Category Archives: Dinner

Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt (OCF) – charming French fare in Singapore

The divine “Black Forest” dessert 

The name of this restaurant is definitely a mouthful. Thankfully, the restaurant with the name of Sir Stamford Raffles’ first wife, has been shortened to a much easier to remember, OCF.

Set in the beautiful Arts House in central Singapore, Chef Jonathan Koh brings sophisticated French dining in the elegant ambiance of the restaurant.

During weekdays, they serve an executive lunch set, which changes according to seasonal produce. You can select from three entrees, three mains and three desserts.

Our amouse-bouche was egg tartare (a combination of all the elements of a classic tartare sauce – think a softly tangy egg salad), ratte potato and smoked trout, topped with Kristal caviar. From our counter seat, we could see the kitchen is relaxed, but focused. An explosion of complementary flavours in a spoonful that really set the tone for the rest of the meal.

Foie gras terrine with heirloom beets and chervil root

Starters was a foie gras terrine, with heirloom beets and wafer thin slices of chervil root and a hint of truffle oil to tie all that earthiness together. The terrine was dense and smooth and rich and so full of flavour, with the fresh chervil root adding a light balance to the dish.

French seabass, artichoke barigoule

Second course was a pan-fried French sea bass, served with the scales still on, with artichoke barigoule (artichokes braised in a white wine broth). The texture of the skin is thicker than you expect with the scales on, but the scales add a crunchy texture which contrasted well with the lightness of the sea bass.

Iberian pork saddle, parsley root, yellos chanterelle

Next up was a true revelation. Iberian pork saddle with parsley root and yellow chanterelles. Looked like beef, smelled like beef, moist and soft and tender like beef, but the flavour of pork. Just simply pan-fried with a thin drizzle of jus, the pork is cooked so that it is juuuuust cooked, which keeps the texture unbelievably tender. This is the dish that I had high expectations for, given that my friend had shed a tear the week before when he had his first bite – and it didn’t disappoint.

Dessert was chef’s “Black Forest” – black cherries and balls of chocolate ganache on a dense layer of cake, topped with a crisp layer of caramel with cocoa nibs, served with vanilla ice-cream and luscious salted caramel cream.

The wait staff are friendly and competent, and maître d’, Nova, will happily talk you through all the food, and will also share his crazily detailed knowledge about the selection of wine offered.

OCF are opening up another restaurant at Boat Quay with a different menu to cater for the lunch crowd, and so lunch at the current location will stop (good to know why – they struggle getting good staff, and don’t want to spread themselves too thin). No firm date given yet but will be close to Chinese New Year (end Feb 2015). I’ll definitely be visiting them again before they close to catch the lunch menu.

Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt

The Arts House
1 Old Parliament Lane
#02-02
Singapore 179429

Tel: 65 6333 9312

info@ocf-singapore.com

Lunch from 12:00 to 2:30pm
Dinner from 6:00 to 10:30pm


Quiche Lorraine

I cheat and use store-bought shortcrust pastry with my quiches. If you have the time to wait for the dough to rest, and don’t mind clearing up the mess (which I always seem to make tons of whenever making pastry) go right ahead.

Quiche Lorraine reminds me of growing up in the suburbs in Sydney and having a slice of quiche with a salad on the side. You can’t really not like it – salty bacon and sweet sauteed onions enveloped in a warm eggy pillow – with pastry. It’s pretty easy, too – just make sure you blind bake your base properly, or it will end up soggy instead of crispy and short, giving you good contrasting textures with each bite.

Ingredients

  1. 1 -2 sheets ready made shortcrust pastry
  2. 1 large onion, diced
  3. 6 rashers (or more if you want) bacon, diced
  4. 200ml heavy cream
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 1 cup grated gruyere or cheddar cheese
  7. salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/390F
  2. Line the base and sides of a loose-bottomed tart tin with the pastry
  3. Prick the base, line with baking paper and add pie weights/rice/beans before blind baking in the oven for 15 minutes
  4. Remove the baking paper and pie weights and put back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned
  5. While the base is baking, make your filling
  6. Sautee the bacon on medium-high heat until brown and crispy and remove from frying pan to cool
  7. Reduce the heat to low and cook onions until soft and translucent
  8. Mix cream, eggs, cheese together in a jug.
  9. Season with salt and pepper – remember not to oversalt as the bacon and cheese will provide additional seasoning
  10. Once the base is ready, sprinkle your bacon and onion on the base, and pour in the eggy/cheese mix over
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/320F and bake quiche for 30 minutes or the middle is just wobbly (it will continue to cook a little more once out of the oven)
  12. Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes before removing quiche from the tin
  13. Enjoy hot or cold as leftovers the next day 😉

 

 


Pizzeria Mozza

Pizzeria Mozza has been around since 2011 – the first collaboration in Singapore between bread making extraordinaire, Nancy Silverton, Joe Bastianich and Mario Batalli.

One half of the two part restaurant (the other being Osteria Mozza), the pizzeria is equally as relaxed, but with a brighter decor that complements the bustling crowd. This isn’t meant to be a place to linger – order your pizza, eat it, vacate your table for the next hungry customers. There is also usually a mad rush before and after showtimes as the restaurant is directly opposite the Marina Bay Sands theatres.

The menu is actually very comprehensive, with a wide selection of antipasta, cured meats, salads, breads, desserts, and, of course, pizza. The pizza menu features traditional Italian meat and vegetable toppings, (and thankfully no seafood, which I continue to think have no right to be on a pizza), featuring housemade cheeses like burrata and mozarella.

And the pizza is why you go there. For that crust. Oh my goodness, that crust. It wouldn’t matter what you topped it with – the crust is amazing.  Dusted with semolina, the crust is crunchy, light and thin – but substantial enough to hold the topping.

The toppings are light – don’t expect the pizza to be loaded on top. A tiny bit on the salty side for me – although to be fair, I did order a margherita with anchovies – but easily one of the best pizzas you can get here.

Pizzeria Mozza
#B1-42/46 Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Avenue  SINGAPORE 018956
Tel: +65 6688 8522

Open:  daily 17:30 – 23:00


Mag’s Wine Kitchen (again)

I’ve said it twice already now, I honestly have to say it again, Mag’s Wine Kitchen on Circular Road really is a fabulous place for an intimate meal. Perfect for a small group, and D and I regularly go there on our date nights. We just love it. It’s just reassuringly and consistently great.

The menu changes seasonally and also depending on what Mag brings back from her various travels. The last meal she had just flown in that morning Canadian oysters, which were served with a cucumber mignonette. That lovely fresh salty flavour of the oysters worked so well with the cucumber mignonette – an Japanese-inspired dressing using rice wine vinegar, shallots, freshly grated ginger and finely diced cucumbers.

 

That evening I stayed on the “surf” and also ordered the scallops, which are a regular on the menu. As always, cooked to order and to perfection with a beautiful char on the outside and juuuuuust cooked inside.

Add a fantastic selection of wines, and you have a perfect meal.

Mag’s Wine Kitchen
86 Circular Road
Singapore 049438
Tel: 6438-3836

Lunch
Monday to Friday
12noon to 2pm
Dinner
Monday to Friday
6pm to 10pm

Saturday
6pm to 10pm only
(Closed for lunch)

Closed on Sunday


Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse

The amazing shellfish plateau

Nestled in Gemmil Lane, Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse welcomes you in with its clean lines of decor, high ceilings, and flooded with natural light.

The menu is clean and simple, and sticks to it’s “chop house” roots. We decided to go with the two specialties of the house, starting with the seafood platter, and then Luke’s bone-in tenderloin au poivre.

The shellfish plateau is one of the best we have ever had. And we’ve had our fair share of seafood platters in Sydney, which has access to the most amazingly fresh and delicious seafood.

Chilled whole lobster, giant shrimp, two varieties of oysters, tuna tartare and fresh crab salad. There were dipping sauces for the the lobster, shrimp and oysters but honestly all they needed was a good squeeze of lemon to appreciate the delicate sweetness of each. Absolutely divine.

Luke’s bone-in tenderloin with a peppercorn crust and mustard cognac jus 

We ended up sharing the tenderloin for our main, cooked on the bone for added flavour. Unfortunately I didn’t read that it came with a peppercorn crust & mustard cognac jus. It’s not at all that it tasted bad, but both seemed to challenge the bold flavour of the tenderloin. But kudos to the selection of meat. Tender and absolutely delicious.

I’d like to try other the other items they had on their menu but to be honest, I’d find it hard to go past that shellfish plateau again. And again. And again 🙂

Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse
20 Gemmill Lane, Singapore
Tel: 6221 4468

 Open: Mon-Sat 12.00 – 24.00 (closed Sundays)

Heston’s Perfect Spaghetti Bolognese

After watching the spaghetti bolognese episode from Heston Blumenthal’s “In Search of Perfection”, I had the luxury of a day at home and basically tried to replicate the 8 hour long recipe. Most slow cooking is actually very simple, just allowing time to do the job of bringing out all the wonderful flavours of the ingredients.

This recipe has you actually cooking for probably half that time. In search of Heston has the entire step by step process in wonderful detail – go and check it out.

If you wanted a traditional bolognese sauce, then this isn’t it. However, you do end up with seriously, the most perfect meat ragu. All those steps give you a rich, complex, utterly delicious ragu.  This is probably the only Heston recipe that I would follow end to end simply because there are no special ingredients or tools required. Would I do it again ? Probably not – it’s just too time consuming and fiddly, but there are a few processes that I’d borrow the next time I’m making my own bolognese sauce.

What would I borrow ?

1) I already use a mix of beef and pork but I do like that the pork and beef are hand cut – the long slow process of cooking allows the meat to render all the fat and become wonderfully tender and I think it makes for a more unctuous sauce

2) Adding star anise to the frying onions. Not more than 2 small stars, or it will end up overpowering the meat, but it’s the chemical reaction of the star anise and caramelising onions that brings out a compound that enhances the meat flavour

3) Using fish sauce as one of the seasoning ingredients. It does add a wonderful depth and umami to the dish

4) Making the tomato compote and frying the tomatoes before adding it to the meat casserole I think intensified the flavour of the tomatoes (although I’d probably cheat and just use tinned tomatoes as I hate skinning and deseeding tomatoes)


The Handburger

Fancy a quick burger in Singapore ? Then check out the Handburger. Nothing fancy, but serves decent burgers, and it’s conveniently in Raffles City, which, for me, means the added bonus of not having to schlep across town just for a burger (and yes, I know in Singapore that’s just a short 15 minute cab ride away but everything’s relative when you live a 5 minute walk away).

It’s Diner-style American fare, and you don’t linger there, you just go to eat.

I’m a burger “purist” – just give me a standard beef burger. In this case, it’s with 100% grass-fed beef, and comes with melted cheese, some lettuce and tomato (ticks the “I am eating vegetables” box) and this insanely good onion jam that brings the whole lot together. The burger buns are made on the premises and has the light consistency of a brioche but without the sweetness.

They have tons of other burger options, from duck to pulled pork or even seafood, if that floats your boat. Oh, and speaking of floats, they have root beer floats, which went fantastically well with my burger 🙂

The Handburger
252 North Bridge Road
#B1-77/78 Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6334 4577

Open:
Sun – Thurs: 11.30am – 10.00pm
Fri/Sat: 11.30am – 10.30pm

41 Degrees, Barcelona, Spain

Hands down, the best meal I have had. Ever.

41 Degrees started off as a cocktail lounge, attached to the tapas bar, Tickets, by Adrià brothers, Ferran and Albert. The intimate 16-seater bar then started serving a 41 “course” dinner of amuse bouches.

The meal is a totally immersive experience that I don’t want to spoil for anyone who has not yet been. Suffice to say if you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, then it’s an absolute must-visit if you are in Barcelona.

It’s also the closest thing to El Bulli, with owners, cooks and many staff from the famed, now-closed legendary restaurant. (Albert Adrià himself has referred to 41 Degrees as a “mini Bulli”).

Make no other plans for the evening – our dinner started at 8 and we left after midnight. And with an almost ridiculous attention to detail, we didn’t stop grinning at each other the entire evening. Every thing is intended to (and does) surprise and delight every one of your senses.

I heard that Albert is planning to return the space to its cocktail roots, and moving the dining experience somewhere nearby in Barcelon’s theatre district, but bookings can only be made via their website.


Bario Ramen @ Bugis+

So I’ve been slowly working my way through the six “Ramen Champions” at Bugis+. Second on the list (after Aoyama) was Bario Ramen from Tokyo, which serves Jiro style ramen. The Guardian UK recently listed Jiro in its “50 best things to eat in the world” list. “Ramen of the man, by the man, for the man.”

And I think it absolutely delivers on that promise.

The first thing you notice from Jiro-style ramen that differentiates it from other ramen is the noodle. It’s thick and chewy. Piled on top is a mountain of bean sprouts. And the chasu is also not the traditional round thin slices. It’s chunky and meaty slices of tender pork belly. And the tonkotsu stock is rich and flavoursome.

There’s a lot in to the bowl to eat, and Bario offers an almost ridiculous choice to double your noodles.

It’s a go-to favourite of my hubby’s for all the reasons above. For me, the first slurp/spoonful was delicious, but by the third or fourth, I was pretty much done. Perhaps the richness of the stock, or the stodginess of the noodle – it lived up to its infamous resistance to digestion.

And so I continue my quest to try all six chefs’ ramen and make my decision as who would be my ramen champion. Stay tuned for more…and the final verdict.


Beetroot Risotto

Inspired by Frugal Feeding’s gorgeous golden beetroot risotto, here’s my red beetroot risotto, which is adapted from Maggie Beer’s recipe. That gorgeous brilliant colour that beetroot imparts in dishes, also likes to stain, so make sure you have gloves handy unless you want pink stained fingers. Make sure the stock you add is hot – you need it to continue to cook the rice as soon as it hits the pan, and regular stirring will bring out that wonderful creaminess from the grains.

Ingredients makes 4-6 servings

  1. 1 medium beetroot
  2. 1 onion, diced
  3. 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1/2 cup Arborio rice, uncooked
  5. 2-3 cups hot chicken stock
  6. good handful of grated Parmesan cheese
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  8. Wedge of lemon and chopped flat leaf parsley to serve
  9. Optional: horseradish to serve

Method

  1. Cook the beetroot first. In a saucepan of cold water, cover and bring the water to boil. Lower temperature and simmer until beetroot is tender – approximately 20-30 minutes
  2. Once the beetroot is cooked, grate and set aside. Reserve some of the cooking liquid
  3. Saute onions in some oil on low heat until translucent
  4. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes
  5. Add the uncooked rice and stir well to coat the grains with the fragrant oil and cook for a few more minutes. This will give you time to make sure your stock is hot
  6. Add the stock, a ladle at a time, and stir, stir, stir, until it is absorbed – you can also use some of the reserved cooking liquid
  7. When you have added 3/4 of the stock, stir in the grated beetroot
  8. Continue till the rice has a rich, creamy texture, taste for seasoning
  9. Serve hot, topped with the grated Parmesan, the flat leaf parsley and a good squeeze of lemon – these add depth and freshness to the earthy flavour of the beetroot and really bring the dish alive
  10. Optional – serve with a dollop of horseradish