Category Archives: Drinks

Estrella Inedit “the beer created by Ferran Adria”

  We were given a few bottles of this beer as a gift, which we wanted to share with the gift giver, but time just goes by too quickly and we just haven’t been able to synch our calendars. 

So I decided to tszuj up a random lazy Sunday night dinner of just chicken wings, and treat myself to a bottle. 

I’m not even a beer drinker. My experience of Spanish beer is cervezza served ice cold in tapas bars, which are light and wonderfully refreshing with (endless) plates of jamon iberico. 

This beer is more like a German blonde beer, although less cloudy, but with that familiar yeasty and malty aroma. 

What makes it so drinkable is the addition of spices and fruitiness. It’s light, and not so gassy that you can’t drink a bottle easily. 

In short, a winner for me! 


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.


Lovely place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon

Garlic chickpea purée with truffle oil, olive oil and pomegranate molasses and beetroot tapenade

We’d been to LeVel33 before for their Sunday roast, and this time round we didn’t have the stomach to handle that amount of food again, so we thought we would sample dishes from their beer dining menu – essentially their snack menu.

Tender cubes of tenderloin beef worked surprisingly well with a wasabi and soy dipping sauce. Two of the three dips that accompanied a herbed focaccia and crusty olive bread were delicious – a garlic chickpea purée with truffle oil and a vibrant beetroot tapenade. The third, an olive oil with pomegranate molasses was packed with such a sweet tangy punch that was even stronger than an aged balsamic vinegar, a little too strong for me. I like tasting the olive oil and the molasses overpowered the oil completely.

Awesome cold cut platter

The crispy whitebait came out a little over battered and were a touch greasy, which was disappointing given it’s now pretty much a standard gastropub dish, but luckily the last dish to arrive – the cold cuts – saved the day. Various thinly sliced salamis were delicate and soft with a subtle heat from flecks of chilli..

Pair these nibbles with the brewed- on-premise beers and a good range of wines with that spectacular view and LeVel33 makes a pretty great place to spend a long lady Sunday afternoon with friends.

LeVeL33
8 Marina Boulevard #33-01
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1
Singapore
Tel: +65 6834 3133

Open 12pm – 12am daily, 12pm – 2am Fridays, Saturdays and eve of public holidays


Mag’s Wine Kitchen

Pan-fried beef tenderloin with veal jus

From many of the cooking shows on TV, there seems to be a few basic principles of running a successful restaurant. Keep the menu limited, and do what you do well, use only the best ingredients, don’t forget your front of house and love your what you do.

Mag’s Wine Kitchen ticks all these boxes – with a smiley stamp and a gold star on each of them for good measure. Which is probably why it’s still around 15 years after it first opened its doors in 1996.

Creamy artichoke soup

Nestled in the quieter part of bustling Boat Quay, you walk in to this charming French bistro and are greeted by either Mag  herself, who has an uncanny knack of remembering faces and names, or Seth, her maitre d who has been there since Mag’s opened.

The kitchen is open for all to see, the menu small and focused on using the best seasonal ingredients that Mag travels to acquire – we once visited to have fresh umi – Japanese sea urchin that she had just purchased from a trip there, on top of chawanmushi – steamed egg custard – delicious.

Kurobuta pork chop with pineapple salsa

D and I visited during the Christmas period for a quiet lunch and had the two course set from the menu of the day. I had the artichoke soup and the beef tenderloin with a veal jus and D had the beef carpaccio and the kurobuta pork chop with a pineapple salsa.

The soup was fresh and light while creamy and warming at the same time, and the beef – oh my goodness – the most tender and tasty piece of meat I’ve had in a long time, perfectly cooked medium rare, perfectly seasoned and accompanied with velvety mash and roasted vegetables.

Wagyu beef carpaccio

D’s wagyu carpaccio came served wafer thin, with parmesan shavings and rocket and the kurobuta pork came with what tasted like a hoisin glaze and the meat was tender and moist – not an easy task for such a large cut of pork.

Mag’s also has an terrific wine selection to complement all her food, or if you just want to go in for a drink. What more could you ask for ?

Mag’s Wine Kitchen
86 Circular Road
Singapore
Tel: 64383836

Open:
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


Zenato Wine Tasting

The main reason we decided to stay in Verona in the first place during our recent trip to Italy, was to visit the vineyard of our favourite wine label, Zenato.

Trebbiano grapes with the Italian Alps in the background

Zenato have two vineyards. One in the Valpolicella region, to the east of Lake Garda, where they grow Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes to make their wonderful red wines, like amarone, and one in the Peschiera Del Garda, at the south east tip of Lake Garda. Here they grow Trebbiano grapes to make white wines like their Lugana.

Zenato also grow their own olives to make their olive oil

Our friendly guide, Anna, walked us through the wine making process, where we found out what a truly complex art it can be. The flavour of each wine is so reliant on seemingly endless factors from nature, from the soil composition and weather to the types of plants that grow near the grapes – all encapsulated in the terroir that gives each crop their unique qualities.

Grapes drying to make amarone

While all of this was fascinating to me, we also had the benefit of being able to take in the spectacular scenery of the Italian Alps in the background, as well as seeing the grapes to make amarone being air-dried in crates before being pressed. The end result is an sweet, intensely flavoured wine that we just love.

No swans were harmed in the making of this photograph ! The awesome Lake Garda

Getting dropped off at Lake Garda on a stupendously gloriously sunny day after going through tasting eight of their wines made a slightly tipsy D and I a little emotional at just how good life can be.  La dolce vita !

Zenato Azienda Vitivinicola
Via San Benedetto, 8
37019 Peschiera Del Garda (Verona) Italy
Email: info@zenato.it


Harry’s Bar, Venice, Italy

The famous Bellini cocktail at Harry’s Bar

Harry’s really doesn’t need any introduction. I did learn before I went though, that not only was it the home of the Bellini cocktail, but also where carpaccio was invented. It was served to the countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo in 1950 when she informed the bar’s owner, Gieuseppe Cipriani that her doctor had recommended she eat only raw meat. It consisted of thin slices of raw beef dressed with a mustard sauce, as it remains today. The dish was named Carpaccio by the owner of the bar, Giuseppe Cipriani, in reference to the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio, because the colors of the dish reminded him of paintings by Carpaccio.

Cirpriani carpaccio

We started the evening, along with what looked like every other diner that night – a Bellini. Even if you don’t like champagne cocktails, it’s hard not to like these. The simple combination of delicate white peach puree with prosecco works beautifully and it’s a lovely refreshing way to begin any meal.

The food at Harry’s is traditionally Venetian – simply prepared with strong emphasis on seasonal seafood and vegetables. We had wandered around the fresh food markets off the Rialto Bridge earlier that day and the produce was amazing.

Pan-seared cod with lemon and capers

To start with I had pappardelle with tomatoes which was deliciously light and fresh, and D had the Cipriani Carpaccio. The beef was sliced wafer thin and the mustard sauce really added a level of salt and tanginess to the sweetness of the beef.

Fresh pappardelle with saffron and crispy pancetta

For mains I had the cod with lemon and capers and D had the pappardelle with saffron and pancetta. Both, served table side, were amazing.

The restaurant upstairs is packed and you’re pretty close to other diners, but the staff are so friendly and great at what they do. If you go, make sure you ask them to show you the selection of desserts they have on offer on the day – we chose the chocolate mousse cake with our coffees before strolling back along the water’s edge to our apartment. What a perfect way to end our first day in the city of canals.

Harry’s Bar
Calle Vallaresso, 1323
30124 Venezia, Italy
Tel: +39 (0) 41 528 5777

Open daily 10.30am to 11pm


LeVeL33 @ Marina Bay Financial Centre

Roast fillet of salmon in puff pastry with asparagus spears and hollandaise sauce

The Marina Bay area is simply buzzing with bars and restaurants all eager to take advantage of the views of the Bay. Admittedly, it’s pretty spectacular, and it’s nice to see slight variations of the view from the different locations.

LeVeL33 is a microbrewery on the 33rd floor of the Marina Bay Financial Centre, that is full of natural light that brings the dark timber interior to life. Add chilled beats piped throughout and the nice ambient buzz of other diners as they enjoy their meals with friends and it’s a lovely place to be on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  You can also choose to eat al fresco next to the balcony, closer to the view – although to be avoided for those with vertigo. On the menu was an all-day breakfast, three types of roasts, along with some bigger portions for sharing.

Roast beef with roasted vegetables and Yorkshire pudding

Portions are enormous and I guess that’s them trying to justify the cost of $40 for a roast lunch. Having said that, the food there is good, hearty fare. The roast beef came thickly sliced, piled on top of roasted vegetables, with a yorkshire pudding and lashings of gravy over the entire plate.

My dish was a lovely and light choice – salmon fillet, wrapped in puff pastry on thick asparagus spears with hollandaise sauce.

We’re keen to check out what the menu is like when there’s more choice, apparently the dinner menu is more extensive, and I’d like to see how they transform into a funky bar at night as well.

LeVeL33
8 Marina Boulevard #33-01
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1
Singapore
Tel: +65 6834 3133

Open 12pm – 12am daily, 12pm – 2am Fridays, Saturdays and eve of public holidays


HY California

The very dramatically presented soft shelled crab maki at HY California

Wanting to catch a light bite while at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Conference Centre, I went in search of Hide Yamamoto’s HY California sushi bar.  The mall is absolutely enormous, and very poorly signaged (it didn’t help that the interactive shopping guides were all out of order) so it took us a while to find the sushi bar, which is outside the mall, facing the marina.

Tuna and squid sashimi

HY California really functions as a bar, that happens to serve sushi for you to snack on while you drink.  Kind of cool, reminds me of a rainy day my friends and I spent holed up in a robotayaki in Tokyo, where we basically sat and drank sake all day, with food ordered and served from the grill as and when we wanted.

The very friendly sushi chef behind the counter who took our order had just arrived from Japan, didn’t speak very much English, nor was he familiar with the menu. We ordered with another chef and shortly after, our dishes started arriving.

California roll

The menu is limited, but as I always say, a short menu usually means that what they offer, they do well. Nothing fancy, and we ordered our “standard” sushi – soft shelled crab maki, tuna sashimi, spicy tuna rolls. Everything was fresh and delicious, although the rolls could have had a bit more firmness so the journey from plate to mouth wasn’t as messy (and my chopstick skills are pretty good!).

Tuna and avocado maki

I know this isn’t Yamamoto’s flagship restaurant – it’s casual dining, but it’s not at all what I expected, and the whole American rock feel of the place seemed to clash rather than complement the traditional sushi counter.  Would I go back again ? Not really sure. There are certainly other places I would much rather go to, but around the Marina area, I guess if I wanted a fresh and quick sushi hit.

HY California
Bay Level, L1-86
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Tel: 6688 7426

Open Daily 5.30pm – 11pm (last order 10.30pm)

Ku De Ta

Ku De Ta’s signature crispy sticky squid

Out celebrating K’s birthday last weekend, we travelled up to the 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands to Ku De Ta. It takes the same name as the fabulous restaurant/bar in Bali – although not connected in the least. The dining experience begins on the ground floor as K and I were rudely directed to the lifts that would take us up to the Skypark.

The restaurant boasts modern Asian cuisine and we were shown to a table that sat eight when there was just four of us – apparently the call my friend made to reduce the number for the reservation went unnoticed. After a lengthy delay we were finally moved to a more appropriately sized table and where our table waiter explained to us as “first time visitors” that the food served in the restaurant is intended to be shared, and would be served as and when the food was ready from the kitchen.

We all selected the tasting menu, which we felt had a good selection from the menu. I was surprised that there was no wine pairing option but later discovered that it would just have been too difficult for the staff to keep up with matching wines when they barely could manage the food.

Sliced semi-fatty tuna belly with young ginger, kaffir lime and green tea salt, ‘hot oil; scottish salmon sashimi with szechuan pepper, dried miso and vanilla bean oil and seared black angus beef tataki with chopped nori, toasted buckwheat and green chilli ponzu 


Our first dishes were served by a waiter who quickly mumbled the dishes and then disappeared – we had to call him back just so we knew what we were about to eat. Luckily one of the dishes he served was the restaurant’s signature dish – crispy sticky baby squid. What a gorgeous dish – that did exactly what it says on the tin – of bite-sized morsels of perfectly cooked crispy squid in a sweet sticky sauce. Delicious. The other two dishes that arrived were a smoked eggplant and marinated salmon caviar and a spicy “bo ssam” pork belly salad. The eggplant dip was an insipid dish where you got neither the taste of the smoked eggplant or the salmon roe, but that could be because of the knock-your-socks-off spicy salad dressing on the salad where there was barely any pork.

Next up was a sashimi dish – semi-fatty tuna belly, “hot oil” Scottish salmon sashimi and seared black Angus beef tataki. I tried the tuna first, initially looking for the soya sauce to dip, and was pleasantly surprised that it was already “seasoned” with green tea salt, which gave the tuna an incredibly clean taste. I tasted the salmon next, expecting the same green tea salt and found instead the sweet fragrance of vanilla bean oil and the salty crunch of dried miso. The contrasting flavours and textures really accentuated the fish. Not really sure about where the hot oil was and the waiter didn’t seem to know…

Bamboo-roasted pacific black cod with whipped red miso

Mains came in a mad untimely rush after.  There was their version of miso cod which was deliciously light and flaky.  Crispy skinned bamboo steamed duck, which unlike the squid, lost all of its crispiness when steamed, pan-roasted foie gras with green mango pickle which was (to me) unappetisingly large, with a vaguely faint taste of foie gras (which to me negates eating foie gras at all) and char-grilled Australian black Angus beef tenderloin which was beautifully seasoned and tender.

The sides were actually the best thing with steamed pencil asparagus and wok-charred cherry tomatoes and tofu.

The food is not bad, the ambiance is funky and cool, but the service is really disappointing for this type of establishment, and while the view is spectacular, with all the other new places that take advantage of panaromic views of Singapore, Ku De Ta isn’t somewhere I’ll be rushing back to.

Ku De Ta
SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands North Tower
1 Bayfront Avenue Singapore 018971

Opening Hours:
Breakfast – 7am till 11am
Lunch – 12noon till 3pm
Dinner – 6pm till 11pm

Tel: 6688 7688
Hotline Operating Hours: 8am – 10pm


Ginger and Lemongrass cordial

Home made ginger and lemongrass cordial with sparkling mineral water

In an effort to try to reduce the amount of soft drinks consumed at home, D found a delicious ginger and lemongrass cordial that he used to mix with sparkling mineral water.  It was good because it meant that he could control (to a certain extent) the amount of sugar in his drinks, and the bonus was that it was a wonderfully refreshing drink with lots of heat and bite from the ginger.

Sadly, the supermarkets in Singapore seem to have stopped purchasing this – supplies have more or less dwindled out in the past few months, and so I decided to try to make some at home.

Being a staple ingredient in a lot of Asian cooking, ginger and lemongrass are easily found in Singapore and also very cheap.

I made my first glass with my own cordial, and used a lemongrass stick as a stirrer.  I’m so happy that we have our ginger and lemongrass drink again, and this time without all the bottles to recycle !

Ingredients:

  1. Enough old ginger that you can fit on your palm – about 175g for me
  2. 1-2 sticks lemongrass
  3. 1 1/2 cups of sugar (you can add more or less according to your own taste)
  4. 2 cups water
  5. juice of 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Peel and finely slice the ginger
  2. Remove the tops of the lemongrass – you want the white part at the base of the stalk
  3. Bash the base of the lemongrass in your mortar and pestle, or with the back of a knife if you do not have one.  This helps to loosed the fibres and release the essential oils from the woody stem.  Slice finely
  4. Add everything into a saucepan and bring to the boil
  5. Let simmer for 20 minutes and then turn off the heat and let cool
  6. Strain and keep the liquid in a bottle in the fridge
  7. Enjoy over ice with sparkling mineral water