Category Archives: Dinner

Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck – part 3

The Fat Duck part three – phew ! Well I suppose if 14 courses took us four hours to finish, three posts does seem to do it justice. (Here are parts one and two).

The Fat Duck hot and cold tea

The deliciously crazy hot and cold tea

So we’d now completed the appetiser and main courses. Before going to the dessert courses, our palates were cleansed with “hot and iced tea” which is another perfect example of Heston’s ability to mess with your mind – making something as simple as a cup of tea raise all the eyebrows on our table, even thoughwe all knew exactly what it said was – not only was it printed on our menu, but the waiters told us as they served it. As you sip your tea from the glass cup, you taste the tea, experienced hot on one side of your mouth, cold on the other. We later looked up how this was achieved, but you know what, all I want to remember was that OH. MY. GOD. moment when I took my first sip. Just delightful stuff.

clove caramelised blackberries

Clove caramelised blackberries

First dessert was clove caramelised blackberries, served with a 2009 Passito di Pantelleria from Sicily. The blackberries came on one plate, and then the waiter passed around a tray full of silver cachons where four cornets with hojicha tea ice-cream where nestled. Again, that contrast/harmony of hot and cold, and sweet and woody and tart worked perfectly.

The Fat Duck BFG

The “BFG”

The “BFG” (Black Forest Gateau) came next. At this point, I was about at bursting point. But who can pass up something that looked like a tower of cake that ended almost like a full stop, with a quinelle of silky vanilla ice-cream ?

the Fat Duck whisk(e)y wine gums

Whisk(e)y wine gums

Final two desserts – we’re on the home stretch ! Whisk(e)y wine gums, stuck on to a map indicating where the corresponding whiskey came from, and to be eaten in a certain order. All I can recall is that while not a whisky drinker, these were deliciously alcoholic wine gums – except for Laphroaig. It was so strong and peaty that even being following three wine gums (there was five in total) couldn’t take away that smoky flavour. In fact, that seemed to be the lingering flavour in our mouths for the rest of the evening.

The Fat Duck petit fours

Coconut baccy and a wax-sealed envelope containing an edible white chocolate card

Last dessert was the petit fours of the meal – appropriately called “like a kid in a sweet shop”. Edible white chocolate Queen of hearts card, coconut baccy, apple pie caramel with edible wrapper and aerated chocolate of mandarin jelly.

NO MORE I hear you say ! Actually, by the time the sweets came, I have to admit we were all pooped from eating. But gosh what a luxury ! The Fat Duck is certainly somewhere I’m lucky enough to have experienced – the detail that goes into everything from the food to the cheeky waiters – simply makes for an totally enjoyable evening. It may not be for everyone, but if you love food and having a ball of a time eating it, I’d strongly recommend it. Heston Blumenthal certainly brought the fun back into food.


Heston Blumenthal’s the Fat Duck – Part 2

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Edible gold leaf was all that was left after the fob watch dissolved before our eyes

This is the second installment to our epic dinner at Heston Blumenthal’s the Fat Duck (if you want to catch up here’s the first and third parts).

The theme of the menu on the night fit perfectly with the whimsy of Heston, and added to the pure fun of the evening. So it seems fitting to begin this post with the course with that name – the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (c. 1850).

The menu told us we would be eating mock turtle soup, pocket watch and toast sandwich.

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – a “fob watch broth” on top to be poured over mock turtle egg

Again, a two-part course. First was an edible watch made of gold leaf-covered consomme which dissolved before your very eyes in the teapot, and which made the base of the mock turtle soup. The stock was then poured over a small mock turtle egg of turnip mouse and swede gel on top of which were small enoki mushrooms, and a terrine of alternating layers of pressed cured pork fat with braised oxtail, with cubes of turnip, black truffle and microherbs.

Sound of the sea

Sound of the sea

“Sound of the sea” was the next course, paired with Daiginko Masumi Nanago sake, from Myasaka Brewery in the Nagano Prefecture. The freshness of the sake complemented this dish – which famously leans on your sense of sound to entice, stimulate and enhance your sense of taste and smell. I have absolutely no idea what’s in it but essentially it’s an entirely edible plate of sand (tastes of seaweed and miso and goodness knows what else, with the texture of sand when you first eat it, then it seems to almost dissolve on your tongue), on top of which are various slices of seafood (razor clams, oysters, sea urchin, salmon roe), nestled along the shore line with seaweed and foam. Of course you are meant to eat this while you listen to the sound of waves crashing, with seagulls squawking (do seagulls squawk??) above. I have to admit, if the entire restaurant weren’t all eating the same thing, I would have felt more than a little foolish with my eyes closed, earbuds that came out of a large conch shell in my ears, smelling the dish before exclaiming how you could actually smell the sea, before we ate it. Did I love the dish ? I have to say, no – my love of the purity of Japanese sashimi overpowered the complexity of this dish. But was I impressed and amazed ? Absolutely.

salmon poached in liquorice gel

Salmon poached in liqorice gel

The next dish – salmon poached in a liquorice gel, with artichokes, vanilla mayonnaise and golden trout roe – didn’t quite hit the spot with me either. I think the liquorice gel overpowered the oh-so-delicate salmon and the dish just seemed very heavy.

Duck with blood pudding and umbles

Bay duck with blood pudding and umbles

Bay duck with blood pudding and umbles came next. Apparently the phrase “eating humble pie” came from “umble pie” – a pie made from umbles, which is the heart, kidneys, liver etc of deer. The duck was brined in a spice liquor before being cooked to pink perfection, fat perfectly rendered, with crisp skin on top. Gorgeous – although an enormous serving meant that I had to leave half behind to fit in the remaining five courses.

Good grief, this post is already crazy-long. Third post for the Fat Duck desserts coming up !


Heston Blumenthal’s the Fat Duck – Part 1

Oak moss from the course that paid homage to Alain Chapel

This post on the Fat Duck is just too long to have in one – there’s so much I want to record for posterity so that I can relive the meal –  and rather than put anyone through reading the War and Peace of one dinner, I’m separating the meal into three posts. Here’s the second and third parts).

The Fat Duck is such an indulgent treat for all your senses. Apart from divine food, the entire experience is, in a word, FUN.

There to celebrate D’s 40th, we were treated to a unique dining experience, tucked away in the village of Bray (about an hour’s drive from London). Not coming from England, even just being in a village is quaint to me, and with another Michelin starred restaurant at the Waterside Inn and Heston owning the nearby pub – the Hinds Head – this small town packs a punch per square inch in the culinary stakes.

Balls of beetroot with cream

A combination of the anticipation of the evening, and a few pre-dinner cocktails at the Hinds Head meant that we were arrived at the Fat Duck already pretty happy. The matching wine flight with our meal pretty much ensured that we left happy.

As we settled in to our champagne, we were given beetroot cream balls – balls of what I can only describe as beetroot flavoured balls of air with a slick of cream. I love beetroot – it has this wonderful earthy flavour. And to enjoy that flavour in something so delicate was the start of the meal.

I think what makes things special is attention to detail. The beetroot balls were served without any cutlery, so we had to eat them using our hands. The cutlery was laid down after this, and I was almost stunned when I realised that they had not set the cutlery the wrong way around for one of the four of us, but that they had noticed L had picked up her beetroot ball with her left hand – and was therefore left-handed. I mean, COME ON.

We then had some nitro poached aperitifs – we had a choice of vodka and lime sour, gin and tonic, or Campari soda, mixed with some egg white that was then cooked in liquid nitrogen, which is at a temperature of about -200C (-328F), so we each had a cold meringue that we popped whole in to our mouths, to experience the crisp outer shell crack and release the cocktail within.

Truffle toast at the at Duck

The truffle toast that we all wanted more more more of

We then were served a red cabbage gazpacho with pommery grain mustard ice-cream. Yep, you read right – the menu seriously screws with your head. Tangy red cabbage served on savoury ice-cream. The whole ice-cream thing really made you think you should be eating dessert but then your palate is served a savoury dish. This was paired with a 2010 Fume Blanc from Turkey.

Chicken liver parfait in a crayfish cream with jelly of quail

Chicken liver parfait in a crayfish cream with jelly of quail

Failing at not sneaking a peek at the other tables being served who were ahead of you on the meal, didn’t deter from the showmanship of the next dish – jelly of quail, with a crayfish cream, chicken liver parfait, oak moss and truffle toast. Our glasses were topped up with the same Fume Blanc and the incredible thing was how different the exact same wine tasted with different food. The first part of the dish arrived at our table – a square of moss, with four plastic containers that each held a single strip of “oak moss and pine” gelatin film that dissolved on your tongue. This is was served to prepare us for the parfait of chicken liver in a crayfish cream and a sliver of jelly of quail and truffle course. The chicken liver parfait in the crayfish cream was silky smooth, paired perfectly with the crunch-teeny-tiny-wish-there-was-more toast speckled with flecks of pungent truffles. As we were served this part of the course, the waiter tipped water on to the oak moss, which was sitting on some dry ice, so you felt like you were enjoying an early morning walk amongst the mist in a forest.

Heston Blumenthal's snail porridge

Snail porridge

Next was one of Heston’s signature dishes, the famous snail porridge. Poached snails and thin shavings of fennel on top of tiny squares of oatmeal in a vibrant green complex savoury porridge of parsley, butter, garlic, shallots, almonds, Iberico ham and dijon mustard. I have to admit, the idea of a savoury porridge was almost appealing to me – Chinese congee or rice porridge is a favourite of mine, but eating the snail porridge with oatmeal was truly a surprisingly delicious treat. A dry and crisp 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape, Clos la Rocquete from the Rhone Valley was paired with this course.

Roasted foie gras with barberry, braised kombu and crab biscuit at the Fat Duck

Roast foie gras with barberry, braised kombu and crab biscuit

Perfectly roasted foie gras with barberry, braised kombu and crab biscuit was served next, paired with a 2011 Pinot Gris, Signature, Rene Mure from Alsace. Bursting with flavour, the pillow-light softness of the the foie gras with its savoury flavour was completely in harmony with the crispness and sweetness of the crab biscuit.again. A wafer thin slice of kombu added umami to the dish.

That’s six out of 14 courses. This might be a three-post post – I’d better get cracking on the next courses !


Leftover chicken and vegetable pie

I finally treated myself to a Le Creuset french oven which I’ve been wanting for ages, and of course had to cook with it the day it got delivered. I have a smaller pot but wanted something with a bit more room (to cook more food).

I was planning on making a slowly braised beef stew but had leftover chicken from the previous night, so decided to make a similarly comforting chicken and vegetable pie.

I get so much satisfaction from something as simple as the pure weight of the pot while cooking, and the way the heat is so evenly distributed.

Anyway, my recipe for the pie below. Of course you could do this in any pot you have.

Ingredients for a large pie to feed 4-6

  1. 1-2 sheets of shortcrust pastry – to make a base that will fit your pie dish, I have a 28cm pie dish that needs 2)
  2. 1-2 sheets puff pastry
  3. 4 rashers streaky bacon, diced
  4. 1 large onion, finely diced
  5. 1 large carrot, cut into 2cm chunks
  6. 1 cup frozen peas
  7. leftover chicken meat, removed from the bone and shredded
  8. 8 baby potatoes, halved and cooked
  9. handful of tarragon leaves, chopped
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 2 tbls plain flour
  12. 1/2 cup white wine
  13. 1 cup chicken stock
  14. salt and pepper to taste
  15. 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Begin by making the base. Line your pie dish with the shortcrust pastry and blind bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool
  2. Fry the bacon lardons in a little olive oil until they are brown and crispy. Remove and set aside
  3. Fry the onions on low heat in the bacon fat until translucent
  4. Add the carrots, cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, until the carrots have softened
  5. Add the peas, chicken, potatoes, tarragon and bay leaves
  6. Turn up the heat, add the white wine and cook till the alcohol cooks out and the wine is more or less gone – you just want the flavour of the wine
  7. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken mixture and cook out the flour for 3-5 minutes on medium heat
  8. Add the chicken stock and stir – it should be the consistency of thin gravy. This will thicken as the pie cooks
  9. Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  10. Remove from heat and let cool slightly (this helps to prevent the base from getting soggy)
  11. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  12. Assemble the pie – pour the chicken filling into the prepared and cooled pie base, cover with a layer of puff pastry, cut a few slashes in the puff to allow steam to escape while the pie cooks
  13. Brush the puff pastry with the beaten egg to give it that lovely colour when the pie cooks
  14. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes until the puff pastry is golden brown

Blue Ginger

Assam fish head curry

My family’s roots are Peranakan, and I am always in search of good nonya food – Straits-Chinese food heavily influenced by Malay cuisine and their wonderful spices.

Blue Ginger has been around in Singapore for many years – I vaguely recall eating there years ago when I was in my mid-20s but in those days, drinking was far more important to me than food. It’s not that alcohol has become less important, it’s just that these days food is of equal (dare I say if not more) importance.

We went recently with my visiting mum, who is ever-wanting yet one of the fiercest critics of Peranakan restaurants, and it passed with flying colours on all counts.

They have a simple menu with classic Nonya dishes, like fish-head curry (in either a rich coconut or more sour tamarind base), Ngo Heong – homemade rolls of minced pork and prawns seasoned with five-spices, wrapped and deep-fried and beef rendang – braised beef in rich coconut milk spiced with ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves till tender

Deep fried eggplant with a fresh chilli paste and sweet soya sauce

There were two standout dishes we had – assam (tamarind) fish head curry and the sambal terong goreng – deep-fried eggplant.

The fish head curry came in a complex broth that was a perfect balance of sweet and sour, with the red snapper steamed to perfect tenderness. Give me just that and a large bowl of rice, and I would be a happy girl.

But a girl’s also got to eat her vegetables, and although not the healthiest dish, the eggplant slices were flash fried so almost crispy on the outside but still juicy and moist inside, and smothered in a luminous fresh chilli paste and sweet soya sauce.

Spicy ? Hell, yeah ! But that’s what it’s all about.

It’s a small restaurant, and not surprisingly, very popular, so if you want to go, either for lunch or dinner, I’d strongly recommend booking ahead.

Blue Ginger
97 Tanjong Pagar Road
Singapore
Tel: +65 6222 3928

Open 7 days
Lunch : 12.00pm to 2.30pm
Dinner : 6.30pm to 10.30pm


L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

The awesome amuse bouche – foie gras custard with a port wine reduction and a parmesan cheese foam

I have to be totally honest, I went to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon with no expectations other than I was going to get a pretty great meal – after all, this legendary French chef has been awarded more Michelin stars than any other chef in the world.

Yellow tail tuna tartar with spicy tomato coulis

Being unable to find the right exit from the carpark at Resorts World wasn’t a good start. And then completely losing our bearings once we were in Resorts World didn’t help. The place is just a huge, poorly signaged, kids-running-everywhere-shouting-and-screaming, un-airconditioned mess to people who were both hungry and lost.

We finally found the restaurant tucked away from the melee these. On the right, the full-on Joël Robuchon dining experience – luxurious neutral coloured interior, high-backed chairs, straight-backed waiters, and on the left, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – like some evil twin with completely stark, black and red interior, super dim lighting, lounge music and high bar and counter seating, looking in to an open kitchen.

(I think we chose the better of the twins)

We sat at the counter and ordered from the tasting menu – which basically meant we could sample more dishes. I won’t go into too much detail other than:

King crab on thin layers of turnip with a sweet and sour sauce

THE GOOD:

  • Being able to watch how the kitchen operated was an absolute joy. The attention, skill and precision of the staff as they created the dishes was marvellous and as always it is a real treat to be able to watch them prepare your food
  • The amuse bouche – meant to tantalise and stimulate your senses, giving you a small taste of the meal to come. And it sure delivered on all of the above with a foie gras custard port wine reduction with parmesan foam
  • The souffle – couldn’t have been more perfect
  • The stunning presentation of the food
  • The relaxed atmosphere – makes dining so much more fun

Soft boiled egg with chanterelle mushroom and parsley fricasee

THE NOT SO GOOD:

  • The secondary waitstaff – you really expect them to be able to serve the right food and drinks to the right people
  • The rest of the food we ordered. Not that it was bad, it was just disappointing after that amazing amuse bouche. Many of the dishes we had sounded traditional but ended up being fusion and just confused, with so many flavours we had to keep eferring to the menu to remind ourselves what we had ordered

Beef and foie gras burger with caramelised peppers

OVERALL

I might be tempted to visit Joël Robuchon next door (although it might be a bit too prim and proper for us – we tend to get a bit loud after a few drinks) – I don’t think we’ll be rushing back to L’Atelier again in a hurry.

Hot kirsch soufflé with almond sorbet

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Sentosa Gateway  Resorts World Sentosa – Festive Hotel Singapore, Singapore 098269
Tel: +65 6577 7888

Open: Daily 6.30pm – 10.30pm


Menya Musashi @ Raffles City

Menya Musashi – one of the most popular ramen chains in Japan – has recently hit our sunny shores, opening up at Raffles City.

As with most new things in Singapore, there’s a ridiculously long queue to get a seat, but we were lucky enough to get a seat for lunch one Saturday and ordered from the limited menu, which I always love because it makes me think if they are that popular with so few items, then they’re going to be really very good.

How you select your ramen (Subway sandwich style):

1) soup or dipping sauce (tsukemen) ?

2) white, red or black ? (white = white miso, red miso, explained to me as “spicy”, black = with garlic)

3) 1/2/3 servings of noodles ?

4) type of pork – standard or chashu

I absolutely love tsukemen, which is traditionally cold noodles with a rich dipping sauce – eaten during the steaming hot summers in Japan. At Menya Musashi, the noodles (which are wonderfully chewy) are hot, as is the dipping sauce, but in airconditioning, it’s all good.

The stock for the standard ramen is miso-based, yet has the thickness that I associate with the much richer tonkotsubased soups. Tonkotsu is pork based, where pork hocks are stewed for hours on end, giving a stock rich in flavour and thick consistency from the bones (including the gelatinous marrow). Menya Musashi’s stock was understandably much lighter in flavour than a tonkotsu-based one. I have tried the white, red and black, though, and while I expect a milder flavour from the white miso stock, the red and black were to me, just different coloured. I didn’t taste any spice in the red, and only a mild flavour of garlic in the black. (Perhaps it’s because one of our favourite ramen joints in Singapore is Nansuttei which has pretty full-on fragrant garlic oil).

I’m hoping that that eagerness to try the new kid on the block will die down. Then again, I just saw a billboard for Ramen Champion, a place where you can try several different types of ramen, so Menya has more competition than Ippudo or Nansuttei

Menya Musashi Ramen
252 North Bridge Road
#01-16 Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6336 6500

Open: Mon-Sun 11.30am – 9.30pm


Garlic and brocolli pasta

In the middle of one of my twice annual detoxes, I was in the mood for a simple pasta dish. I’ve found some really good organic brown rice pastas and also buckwheat pastas, which are detox-friendly, as well as having the added bonus of being gluten-free.

This dish is so quick and simple – perfect weekday dinner or double the quantity and you can have the leftovers as a pasta salad for lunch the next day.

Ingredients for one serving – adjust accordingly for more

  1. 3/4 cup dry spiral organic brown rice pasta
  2. 1/2 cup broccoli florets – no stems
  3. 2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (I love garlic so feel free to use less)
  4. good squeeze of lemon
  5. salt and pepper

Method

  1. Cook pasta according to packet directions in salted water
  2. When pasta is almost cooked, add the broccoli for a 30 seconds and drain – save about half a cup of the pasta water
  3. Sautée the garlic in a hot pan with some oil till soft
  4. Add the drained pasta and broccoli and toss in the garlic and oil – add a few spoons of the pasta water to help loosen the pasta up. The starchy water will help to give the pasta a nice silky texture
  5. Squeeze the lemon juice, and add salt and pepper to taste
  6. Serve hot for dinner
  7. If you want to keep the leftovers for lunch the next day, add a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and pop into the fridge for a yummy pasta salad

Crystal Jade Golden Palace @ Paragon

Crispy Peking duck skin pancakes

My mum was visiting us in Singapore recently and it coincided with my parents 45th anniversary. With dad not being able to come because of his work schedule (boooo), we took mum out to celebrate at Crystal Jade Golden Palace.

We’d been here several times before and always loved it but for some reason it was this time I seemed to really notice just how good this place is.

Perhaps it was because we ordered our usual favourite dishes – Peking duck and roast pork – and that simply gives the opportunity to compare. I’m not saying other places we’ve been to were at all bad, just that Crystal Jade was really very very good.

The Peking duck was presented to us whole before it was taken to a side table for the skin to be deftly sliced off in impressively uniform rectangles, then served to us in delicate, thin handmade floury crepes, with a slice of spring onion and cucumber and a smear (that doesn’t sound too appetising but I really can’t think of a better description) of hoisin sauce. I’ve raved about how much I love this dish before and this evening it just seemed so wonderfully delicious and light I wished they never ran out – I could have just carried on eating them all night.

We asked for the second course of the Peking duck – where the duck meat from the whole duck is cooked with noodles – to use rice noodles instead of the usual flour noodles, and again, this was just spectacular. Served with a drizzle of vinegar to cut through the richness of the duck, this was another dish where I would go back to the restaurant and just order this one dish.

Perfect three layer Chinese roast pork

Of course there had to be space for the roast pork. Similar to other restaurants, it comes as a square of three layer pork (crispy skin, thin layer of tender fat and meat) and they must have really selected the best quality pork where the fat was nicely layered so it left the meat juicy and tasty, while maintaining that all-important crispy skin. Dipped into the hot mustard that was dotted on the plate each mouthful was a delight of porky goodness.

Just go prepared with some warm clothes – it’s so cold there the restaurant offers patrons blankets !

Crystal Jade Golden Palace
290 Orchard Road
#05-22 The Paragon
Tel: 6734 6866

Open:
Mon-Fri 11.30a, – 3.00pm, 6.00pm – 11.00pm
Sat:  11.00am – 3.00pm, 6.00pm – 11.00pm
Sun and public holidays:  10.30am – 3.00pm, 6.00pm – 11.00pm


La Maison Fatien

Delicious charcuterie plate at La Maison Fatien

Tucked away in Duxton road is La Maison Fatien. Serving French bistro classics like French onion soup and steak frites, the restaurant is cosy enough for an intimate dinner for two in the nooks and crannies (it’s in a renovated shophouse) with rooms that would also make it perfect for a group dinner. On our first visit, while we enjoyed the food, it seemed every part of the experience that night had its ups and downs.

The French onion soup was thin in consistency – usually the soup is thickened by cooking flour into the onions before the stock is added. Oddly, this made a difference to my enjoyment of the soup, despite it’s deliciously robust flavour.

The selection of cold meats on their charcuterie plate was also delicious. I get excited when a charcuterie plate offers me something I cannot find myself and this board had three of these – all tender and tasty – it was just a shame that the waiter could not actually tell me what each one was…

The steak for my main which I asked for medium rare came out a little too red even for me, although my experience with the French is that in general, they prefer their steak less cooked than most other nationalities. I’ll have to remember this the next time and order my steak medium.  The fries were excellent – hand cut, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and full of potatoe-y flavour rather than just deep-fried bland potatoes.

The service there is sketchy – they have a French maitre D who is excellent but the rest of the staff seemed intent on filling our wine glasses each time we had a sip, and managing to do it with such a lack of smiling that they looked downright annoyed to be working.

With new restaurants still cropping up all over Singapore, and with always-great French alternatives like Bistrot du Sommelier and Brasserie Gavroche, it would take a “sorry we are already fully booked” from these two for me to go back t0 Ma Maison Fatien. But at least I would go back !

La Maison Fatien
76 Duxton Road
Singapore
Tel: 6220 3822

Open:
Mon-Fri
12.00 – 2.30pm
6.30 – 10.30pm
Sat 6.00pm – 10.30pm
Closed Sundays