Monthly Archives: August 2012

Catalunya

Jamón ibérico “Gran Reserva” served with crusty bread topped with crushed tomatoes and olive oil

I’ve been waiting with much anticipation for Catalunya to open. Excited about the prospect of enjoying dishes created by a crack team with executive chef Alain Devahive Tolosa – who has worked in the wonderfully creative El Bulli – and eating them in the incredible floating restaurant in One Fullerton, was a way of us to experience a bit of El Bulli, especially since we were unable to visit before it closed.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What you get, is a very simple, traditional Spanish menu, including snacks, cold and hot tapas, meat and seafood.

Realising that we were about to do our usual and order everything off the menu (our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs), we agreed that in order to enjoy the food, we would stick to either tapas or mains. Tapas won the toss.

We started with Jamón ibérico “Gran Reserva” – cured Iberian ham, along with the recommended bread with tomato and olive oil. The ham was delicious (it always is!), beautifully paired with the crusty bread with a refreshing topping of crushed tomatoes and olive oil.

Tomato salad with tuna belly and basil

Second to the table was a tomato salad with tuna belly and basil. Perhaps my love of Japanese food influenced my order here – I read “tuna belly” and thought “toro” sashimi – with its delicate fresh flavour of the sea. What was served was cooked tuna belly, which, with toro on my mind, made me think of tinned tuna. What a waste of such a prized piece of fish to cook it completely through. The wonderful creaminess of the tuna belly was completely lost and what we got was flakes of cooked tuna in a tomato salad. Even the sweetness of the tomato salad couldn’t redeem this dish for me.

We then were served calamari, andalucian style, served with mayonnaise. Sadly, this dish was also a disappointment. The batter was light, but greasy and also lacking in seasoning, so it ended up tasting very bland, even with the mayonnaise.

Suckling pig with lemon purée

Redemption came in the form of roasted sucking pig with lemon purée. Suckling pig is obviously a Spanish speciality, and  the chefs at Catalunya executed this perfectly. Roasting slowly for over 12 hours means tender and juicy meat, with perfectly crisp skin. Suckling pig is a very rich dish, and the lemon puree adds fresh dimension that brings this dish alive in your mouth as well as balancing the richness. Our waiter explained that the puree was potato based, and the flavour of the lemon came from the white pith. There was such a zingy lemon flavour that I would have thought it was from lemon oil or the rind and there was absolutely no bitterness that I associate with the pith. Gorgeous dish.

Estrallados – eggs with fries and chorizo iberico

The last savoury dish we ordered was estrallados, eggs with fries and chorizo iberico. This was served to us exactly as it was described – scrambled eggs with fried slices of potato, topped with thin slices of chorizo. This was tasty, although I felt like I should have had that for breakfast, or at least while the sun was still out.

Torrija – fried milk bread with spices with smoked milk ice-cream

The final dish was a great way to finish the evening – torrija – fried milk bread with spices with smoked milk ice-cream. It seemed really odd on paper, it was really odd in real life, but my goodness, how that oddness worked ! I tried the smoked milk ice-cream first – an explosion of smokiness in a mouthful of cold milky ice-cream. And then the fried milk bread – dense and chewy and intensely sweet, the two apart were almost too much for my senses, together, perfectly balanced.

The restaurant is stunning from the outside – a floating dome of glass floating on top of the waters at Marina Bay, and from the inside it is luxurious and comfortable, with an equally stunning panoramic view of Marina Bay Sands across the water. Attentive and competent staff round out the experience of dining at this chic restaurant. Dress to impress !

Catalunya
The Fullerton Pavilion
82 Collyer Quay
Singapore
Tel: 6534 0886

Open daily: 12 noon to 2am

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Gaia – one the best Italian in Singapore

Antipasta – stracciatella with vine ripened tomatoes and San Daniele ham

Who can resist the wonderful simplicity and generosity of Italian cuisine ? Luckily there are a few great Italian restaurants in Singapore where you can go for a great meal – Valentinos, No Menu, Bistecca, Il Lido – just to name a few.

We discovered a great new Italian restaurant – Gaia at the Goodwood Park Hotel. It doesn’t have the home-grown family-run charm of Valentinos or No Menu, but this slick restaurant has knocked the crown off those both for me for the best Italian in Singapore.

The menu screams of the freshest and best ingredients and I started with an antipasta plate of proscuitto ham from San Daniele – slightly less salty and more sweet than Parma ham, stracciatella – cheese made of torn pieces of mozzarella and cream and used as stuffing for burrata and the most amazing vine-ripened tomatoes. Ham, cheese and tomato. Perfect combination and elevated to the next level using three simple ingredients to which the response to each mouthful was “oh. my. god.”

Mushroom consommé palate cleanser

After they cleared our starters, we were served a palate cleanser. I was thinking sorbet, fruit, a shot of calvados, and they pour us a small cup of what I thought was tea, but ended up being a mushroom consommé. Odd, yet a perfect palate cleanser – clean and refreshing that tasted amazing in your mouth and no aftertaste.

It sure worked for me to prepare myself for the next dish, especially as I had ordered off the special truffle menu – handmade pasta with shaved black truffles. I mean, how can anyone go past that ?

Handmade pasta with black truffles

The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente – a little thicker than normal but clearly made without the use of a pasta machine, with just the right amount of thinly shaved black truffles draped over the warm pasta, filling the air around me with that wonderful, heady aroma of truffles.

Dessert was the flan di cioccolato – described as an “oven baked chocolate cake with a liquid heart”. The fondant had that gooey runny chocolate centre, with the richness of the chocolate balanced with a light vanilla sauce and fresh berries.

Seriously good stuff. Any other suggestions for great Italian in Singapore ?

Gaia Ristorante and Bar
Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road, Singapore
Tel: 6735 9937

Open:
Lunch – 12pm – 2.30pm (Sun – Fri)
Dinner – 6.30pm – 11pm (Mon – Sun)


Morton’s UDSA Prime Burger – the best burger in Singapore ?

Morton’s is an institution in Singapore. The restaurant is renowned for their succulent steaks and seafood, and the bar, well, their martinis are pretty legendary.

There are tons of places I’ve heard or read of in Singapore, reputed to have “the best burger in Singapore”, but in the mood for a classic burger, I figured why chance it – let’s go to Morton’s for their USDA prime burger.

At dinner time, it’s only served in the bar (the one next to the restaurant, not the martini lounge). It’s dim there. As in, squintingly so (I’m blaming the light, not my poor eyesight), but there’s a true retro feel about the entire restaurant. It makes you feel like you should have dressed up in your furs (sorry PETA) and diamonds to have the pleasure to dine there.

Now on to this famed burger – the photo does the burger no justice, so you’re going to have to trust me on this.

The kitchen considerately halved the burger and served us on two plates, but I’d imagine when it is whole, to be a towering beast of a burger. It comes with pretty much everything – enormous beef patty, perfectly seasoned and cooked just right at medium rare, so it was juicy and succulent, cheese, crispy bacon and sauteed mushroom and onions.

Served with hand cut fries – thick cut, crispy on the outside, fluffy and soft on the inside – there was also a small “garnish”, which included fresh tomato and sliced red onion, both of which added some freshness and crunch to each big mouthful of burger.

Messy, juicy and utterly delicious – it’s everything you want in a burger, right down to the lightly toasted sesame seed bun.

OK, I know I have to give other burger joints a chance now – any suggestions on challengers for this grand title ?

Morton’s Bar 12.21
Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Fourth Storey
5 Raffles Avenue
Marina Square, Singapore
Tel: 6339 3740

Bar 12.21 open
Monday – Saturday 5pm – 11pm
Sunday 5pm – 10pm