Friday, June 28, 2013

Hardys Launches the William Hardy Chardonnay and Shiraz in Singapore

Having just returned from reservist training and being outfield for a few days made me appreciate the simplest things again like a breeze (the lack of it in insane humidity is almoost unbearable!) or taking a shower. 

Another of life's simple pleasures is wine. It is amazing how a bottle of wine can add mooch to a dining experience. 

This cow was invited to a preview of the launch of the William Hardy Chardonnay and Shiraz in Singapore. Hardys, an Australian winery established in 1853, is quite a popular label here and is widely available on supermarket shelves. The William Hardy range is in recognition of William (aka Bill) Hardy's 40 years as winemaker and brand ambassador. He is the great great grandson of Thomas Hardy, the winery's founder.

At the launch event held at La Cicala, William shared more about the brand's heritage and the two new wines. A 5-course menu paired with Hardys wines soon ensued.

Jamon Bellota with Country Toast and Fresh Tomato Dip kicked off the evening. Paired with the citrusy and slightly yeasty Sir James Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2008, a bottled fermented sparkling, the salty fattiness of the Jamon was balanced nicely with fine acidity. Just wished the limp toast was toasty/crusty.

Also served with the sparkling were these Breaded Chorizo and Fontina Cheese Croquet with Chipotle Sauce. Sparklings are versatile and can be paired with many dishes. The Sir James was a good example when enjoyed with these croquets. 

My favourite course and pairing of the evening was the Cerviche of Swordfish with Seagrape & Beet Emulsion which was presented alongside the William Hardy Chardonnay 2012. This Chardonnay's linear acid structure with a nutty, lemony aroma and a palate of stone and citrus fruits married well with the fresh, sweet, "sea" flavours of the dish. The wine is made from a blend of grapes sourced from different regions in Australia, with the majority from Padthaway.

Think of Aussie Shiraz and beef often comes to mind. The William Hardy Shiraz 2012 was paired with the Grilled Dry Aged Striploin with Roasted Potato & Sherry Jus. I was excited to sink my teeth into this delicious sounding dish but was disappointed with the Sherry jus. Its sweetness over powered the beef. What a shame. :(

The William Hardy Shiraz, like its Chardonnay sibling, was made from grapes grown in different areas. Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale account for most of the fruit. This deep, dark Shiraz was full bodied with dark fruits and I detected a bit of spice and mint/eucalyptus after a while in the glass. Tannins were evident but smooth. To be honest, I was expecting a fruit bomb, jammy wine but this was quite an approachable wine with a certain elegance. 

Upon chatting with the University of Bordeaux-trained William, I learnt that his choice to make these wines from grapes sourced from different regions instead of one vineyard was to "get the best of both warm and cool climates influences for a consistent style". That elegance I felt in the Shiraz was attributed to the subtle, more restrained characteristics of cool climate fruit.

Then dessert appeared in the form of Mascarpone Custard with Masala Gelee & Espresso Foam. The sweet, raisiny Hardys Whiskers Blake Classic Tawny 8 Year Old was called upon to match this. 

To demonstrate how fun alcoholic events can be, I found this shot in my camera even though I didn't even remember taking it. Moohaha.

Ok, I had better clarify. I drink in mooderation hor. Some happy people at my table used my camera to take a few group shots while I was saying hello to other friends at another table. 

My memoory was not like this. LOL.

And yes, a bit dark but we did take a shot with The Flying Dutchman.

There you have it. The newly launched Hardys wines! The William Hardy Chardonnay and Shiraz are now available in Cold Storage and Jasons at $37 each.  

Thanks to the ladies from Brand Cellar and Hardys for having me at the media launch event.

Chew On This: Over two million glasses of Hardys wines are enjoyed daily in over 70 countries!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Makankakis at Ming Kee Live Seafood Restaurant

I first ate at Ming Kee when the makankakis organised a dinner there yeaaars ago and enjoyed it enough to return with friends and family on a number of occasions. When I saw that the makankakis were organising another dinner there, signing up was a no brainer. 

Later did I realise that it was a new restaurant with a rather similar name just down the road from the Ming Kee I remembered. Apparently the sun left #sghaze son left and opened his own restaurant- Ming Kee Live Seafood Restaurant.

The first dish that made its way to our table brought out the cameras and phones. Steamed Boston Lobster with Garlic was steamed to perfection with springy, meaty flesh. I love the loads of garlic and, I'm guessing, a bit of chai poh. 

Next came the Jumbo Canadian Oyster. These oysters were really jumbo sized! Smothered in a black bean sauce, it was quite creamy though I am still no fan of oysters.

Steamed Soon Hock was right up my alley. Chunks of fish with a bit of fattiness for flavour and smooth texture, steamed Hong Kong style. Simple and soooo gooood.

The dish that is always ordered on each of my visit to Ming Kee is their signature Triple Cooked Crab Bee Hoon. The version here had very fresh crabs and tasty bee hoon but was a tad too salty. Wish there was moore bee hoon too.  

Braised Crocodile Horn-Strip in Superior Stock. This turned out to be too starchy for my liking. Is that Prada crocodile skin? :p

For something less adventurous, the Smoked Duck Breast rocks. Smoky like bacon but with an appeal that was a cross between roast duck and ham. Yummy!

The other meat dish we had was the Guinness Sauce Short Rib. A bit oily but nice sticky, savouriness appeal to this pork rib dish. 

Dinned ended with the Home-made Coconut Jelly. A dessert that I find to be average and a tad pricey.

And of course, besides the wonderful companions at the table, we had these alcoholic ones. Moohehe.

Seafood is the star here and they do them pretty darn well!

Ming Kee Live Seafood
520 MacPherson Road
Tel: 6744 5520

Chew On This: Unlike the father's Ming Kee restaurant along the same road, this one does not do walk-ins. Reservation only. Hmm..not sure if that's a smart thing to do. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pit Stop for a Simple Thai Lunch

This hungry (and often thirsty) cow was actually headed to a wine warehouse sale but made a pit stop at a near by Thai restaurant for lunch. 

Seeing they had reasonably priced set lunches which included a drink, we decided to try them.

I enjoyed the Green Curry Chicken with Thai Eggplant & Fried Egg ($7.90). Spooned over steamed white rice, the green curry was aromatic and appetising. The blend of spices was well balanced and a drizzle of coconut cream added both creaminess and flavour. The chicken pieces were a little tough but all was good when I bit into a spoonful of green curry and fried egg.

With Beef Noodle Soup ($8.90) listed on the menu, it would be hard for moo to say no. This version here was clear but full-bodied and had a backbone of beef stock, soy sauce and spices like cinnamon and star anise. The chunks of beef (I'm guessing brisket) were quite dry. Maybe shin would have been better. The beef slices turned out better- with nice bite and flavour. The beef balls were also not bad.

The Pad Thai ($8.90 for the seafood option) bordered a tad on the sweet side but was nice and moist. Good smokiness too. A squeeze of Thai lime perked it up.

With any of the set lunches ordered, an additional $2 would get one a small bowl of Tom Yum Soup. While the soup was sufficiently spicy and sour, it somehow didn't quite work for me. A decent mix of seafood including dory dish, prawns and sotong made it seem pretty good value for an extra $2.

Set lunches also entitle one to enjoy 20% off desserts!

The Red Ruby (U.P$4) was a simple bowl of jelly, "red rubies" that could have more chestnut and coconut milk. Slices of jackfruit really elevated this dessert. On the right side, the Mango Sticky Rice (U.P$6) was a good combination of mangoes that had the right proportion of tangy-ness and sweetness, and a salty, glutinous rice topped with creamy coconut milk.

Then it was off for some wine shopping! Weeeeeee. *Hic*

E-SARN Thai Cuisine
130 Pasir Panjang Road (other outlets at Thomson Ridge, Robertson Quay & Ridgewood Close)
Tel: 6473 3716
Closes: Every Tuesday though some outlets operate on Tuesdays
Chew On This: BYO wines here allowed with no corkage fee. Glasses charged at $1/glass and ice bucket at $2.50 though.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bak Chang Season!

I know it is time for bak chang or rice dumplings season when my mum offers me a bak chang twice a day. Moohahaha.

I received some bak chang love from Man Fu Yuan too. Their Babi Ponteh Dumpling ($8.80) was pretty yummy with sweet-savoury flavours of braised pork, fermented soy bean paste, cinnamon and a bit of gula melaka.

For a super luxurious gift option, consider Szechuan Court's Premium Dumping ($288). This 1kg mammoth-sized dumpling was chock full of goodies like dried scallop, African abalone, dried Matsutake mushrooms, Alaskan king crab meat, Hong Kong dried shrimps and...

two pieces of foie gras! Overall, this dumpling packed heaps of seafood flavours with a spicy touch.

Happy bak chang-ing everyone! :D

Thanks to InterContinental Singapore and Fairmont Singapore for the dumplings.

Chew On This: Even though bak chang is available all-year round, there's something special about eating it in its season lah.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

db Bistro Moderne Launches New Menu by New Executive Chef Jonathan Kinsella

With new Executive Chef Jonathan Kinsella on board, db Bistro Moderne launches a revamped menu.

But first up, some cocktails to ease into dinner. The Pink Floyd (on the left) is an appetising concoction of pomegranate-infused tequila, lemon juice and egg white (for the creamy froth). On its right is Exit The Dragon which somehow brought Bruce Lee to my mind. Moohehe. White rum infused with mandarin, Chinese 5 spice syrup and lemon juice.

A refreshing dish to begin dinner was the Seafood and Vegetable Aioli (available for brunch, lunch & dinner). This plate offered a nice variety of flavours and textures. A very fresh and clean touch. The smallish mussels blew me away with their sweetness.

Seared Diver Scallops (dinner only; appetiser portion shown here) boasted a taste of spring. The scallops were juicy, cooked perfectly and paired with carrot, peas, quail egg and bacon.

Paired with a Chardonnay from Au Bon Climat, Cuvée Daniel. This Santa Barbara Chardonnay  was restrained with fresh tropical fruits notes and good acidity.

The pasta dish of Saffron Tagliolini (lunch & dinner; appetiser portion shown here) had simple flavours which were delicious. The soft strands of pasta were accompanied by spanner crab meat, tomatoes, parsley, lemon and olive oil.

The next dish was one sexy chick(en)! The Herb Roasted Organic Spring Chicken "Provencal" (dinner only) had FLAVOUR. For those who think chicken is a boring tasteless meat option, try this French breed Malaysian PR chicken. Spoon over the wild mushrooms and chicken jus and you'll find yourself eating in blissful silence.

The chicken was paired with a Pinot Noir- Sancerre Rouge, Les Romains, Gitton 2008. Quite elegant with berries and red fruits. Soft, rounded tannins.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chef Daniel's Restaurant Daniel, a selection of his NYC classics will be made available on Mondays on a rotation basis. One of these include the Boulud Sud's Mediterranean Mezze- a patter of herb falafel, English pea hummus, sheep's milk ricotta and house made socca chips. 

Mooving on the desserts.

Executive Pastry Chef Benjamin Siwek created this Durian “Royale” Souffle (brunch, lunch & dinner). Ang moh chef does a durian dessert? Moohaha. Yes, brave is he indeed. Unfortunately, the durian flavour in the souffle did not appeal to me. It tasted quite similar to durian essence which I'm not a fan of. As a counterbalance to the "heaty" durian, a scoop of mangosteen sorbet was presented alongside. I am guessing chef had his inspiration from an experience at a Geylang fruit stall. :p

Another tropical fruit incorporated into a dessert- jackfruit! The Jackfruit Verrine (lunch & dinner) was my favourite dessert for the evening. The jackfruit's flavours were big and bold, and its fragrance was distinct. Additions of lime, palm sugar ice cream and sago gave it texture, balance and creaminess. 
While the Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake (lunch & dinner) looked pretty, I couldn't quite taste it after the stronger durian and jackfruit flavours in the previous two desserts. A pity. :(

For a touch of tartness in dessert, the Rhubarb Tart (lunch & dinner) would appeal. The natural acidity of rhubarb cuts through sugar and white chocolate nicely.

The meal ended with Madeleines. Warm, citrusy and moist, these will always be a safe bet to round off any meal at db Bistro Moderne. 

Thanks to Philicia Tan of Marina Bay Sands and the team at db Bistro Moderne for hosting me.

db Bistro Moderne
B1-48 Galleria Level
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Tel: 6688 8525

Chew On This: Heads up, vinos! Enjoy half price off wines priced above $150 every Monday. Labels include a 1990 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux and a 2005 Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru among others.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Dinner at Manhill Restaurant

It was a recce trip for something I won't disclose or at least not at this stage but one had to have dinner   so we popped into the near by Manhill Restaurant.

Claypot are apparently their specialty. The Pot Beef ($14 for small) had chunks of beef brisket in a dark sauce. It was quite oily but also very flavoursome. Yay for pieces of tendons stewed until they were gelatinous! For me, two small bet-you-will-kick-yourself-if-you-missed-these items stood out- garlic and onions. These were whole, soft, sweet and infused with the braising stock.

For something lighter, try the Fish and Tofu Soup ($6). The tofu was a generous portion and ginger accented the soup which proved to be a nice palate cleanser from the other oily dishes.

The vegetable dish of Foo Yu Lettuce ($8) had a slight savoury touch from the fermented beancurd but was also rather oily.

Hor Fun ($8 for small) packed wok hei. The kway teow was dark, smoky and had a tad of sweetness. Thick slices of lean pork, cuttlefish, prawns, fish and chye sim in a smooth starchy gravy completed the rest of the dish.

Overall, there was a rustic and homecooked quality to the food here. :)

Manhill Restaurant
99 & 99A Pasir Panjang Road
Tel: 6474 6835

Chew On This: This restaurant started in 1964, just one year shy of Singapore's independence!