Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hazelnut Shortbread

Recipe modified from: Gorgeous Biscuits (Periplus Mini Cookbooks)

A short post here about one of my latest baking therapy project - Hazelnut Shortbread!
Was scanning through the recipes in one of those Cold Storage-bought cookbooks I acquired eons ago and found one that featured ingredients that I could easily pull out from my current stash of baking ammo.

For sloths who find grinding raw hazelnuts (toast + process) a chore, ground hazelnut could easily be bought from Phoon Huat ($6+ for 250g).  I had packet of it sitting in the drawer but I can't remember what I bought it for though...
No thanks to our sunny tropical weather.. do refrigerate the biscuits after coating them with chocolate, for best results! Remind the lucky souls who receive your baked products to stick them in the fridge too :)
 Makes: 22

100g ground hazlenuts
150g butter (cubed and slightly softened)
80g soft brown sugar
185g sifted plain flour
100g dark chocolate, chopped
15g vegetable shortening

1. Preheat oven to moderate 180 dC. Bake the hazelnut powder for about 5 min (you might want to prepare this prior) and let it cool.
2. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper (or lightly grease them with butter)
3. Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add hazelnuts and beat briefly.
4. Add sifted flour and mix to a soft dough.
5. Roll 2 level tsp of the mixture into balls and place well apart on the trays.
6. Using a fork, flatten the balls to 4cm in diameter.
7. Bake for 20 min or until lightly golden. Cool on wire rack.
8. Melt chocolate and shortening in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth.
9. Coat half of the top side (the ridged side)with the choc mixture.
10. Lay on foil-lined tray and stick it in the fridge.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


The Coastal Settlement
200 Netheravon Road (Opp Commando Camp)
Tue-Sun (1030am-12am)
6475 0200

An "Old School Charm" indeed.
Hidden in the far eastern end of the island, The Coastal Settlement was one heck of a drive to get to (even for an Eastie like me), but its eccentric contemporary decor (think shelves lined with Vespas) and kampong feel made the journey totally worthwhile.

I am going to be brutally honest about the food here though as I don't really think much of the few dishes we sampled. In fact, I am going a little 'hmmm' about how the food served on that day turned out a little different from what have been previously written about by other famous food bloggers who were there on personal invites by the owner(s). However, that being said, I would still head back there just to hang out on a nice afternoon with good company as they have really nice pockets of sitting areas around. Plus, i love the kampong feel of the surroundings too (less the eerie now-defunct hospital opposite the eatery).
The most exciting part about the visit to TCS wasn't the food, but the exploration of the ex-army-barrack-warehouse interior. The quaint decors were well-juxtaposed against a modern contemporary lighting and layout. Some decors were 'live', like this fighting fish - with great ambitions nonetheless.
Now, about the food!

For starters, we ordered a recommended snack (thanks Clar): Fried Portobello Mushrooms with Truffle Mayo - $15. ( i know, everyone is jumping on this 'Truffle Fries' bandwagon). I personally am a big fan of mushrooms, so this was a great way to start the meal for me...except for the fact that the cooks over-timed the frying and the coated breadcrumbs were almost charred when it was served. Gave me a crazy sore throat after that.Thankfully, the mushrooms underneath the layer of coating still retained its juiciness, the mayo was nice in all, it wasn't too bad.

 There was a whole list of Singaporean hawker dishes featured in the menu, but we sure as hell weren't willing to pay $16 for a plate of Nasi Lemak within a 1 km radius of the fabled Changi Village Hawker Centre(rumoured to be close till the end of this year though).  So, we went 'angmoh' and ordered 3 western main dishes. The first of which was the Rosti Sausage served with Arugula and a dollop of sour cream. Being the underdog, I was quite pleasantly surprised at the way this dish turned out. The potato shreds used for the rosti were not your normal Marche-sized ones, they were flatter and broader, which gave the entire potato pancake a smoother texture. Interesting!
2nd main dish: Prawn Aglio Olio with XO Sauce - $22. Overpoweringly (is there such a word?!) flavourful. Left my dining partner (Fish) a little overwhelmed. The essence of the flavourings were derived from the XO sauce served at some Chinese restaurants we have over here. We tasted lots of dried shrimps. It was a nice dish, but a little 'jer-la' to conquer an entire plate by yourself, so, share!

 Finally, the highly-acclaimed Char-grilled Wangyu Beef and Mushroom Pizza -$23. The pizza dough was a little undercooked and chewy, and it sure did not look like the one featured in You can say I was feeling really cheated when I read that review! Other that that, the wangyu beef and mushrooms were great, and the caramelization of the toppings really did give a nice finishing touch to the pizza.

For deserts (upon Fish's insistence), we ordered the Waffles - $14. Definitely a big thumbs-up for erm, food art. The 'sides' provided were bananas, strawberry, cracker crumbs and chocolate ice-cream, all dusted with some powdered sugar. Mix and match for each bite! Waffles were so-so only.

It was an enjoyable dining experience in all. I guess largely due to the great company and the rustic ambiance of the dining area. Again, a little too pricey for my liking (petrol $$$ not even included yet.grr.), but still worth a visit or two in the near future!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Deih Gua Mee Sua

Seng Kee Black Chicken Herbal Soup
467 Changi Road
Opens from: 5pm-4am
Easties would have been well-acquainted with this late-night supper establishment opposite Kembangan MRT station by now. It is one of my go-to places whenever the tummy makes pleading noises past 11pm.

The star dish of this popular zhi-char place will have to be the pork liver meesua (deih gua mee sua). Of course, for those who get a little queasy just by visualizing pork kidneys and livers, you can opt for the lean pork slices version of it. I personally know of two people who would do just that :)

The soup interestingly gets more 浓 (and saltier) as the night goes by.  Really flavourful broth. Please do not expect those clear 黑鸡汤 that your mum prepares at home. This is farrrr from it. Besides the broth, I have also always been impressed by the fresh pork/livers/kidneys that they use. The kidneys really do pack a crunch when you bite into it. They get the timing just right.
I have tried the other zhi char dishes too, nothing seriously fantastic. Their steamed fish and lala dishes seem to be quite popular though!
One added word of caution: be prepared to put up with nonchalent service staff.

Trust me, that bowl of mee sua is crazily comforting on one of those rare chilly Singapore nights.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Locale @ De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate

Add: De Bortoli Yarra Valley, Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek, Victoria, Australia
Opens: Thu-Mon from 12pm (lunch), Saturday from 630pm (dinner)

I have always wanted to blog about this wonderful place from the trip Down Under that took place more than 5 months ago but... Procrastinator is my middle name, so tadah! Better late than never huh? :)

A little introduction:De Bortoli Yarra Valley is located an hour east of Melbourne on a 240 hectare plot of land.  The De Bortolis migrated from Northern Italy to Australia in the 1920s and settled down in the Bilbul Region (New South Wales). I guess it was almost by accident that Vittorio De Bortoli (first gen De Bortoli winemaker) discovered his flair in wine-making with some surplus grapes from the fruit farm he acquired in 1927. The tradition was then passed on and now, De Bortoli Wines is a third generation family wine company that is one of the larger privately-owned companies in Australia.
Their 'flagship' wine has got to be the award-winning Noble One (sweet wine - my favourite!) which I should get my hands on one day since their other desert wines that were available for tasting at the recent Savour 2012 event were splendid. Swear it was the best among all the other exhibitors and I am sure R would agree too! The Yarra Valley vineyard (they have 3 other sites all around the country) however, is well-known for producing cool-climate wines like Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. 
Anyways... I digress, I am here to talk about the food @ the vineyard's very own restaurant - Locale :)

Well firstly, I am an easy foodie to please. Any restaurant that serves F.O.C freshly baked bread with their home-made dip to start my meal has already won half the battle. And of course, Locale did just that.  My memory fails me but I think the bread was of the rustic Irish Soda genre, and it went down well with the dip/olive oil combi that came with it. There were some really yummy chips drizzled with herbed cheese too.

Side dish & Vegetables (contorni e verdure): we ordered the Italian roast potatoes with garden rosemary & garlic (AUD 9). Best side dish ever! The rosemary-infused potatoes and whole garlic cloves were roasted to perfection. Not charred or undercooked - just about right. It might sound odd but I vote this side dish as my favourite among all the other dishes served throughout lunch.
First Course (Primi): Fresh linguine with pancetta, guanciale, calabrese salami, tomato & spring onion (AUD 18 for 1/2 size). This, to be honest, was a tad bit disappointing. The linguine was done al-dente, the flavours from the olive oil, pancetta and other ingredients were great. However, I think it was too salty - no thanks to the pancetta (Italian bacon). I hope the chef did not throw in even more salt though! Was totally an overkill and not particularly enjoyable. Probably would have to ask the chef to go easy on the pancetta or salt if you do order it.
Second Course (Secondi): Seared milawa free range duck breast & confit leg with braised farro & white onion purée (AUD 36). Outstanding dish. The duck breast was cooked evenly through and the confit leg was crispy on the outside and really flavourful as a whole. Although a little pricey at AUD 36, it was well worth the $$$. (ok, I admit, I can't say that with full conviction since I didn't pay for it :p)

side notes: Confit by the way, in its most traditional concept, is a salt-curing process in which the meat is seasoned with salt, garlic and sometimes herbs. It is then cooked in its own fat (theoretically) before serving. Farro (just in case you are wondering), is a kind of grain from a certain wheat species. Widely-used in Italy.
The service staff were attentive and helpful with wine-pairing suggestions. The interior decor of the restaurant was simple and I loved how it was filled with the lovely afternoon sunshine pouring in from the huge windows. The walls are lined with photos of the De Bortoli family from when they first arrive in the 1920s - a great pictorial history. Strolling around peeking at their photos was a nice pre-meal activity. And of course, after-meal activities are aplenty in a VINEYARD. Head downstairs for more wine and cheese tasting frenzy or head out into the open air and marvel at the manicured valleys that extend way into the horizon around you.

Locale is definitely one of the places I hope to have the privilege to re-visit.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate Marble Chiffon Cake

Recipe modified from: Baking Illustrated

A mile high and light as a feather.
Photos will prove the former, and samples will for the latter. Thank you for the support (family and colleagues)in gamely trying out my first attempt at chiffon cakes!

So whats the difference between chiffon cakes and angel + sponge cakes?  Well, chiffon cakes are made with vegetable oil while sponge + angel cakes are generally fat-free (angel cake has the most sugar content). The oil + water liquid combination gives it a really tender and moist texture that is simply out of this world.

It was invented in 1927 by an American - Harry Baker (not kidding about his last name) who kept it a secret for 20 years before selling his 秘方 to General Mills (Betty Crocker's owner) and the rest is history.
I have modified the recipe because the amount of sugar quoted in the original one scares the living daylights out of me. And I don't want to have anything to do with increasing your chances of getting type II diabetes. Also, the chocolate portion of the batter seems a little too dense, so I have decreased the amount of sifted flour used at the end.

I had a fun time alone messing around with mum's 1970s tube pans. She has so many of them!
What a tube pan looks like:

This cake apparently keeps for up to 2 days at room temperature and will retain its tenderness and moistness. (tried and tested!) So, it will be great for a weekend tea-time snack or morning breakkie. Enjoy!
Serves: 12

Bakeware: 9-in tube pan

7 oz caster sugar
1 1/3 cup plain cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7 large eggs (2 whole, 5 separated) at room temperature
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Chocolate portion:
2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp boiling water
1. Adjust rack to lower-middle position and heat the oven to 160 dC.
2. Dissolve the brown sugar and cocoa powder with 3 tbsp of boiling water, mix well.
3. Whisk sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
4. Whisk in the 2 whole eggs and 5 yolks, water, oil and extracts until batter is smooth.
5. Pour reserved egg whites into bowl of standing mixer; beat at low speed until foamy, about 1 min. Add cream of tartar, gradually increase speed to medium-high.  Beat until whites get very thick and stiff (about 7 min).

6. Fold whites into batter with large spatula till you get an even mixture.

7. Divide batter into two large bowls.
8. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter from one bowl and mix it with the chocolate mixture from step 2. Then pour the mixture back into the same bowl of original batter.
9. Partially fold in the chocolate mixture
10. Add 2 tbsp of sifted cake flour into the chocolate batter and fold it till well-mixed.
11. Pour half of the white batter into the tube pan, followed by half of the chocolate one. Repeat until all batter has been poured into the baking pan.
12. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes (till skewer inserted into centre comes out clean).
13. Take the cake out and turn it upside down to cool (2 hours)
14. To unmold, turn pan upright. Run a thin knife around the pan's circumfrence between cake and pan wall, always pressing against the pan. Flip it over again and place it on a wire rack. And I am pretty sure you can figure out how to wrestle the cake out yourself (its pretty intuitive! harder if you are using a one piece pan - that will involve some serious bangs on the table to whack it out). 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stir-Fried Udon

Mum bought some Udon a couple of days ago and I decided to have a go at it this afternoon. Stir-fried udon - haven't had it in quite awhile. Was also reminded of a Whatsapp conversation I had with Wy giving step-by-step instructions on how to go about doing it since she was starving at home ;) I don't think she followed it in the end but the photo of her lunch (black pepper udon) did look great.

Scoured the web for some authentic looking recipes but they were all too convoluted and I was  lazy to run out to get the extra ingredients. This particular one by Takashi Yagihashi looked trustworthy and is perfected by Food & Wine (the mag). However, I was overwhelmed by the variety of mushrooms needed and didn't have  chicken and stock handy. Decided to ditch it and make a modified version myself.

Serves: 4

4 packets of instant udon
2 eggs (whisk together)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
1 bulb of small onion (chopped finely)
6 medium size Chinese dried mushrooms (soaked in hot water for 20 min before slicing)
6 medium prawns (shelled and halved)
250 g of pork (sliced thinly and seasoned with black sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper)
3 handfuls of chopped Napa cabbage (or any other veg you so desire)
1 tbsp of oyster sauce
3 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
chopped spring onion for garnishing

1. Fry the eggs, using your spatula to chop them up into little pieces when they start solidifying. Set them aside once cooked.
2. Blanch the instant udon in a pot of boiling water for a min or 2.
3. Heat up the wok, add the vegetable oil and fry the garlic and onion till the latter turns translucent.
4. Add in the pork and mushrooms and fry till the pork slices are cooked through.
5. Add in the prawns and turn the fire up, fry till the prawns are cooked.
6. Add in the vegetables and fry for about 20 sec
7. Add in the noodles and cooked egg
8. Make sure the ingredients and noodles are all well-mixed (its a good bicep workout i tell ya!)
9. In a bowl, add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil to about 2 tbsp of hot water. Stir the mixture well and then pour it into the noodles.
10. Add more seasoning if needed. Dish it out once your are satisfied with how it looks and taste :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dear Thuriya - by JLoo

Event: Dear Thuriya/Bright is the Night
Venue: Esplanade Tunnel

Date: 13 April - 6 May 2012

Genre: Photo Exhibition

What defines a life-changing trip?

To me, its when you feel an unfathomable connection with the land and/or its inhabitants + an absolute sense of camaraderie with your travel partner(s). Its when a door inside of you previously bolted, gets unlocked and you feel the unbridled freedom of exploring a different realm of thoughts/experiences that you never knew existed within you, keeping you addicted for years to come.

For me, the Grand Canyon wilderness backpacking trip in the Spring of 08 just about tops the list (life-changing in every sense of the word), S.Dakota-Seattle Road Trip (spectacular sights in the Land of the Free), Northern Vietnam in 09 (first encounter with tribal markets and people, hill explorations), Australia 11 (self-inflicted physical toil in the mountains, never knew we could cover such great distances;)...
Intrigued by Polaroids

Myanmar in Jul 11 however, holds a special place in my heart. Albeit a short 5 days whirlwind of a trip, it had undoubtedly drawn me into the lives and stories of the enigmatic characters we met along the way, going about their daily lives in a land that has only very recently flung its doors wide open to the outside world.
J and Thuriya

One of the characters I met was Ashin Thuriya, a little child monk living in a monastery at Mandalay whom J met and befriended on the streets in 2009. He has "a face you will never forget" I was told, and how true it was.

An outing at Mingun Paya

Anyways, let J's pictures do the talking. Dear Thuriya photo exhibition will be on at the Esplanade Tunnel from 13 Apr 2012 to 6 May 2012. A synopsis of her work for this particular project can be read here. Do visit it!
The 3 brothers

And to J: Thanks for inspiring, for living large, for loving freely and for reminding me how infinite life experiences really are.

Disclaimer: The photos shown here are part of my own collection shot using a very humble entry-level DSLR. See the real/pro shots itself (by J) at the Esplanade Tunnel!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fallen Chocolate Cake a.k.a Molten Chocolate Cake

Recipe from: Baking Illustrated

Molten chocolate cake has always been one of my favourite western deserts. No thanks to countless visits to the Chili's at Ann Arbor. I never fail to order one when I am there. And its not even the greatest, have always found it too sweet and a little unrefined, but ah, its a habit.

Here is a short description of what Fallen Chocolate Cake is all about : " an undercooked-in-the-center mound of intense, buttery chocolate cake, which ranges from a dense, brownie-like consistency to something altogether more ethereal" - Baking Illustrated

Perfect description.

One of the most famous version of this cake hails from the famous French chef Jean-Gorges Vongerichten (who claims to have invented the souffle-cake hybrid, but of course, you will always have someone else disputing it). Baking Illustrated combined elements from the recipes of 3 cooks: Jean-Gorges, Todd English and Richard Sax. The culmination is a recipe that is easily manageable for the average home-based baker and it yields great results! Trust me as my first attempt was spot on (can't say that was the case for most of my other baked products).

Side note: This recipe will not produce an extremely molten chocolaty core if you stick to the full baking time. Try to pull it out a little while after it reaches 1/2 inch above the ramekins. Also, once cooled, it will lose its 'molteness'. So, serve/eat it hot!

Serves: 8

2 tbsp plain flour + a little more for dusting
60 g unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet/semisweet chocolate chopped coarse
4 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 sp salt
3.5 oz granulated sugar

1. Adjust over rack to the middle position and heat oven to 200 dC
2. Generously grease and flour ramekins. Tap out excess flour.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once/twice until smooth; remove from heat
4. Beat eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, sugar in the bowl of standing mixer at the highest speed for 5 minutes. Volume should triple. (remember that your utensils should always be spot dry when you deal with egg mixtures)
5. Scrape egg mixture over melted chocolate mixture.
6. Sprinkle flour over egg mixture.
7. Gently fold the egg and flour into the chocolate until mixture is uniform in color
8. Ladle/scoop batter into prepared ramekins.
9. Bake until cakes have puffed about 1/2 inch above rims of ramekins, have a thin crust on top and jiggle slightly at the centre when ramekins are shaken (gentle pls!). Takes about 12-13 minutes
10. Serve warm with whipped cream, cocoa powder or icing sugar.

The mixture after step 7 can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours (cling wrap the bowl) just in case you don't want to destroy the peace of entertaining your guests with the whirring din of the mixing machine. Leave it out at room temperature for 30 min before baking.

Try this recipe yourself, you would be amazed.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Steamed Eggs with Milk (鲜奶燉蛋)

Recipe from: Christine's Recipes

Pals who do desert with me would know that I only go for either 姜汁撞鲜奶 (steamed milk custard with ginger) or the egg custard at 记得吃 or Ah Chew's.

$3.50 - $4.00 a bowl is kinda like extortion though, because with that, you could buy a dozen eggs and fresh milk to make it yourself.

Which was what I did, on impulse, half an hour ago. Well, didn't use a dozen eggs to make for an army of course. Just a little experiment with 1.

Was happily slurping on it and force-feeding my mum within 15 minutes of cracking the egg (she was on the phone). The other bowl is sitting happily in the fridge - chillin'.

Variations include reducing the sugar and drizzling honey over it before serving.

Serving Size: 2 rice bowls

250 ml fresh milk
2 eggs
30g sugar

1. Warm the fresh milk in a microwave or stove. Don't boil it.
2. Beat the eggs
3. Pour the milk into the eggs. Then add the sugar.
4. Stir the egg mixture well with a fork.
5. Divide and pour the mixture into the 2 rice bowls
6. Scoop up the foam from the surface of the egg mixture and discard it.
7. Cover with Aluminum foil
8. Steam for 12 minutes in a wok steamer. Lift the lid every 4 minutes to release some steam. (I used an electric steamer as I was in my sloth mood)
9. Eat it warm. Or chill it for at least half an hour before serving :)

Mystery solved!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Insalata Caprese

Chef: Sha
Recipe: N/A

I don't like food that's too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a picture I'd buy a painting. - Andy Rooney

Ok, so this is going to be a really short post on one of the dishes we did for the "Mexican theme" cook-in session. Clearly, we didn't stick to the theme well enough since this dish hails from a country on the other side of the ocean. Hmm..

Anyways, the quote by Andy Rooney made me laugh when I chanced upon it as I remembered how Sha was nimbly arranging the components of the salad together, gingerly alternating slices of basil,tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese on the Pyrex dish I provided her with.

"Hey...I am doing this because you wanna take pictures right??"

Yes, Sha. And thanks :)

Well, since there isn't much cooking involved here, the dish did taste as good as it looks. (haha)
I am not going to give a standard recipe here as there are scores of them on the web. The basic ingredients of the classic Capri Salad are: whole basil leaves, Buffalo Mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, ground black pepper/salt. Proportions of each are totally up to you. Optional ingredients: black olives, balsamic vinegar, avocado.

Some interesting trivia:
1. Insalata Caprese hails from the Italian region of Campania
2. Usually served as an antipasto (oh gosh, memories of summer 2008) and not a contorno (side dish)
3. Sometimes called Insalata Tricolore. Tricolore referring to the 3 colours of the Italian flag. (Ahh..betcha didn't know that)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Guacamole!

Chefs: Lylau/JS
Recipe from: Cooking for Dinner Parties by Jenni Fleetwood

Impromptu cook-in session after a failed attempt at roughing out on the trails of Ubin proved to be quite an adventure itself. We decided on a Mexican theme for our dinner and naturally, guacamole (gwok-a-mola) worked its way into our menu line-up.

The history of guacamole dates back to the Aztecs from the 16th century Its name was derived from an Aztec dialect and when translated, literally means "Avocado Sauce"(credits to Wiki). Thanks to the many different varieties of the mono and polyunsaturated fat-laden fruit grown in Australia (where our main bulk of avocados come from), we get access to it all year round.

Mum tells me that the best and creamiest avocados are those with really rough and 'pimply' skins. To check on whether it is ripe enough for immediate use, give it a gentle squeeze and it should yield with slight pressure. If it is rock hard (like those we found at Cold Storage yesterday), it should be left for a few days at room temperature to ripen. Or..... you could get this:

Pricey (at $7.95 - 2 avocados worth) but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We found an interesting recipe in one of my cook books lugged home from the very first Borders store in the world (in beloved Ann Arbor) by Jeni Fleetwood. We tried our best to follow it but were lacking in some spices/ingredients. It tasted great anyways. The full recipe is written below.

Make your own guacamole!

2 large ripe avocados (or 1.5 pack of the mashed avocados)
1 small red onion - finely chopped
1 red/green chilli - seeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 garlic clove - finely chopped
finely shredded rind of 1/2 lime and juice of 1 lime
pinch of fine sugar
225g tomatoes - seeded and chopped
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh coriander (optional)
1tsp ground toasted cumin seeds (optional)
1tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp sour cream
salt and ground black pepper

1. Halve, pit and peel the avocados. Set half aside and roughly mash the remainder in a bowl.
2. Add onion, chilli, garlic, lime rind/juice, sugar, tomatoes and coriander.
3. Add ground cumin, salt, pepper and stir in olive oil
4. Dice the remaining avocado and stir it into the guacomole.
5. Leave it to stand for 15 minutes so that the flavour develops.
6. Stir in sour cream.
7. Serve immediately

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Savour 2012: Come celebrate the delicious

I am not even going to pretend like I am an expert at gourmet food products and chi-chi restaurants, but attending Savour did assist in helping me turn up that notch by a tiny bit. Big thanks to R for the impromptu date + early afternoon excitement as we dashed from class to class (hits & misses) and Fish for the late afternoon entertainment (ice cold cider was very much welcomed in the sweltering heat).

And because I am in a terribly lazy mood, here is a summary of the inaugural event from the website itself:

"The SAVOUR concept is a first of its kind in Singapore, with a philosophy to unite the finest food and drink with a plethora of expert master classes, live demonstrations, fun workshops and culinary shopping, in an event that is accessible to all. Within one purpose-built venue, one can find an alfresco Gourmet Village teeming with award-winning restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs, a bespoke indoor Gourmet Auditorium complete with a state-of-the-art kitchen where culinary master classes are held, and a Gourmet Market that boasts an international showcase of artisan food and drink exhibitors."

Now, on to the pictures (only had my IXUS 100 then, so pardon me!)

Gourmet Village - where you eat

Somersby Apple Cider
Pranced around the tents under the mid-day sun. Heat was close to unbearable. Which made the Somersby Apple Cider (from Sweden) soooo appealing. $9 per bottle. Gulped it down towards the end of the event. Thanks Fish for the treat!
Looks like Somersby Cider (brewed by Carlsberg) is engaging in some really intense marketing. I now see them by the troves at NTUC. Easy drink as its really light (4.7% vol alc) and has 15% real apple fruit juice. Sweet! Best served over ice.

Fragrant Steamed Yellow Pumpkin Rice: with XO sausages and pan-seared foie gras in sweet port wine sauce by Sam Leong (Forest @ RWS).
Best dish that we tried (Thanks R). Pumpkin was so evenly steamed and the rice was really fragrant and tasty.Not an advocator of foie gras but I did try a piece. Yummy, but again, I wouldn't buy anything with foie gras on my own accord :P
The 福 print on the pumpkin skin was kinda cool (and pretty) too.

Menage-A-Trois: Scallop mousse, green tea smoked salmon and soy mirin marinated ikura, sous-vide ocean trout, steamed bulot, micro basil and rouille dressing; sushi rice croquette, spanner crab, salmon sashimi and edamame puree by Chef Emmanuel Stroobant (St Pierre).
Woah.. hang on a second. All that in those 3 petite pieces? See, thats why there are times I can never understand chi-chi food. Didn't even know there was a riot of flavours going on there till i typed it out. Also, warm raw salmon didn't really go down well with me. I only ordered it because it was the cheapest thing on the St Pierre's menu (15 Savour Dollars) + I became a fan of the Chef after emerging from his class just minutes before. He is a funny guy.
Cod 2.0 For All Your Senses: Cod brandade flavoured with 'dashi' stock and served with cod skin crackers by Chef Hans Valimaki (Chez Dominique - Finland, 2 Michelin stars).
Fish was dashing around preying on dishes with cod in it (please don't ask me why) and happily trotted back to our table with this. Cod was done just right, nice and flaky, but I especially liked the green barley-like bits underneath it.
Potato and Malt: Sea buckthorn potato ice cream with malt by Chef Hans Valimaki (again).
Quite and ingenious desert! We had 2 of it. The Sea Buckthorn Potato Ice Cream was covered with a thin layer of white choc (love it). The crunchy bits at the side also provided contrast with the smooth cool layers of ice cream. Thumbs up.

Gourmet Auditorium -where you learn

Only managed to attend 1 Masterclass during our 4 hours at the event. Thankfully, it was an entertaining one by Chef Emmanuel Stroobant of St Pierre (nope, never been there before) who could really consider switching career from a chef to a stand-up comedian. His sidekick sous chef (young dude from OZ) complemented his show really well too.

As you can see, I was just wowed by his showmanship and not particularly by the dishes. In fact, I can't even remember what they were except for the fact that foie gras was the main ingredient used and since I don't forsee myself buying any fattened diseased liver in this life (those poor ducks/geese, seriously), I decided to just be entertained by his antics.

Gourmet Market
- where you nibble for free

Held within the F1 pit building itself, R and I managed to spend a good 20 minutes downing wines from all over the world at the free wine-tasting session. Mixing champagne, sauvignon blanc, Moscato, Merlot, desert wines in an empty tummy at 12pm was no joke! We then sauntered to the cheese appreciation class, but got turned away as the class was already fully packed (we were on time!!) and ended up at a random Tomato (Rougeline nonetheless) cooking class by Jimmy Chok. Had to rush off (before food tasting, grr) for the Artisan Bread Making by Jason Tan of Nick Vina. Helpful tips!

Cold Storage's Three Sixty (flagship store @ ION) took up an entire section too with free food tasting (cheese, wine, wangyu beef, carviar...). All premium products! I had a whale of a time going around the cheese section. My weak spot.
Didn't think much of the Iberico Ham from Spain though.

Albeit $43 poorer (that is how much a Saturday afternoon session ticket costs), I still hope that Savour would be back next year!