tasty gravy that got absorbed into the former. Where's the seafood? It's a little hard to spot with all the wines around but strips of sea cucumber, fish maw and scallops were in the mix.   

Dessert was Japanese Purple Sweet Potato with Cream and Sago. Visually, the dinner ended almoost like how it started.

Wines of the night. A very pleasant, approachable Dog Leg Sparkling ($30, order from thehungrcow); a tightly-structured and beautiful Bianco di Nero DOC; a Chilean Puerto Viejo Pinot Noir 2008 ($35, order from thehungrycow) with notes of cherries and spice; a deliciously sweet Tsantini 5-year-oak-aged Mavrodaphne of Patras ($32, order from thehungrycow) with honey, raisin and a hint of molasses.

The food here is quite unlike a typical cze char place. There is a certain creativity and boldness that can be quite refreshing.

Thanks to Eslim for organising! 

Forture Seafood
887 Bukit Timah Road
Opens: 11am-2.30pm; 5pm-11.30pm
Tel: 64695957

Chew On This: Feel free to BYO wines and glasses. :)