Monthly Archives: July 2010

Back to PS Cafe

I’d only ever been to the PS Cafe in Palais Renaissance for tea/coffee and decided to have dinner there with some friends to try to see if the food lived up to the menu.  I’ve always been a bit disappointed with the other PS Cafes’ food.  They apparently gather inspiration from their menus from Sydney (hence the obvious appeal to me) but always never delivered what the menu seemed to live up to its promise.

We were there on a Friday night and it was full and buzzy but the attentive waiters had it all in their stride.  Soothing jazz is piped through the restaurant and the patrons are respectfully quiet enough to be able to appreciate it.

Truffle fries were soon ordered as we waited for our friends to all arrive, and they are the perfect snack to start the evening off with a glass of wine or beer.  Deliciously crisp and wonderfully truffly, we munched on these as we perused the menu.

I was torn between the ribs or the burger and decided on the onion ring burger.  It’s enormous and weighs a ton and is difficult to eat but absolutely delicious.  Juicy and tasty.  My friends who ordered the steak thought that they had had better, but it was solidly OK..

Again, I love this place, for it’s ability to make me feel like I’m far away from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road (particular around Orchard Towers on a Friday night).

PS Cafe
Palais Renaissance
2nd floor, 390 Orchard Road
6887 2207

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What a view from Lantern

The Fulleron Bay Hotel is finally open in all its glory and to commemorate its cultural location, the hotel’s interior design – masterminded by sought-after Asian designer Andre Fu and LCL Architects – will reflect the historical and the contemporary, combining traditional materials, patterns and antiques with modern art and technology to create an elegant and refined atmosphere.

The hotel’s rooftop bar, Lantern, takes full advantage of the spectacular views that the hotel offers. Serving sexy nibbles, posh snacks and tantalizing grilled meats alongside a selection of cocktails created by its resident mixologist, they recently erected a canopy over the main bar – presumably to ensure the glamourset guests can stay dry in the rain while drinking their refreshingly well-done cocktails.  Being under the canopy makes it a bit warmer, but you get to really enjoy the view from the comfort of the beds that face the marina.

Latern
Rooftop, Fullerton Bay Hotel
80 Collyer Quay, Singapore
65 6333 8388


Brussel Sprouts

With an hour for a quick dinner before heading to the Singapore Repertory Theatre to see a show led us to Brussel Sprouts at Roberston Walk.

The place has a casual ambiance with friendly, efficient staff who served us our ice-cold beers, with our moules frites and vis en frites, the belgium version of beer battered fish and chips.

The batter for the fish was almost ridiculously crispy, the fish inside steamed to perfection without being oily.

Brussel Sprouts
80 Mohamed Sultan Road #01-12 The Pier @ Robertson Singapore

Tel: +65 6887 4344


Tung Lok Classics at the Chinese Swimming Club

I had the opportunity to eat at Tung Lok Classics the other day when a family friend took my visiting grandmother to dinner.  The Chinese Swimming Club is actually two buildings – think old, and new.  Tung Lok is situated on the third floor of the new Club.

Overlooking the pool, this unassuming restaurant serves authentic, time-honoured Chinese classic dishes from Shanghainese, Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine.  Expect no surprises, but eat well !  The dishes are carefully created and complex and serve to delight your tastebuds.

We started with the ubiquitous roast pork squares, with its crispy skin and melt-in-your-mouth tender meat, followed by traditional peking duck.  The duck was served three ways – crispy skin skillfully removed, in pancakes with shallots and hoisin sauce,  roast duck meat, and then duck congee.   The soup of the day was a pork and salt fish soup with herbs that soothed the stomach and the soul, fragrant and tasty without being overpowering.

This was followed by juicy, firm, steamed fish fillets with preserved vegetables, braised homemade tofu, fried snake beans.

For dessert, I ordered the durian mochi, which was a deliciously soft intense explosion of durian it was almost shocking.  Absolutely the best way to end an evening of well-executed, classic food.

The one thing I will add is that I noticed that the restaurant also specialises in Sharks Fin Soup.  If it were up to me to choose the venue I would have gone to Szechuan Court at the Fairmont Hotel where they have taken Shark’s Fin off the menu.

Tung Lok Classics
Level 3
Chinese Swimming Club
21 Amber Road, Singapore
+65 6345 0111

Mon–Sat: 11.30am–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm
Sun & PH: 10am–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm

Szechuan Court
Level 3, Fairmont Hotel
8o Bras Basah Road
+65 6431 6156


Bistro du vin

Feeling like some rustic French food, we had initially wanted to go to Le Bistro for some of their delicious roasted garlic soup, but as they were fully booked, we thought we’d try Bistro du Vin, somewhere I’d walked past many times and wanted to try but never got around to visiting.

And are we glad we did.  Part of the Les Amis group, tucked between Les Amis and La Strada, the menu is small and simple, the wines, well chosen and not going to break the bank.

We started with a perfectly poached egg atop sauteed mushrooms with iberico ham and white balsamic vinegar, delicately flavoured with licorice-y chervil.  I am not one for googy egg yolks, but this was just superb and the crusty white bread which they served us was the perfect medium to dunk into the egg and mop up the juice on the plate.

My main course was unarguably the winner of the evening – a suckling pig hock, which had been cooked confit-style, so was melt-off-the-bone tender, and then oven seared to get the skin crispy good.  Served with french saukraut to cut through the richness of the meat, it was absolute heaven.

We all looked longingly into “the cave”, a chilled wine room that also had charcuterie meats hung tantalisingly to be sliced to order, but D and I were cured-meat-out from our meal the night before at Stellar.

The steak was a little disappointingly thin – like a minute steak, but was apparently very tasty.  The rest of the food rustic and simple.  Desserts – we ordered the chocolate fondant, grand marnier souffle, creme brulee and thin apple tart were all cooked to perfection.

The only complaint was that the pomerol we ordered was the last bottle in the house !

Bistro du Vin
1 Scotts Road, #02-12
6733 7633

Open daily:
Lunch: 11.30am – 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.00pm


Stellar night at Stellar and 1-Altitude

It was a Friday night – what other excuse did we need to go out for something fancy ? Leaving the plans to D, he booked us a table with what has to be one of the best views in Singapore at Stellar, one of the many, many new restaurants opening around the city.

On the 62 floor of the OUB building, the lift doors open to a large, airy, light-filled, buzzy bistro. I was surprised and impressed that they did not seem to want to cramp the restaurant with too many tables – in fact, I think they could have added another in – but we were seated by the window overlooking the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, which looked tiny from our lofty view.

The place could do with slightly better acoustics – it was a full house but the waiters had to stoop down to your seated-head level just to hear your order, but the buzz of the other patrons talking added to the lively ambiance. The music selection was also a bit schizophrenic – from drum and bass to freestyle jazz to Nina Simone. By the end of our meal, the music theme had gone to traditional old-style (and I think restaurant-worthy) smooth jazz.

The menu is wide and varied – not really sure what type of restaurant it’s trying to be. Apparently they specialise in charcuterie, so we ordered the charcuterie plate to share, and for mains I ordered the truffle risotto with Maine lobster and D ordered what I thought would be the winner, suckling pig stuffed with kurubota pork, iberico ham with crackling.  There was also a sushi menu, an oyster bar, a seafood and grill.  There’s no real theme to tie the menu together, but we are lovers of cured meat, so we stuck to what we love!

The charcuterie plate turned up on a afternoon-sandwich tea server. Top of the pile was the iberico ham which always is a winner. Second tier was the proscuitto and serano ham – both delicious and not a lot of difference between them, bottom tier had a game terrine)- fairly bland, a rabbit rillette, which was pretty average, the fat on the top was rock hard which made it a little unappetising, and a foie gras parfait, which will always pale into comparison with chef Andre Chiang’s from his days at Jaan.

Turns out I was so happy with my main (which I could quite happily have had minus the lobster), which was perfectly cooked and just so so truffly, I turned down D’s very kind offer of some of his crackling.

The suckling pig was disappointing. Turned out it was rolled around the stuffing but the stuffing was not “meaty” and ended up leaving D wanting more. It just wasn’t well presented either. Hard to explain, and my picture didn’t turn out.  The truffle fries are fantastic – crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside and D told me that if it weren’t for the mega truffly risotto I had had, I would have noticed the truffle oil on the fries.  The mash was also smooth and creamy and tasted…very potato-y.

I have to give them points for trying hard with the service.  The waitress who served us our charcuterie plate listed everything on the plate, but mixed up the hams, and explained that the terrine had “guinea pig” instead of guinea fowl, the waiter who took my dirty unused knife had to be asked twice for a replacement, but they were friendly and helpful.

We skipped dessert to visit the not-yet-ready 1-Altitude upstairs on the 63 level.  Stunning panoramic views from the highest open air bar in the world (for now) amused us for a while while we tried to figure out where things are from a very different perspective.  The bar was not yet built, and the whole setup for now still feels a bit flimsy, but I’m sure once it’s all done it will be a massive hit with the crowds.

All in all, a lovely way to spend a Friday night.

1-Altitude/Stellar
Level 61 OUB Building
No 1 Raffles Place
6438-0410


Pappardelle with braised pork belly in red wine

I spoke to my friend about this last night and wanted to remember this as one of my all-time favourite dishes to serve to friends at dinner.  It’s impressively delicious, and really easy to make – the slow cooker really does it all for you.

This dish was inspired by Oso’s wild boar braised in red wine.  Not having easy access to wild boar, I decided to try it with the more readily-available pork belly.

Brown the pork belly strips (I use one strip per person) in a frying pan until brown and crispy, about 3 minutes each side.

Pop the browned pork belly strips into your slow cooker along with a few cloves of garlic, some thyme and about a bottle of red wine (for four).  It will reduce down, so don’t worry that there seems to be a lot of wine in the cooker.  I put the slow cooker on high for an hour or two and then reduce it to low for the next 6 hours, but guess you could even pop it all in the cooker in the morning and leave it on slow for the day to have a wonderful pasta sauce by dinnertime.

While the pasta is cooking, take out any large pieces of the pork belly, shred into large chunks and then add back into the sauce.  Season to taste.

When you’re ready to eat, cook your pappardelle in salted water (the flavour of the water should be how salty you want your pasta to be) to just before al dente, then drain and transfer to a large frying pan with a few spoons of the cooking water (just so that the sauce can coat the pasta and make it silky) and add the sauce.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan and a few drops of good olive oil.


smoked salmon quiche with crispy potato crust

Following on with my obsession with potato rosti, and with 4 potatoes and smoked salmon in the fridge, I found a terrific way of incorporating the two to make a delicious smoked salmon quiche on a crispy potato base.  Takes a while from start to finish, maybe 2 hours, but well worth it for the very creamy result.  Good as leftovers for lunch the next day, too.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups grated, cooked potato
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, plus 1 tablespoon whole butter
  • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 medium leek, halved and thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces smoked salmon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Lightly grease a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate.

In a bowl, combine the potatoes, 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and Essence, and toss to combine. Add the Parmesan and toss to combine. Press the potato mixture into the prepared pie plate, spreading to evenly cover the bottom and up the sides. Bake until the potatoes are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Reduce the oven to 180 degrees C.

Pour the remaining tablespoon of butter into a small skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and using a wooden spoon, stir in the leeks and lemon juice. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, stirring just until combined. Add the cream, salmon, dill, salt, and pepper and mix well.

Pour the cream cheese-salmon mixture into the cooled potato crust and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and the batter is set. Cool quiche for 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or chilled.

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.


Marvellous Marche

It’s been around for ages but for some reason I have not ever been to Marche…until today.  We had arranged to meet up at Vivo before watching Oceans, the movie (which, by the way, is not the best documentary in the world, or is at least a little unorthodox in my terms, but my goodness, the footage is breathtaking and I constantly marvelled at how they managed to get some of the footage it was amazing and so so moving).

You are walked to your table through the hustle and bustle of what feels like a market, full of produce and the sights and smells of cooking food, Swiss-style.  A wonderful selection of food, from freshly made pizzas and breads to crepes (both savoury and sweet) to roast chicken, roasted pork knuckle and sausages to freshly sauteed vegetables and freshly made pastas.  I also saw paella and a selection of cakes/desserts, along with Movenpick ice-cream for a sweet ending to your meal.

We chose to share half a pork knuckle, sausage, and a crepe.

The pork knuckle (which I would easily have been greedy enough to order a whole but the boys insisted half was enough) was almost struggling to find additional surface to have delicious, melt-in-your-mouth crackling, the meat tender and falling off the bone.  The sausage was not memorable, but it came with a fried egg, atop potato rosti, which is always a favourite of mine, and the crepes were simply filled with nothing other than shredded cheese and black forest ham.

All were absolutely delicious.  Even the requisite vegetables were all devoured – crunchy sweet snowpeas, brussel sprouts, mushroom and potatoes, all washed down with cold cold Bundaberg root beer (which I am sure is not Swiss!).

The whole restaurant has a nice buzz about it, it’s a bit too family oriented for my liking (too many screaming kids) but the venue of Vivo as well as the type of restaurant Marche is I guess leans heavily towards family so I can’t really complain haha.  The service is also not the best (although I am sadly becoming immune to poor service, having lived in Singapore for 3+ years now) and it errs on the wrong side of rude, rather than just ignorant, which is a real issue for me.

Anyway, I am looking forward to visiting the Marche that has opened up in 313 Somerset for somewhere a little closer to home and also to go back for more of that pork knuckle !

Marche Vivo City

Address: 1 Harbourfront Walk #03-14 VivoCity Singapore

Tel: +65 6376 8226


unbaked lemon cheesecake

I received a recipe for a delicious looking baked cheesecake the other day and it inspired me to make the much easier and equally delicious (in my mind) unbaked lemon cheesecake.

A reliable recipe that works every time:

Base
250g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
70g melted butter
zest of one lemon
1tsp lemon juice

Filling
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
250g sour cream
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp gelatine, dissolved in 2 tbs warm water

Mix all base ingredients together and line the base and sides of a 20cm springform tin, using the base of a tumbler to press the mixture down. Put in the fridge to set while you prepare the filling.

For the filling, cream the cheese and add in sour cream to mix. Add in lemon juice, sugar and mix well. Add the gelatine. Fill the base and chill for a few hours until set.