Monthly Archives: June 2010

My birthday at Marque

With me being in Sydney the week after my actual birthday, and with no real desire to visit any restaurant in Singapore at the moment, I asked D if I could have my birthday dinner at Marque in Sydney. Been wanting to go there for a while now, and am glad I finally did.

Perhaps it’s the entire change in the vibe of eating out in Sydney – where in Singapore the average Singaporean has access to the local food, there are cafes and affordable restaurants all over town that are not going to break the bank so much that it becomes a once a week/month/occasion sort of thing.

Marque is unassuming and I think deserves to be voted best restaurant in Sydney last year simply because the food is amazing, and the service is absolutely top notch. EVERY ONE of the staff there are attentive, seem to know every customer in there and absolutely everything there is to know about the food without actually being in the kitchen and cooking it. They are attentive without being obtrusive and efficient and polite and friendly and just…great.

The food speaks for itself. The flavours of my entree – thinly sliced bluefin tuna, over a lightly whipped creamy mousse of foie gras on a slice of brioche was so delicately flavoured that you almost needed the “pork crackling” – crushed up pieces of crackling – sprinkled liberally over the top of the fish, to add texture and salt to the dish.

The duck I had for main has to be one of the best ducks that I have had, and I have had a lot of duck. Served medium with super crispy skin (because let’s face it, the skin’s always the best bit) and roasted jerusalem artichoke hearts and a hearty serving of thick whipped potatoes which were divine, was a wonderful meal.

It didn’t end (or start, actually) there – we were first presented with an amouse bouche, which was a warm egg yolk served in the shell with cream whipped with four spice with crostini crusted with salt.

Before dessert we were served with a sauterne custard with a caramel topping, the most posh creme caramel we have ever tasted.

Dessert was the winner for me. D ordered the chocolate mousse which was incredibly rich yet light and served with mousse “ecrase”, which was bits of a larger chocolate mousse that chef Mark Best had frozen with liquid nitrogen and then “crushed”. My “lemon tart” was served to me looking like a giant yellow egg on crushed oreo biscuits and when cracked, revealed an also liquid nitrogen treated inside of marshmallowy, icy tartness. It was incredible.

We were so full after that we were really struggling to finish the petit fours they served, but it was explained that the chef wanted us to end our meal with four flavours – sweet, sour, salt and bitter. First was an apple jelly crusted with lime sugar, second white chocolate with lemon juice encased inside, third (our favourite) was dark chocolate with a salt caramel inside and finally a sweet that had amara, an Italian herb liqueur. It was the perfect way to end a perfect evening.

Thanks D !

Marque
4/5 355 Crown Street
Surry Hills
+612 9332 2225

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Tabou

Tuesday night dinner at bustling Tabou was just stupendous. Simple provincial food like tripe with caramelised onions and tomatoes, and the “porc” dish for main, which consisted of pork loin, Toulouse sausage and pork confit served with the most truffly mash I have ever tasted made walking to the restaurant and back again in the chilly winter air more than worth it.

Tabou
527 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW
Australia
+612 9319 5682


Inagiku

My fab friend Bianca and I caught up on a Thursday night over sashimi at Inagiku.  Tucked away amongst the hustle and bustle of Raffles City, you seem to almost retreat into a cone of silence as you enter the restaurant.

Luckily there was plenty of space at the sashimi counter as I never did get a call back to confirm my reservation, so we happily sat and watched the expert sushi chef at work while we sipped our sake and caught up.

We were presented with a gorgeous selection of delectably fresh sashimi, from scallops to prawns, to toro to uni.  It seemed to almost melt in your mouth, bursting full of the flavour of the sea.

Bianca and I ended up getting quite loud after a few sakes, but despite the elegant feel of the restaurant, the ambiance is still very relaxed and the staff were ever attentive without being intrusive.

If we were still peckish I think we would have ordered two dishes which I had had previously there – flounder, and wagyu steak sushi, where both top sushi rice and are lightly seared with a blowtorch.  Absolute heaven in your mouth and I think what I will have the next time I visit there !

To make things even better, with the Feed at Raffles card, you get 50% off your food and 25% off the alcohol, which eases the pain on your wallet.  What further proof do you need to visit ?

Inagiku
3rd Floor, 80 Bras Basah Road S(189560), Raffles The Plaza
Tel: 6431 6156


The night we ate ourselves stupid at Jing

On a Monday night, no less ! Be warned that the banquet at Jing comes with enormous portions which left us gasping for breath at the end of the meal. A lot of the meal went wasted, actually. And the food was, well, not GREAT. Good, just not great. Which was a little disappointing, but tells me to stick to the greats like Crystal Jade or Peach Blossom for good Cantonese food.

First dish was what seemed like crumbed and fried foie gras, steamed oyster, wasabi prawn (which I think was the winner) and crab with caviar.  This was followed by an extremely heavy hot and sour soup, followed by an absolutely enormous fried fillet of fish which was actually deliciously light, just huge.  That was followed by smaller (by request) portions of the pepper beef, and then lobster noodle and then dessert.  I think I am still digesting my dinner from last night !


chocolate has a temper

Well I think it has, after spending the better part of the weekend attempting to temper chocolate. I had originally had a craving for rocky road after seeing a slab of it the last time we visited Jones the Grocer. Never having attempted tempering chocolate before, I spent Saturday buying the things I needed – the ever reliable Sia Huat for the chocolate thermometer, and Sun Lik for a slab of Swiss dark chocolate (I decided to give the indulgence of Valrhona a skip until I had managed to get tempering right first).

First thing was to convert those damn Fahrenheit temperatures to Celsius which I am just not great at – so I had to write them down to make sure I didn’t have to faff about worrying about that when I was meant to be stirring.

The act of tempering chocolate is based on chemistry, which makes it more than just delicious for me. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, which, when melted can form six types of polymorphs – the ones we want to keep are the Beta of type V, which will result in a glossy coating that doesn’t melt in your fingers and has a nice “snap” when broken. Each crystal form has different melting and cooling temperatures, so by controlling the temperature at which you melt the chocolate and cool it to, you can help the Beta crystals (and not the other five types) to form.

The other really cool thing I learned about part of the tempering process is called “seeding”. This is where, after you have melted the chocolate the first time, you add (or “seed”) in already tempered chocolate, which the molten chocolate will imitate in its form.

The basics of tempering chocolate is to melt the chocolate to 46C, cool it while stirring to 29C and then reheat to 32C, when you can begin working with it to dip food in.

The things that I tried that made it successful were:
1) Don’t break your chocolate up in too small pieces (I still need to figure out why this helps)
2) My seeding chocolate was Lindt 70%, which is perfectly tempered
3) Patience when cooling the chocolate, and stirring constantly while it cools

Apart from that, the two evils of working with chocolate are water, which makes the chocolate seize, and overheating the chocolate (to more than 50C), which burns the chocolate and makes it unworkable.

I’ve got my rocky road setting on the bench (and not in the fridge!) and D cleaning the bowl of melted chocolate. What a lovely way to end the weekend.


Brilliant bedrock

If you want a really really great steak in Singapore and can’t get to Mortons, go to Bedrock. Tucked away in a quiet enclave behind 313 Somerset, this gem of a restaurant has it all. Delicious, tender, perfectly done steaks (where you can order roasted marrow or pan-roasted foie gras on top), iberico ham, well mixed cocktails and discrete but attentive staff who seem to understand, well, service.

Unlike Prime Society, it has a solid understanding of ambiance, and manages to create a cosy, warm ambiance that makes you, well, want to be there. And their truffle mash, which has a heavenly aroma of truffles, has a perfect consistency, unlike the glue-type consistency of the one at Prime Society.

I couldn’t find two more different restaurants and I’m very very very glad that we found Bedrock. Hurrah !

Bedrock Bar & Grill
96 Somerset Road
#01-05 Pan Pacific Service Suites
6238 0054


pretty like Magnolia Bakery’s cupcakes…just not as sweet.

I am making cupcakes for my niece’s birthday party in a few weeks, and so I decided to do some practising as it’s been a while since I baked.

I decided to try the Magnolia Bakery’s recipe which I tried a while back, but found to be a tad heavy for my liking, and also I think perhaps more to the American palette which prefers sweeter sweets.

Luckily, this batch turned out perfectly to my liking, not too sweet, some salt which I always think balances sweet things, and light and fluffy. So here’s my recipe:

Makes about 8 large cupcakes or 6 large and 6 small (I have teeny silicone cupcake moulds which I think make perfect kid-sized cupcakes)
Just under 1 1/2 cups of plain flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder (or I suppose you could just use self-raising flour, I just don’t have that in the flat)
115g softened salted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup of milk
generous free-pour of vanilla extract (NOT essence)

Cream butter until fluffy
add sugar and beat 3 minutes
add eggs one at a time, beating well between eggs
alternate sifted flour with milk/vanilla in two batches making sure that they are well mixed but do not overbeat – I just used a low setting until just combined
Spoon into cupcake moulds which are set in a muffin tray and cook 10 minutes at 180C for the small cupcakes, and 20 mins for the large cupcakes.

Cool for 15 minutes before taking them out of the tray and then cool completely before topping with butter icing.

Butter icing – enough to top the above quantity of cupcake:
120g salted butter
1/2 cup of milk
3 cups icing sugar
generous dollop of vanilla extract
food colouring (optional)

Beat the above ingredients for 3-5 minutes.


Steel cut oats

As a break from our standard weekend fry-ups, D and I decided to try oats for Sunday breakfast.  He was happy with his usual rolled oats.  I tried steel cut oats for the first time – and I love them !  They take a while to cook (15 mins) but portions can be stored in the fridge and then as you want to eat them, you can reheat them with some milk.  They have a surprisingly chewy texture which I really like – feels like you’re eating something substantial, even though it’s comfort food.  I struggle to eat breakfasts which aren’t food that you can eat for lunch (like a good nasi lemak yum) so this will fuel me up for a great start to the day !


Long Beach East Coast Seafood Centre

I can’t believe that I cannot ever recall going to East Coast Seafood Centre. Maybe it’s just been so long that it’s changed enough for me to remember anything but it’s brilliant! It was a lovely cool evening in Singapore with a nice seaside breeze (that unfortunately brought along with it a whiff of oil from the recent oil spill) and we ate at Long Beach. I honestly think they are more or less the same nowadays, but we decided on this place simply because it had tables along the seaside.

I love crab so much that I also think ordering other food is redundant, but we ordered garlic prawns, asparagus and kangkong in belachan, beef stir fried with ginger and shallots, fried rice on top of the main events, black pepper crab and chilli crab. We ordered two smaller crabs black pepper style and one crab chilli style and I swear the weight of the two dishes would have been the same – the chilli crab was enormous! I actually like the smaller crabs as I feel the taste of the flesh is sweeter and the shells just easier to get through but the crabs last night were so fresh that both were equally good.

Crab by the seaside with beer. Couldn’t ask for much better than that.

Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, UDMC Eastcoast Seafood Centre
1202 East Coast Parkway
#01-04 East Coast Seafood Centre
Tel: +65 6448 3636