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she bakes & she cooks





Updated: 2017-12-26T06:26:00.460+08:00

 



Back for good... but at a new address!

2010-08-21T00:21:21.886+08:00

Hola!

The moment which I have been waiting for is here.

Listen up and update your blogroll because I have a new blogspace and I will be blogging there from now on:

www.thebakerwhocooks.net



Come along and join me as I live through 2010 vicariously!

P.S. I will not be deleting this blogspot site so in case you cannot find an old post at my new address, you can still look for it here.

(Update as of 20 August 2010 - I'm at a .net now so please update! :)

xoxo
Cheryl



Goodbye 2009, hello 2010...

2010-01-01T08:26:09.530+08:00

I promised I will be back and here I am.

This note will be short and sweet. First of all, I'd like to wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

As we dive into 2010, I wish you all happiness, peace and love in this new year. Oh and more good eats of course.

2009 has been quite a ride. There have been ups and downs, laughter and tears, good food and hmm not so good food - but most of all, it was a memorable year for me. I would not trade it for the world.

It was a year where I discovered more about myself and through these discoveries, I came out a stronger person. I might not have cooked or baked as much as I would have liked to, but I sure as hell ate alot.

Yes there's a back-log of posts. There's alot of overdue updates.

But hey, let's take it slowly. One at a time.

2010 will be a year that I bake more, cook more, blog more (no kidding), and simply live more vicariously.

So what's this new exciting thing I have up my sleeves? Well....

Here's a clue: this blog will soon be stagnant....

Only because I have decided on a revamp. Just a slight revamp. I will soon have a new address. Here on cyberspace. It's nearly ready.

You will be the first to know :)

P.S. Been down with a very bad cough and I was just wondering if you guys have a fool-proof remedy? Just thought I'd ask! I have been doing the whole honey lemon, manuka honey thing... But perhaps there's more?

Love,
Cheryl



Coming soon....

2009-11-13T13:59:10.211+08:00

To my dear readers (that's assuming people still read this blog!),

I apologise for the very long hiatus. It is clear that I have been missing in action for about 5 months.

This shout-out is just to let you know that I have not abandoned this food blog. I have a good reason for this silence. I have been planning for something that will take this food blog to a whole new level.

Be patient with me as I work out the kinks. You will hear from me very soon. This time, I will blog, muse and cook excessively.

I am very excited and I hope you are too.

See you soon!

Love,
Cheryl



for dad

2009-06-26T04:53:02.602+08:00

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My dad turned 60 yesterday. There was no huge birthday bash, no noisy chit-chatter, no feast and no candles. We're a simple family and we celebrated in our small little way - with an apple strudel and a slice of cake from Canele. No cakes came out from my oven this time. Guilt is settling in as I type this.

But I have a valid excuse. Dad has never been the one with a sweet tooth. He's more of a savoury (very heavy-handed with the salt as well, which drives my mum nuts) person and he's into meats. Note to self: bake dad a meat pie next year.

Three slices of apple strudel later, I felt oddly sick but some chocolate tea from TWG helped. Yes, chocolate tea, and I adore it. More about it in another post (yes I will be updating more!).

Chocolate tea, cake and strudel aside, I want to take this chance to thank my Dad for everything he's ever done for the family. My dear father is fiercely private (as you can tell from the small birthday do). He is very much a family man. I salute him for the long and odd hours he works. What inspires me most is how he'll lug home bags of groceries ever so often even after work to prepare a meal for the entire household. Sometimes I think I don't thank him enough.

Like I've said many times, to my friends - I love it when Dad cooks. There's always a thick air of excitement as I sprint (almost.) to the kitchen when I smell deliciousness in the air the moment I push open the front door. I also adore the fact that Dad cooks in large quantities. He never stinges. This is one reason why I have such an insatiable appetite. To him, more is always good. Our household never goes hungry.

This is where I tell you about my habit of opening the fridge the moment I come home. It is to see if there's leftovers to bring to work or just food to feed my hungry stomach. These days, a huge pot of beef stew/curry equates to a satisfying packed lunch the next day. My colleagues are very familiar with my Dad's cooking. They've tried his buah keluak, beef stew, and devil's curry among others. I rave about Dad's food all the time, but not without reason. I wish you were able to try some right now. I know you'd agree with me.

So why hasn't he started a food business of his own? He has thought about it (and dabbled with it lightly, a few years ago), but there are just so many limitations. I do wish that I could somehow help with this dream of his. Dad loves to cook and I am pretty sure that he would be more than happy to do it for a living if possible. I've told him many times that I will help him out should he ever decide to dive into this.

As always, most plans are easier said than done. Dad, I believe in your food and I think that it's good enough to warrant an eatery of your own. I hope that a few birthdays from now, we'll be able to celebrate something bigger.

In the mean time, enjoy your 60s! I love you Dad!



Antique Bakery

2009-04-11T16:09:46.999+08:00

Antique Bakery is my latest obsession. Won't you just look at the luscious blood red strawberries above? How about the selection of cakes below:There are many more cakes where those came from. I wish I knew about Antique Bakery earlier. Better late than never I guess.It opened in November 2008 and it has left the Korean public hankering for more. One million people, in the first two weeks of 'opening'. That's really something.You might think that it has got to do with all the pretty cakes, in all their chantilly cream and chocolate ganache glory. Perhaps so, but I think the other reason is because of them:Yes, those four Korean dudes. There's no recipe tastier than cakes and men. Do I see nods of approval among the ladies? and ahem some gentlemen as well?Only the Koreans are capable of pulling off the combination of pretty boys (both queer and macho), lots of sweets and humour, and not come across as overly cheesy. But that's really just my opinion. Antique Bakery is really just a fictional bakery in a Korean movie (surely you would have figured it out by now :) based on a popular Japanese manga by the same name:The Korean adaptation, Antique (서양골동양과자점 앤티크) stars Joo Ji Hoon (Goong/Princess Hours and The Devil) as the owner Jin Hyuk and Kim Jae Wok (Coffee Prince) as the genius patissier Son Woo. The film was exhibited at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2009. The premise of the movie is not hard to grasp. It has some gay themes, which makes it amusing and is not at all sleazy. Don't worry, the storyline is very much centred around the bakery and cake-lovers will be duly satisfied. By the time I finished watching the movie, I really wanted to stuff my face with cake. I won't reveal the entire plot so if you want, do go and catch it. It is also available on Youtube.Here's the movie trailer so you'll have an idea what I'm raving about:Or go to www.antique2008.co.kr to find out more[...]



I love my greens

2009-04-04T01:12:37.128+08:00

Growing up, I was a kid that I'm sure most parents would love to have at the dining table with them. You know, the type of kid, who would scowl at the sight of everything green, leafy, or remotely bland? I was certainly NEVER one of them. Quite the opposite in fact. I was quite a trooper, guzzling down whatever was handed to me. I ate whatever was on my plate, vegetables included. I would even ask for second helpings of those bean sprouts, or long beans fried with chye-poh (salted radish), hae bee (dried shrimps) and chopped chillies (one of my favourite vegetable dish).My extended family knows how much I love my vegetables. My grannie would deliberately give me extra portions of whatever greens she had cooked whenever I came over for dinner. Aunts would beckon me to have more of whatever vegetable dish they had cooked up. There also seemed to be no vegetable that I did not like (with the exception of bitter gourd, but I have since learnt to like it, especially when it is cooked with black Chinese vinegar and served cold).You can actually serve me just vegetables at dinner and I will not bat an eye-lid. I would probably be grateful instead, and smile at you while chomping down that beautiful mesclun salad dressed lightly with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing (simple but perfect) with sun-dried tomatoes. Heck, I’m not averse to munching on raw Japanese cucumbers either. Refreshingly crunchy, it tastes good on its own, plus I love the clean feel.If not for the inconvenience, I can actually see myself turning vegetarian. There are various types of vegetarians out there, and I will not list them out, but I know that they each have different motives. Some do it for religion and others do it because they cannot bear the thought of eating a dead animal. There are those who turn vegetarian to lose weight (yes it’s true, I’ve heard of this.)How about semi-vegetarians? Can I consider myself a semi-vegetarian if my ratio consumption of vegetables to meat is 3:1? How about 5:1? I sounded my sister out on this and all she did was to look at me ridiculously for one second, before setting me straight. “That’s not a form of vegetarianism at all! That’s an omnivore. Most of us are omnivores, we eat meat AND vegetables.” Alas, you apparently have to make it a conscientious effort to avoid meat before you can be considered a partial vegetarian. In my curiousity, I looked up semi-vegetarian on the internet and found this list:• Flexitarianism - Mostly avoiding all meat, but eating it under some situations.• Mafism - Mammalian meat is excluded, but fish, seafood and poultry are not.[5]• Pollotarianism - Mammalian meat, fish, and seafood is excluded, but chicken or other poultry is not.• Pescetarianism - Mammalian meat and poultry is excluded, but fish and seafood are not.I know what Pescetarianism is, I know a friend who is one. But Mafism and Pollotarianism? I’ve never heard of those.Fine then, I thought. I just won’t call myself a semi-vegetarian. Besides, I don’t have to be vegetarian to love vegetables anyway. I’ll have my greens with meat and be happy at the same time, thank you very much.But the story doesn’t end here. Eager to try out what it would be like to be a vegetarian, I set out to do what most normal people (like my meat-loving friends and colleagues) would baulk at; I went in search of vegetarian places that would convert me, and perhaps impress me so much I would never want to put my lips near any piece of meat, mammalian or not.I didn’t have to go far to find this first vegetarian place that I’m going to tell you about today. My workplace is situated near a Buddhist and a Hindu temple and most of them are vegetarians, so there would naturally be plenty of vegetarian eateries around. I was right. Case in point: Fortune Centre. This unassuming beige building is apparently a vegetarian/organic/health food institution. Naturally, it was the first plac[...]



That which does not kill us makes us stronger

2009-03-17T02:51:41.491+08:00

A good old adage that the majority of us food lovers happily embrace, despite knowing the consequences is also one that puts fear in mindful eaters. I know this because I have gone through bouts of mindful eating.Thankfully, those days were far and few in between. These days, I am blissful staying ignorant. Even Friedrich Nietzsche himself agrees, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger".I like Nietzsche, I think he understood us food lovers best. My Dad too, will agree. After all, he never let up trying to convince my siblings and I on how eating the fatty bits of any meat is never a bad thing. "You're growing, you need energy, eat the skin, it's good for you," Dad instinctively chimes whenever he sees me separating the skin (and fats) from any meat that I was eating.As always, I would expect like-minded food lovers to protest when I say that I hardly ate the fatty glorious tasty skins of chicken, pork and duck. You can start rolling your eyes now, it's okay, because I feel the same way. You see, I'm a bit contradictory in a way. I will not say no to Eton mess (of which there's tonnes of cream, which equates to fats anyway- a good 30 to 35% eh?), trifle (again, cream!), tiramisu (mascarpone cheese, hmm, need I say more?), panna cotta (self-explanatory), and the sinful list goes on. Why avoid skins when in fact, I cannot get enough of creamy dreamy fat? It's a really stupid thing to subscribe to. Yet, I'm guilty of that.There, I've come clean. Trust me, I've had my fair share of raised eye-brows when friends (oh and colleagues and bosses!) see me push fatty bits of goodness to the side of my plate. Somehow, it makes me feel guilty, especially since I'm supposed to love even the sinful stuff, no matter how unadulterated it is. But believe me when I say that it is also mainly because I hardly find skins appealing, both in taste and texture. That said, isn't it the norm for a true food lover to never say no to delicious fatty skins? Apparently so, considering the number of times I've been chided for my nonchalant attitude towards those fatty bits of skin.Today, however, I stand converted. All it took was one unforgettable encounter, one that single-handedly changed my perception of chicken skin; underlaying fats and all:Glistening skin with a smooth gelatinous-like layer of fat sitting lightly on firm, cold white chicken meat. Every piece was a piece of heaven. If you've read this blog before, you might notice that I hardly talk about meat this way, let alone chicken skin. Some days I might exaggerate, but today, I am presenting it to you plain and simple. I love sharing good things anyway.The place selling this unctous chicken is not unknown. Many local food bloggers have blogged about it, including Leslie. Shame on me for not picking up on it and trying it earlier. It was not until a friend of mine shared about how this chicken skin was the stuff of his ultimate food fantasies, that I caught on. He insisted that I had to try it. Honestly, I wasn't sure how much I was going to like it. Chicken skins are just chicken skins, no? Apparently not. I was wrong to judge them all as equal.Back to the chicken, skin, fats and all. Located right smack in the middle of Holland Village, at 31 Lorong Liput was this newly renovated air-conditioned eatery called Yi Bao (the former Yee Cheong Yuen). Yi Bao is supposedly a hidden legend, and as Leslie described, very much 'under-rated'. According to my friend, this eatery has been around for years, and he used to go there all the time when he was still in secondary school. A place with this much history is surely worth a visit. My friend, who grew up eating said chicken said that they are also known for their Ipoh hor fun:Yi Bao's Ipoh hor fun comes with a very generous helping of their oyster-sauce-based (a wild guess, do correct me if I'm wrong) dark midnight-brown gravy. Coupled with the cold white chicken with its gela[...]



Yam paste with gingko nuts

2009-02-22T23:23:04.621+08:00

As much as I like my cakes and pastries, there are times when I just crave for something as simple as yam paste (known as 'or nee' in Teochew), or any one of those sweet paste desserts that the Chinese are so famous for (think almond, black sesame, red bean, walnut paste, etc). When a craving hits me, I make no attempts to disguise or surpress it. Instead, I find ways to satisfy it. Thankfully, yam paste is a common occurence here. Almost every hawker centre has a Chinese dessert stall and yam paste is a regular item. However, being the curious person I am, I can't help but think about what goes into the yam paste I eat outside.You see, I've heard alot about how the dessert can be quite unhealthy, given that some add lard or copious amounts of oil to attain that smooth, slide-down-your-throat texture. Yes, what you don't know won't hurt you, that I know. But what I couldn't understand was the need for oil in yam paste. I've never made it and no one has taught me how to make it. My parents don't know how to make it and the many times that I've eaten it have been at Chinese wedding dinners.Yam paste remains a mystery but that was not going to be the case for long. Determined to tackle this challenge of finding out why, I jumped into the unknown and tried to make this dessert for the very first time.Everyone who's made it says it's pretty easy. That I will agree. I used a recipe from a local magazine and the ingredient list looked pretty easy to me. The method was straightforward. All I had to do was to follow through and I would end up with a decent bowl of yam paste.Or that was what I thought.All right, when I attempted the recipe, I was a little ambitious. Ever so determined to come up with a healthier version, I made amendments to the recipe. I halved the sugar, I used more of the healthy stuff and less of the supposedly unhealthy stuff (read: oil). Instead of vegetable oil as the recipe had originally instructed, I used olive oil. I halved the oil too.After correcting the measurements, I felt good, really good. I couldn't wait to feast on my new and improved yam paste, knowing that I won't be downing an oil slick.But I was wrong. There is a very good reason why oil is added to yam paste and cooked again in a wok. Yam paste is starchy tuber that results in a thick and gloppy mash if it's served without any oil. The texture of the yam paste changes drastically the moment you cook it with oil - it becomes a smooth and more presentable mixture.Bottomline is, you cannot have an oil-less yam paste if you want it to taste and feel really good. Yesterday was a good lesson.You know what they say - the best lessons are learnt through the silly mistakes you make because of your own ignorance. Trial and error is the only way if you have no teacher to guide you. So what did I do? I steamed the yam paste (using only half of the oil the recipe called for) and went to check on it about 20 minutes later. It was my first time cooking it so I did not know what to look out for. After tasting a spoonful, I realised that it was still too gloppy. The yam paste didn't have the texture that I was aiming for - there was no light and smooth consistency. Honestly, I was disappointed. I wanted to blame it on the recipe. But then I remembered the oil. Perhaps that would do that trick.Working fast, I grabbed the remaining portion of oil, stirred it into the paste and steamed it for a while longer. The end result? Just lovely:The texture had improved dramatically. My yam paste now tasted like proper yam paste. I thought that the olive oil was a great substitute too. The yam paste did not reek of olives and neither did it affect the overall taste. I thought it tasted good. I was pretty pleased with it.The yam paste had just the right amount of sweetness (halving the sugar was a great idea. I used raw sugar too) and the pumpkin topping and water chestnut sauce ad[...]



Save while you dine

2009-02-21T03:48:32.582+08:00

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Speaking of saving, I'm sure many of you have discount cards or restaurant loyalty cards you stuff your wallets with, in hope to shave a couple of dollars off your next visit to said restaurant. I speak from experience. My wallet's thick with those. Well we all got to do what we got to do to save those extra bucks, no?

If you don't mind your wallet having additional bulk, then you could consider signing up for this card by NTUC. I believe it's called the U card or Uplus card. They have apparently introduced this cost-effective dining privilege program called Udining. Their website says that you can enjoy great savings at over 100 restaurants, cafés and eateries islandwide.

Great for those of you who eat out ever so often and are looking for ways to save (well don't we all). For more information and the full listing of participating merchants, you can go to their site at www.ntuc.org.sg/udining.




Packed Lunches

2009-02-15T12:09:01.361+08:00

It does not surprise anyone when I tell them that most of my salary each month is spent on food. Others save up to buy a handbag or a pair of expensive heels, but I, I splurge on meals that excite, fascinate and please me. Whether is it dessert at my favourite patisserie, or pizza at my favourite pizzeria, when it comes to food, it isn't hard to convince me to part with my money for a gastronomic experience. This has been the case since I earned that spending power when I left school and started working. You'd think that it's a brilliant arrangement. And I do agree, readily. But right now, I think I have to set my priorites straight, and watch how I spend my money, especially if I am to aim for bigger things like travel. You see, I have been wanting to travel far and wide. I want to go places that I have only seen in photos and heard about from friends. There are experiences which I am dying to dive into. The desire stems from travel deprivation. My family have never travelled far. My parents have only been to Malaysia. They have never sat on a plane. As a kid, the only places I went to were across the causeway - Malacca, KL, Genting, Penang. After every long holiday in June and December, I will return to school and classmates will recount their distant travels to cool places like Disneyland in America or Japan, or Europe. I lapped these descriptions up with such eagerness, making mental notes of the places that I will go to when I am all grown up and have the means to. Today, I am all grown up and I have been blessed to have first sat on a plane when I was 14. My school had organised an educational History trip to Bangkok and I jumped at the chance. The second time I saw the insides of a Boeing was in 2001 when my dearest aunt allowed me to join her on her trip to Brighton and London. That experience changed me, in so many ways. I remember telling her how unreal this was - that fact that I was in such a beautiful place away from home. You know the cliched phrase? How the grass is always greener on the other side? Damn, that's true. I got to see Shakespeare's house, I witnessed a celebration for the Queen Mother's birthday outside Buckingham Palace. I managed to snap a shot of her in a carriage as it went past me. I watched Cats at Westend. There were many castles and towers that I fawned over. Blooming gardens that made me gasp out loud in simple amazment. London, was simply spectacular. I did not feel any gloom (I thought the weather was fine actually :) Recently, I went to Bali for a dear friend's wedding. As mentioned, she has since moved to New York. That obviously warrants me to pick New York as my next destination, naturally. She's been asking when will I visit. I had wanted to go next year but I don't think I can wait. Sometimes, when creating goals, you need to fix the target and do whatever it takes to reach it. New York is worthy enough of such persistance. I am planning to finally pursue one of my travel dreams - to spend Christmas in New York. It will not be cheap. I know that. But I'm ready to do whatever it takes. I am willing to spend less on food. That might sound like a total abomination I know. But hey, one has to do whatever one has to do to get to their dreams and goals, no? If life has taught me something, it is this. Time waits for no one. So you ask what am I going to do? Starve? Nah, I'm too greedy to do that. I'm going to be smart about it. The answer's very simple, really. Packed lunches. That's going to be my saving grace. Don't worry, I will not deprive myself of that fantastic meal once in a while. It's just that lunch is my perfect opportunity. That's how I am going to cut costs. As expected, I have been looking up on tasty options for my packed lunches. So these days, I usually pack whatever leftovers there were the night before (quite a regular th[...]



An unforgettable Balinese weekend

2009-02-09T10:15:14.814+08:00

Having never been to Bali, I couldn't understand why those who have been there always come back enamoured and enthralled by the tropical island. Picturesque, immaculate, mystical, and magnificent - these are some of the praises friends have lavished freely when describing Bali to me. Naturally, I took their word for it and made a mental note to grab the next opportunity to head down to this island paradise.Last weekend offered that very opportunity. My dearest and very good friend Shivani was going to marry the love of her life in beautiful Bali and she made me promise that I had to be there. It was a promise that wasn't hard to keep of course. I was only more than happy to able to be there to witness what would be one of the happiest moments of her life.Shivani has been nothing short of a true friend all these years. It's been about 8 years and I'm still glad she's part of my life. I will, however, miss her dearly as she flies off to New York tonight. I do want to take this chance to wish her all the very best in her future NY endeavours and of course for her and her husband Aniel to be happy forever. I'm very excited for her as she makes this new transition and I know that there's lots more blessings in stored for this sweet handsome couple.Their wedding might be over, but it was so memorable that I just had to talk about it here and share a bit of their joy and a piece of Bali with you.Receiving the invite from Shivani was the beginning of all the excitement, squeals, countless "oh-my-gosh-i-can't-believe-you're-getting-married!", and plenty of wide smiles and misty eyes.I am showing you the cover and the first page of the invite. Do read the quote by Beethoven. It is very endearing. I had read it elsewhere but reading it again in this context surely stirred a fuzzy feeling. I know that Shivani and Aniel are made for each other. I'm simply estatic that her search for the perfect companion is over.Here's a candid shot I took of them. They were posing for photographers at Conrad Bali.The wedding was not only splendid but culturally rich, particularly so because it was the first Indian/Hindu wedding ceremony that I was to attend. I thought the details put into the decoration were really lovely as well. The theme was red and white and you'll see that colour scheme appearing in some photos.I liked the decorative umbrella.This was on Sunday morning, at the Ritz Carlton Bali's Bale Kencana. They got a priest to complete the wedding rites. This included the 7 times of walking around the fire. It helped that he explained parts of it in English, for the benefit of the non-Hindus.Here's the family all poised for a photo:The entrance of the ballroom where lunch was served after the ceremony:After lunch ended that Sunday, a horse carriage arrived:The horses served a specific purpose. It was not there for novelty sake. There's a certain significance to this and usually in India, families would sometimes use elephants. This is for the sending off ceremony. This is the most tearful part because this is the part where the bride's family officially gives away their dearest daughter.Like any typical Indian wedding, Shivani's one lasted for 3 days. Friday night was the Sagan, Misri, and Sangeet. Saturday was the Navaghari and Ghari ceremony of Aniel and the wedding rites were conducted on Sunday morning (as shown in the picture), followed by a dinner reception that Sunday evening.In between those wedding festivities, I managed to take a shuttle bus to do a little shopping. On the way, I snapped a few random shots: I was not surprised to find Starbucks: I also know it's silly but I had to have my morning dose of caffeine so I got a doppio macchiato and a blueberry scone to go with it. I even got sucked into the whole touristy gimmick and bought myself a Starbucks Bali [...]



Big D's Grill

2009-02-03T14:22:55.194+08:00

One question I get asked all the time is, "What's your favourite restaurant in Singapore?"An easy question like that should not be hard to answer especially since it's a question that I'm familiar with. However, everytime I get asked that, I fumble, I hestitate, I ponder. And I do mean every. single. time.Thing is, I do not have a sole all-time favourite restaurant. At least not yet. Or maybe I'm just fickle. It really depends on what I'm craving for and whether that food meets my expectations at that point in time. For me, an easier question would be , "Where can you find the best damn chocolate cake?". Yes, be dish-specific, and I might have a faster answer.The definition of good food varies for all. I always insist that what I like might not be what you like. That doesn't stop me from raving about a certain place though. When I like a restaurant/eatery/coffeeshop stall, etc, I rave about it like no tomorrow. Sometimes I think it verges on being irritatingly over-enthusiastic. So far none of my friends have complained about it, they are just amused at how excited I get when I talk about my favourite food places.My most recent rave is Big D's Grill. The food was so remarkable that I could have died there and then and felt that I have lived life. Okay, I'm being over-dramatic there. Pardon my exaggeration but that was honestly how I felt.The food was immensely enjoyable. I had wanted to go there for the longest time. I've heard alot about Chef Damian D'Silva and his old restaurant Soul Kitchen. His name's rather lengendary. I have never been to Soul Kitchen but I thought why not try Big D's Grill especially since it's so near where I live?Currently located at Bedok South Road (note: it's moving to Holland Drive soon, in Feb), Big D's Grill is neatly tucked insie a wide spacious coffeeshop at Block 18. I decided to bring my family there last week because my cousin from Malaysia was visiting and had requested for some good Western food. I had put off going to Big D's for the longest time so I thought what better time than now. This way, my cousin could satisfy his fix and I could finally see what the fuss was all about.The fuss turned out to be legit. I would say that we ate enough of the menu to give a fair judgement. The four of us (mum, sis, my cousin and myself) had five main courses. Yes we do have healthy appetites and we're certainly not ashamed of it.Perhaps I should start with the photos, then you can savour the dishes with me (in your mind of course. ha). I hope you've had your dinner (or lunch, or breakfast - depends on what time it is when you read this!) lest you get sudden hunger pangs.Anchovy pastaI had to do my research before checking out Big D's. Several local food blogs have mentioned the anchovy pasta and I knew I had to try it. After a forkful, I realised what had gotten them so excited. Very close to your typical aglio olio, this pasta borrows a very savoury sea salt-like flavour from the anchovies. My mother commented that it was a tad too salty for her. That I understood, because she prefers bland food (she puts so little salt when she cooks!). Cousin and I liked it so we lapped it up happily. I appreciated the spicy kick that came from the chopped chillies.Kurobuta pork loinCousin loves meat so we had to get the kurobuta pork loin. His verdict? "This is real good!"Please do check out the glistening piece of heaven:The pork was all that we could ask for - juicy, moist, tender with none of that 'porky smell', as my cousin had noted. I liked that the centre was just slightly pink. The fats gave it a sufficient omph. It kinda melts in your mouth. Cliched, but true.The mash and vegetables that came with it were great as well. A stellar dish.Crabmeat linguineThe crabmeat linguine was perfect in every single a[...]



Chocolate Indeed

2009-01-17T15:15:10.505+08:00

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Having a chocolatier as a friend can never be a bad thing. Especially if you love chocolates more than diamonds or cars. Hmm, okay that is quite a stretch, but you get my drift.

Those familiar with our local trove of online homemade eats might know who this chocolatier is. His chocolate business of sorts was once known as Julius Truffles. Helmed by a young undergrad by the name of Julius Chen, this humble endeavour of his has blossomed into something very promising.

A recent conversation with him revealed a change in direction. Julius Truffles is now known as 'byJULIUS chocolate indeed'. He's done a whole revamp and I'm sure the new creations will be just as popular as his famed truffles (which are great by the way).

Julius was kind enough to let me try a box of his new chocolate creations:

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The gold box yielded four different pralines, all of different colours and shapes.

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From what I gather, the four pralines are as follows (from front to back):

1. Hazelnut milk chocolate ganache praline
2. White chocolate infused with grand marniar ganache praline
3. 73% dark chocolate ganache praline with gold foil
4. Raspberry framboise brandy liquer pink truffle

Naturally, as a fan of dark chocolate, I took to the third one like bees to honey. Dark is always good. The other one I like has also got to be the most pleasantly surprising one - the pink truffle.

You see, I couldn't resist sniping one or two shortly after I got the chocolates. I didn't know what each praline contained or what it was supposed to be. I only found out about the different flavours after checking the website.

So I bit into the pink truffle not knowing what it was supposed to be. I had no idea it was filled with brandy liquer. I did spill some onto the floor (what a waste!) but it was a wonderful surprise. My dearest sister also told me that her favourite one was this pink one. Apparently, she likes the liquer centre.

I do commend Julius for constantly trying to reinvent and repackage and even rebrand his products. That's the sign of a true and savvy entrepreneur. Hopefully he'll have his own retail shop in the near future. I won't be surprised when it happens.

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For more information on 'byJULIUS chocolate indeed', check out his website.

To order his chocolates, email him at order@byjulius.com



Easy Choc Nut Rice Krispies Balls

2009-01-16T00:32:16.082+08:00

Most kitchen phobes subscribe to the common notion that delicious food are hard to make. I do insist that it is but a common misconception. It is a pity though, how some let their fear of kitchen disasters come between their love of good food.Has there been an occasion where you crave a good tiramisu or lasagne and harboured intentions of actually making it but got freaked out by the long list of ingredients and 18-step method? Or how about a time when a cookbook's tantalising photos nearly convinced you to pick up your skillet and apron? You went to the supermarket to get those ingredients but gave up halfway because a quick meal at a fast food joint just seems so much more convenient.Here's the truth - most of us amateurs (me included) will have to overcome our kitchen fright one way or another. When I first started this blog four years ago, I hadn't the slightest clue how much cooking and baking was going to change my life. But it did. It made me fall in love with food and it made me happy. I still think of myself as a novice, and I'm sure you will know by now how much a fan I am of fuss-free recipes. Recipes that are straightforward, with simple steps and basic ingredients - these are the building blocks crucial to anyone who desires to overcome their fear in the kitchen and cook more confidently.Do you know what I do? Every time I spot a do-able recipe, or a recipe that I think won't make me want to tear my hair out, I take note of it - I either copy it, type it out or tear it out (if it's in some old magazine). I keep these recipes in a folder. When I feel like making something especially when I'm strapped for time, I take out this folder. This is my folder of great tasting quick fixes.Recently, my folder had a new addition. It was an easy fool-proof everyone-can-do-it (yes even with your eyes closed) recipe that I knew I had to share. It yields about 16 golf ball sized peanut butter and chocolate chip rice krispies balls. The recipe was from last year's Oprah Christmas issue. The ingredients are simple and the end result - simply addictive. They are also perfect as gifts for friends.The magic lies with the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Boy are these some happy crunchy balls. Guaranteed to brighten up someone's day. The best thing yet? It takes just minutes to make. Go ahead, try it and tell me that the kitchen isn't all that scary after all. This is only the beginning. :)___________________________________________Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Rice Krispies Ballsfrom Oprah Magazine2 (1.4 ounce) chocolate-covered toffee candy bars2 cups Rice Krispies½ cup chunky peanut butter16 regular-size marshmallows¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chipscanola oil1. Leaving candy bars in wrappers, use a rolling pin to pound and crush bars into small pieces. Place Rice Krispies in a large bowl and set aside.2. Place peanut butter in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl; microwave on high until hot, about 45 seconds. Add marshmallows and microwave on high until softened, bout 30 seconds. (Alternatively, place peanut butter and marshmallows in a heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted, 2 to 3 minutes.)3. Working quickly, stir to combine mixture with Rice Krispies. Stir until evenly coated. Add crushed candy bars and chocolate chips. Stir until combined. Coat your hands with oil and shape mixture into spheres the size of golf balls, making 16 treats. Pack into decorative tins or arrange on wax-paper lined wrappers and tie ends with ribbons. The balls will keep up to one week at room temperature. Makes 16 balls.[...]



Donna Hay's Apple Pie

2008-12-27T18:32:59.479+08:00

Every single time I pick up a Donna Hay magazine or a Donna Hay recipe book, I end up with a very strong urge to bake or cook everything that's featured in it. Most of the time, I actually do end up baking something. There's a certain magic that her books have. Everything from the way the recipes are written, to the clear concise instructions to the plain and simple yet so delectable photos. Everything about her books just make you want to pick up the spatula and start churning out baked goodies.When it comes to Donna Hay, I have no complaints. I only have praise. Today is another of those days where I say more good things about Donna Hay. I haven't baked much this year so I was clearly suffering from a serious baking deficit disorder. So much so that the moment I started baking two apple tarts for the two Christmas parties that I attended, I must have let my guard down and got bitten. Yes, by the baking bug. It's a very good thing I insist. My friends will agree and I'm sure my family won't protest.The joys of baking, the immense pleasure derived when your prepared baked good goes into the oven to complete its life cycle. Then there's the nose twitching knee jerk reaction whenever the prized baked good lets out the most irresistable aroma. Till this day, I still literally jump and run to the oven the moment my nose picks up on the toasty, buttery, lip smacking smell that charges through the old rusty Moulinex. I get high on these buttery smells.Flipping through a Donna Hay recipe book gives me that same high. I can picture myself with the finished baked good and looking very happy. I imagine Donna Hay giving me an approving nod and a thumbs up sign. I am also very optimistic because I think every thing I bake using her recipe will end up looking as beautiful as the ones pictured in her book. I'm an easy sell I think. But it's okay.Yesterday I couldn't help but flip through my Donna Hay Modern Classics Book 2. This one has to die for cookies, biscuits, slices, small cakes, cakes, desserts, hot puddings, pies and tarts. The first page got me so excited and by the time I reached the end of the book, I was hyped up and on a high. I wanted to bake something. I wanted something that would make me very happy.And there it was on page 157, and it spoke to me:An apple pie it was. I must say it was the photo in the book that had me sold. It looked just like the ones Enid Blyton always had by the window sill, in all her story books. Enid Blyton was my literary crack when I was a child and I have not forgotten. I had never made a pie as well. The only thing close was the apple tart. But tarts are different from pies.So after getting my groceries, I started prepping. I made the sweet shortcrust pastry, refrigerated it for 30 minutes. I cooked the granny smiths and let it cool. When it was time to lay out the pastry, I went round looking for a pie tin. Then I realised I only had a tart tin. Pie tins and tart tins are different things. But time was running out and I had no time to get a pie tin so I made do with my tart tin.Laying down the pastry case ove the apples was a challenge. I had to be careful not to tear it. This recipe also called for some egg wash and sugar (to sprinkle over the pastry).Here's the pie out of the oven:I couldn't help but help myself to the first slice. It was really good. The apples were slightly tart but it was good with the pastry.Now all that's missing is a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. [...]



My Christmas in Wonderland

2008-12-27T17:20:24.013+08:00

photos courtesy of ashley choo (a.k.a. tweedledum!)Christmas in Singapore this year was different from the one last year, yes the one spent in the thick of Taiwan's scenic mountains.My Christmas this year was far from quiet and far from boring. I have my dear friends to thank. My dear fun enthusiastic friends from my Ngee Ann Mass Comm poly days. Dull moments are non-existent when you're in their company. I couldn't attend the one last year because I was in Taiwan but this year, this year I could and I did and it turned out to be the best christmas ever.The theme for the party was 'Down the Rabbit Hole'. You obviously know what that means. It's Wonderland with all the quirky characters and of course Alice. We had in total one Alice, two white rabbits, two queen of hearts, one king of hearts, one cheshire cat and the twins tweedledee and tweedledum. Can you guess which character I was? You only have to check out the photo to figure out :) To Ashley, Ghimz, Ronald, Valerie, Geetha, Sheryl, Ivy, Adeline -you're the coolest. Thanks for making my Christmas fun and memorable!The party was at Ivy's place except that she wasn't due to come back home at 11pm. So we went to her place first and laid out all the food and took more photos and finished the rest of our outfits. Later on, we decided to go to Changi Airport to fetch Ivy. Yes, in our Alice in Wonderland gear. That's what we did.Check out the Queen of Hearts with The White Rabbit. They're waiting for Ivy to come out of the arrival hall. She was surprised to see us, but she was clearly more shocked at our awesome dress sense. I think she called us morons :)Here's us at the travellator:When we went back to Wonderland, we ate somemore. The food was delicious. Ashley bought gourmet sausages and salami! Green olives stuffed with Feta too. Ghimz bought shepherd's pie. Adeline bought fries and Ronald brought carrot and celery sticks with dips. Valerie baked cookies!And I brought my apple tart:It was a fun filled night. I will definitely want to spend next Christmas with them. Here's to us and may the coming year bring more joy, fulfilment and satisfaction!To all my dear readers, Merry Christmas to you! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas. *Photos by Ashley Choo[...]



Cycle safe

2008-12-21T19:22:21.659+08:00

My Gazelle at the jettyThe post that was to accompany this picture of my bicycle was supposed to be about my recent cycling trip to the beach, of Dad's to-die-for beef stew and how I had it for lunch by the jetty, complete with fluffy bread rolls.However, because of certain events that happened yesterday, I shall endeavour to put across an all important cautionary message, one that has to do with me, my bicycle and cycling in general. It is not a light-hearted message. Though what happened wasn't that serious, it was rather frightening experience.Let me start from the beginning, at 10am in the morning. I had a Christmas party to go to in the evening. It was a pot luck and I intended to bake a tart. As usual, I decided to take my bicycle to the supermarket to get the ingredients.I was cycling at a slow and steady speed on the walkway. Everything was fine until I came across a zebra crossing. After checking out for incoming cars, and waiting till they had stopped, I started to cycle onto the crossing. The crossing was to my right, so I had to swerve a little. There were some road works going on so the pavement was uneven, with plenty of loosened gravel. As I swerved, the bicycle just slid and I was thrown to the ground. Okay here's where I announce that I was stupidly unprotected - no helmet, nothing. So I hit the ground, landed on my knee, my left hand and my forehead.Since I was in the middle of the road, I knew better than to just lie there. I got up quickly, picked up my bicycle and moved toward the traffic junction. I was relieved and thought that it was just a silly little accident no different from the ones I always get myself into. I was waiting for the traffic light to turn green before crossing. Then it happened - the scary blackouts.At first, I felt my head spinning, then I became giddy and everything started to darken. I couldn't see, I couldn't hear. It was like I was being sucked into a black hole. I thought nothing of it, thinking that it was just me reeling from shock. I held on to my bike, trying to keep upright. Then I fainted. I've never ever fainted and I wasn't sure what was going on. My bike must have fallen because when I came to (not sure how long it took, but probably just a few seconds or a minute, I'm not sure, I wasn't aware of the time), everything was on the floor. The basket Dad attached to the back of the bicycle with cable ties had broken off.Thank God there were helpful passers-by. One dude was concerned and asked if I was all right and if I needed to get to the oppostite void deck to sit. I remember nodding and getting ready to cross the road when another blackout happened. This time, I wasn't even sure what happened. If any of you have done video production, you would know this term 'fade in', and 'fade out'. Well that's what I felt was happening. In between consciousness, I was simply fading in and out. Both my mind and my vision and whole being. This happened about two to three times. When I was conscious, I remember asking the dude what was going on. I would be talking to him and in a few seconds, I would fade out and then when I came back again, I kept asking how come I was still here, and weren't we supposed to cross the road. Eventually I managed to get across the road with the help of another kind gentleman who thought I might be diabetic. He insisted I have a sweet and sat me down at a nearby void deck. He also insisted that I see a doctor (I had originally intended to cycle back home!) and asked me to call my family. No one was at home at the moment and everyone was occupied so the first person I called was my aunt. In the end, I went to the nearby p[...]



Etihad Airways

2008-12-08T14:18:45.989+08:00

Plane food has a bad reputation. There isn't a need to explain why. You know it and I know it. We also understand the challenge that comes with presenting edibles that not only look good but taste good while you're in mid-air. That is why when it comes to plane food, expectations dip to an all-time low. So low that it might not be surprising if someone says that he will choose greasy fast-food over a serving of plane food. This unfortunate judgement has its truths most of the time. There are indeed limitations of serving food that's cooked a-la-minute and especially when it is a fact that food tastes different in a high-altitude environment. With so many factors going against the hardworking chefs who create airplane meals fit for consumption, you wonder how they eventually decide what goes into your meal.Airplane brochures never fail to print glossy photos of delectable airplane meals. In these photos, the juicy-looking meat glistens, the fish looks fresh and everything looks picture perfect. However, the skeptic in us starts to doubt and assume that it only looks good because it's a photo. This is how it has always been. Perhaps that is the case but not anymore. Not for Etihad, to say the very least. Not when they have a food and beverage manager on board - a capable stewart who ensures that these pretty photographs are not just a fantasy or a figment of each passengers imagination but rather, a great-tasting reality:Since I have yet to fly on Etihad Airways, I cannot confirm that what you see in those photos is what you get when you're thousands of miles up in the air. But I do know that the food beats most airplane food. I learnt about this because Eithad invited me to a press conference and media lunch in celebration of their first year in Singapore. As the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad is known for its quality service and well-trained staff. They also announced the launch of their new Inspired Service for premium passengers (Diamond First and Pearl Business Class) arriving into and departing from Singapore.An important part of the Inspired Service involves food. Not only will the food be of top quality, the crockery, linen and glassware will be more tasteful - think normal dining size classic white porcelain. The menu will also boast a wide variety. You will be able to choose from the a la carte or the kitchen menu. The a la carte menu needs no explanation. However, I do think that the kitchen menu is a smart idea. This menu offers an array of invidual snack-sized dishes that can be eaten at any time during the flight. That means if you skip the a la carte meal because you were not hungry during the time set aside for dinner, then you can request for an item on the kitchen menu whenever you feel the rumbles in your stomach. Some items on their present kitchen menu includes Arabic baklava, warm truffle popcorn with porcini salt, warm bella olives, orange, garlic and rosemary, Providore natural ice cream, selection of cheeses etc. Etihad's menu changes every few months so passengers (especially frequent flyers of Etihad Airways) will not be bored.Before lunch began, we were provided with a demonstration of how the dishes are usually assembled on the flights. It was rather interesting. The food and beverage manager explained how they take pride in good food presentation as well. Here's a snapshot at the long table of airplane food:After hearing about all that goes into making each passenger feel comfortable not just with palatable food but good service, I was starting to feel that the food on Etihad Airways might just have one of the best [...]



Sunday morning at Chinatown

2008-12-31T08:53:41.448+08:00

When I think of Chinatown, I think of thick sweaty crowds amidst narrow lanes in the darnest most uncomfortable humidity.The tedious process of getting stuck in and wiggling through a sea of unknown human bodies is rather unappealing to an adult. But somehow kids love it. I only say it because I used to fancy getting lost. It was scary but oh so exciting. God only knows how many times I've gotten lost. That is just so telling of what kind of child I was. Call it a hunger to explore or pure playfulness if you will; only one thing is certain in these scenarios - adults hate it. And you must understand that kids relish anything that adults hate. Perhaps it's that thrill of being away from your naggy parents (come on, don't tell me you enjoyed the constant repetitions of 'hey, stop that', 'get back here!', or the usual 'you'll get it from me when you get home!') and the sheer excitement of being able to go whereever you want.But as with all things exciting, once you realise that you might indeed get lost for real with no chance of getting home (highly unlikely here in Singapore though, it's such a small island!), then you'll start to panic. At this point, excitment turns into anxiety and gleeful eyes turn red and glossy, and your breath quickens as you try to retrace your steps. I am sure that most of you have gone through this at least once.Getting lost is by far no laughing matter especially when your 3ft tall (or short for that matter) frame is at a disadvantage, amidst a sea of tall, lengthy adults. Perfect example - visiting Chinatown during Chinese New Year. Now that's what I'm talking about. Swarmed with tourists, locals, mums, dads and kids all checking out the various goodies ranging from bak kwa (barbecued minced meat), melon seeds, love letters, pomelos, white rabbit candy (i know it's now a god-damn poison carrier but hey i loved it! i can still remember the creamy sweet chunk of goo wrapped in edible rice paper, one that i lovingly ate before popping the entire sweet into my mouth), etc.At that time, I believed that a Chinatown experience should be what the Chinese term as being 热闹. The noisier the better, the more crowded, the more fun it was. The Chinatown crowd is especially fierce during Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is also not Chinese New Year without that annual trip to Chinatown during the festive period.I still enjoy strolling down the streets of Chinatown and I still get do get lost sometimes but that usually happens only when I head down to the area during Chinese New Year, and Mid-Autumn festival. That's when the place gets busy and becomes untolerably congested. So congested that you can't see where your feet are and where you're headed to.Chinatown has changed quite a bit since my childhood days. It's cleaner, the roads are wider and even the food centres have undergone an overhaul, making it less dingy and more sanitary. I like the present day Chinatown and I love the fact that it's chockful of great food at cheaper than cheap prices. Hawker centres (or food centres) are indeed a great blessing. That's one thing I'm glad we have here in Singapore.There are a few hawker centres in the Chinatown area but my current favourite is the one located right smack towards the end of Smith Street. Oh wait, I just did a quick Google search, it's at 335 Smith Street. And the proper name's Chinatown Complex Food Centre. It is apparently also one of the must-visit hawker centres recommended by the Singapore Tourism Board.The last I heard, there are a mind-boggling 200 stalls at this food centre. You can work up an appetit[...]



Pumpkin pie

2008-11-17T02:09:10.204+08:00

Yesterday I made pumpkin pie. There's usually a sense of achievement that follows after I take my finished bake good out of the oven. But with this pie, it was a different story. Apprehension is the best word for this situation. I will not tell you why until the end of the post.For now, I will show you photos. This by far will be the best example of how every baked good does not always taste like what it looks like. I should know best. I have had successes and failures in the kitchen and it can get pretty disheartening at times. That's especially when you need to get that cake frosting right because you're baking a birthday cake.But yesterday was a different story. Part of me feels a little guilty but I am really glad I went ahead and did it anyway and ended up with some orange coloured pie:At least now I know what to do and what not to do. Look at the closeup of the pie, can you see the texture? Does it look like pumpkin to you? Well it has a colour similar to pumpkin yes? Let me fill you in on an extra bit of information - it might look like pumpkin but it didn't really taste much like pumpkin. I'm certain about that. I trust my tastebuds enough to know when they're taking a holiday. I might not have a palate as refined as a critic at The New York Times but I am sure I can tell the difference between a pumpkin pie and a pumpkin pie that's supposed to be a pumpkin pie but turns out to be more like a pumpkin pie-lookalike.You might have gotten it by now. And yes you guessed right. I was a bad baker yesterday. A very lazy one. Although I did make my own pie crust, I took the easy way out for my pumpkin pie filling. I did not think I could get away with it though, knowing the reputation of quick-fixes. I've never been one for the ready-made mixes and tricks but I just had to try it at least once. I had to pick up this conveniently labelled huge can of easy pumpkin promise:I just had to know if the shortcut alternative would taste as good as something freshly made. Libby's is a brand I've seen quite so often at the supermarket. Everytime I walk down that 'baking help' isle I can't help but be enticed by that sweet promise of the possibility of having a lovely warm comforting pumpkin pie with just the twist of a can opener. Prior to yesterday I was careful not to be wooed by such promise of course. I take pride in being someone who puts in the extra effort to bake from scratch.Oh but you know how hard it can be sometimes. Especially those times when you really crave for something and are too tired to go the extra mile - which in this case involves me lugging home some sugar pumpkins, skinning them, baking them, pureeing them, and measuring out all the spices like ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, etc. The entire picture seems pretty clear now. There is a reason why grannies make their pumpkin pies from scratch. I recently read on someone's food blog that a friend had baked two pumpkin pies for a taste test and the one that won hands down was naturally and predictably the one with a homemade pumpkin pie filling.Reading that and having experienced my personal canned pie filling fiasco. I would not say it was a complete failure. Perhaps I should also attribute it to the fact that I DID NOT use evaporated milk as instructed. I did not have any at home and I had just got out of bed and was in no mood to leave the house (see, again, laziness!) so I made do with the only possible substitute I had in my fridge - some low fat milk mum had bought the night before. I guess that could have been one of the reasons why the pie did[...]



Crostata di mele

2008-11-09T10:33:25.538+08:00

Ever since my Dad bought two second-hand Gazelle bicycles (which happened to still be in perfect condition) for a cool S$100, I've been quite the cyclist. I've been discovering new cycling routes every other week. Just last week, I found a route that can get me from where I live (Bedok) to my grannie's place in Sengkang in just about half an hour. Well, that is if I cycle there in the dead of the night, say at midnight. That's when I have the roads all to myself, well, nearly.Cycling is addictive and I find myself wanting to cycle everywhere now. I think it's a healthy obsession. When I say obsessed I really do mean it. But it also means that I become fitter, even though alot of times I cycle to my favourite dining places in the East. Think Changi Village, East Coast Park, Tampines and of course Katong. I have also found out how to cycle to the Ikea at Tampines - this means Ikea breakfast for me next weekend!Any who, along the way, although I have discovered a renewed passion for cycling, I have yet to master the tricks of cycling with a bagload of groceries.I learnt that the hard way, yesterday. You see, I've been craving for a homemade apple tart the entire week and have stopped by many bakeries in search of it. But much to my dismay, I realised how common apple crumble is, as opposed to apple tarts. This only meant one thing - I had to take things into my own floured hands. Yesterday afternoon was all that and more.So where did my bicycle come in? When I came up with the bright idea of cycling to get my groceries. I was silly not to anticipate the huge load of groceries I was to get. This included 2kg flour, 5 granny smith apples, a block of butter, 1 litre milk and some extra biscuits that caught my eye. My bicycle does not have a basket - it only has a metal seat-thing at the back where three elastic bands were placed, to keep steady a fair amount of load. Apparently though, I had too much faith in those elastic bands. Or maybe I put too little thought into planning my grocery shopping. I was too ambitious, cocky even.I left the supermarket with a huge smile, thinking how brilliant an idea it was to cycle to and fro my home. What a carbon-neutral act, I thought in my head. I wasn't contributing to the pollution of the world and I get to exercise as well. So as I cycled off home, only happy thoughts clouded my head. I was pretty satisfied especially since I knew that in a few hours, I would have a warm whole apple tart to enjoy.Before I continue, might I just add that this apple tart proved only one thing - hard work tastes sweeter. I should know, because I cycled all the way home with more than 4kg worth of groceries behind me, on my trusty Gazelle bicycle.Mid-way home, I realised something was not right, I turned behind and saw that my groceries were wobbling, trying their darnest not to slip out of those elastic bands. Like I said, I had great faith in those bands, so I didn't bother and cycled on. Then a while later, while cycling and thinking about my apple tart (again), I heard a loud thump behind me. When I turned back, I saw that one bag of my groceries (containing my milk, butter and apples) had fallen off. Damn those elastic bands, they were not so reliable after all. I screeched to a stop by the side of the road and went back to pick up my fallen bag of groceries. This cannot do! By the time I get home, my groceries would probably be bruised and tattered.What was I supposed to do? I thought hard. I really did. Then I decided to put the apples and butter in my sling bag[...]



Cheap Eats in the East

2008-10-27T22:50:52.257+08:00

My strong affinity with the East side of Singapore has alot to do with the fact that I was raised and schooled here. But for most part, it is the sheer delight in the abundance of cheap and good food easily available in this area that has my head pounding in ecstasy. Okay, perhaps that is a rather strong metaphor but I will stand by it and ask that you check with another Eastie. I can assure you that it is most likely the appetising buffet of sweet, sour, and hot that gets our blood pumping more than anything. Couple that with a rich culture and breezy location, and you know you have a winner.Granted that the East is not so small, you must be wondering which part of this Eastern side I am talking about. Well well well, that photo above should be ample enough, if you do live in this area.That my friend which you see above is my latest new favourite cheap food find. This fine gem sits at the junction of East Coast and Joo Chiat Road. Its exact location is 125 Joo Chiat Road, in a coffeeshop called D'Orange. Dot discovered this place last week when her colleague brought her to try it. Her workplace is right smack in Katong so exploring the great eats there is really convenient. It's a blessing I say, because I get to benefit as well. I've tried several great eats there due to her recommendations and all have turned out to be really satisfying and lip-smackingly good.Every person should have at least one foodie friend who loves food just as much as you do. That way, you can always count on stumbling on great food finds even when you aren't looking. :) Dot is obviously a foodie like me and as said, most of the time when we chill out, it usually surrounds not just fun adventures but also delicious outings. Yesterday was one of them.After mass ended at OLPS, we met and headed to 125 Joo Chiat Road, the place that's about to become my favourite la mian and xiao long bao dig. Known as Dragon Delights, this small little stall is tucked right behind Mary's Tau Kwa Pau stall and a famous hokkien mee & char kway teow stall. I was quite surprised to find out about this place because truth be told, I've never bothered entering the coffeeshop though I've walked past it a million times. Shame on me I say. This is what happens when you become too comfortable with your current food choices and don't bother sussing out other potential good eats. Curiousity never killed the cat, it only made it happier. I should learn.Okay, on to the la mian a.k.a. pulled noodles. Till this day I still hold a deep fascination for the way pulled noodles come together. Pulled dough never gave you silky slim threads of noodles, at least that was what I thought when I used to be young and ignorant. I used to tell myself that it was all just a simple trick. Perhaps the chef just wanted some theatrics so when in an open kitchen, he would play with balls of dough, stretching it out, long and wide, slamming it onto the countertop one time, two times, three times following a rhythem and then when no one's looking, he'll hide the 'play' dough and use pre-cut noodles to cook and serve. Can you believe how silly that is? No wonder I never really was good in science. If only I knew that how magical flour can be. Pulled noodles are far from a figment of my imagination. They are a real treat, especially when done well. Like these:They look like tagliatelle which is one of my favourite pastas especially for pairing with thick sauces. This bowl here is actually zha jiang mian, which means 'fried sauce noodle[...]



Satisfying my cravings

2008-10-21T01:08:48.798+08:00

Till this day, I still find my love of food to be an utter blessing. I'm glad I enjoy eating. It does sound tragically mundane but it's really not. That's because I do know some people who find eating a chore. I find that to be quite a pity though. Look at it this way - we have three meals a day to play with (some say more, especially those who snack, including me) and I would say it can be exciting, the anticipation that creeps up prior to a meal as I ponder, dream or crave the food that I'm to partake. You know me, I'm the girl who thinks about what to have for dinner even before I've gone out for lunch. And there are those times when watching food porn on Tastespotting simply triggers a random food outburst, or yearning. It's no joke. It's dangerous to look at photos of food when I'm hungry. I just want to peel off the liquid crystal layers of my laptop and hope that I can find a sliver of that vividly rich velvet cake somehow.In some ways, I think food cravings are fun. I enjoy the process. To me, it's a game. A game where I try to sense what I feel like eating. At times, it can seem weird. Take for example just now - I was walking home in the pouring rain (with my trusty green umbrella of course) and I passed by a block of flats and just for that few seconds, my nose picked up the comforting scent of curry. Yes, piping hot, and bubbly curry. It was a quick scent so I was not able to pick out what type of curry it was. All I know is that for that split second, I could picture a bowl of that spicy thick broth paired with warm toasted french loaves ready to be coated with that golden sauce of heaven to be consumed by me. You can tell that I was hungry. I make no effort to disguise that. It was nearly 9.30pm and I haven't had dinner, save for some instant miso soup (bought from Daiso) I made in the office at 7pm. You bet I wished the curry smells came from my home. I secretly wished that Dad had cooked curry. I wasn't disappointed to find out that I might have just encountered a pseudo craving because of my hunger. Dad was preparing chicken salad and I was thrilled - both because I was hungry and the fact that his salad rocks. It's a simple salad that's both easy to make and big on taste. More on those wonder greens another time.What I'm trying to say is, when cravings come, don't hide or think that you are simply being greedy. I belong to the camp of people who pursue their cravings, no matter the time or day. Take for example last week. I had recently noticed a stall in Geylang selling bak kut teh. It was not just any normal bak kut teh. The signage said Klang bak kut teh. You could have guessed how intrigued I was. Thing is, I've been to Klang a couple of times because I have family there, but never once have I gotten a chance to taste any bak kut teh while I was there. So I told myself that I would come to check out the herbal soup at this stall one day. Little did I know that that 'one day' was going to be that same week. It's true. I"m not making this up. One evening after work, I was hungry and it was late as usual. My parents did not cook and I was just thinking of what to have for dinner when I suddenly pictured soup. Hot and steamy soup. Then I remembered the bak kut teh stall. And the rest as you know it, satisfactory slurping of soup and all, is the result of my craving.It seems as though my craving encounters will never end. I have one more to tell before I go to bed. This one is the kicker. Why? Well, because you are[...]



Coffeeshop talk

2008-10-08T01:13:02.193+08:00

My recent sporadic posting might have led you to believe that I have indeed got sick of this little blog of mine. I assure you that I am not about to abandon this cosy space. What I do know is that I want to continue to entertain you with not just delicious photos but more recipes and appetite-inducing musings.I do realise that it is very easy to fall into bouts of laziness in the kitchen especially after a long day at work. I eat out more than I used to. I spend more money on meals at restaurants and cafes. I also find that I no longer bring my camera out with me wherever I go. Oh the horror of horrors. How can someone who manages a food blog NOT have her camera with her especially when she tries a new restaurant? Believe me, there have been many instances when I just wish I had brought my humble Canon Ixus out with me.But not bringing out my camera also means I have an excuse to go back to said restaurant to sample the food again, especially if it was memorable. Case in point, Pasta Cafe. I tried it last week for the first time and was pretty much dumbfounded. It made me kick myself and think aloud how I never got to try this place even though I've walked past it a million of times. But I will save that story for another post.Have I lost my eagerness to ramble about food and capture delicious moments of my life? I think not. Alot of the the problem has to do with time. Work has been busy so it's very easy to neglect this blog. On the other hand, that does not mean I am not thinking about my next food adventure. My life still revolves around food and there are times where I find myself craving for a certain dish that I want to have for dinner even before lunch is over. This is one occupational hazard I am glad to have. It is my job to keep myself updated with what's new, hot and upcoming in the restaurant scene, the food industry etc. I find myself reading more food literature, in hope of becoming the next Ruth Reichl or Alan Richman. I am really fascinated with the entire business of food writing. Both food and writing are equally enigmatic and each have the potential to cause extreme emotions. For me, all I know is that I am going to do whatever it takes to get there. To get to that level where I can simply look at a dish and in 10 minutes, come up with a vivid and enjoyable description of it without using any of those forbidden and vague adjectives (ie. amazing, fantastic, tasty, yummy etc).Why am I submitting you to a boring account of my personal self-discovery of sorts? Perhaps it is because I feel like there is nothing to hide. It's been 3 years since I started this blog and a portion of my life have been documented here; well at least the most delicious ones. I feel like I can speak my mind and not be misunderstood.So thank you dear reader for staying on to read this. This blog might have been quite quiet but I assure you, I am working hard to get into the baking and cooking groove yet again. Time is precious and although I don't have the luxury of ample free time everyday, I will work a way around it. There are just too many cakes, cookies and muffins out there for me to bake and too little time to fret about not having time. I might have regular columns with specific themes. It won't be immediate but it's in the works.Right now, I will have my coffee, drink it and stew in the many possibilities for the future of this blog. As we grow, and as we advance, so do our surroundings. Please stick aro[...]



The Cafe Expedition

2008-09-08T01:58:19.766+08:00

We all look forward to the weekend for various reasons.Though it might only be two days, and technically (that is, if we want to be specific) only a mere 48 hours, it feels as if time does stop. For two whole days, your time is stretched, you are a bit more calm and you naturally have more time to do the things you've been planning to do all week.Of course that's only a given if you do not have to work overtime or rush a deadline on a Saturday or Sunday. To sum it up - weekends are a luxury of many who are working and I am well aware of that especially since I relinquished my undergraduate status about 8 months ago.Most of the time, I spend my weekends at home, relaxing with a cup of tea and a book. Mornings are spent reading the newspapers with soothing tunes chiming out of my speakers. At times there's work to be completed so I immediately switch on my laptop and busy myself for the rest of the day.Then there are lovely weekends where my friends and I plan outings together and those, ah those are another thing altogether. Especially when it concerns the taste buds.For some reason, I'm totally sold on the idea of weekend brunch. I would however admit that it's only a recent occurence to me. I never understood the idea because I like having my three meals and the anticipation that builds up as I think of what to eat for those three meals. I know it does sound really stupid but brunch just shortens my choices. Or at least that was what I used to think.I won't deny it - I can be quite the greedy girl. I enjoy my meals thoroughly (delicious and tasty ones of course). Eating to me can never be a chore simply because I not only enjoy the process of consuming food that's carefully prepared, but also the excitement that comes with each bite or each new dish that I'm trying for the first time. This then leads me to another reason why I'm so eager to explore new eating grounds and if you love food as much as I do, I'm sure I don't need to explain further.Also, other than the quality of the food and the ambience of the place, another major factor is of course the company.Trust me, nothing dampens a bright perky sunny-side up (complete with crisp toasty bread!) than a companion who pushes his/her food around with a fork without ever intending to let that piece of food see the insides of his/her tightly sealed mouth. It might sound harsh but I see no joy in dining with someone who cannot understand why God created food. Believe me, I will cry if I ever have to eat pellets in place of food.On a happier note, I will say that I have no lack of friends who share the same joy as I. The joy that is instantly recognisable from the tone of voice, a gleaming pair of eyes radiating with anticipation of what is to come from the kitchen, or a ready tummy all revved up to go. I really am thankful for these friends. You hear me (or rather read) mention them once in a while in this little space on cyberworld and alot of times, I wish I could share more with you, like the smells we smelled or the savoury, sweet, salty, spicy, sour tastes that we experienced and so on. But alas a simple blog can only do so much.I know what I can do is to continue to supply you with photos (taken with the best of my ability, hopefully meeting your expectations) and wax lyrical with descriptive language. I try my best to make you salivate as do I, when I await for the food to arrive on my table, after a torturing time loungi[...]