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Archive for December, 2009

Cheers to 2010!

It’s that time of the year again. To look back, reflect and give thanks. The past 12 months have been rather eventful for me, luckily with more ups than downs. Off the top of my head, these are the highlights of 2009 for me:

1. After 4 attempts, the precious driving license is safely tucked in my wallet now. Finally.

2. The milestone of turning 21 may seem redundant but I’m still glad I’m legally an adult now. Thanks for celebrating with me on the special day, friends (you know who you are)!

3. Moving into the new house (which I love!) was tiring but so worth it. Phew, no more travelling on the slow MRT red line all the way to Admiralty anymore.

4. Obolo threatened to sue me! Seriously, I feel like rolling my eyes everytime I think of this silly incident. Criticisms are hard to swallow but deal with it, please. NOT by threatening to sue though.

5. I received my 1st official job offer. Lucky me.

6. Without any doubt, my BEST meal of 2009 has to be the dinner at Jaan par AndréIggy’s comes in at a close second.

7. Lasik! One of the best inventions and investments ever.

8. Meeting so many nice food bloggers with a common passion: the love for food!

2010 looks pretty promising for me: graduating from university, travelling to Europe for more than a month with my favourite person, a potential grad trip to Japan with the best friend, starting a new job… I’m ready for whatever good and bad things life has in store for me!

Hope 2010 will be filled with much laughter and good food for all of you. Be happy and stay healthy!

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Trattoria L’Ancora

Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen these days, isn’t it? I’m usually weary of the new ones but oh my, Trattoria L’Ancora is a keeper. I certainly hope that it can withstand the fierce competition in Singapore!

Complimentary bread basket. Nothing interesting, as usual, but it gave us something to nibble on as we had to wait quite some time for the food.

My dislike for rice naturally means that I’m an amatuer when it comes to risotto. While I don’t know what is considered the “standard” of good risotto, what I do know is that the Risotto Nero ($22++) with sea scallops carpaccio in homemade squid ink sauce was so tasty that even the friend (knowing how much I hate rice) was surprised that I had more than a few spoonfuls of the plump and aromatic grains!

Like the precious truffles, I find it impossible to describe the taste of squid ink. Descriptions like “it’s briny with a deep seafood essence” are so superficial and not helpful at all since basically all seafood has that flavour. To me, it’s just a simple matter of “when I taste it, I will know it”. So, want to know what squid ink tastes like? Try it! Nothing beats first-hand experience.

The risotto absolutely can’t hold a candle to the Tagliatelle ($34++) with lobster in cherry tomato sauce. I.Love.This. Murky and slightly saltish, the handmade flat squid ink pasta was delish with a capital “D”! Lobster was disappointingly unfresh though, but the pasta was so good that I was willing to overlook that.

Do you sense a squid-ink-cum-seafood theme here? What can I say, black food feeds my soul!

I’ve got no one but myself to blame for choosing the Torta Di Zucca ($10++) since I’ve got zero control whatsoever whenever I see the word “pumpkin”. This oven-baked pumpkin cake was so dense and chinese-kueh-like that it was a chore to finish. The caramelized strawberries were just there to look pretty, nothing else.

Stick to the lovely tiramisu ($10++) and it will be a perfect end to an ambrosial meal. How I wish I’ve gotten two of this instead of that awful unappealing pumpkin cake!

This is my last Italian post for 2009… And I’m glad that it’s a place I’ll gladly return for another delizioso meal!

 

 

Trattoria L’Ancora
789 Bukit Timah Road
6467 3778

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The Marmalade Pantry

Is it just me or is The Marmalade Pantry losing that tai-tai vibe it used to have when it was still at Palais Renaissance? After relocating to ION Orchard where all the big brands are (ironic, isn’t it?), I find that it lacks the exclusiveness of TWG and the elegance of Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge. If you don’t mind passerbys gawking at you, then this is the right place since the too open concept means that there’s zilch privacy.

The festive season calls for something gingery since gingerbread is so synonymous with the holidays. Served with brandy-soaked apricot and vanilla bean ice cream, the Steamed Ginger Bread Pudding ($12++) has an incredibly soft texture thanks to the steaming process and because it contains little, if any, milk or cream, it’s not heavy like the usual dairy-based custardy puddings. Perfect if moistness is more consistent (dry at the edges) and the pudding is served warmer to better contrast with the ice cream.

Another festive sounding dessert is the Pumpkin Creme Brulee ($12++) which was really awesome! I like the smoothness of the custard and the evident sweetness from the pumpkin. The Chocolate Banana Popsicles were superfluous though. Essentially frozen bananas coated with chocolate and nuts (reminds me of Swensen’s ice cream cones!), I don’t see how they can complement the creme brulee. Seems like they are just there for appearance’s sake.

Tai-tai hangout or not, I still like The Marmalade Pantry for its desserts! A return is definitely in the works since I spotted many other interesting sweets on the menu. I wonder what’s a Chocolate Nemesis? Or, caramelized pear and salted caramel bread pudding, anyone?

 

The Marmalade Pantry
#03-22/28 ION Orchard
6734 2700

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Caffe Beviamo

You can try looking, but there’s no signboard of Caffe Beviamo anywhere (I looked). Just take the escalator up to the second level and follow the sounds of clinking cutlery and murmured conversations to the open concept cafe. Impossible to miss it!

I wanted both the ravioli and sandwich but ended up with just the Kumera Sandwich ($12+) as the ravioli wasn’t available. Kumera always make me think of New Zealand because prior to my 6 months stay there, I had no idea what “kumera” was. Turned out to be the humble sweet potato, which the natives call it by its Maori name, kumera. Warm toasted bread, sweet kumera, spinach, cheese and the especially tasty semi-dried tomato pesto make this simple sandwich really good!

I didn’t like the spaghetti tossed with prawns, garlic, fresh red chilli, parsley and lemon juice ($14+). Somehow, the pasta reminds me of the yellow noodles used in the prawn mee served in hawker centres. Prawns were very fresh and crunchy though.

I like this place very much. It’s casual, laid-back and noisy in a good way (lots of strollers and kids in sight). And because 80% of the cafe was filled with expats when I was there, it was real easy to pretend that I’m not in Singapore! At least for a few hours.

 

Caffe Beviamo
#02-K1 Tanglin Mall
6738 7906

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The Cookie Museum

I was wandering around the Takashimaya food hall yesterday when I saw The Cookie Museum’s booth. Smart of them to set up a booth in town during the festive season since their lovely tins of handmade cookies make great gifts! But they don’t come cheap. A box of 500g will cost between $40 to $45. My tin of Cream of Strawberry was a gift and it’s a good thing for the family that buttery cookies are not my thing. Which means all the more for them!

Christmas is a time of eating, of feasting, and of gaining the ubiquitous Christmas pounds! So go ahead, indulge and forget about calories. Merry Christmas!

 

The Cookie Museum
#01-02/04 Esplanade Mall
6333 1965

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Artisan Sweets

Just 3 days after a reader (thanks, Lianne!) recommended the macarons from Artisan Sweets, Sis brought home these customised macarons given out as wedding favours by her colleague. Talk about coincidence!

I prefer green “Summerberry” over pinkish-red “Rocky Mountain“. Airy and light, the former had a tangy raspberry filling which balanced the sweetness very well! As for the latter, I think it’s just a typical macaron with chocolate ganache. And it melted rather quickly at room temperature compared to summerberry, which explained the unsightly marring of the right canister shown above.

The macarons are available in boxes of  5 ($10), 9 ($18), 15 ($28) and 18 ($33) pieces. I have to say that these are by far the largest macarons with copious amount of filling I’ve seen! And they are baked in small batches so quality and freshness are not a concern. Worth trying!

 

Artisan Sweets
32 Holland Grove Road
6468 6700

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Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge

Another efficacious tai-tai-in-training session, this time at chi-chi Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge, one of the more popular hangouts for real tai-tais (unlike wannabes like me) in town; and more importantly, another successful bloggers’ gathering!

Eating with these foodies-friends means that there’s no worry of over ordering. “Too much” is not in our dictionary because there can never be too much. So in true tai-tai spirit, we got to tell the waitress “We want ALL the cakes except this and that”. And wow, the feeling was so fantastic! How I wish I can say this all the time!

I’ll start off with the cake I like most of all: Upside Down Pineapple Carrot Cake ($5.50++). Not the traditional American carrot with cream cheese frosting, this was very moist, nutty and fruity with a soft and dense texture. Love this lots!

Cranberry Almond Cake ($5.50++) came in a close second, just because I like the distinct tangy-sweet berries interspersed throughout the smooth sponge cake.

Spot the glorious specks of vanilla beans? The Danish Butter Cake ($5.50++) was very enjoyable with a not-too-rich custard filling sandwiched between not-too-buttery sponge cake!

Another cake I’m fond of is the epitome of beauty in simplicity: Orange Cake ($5.50++) which was very light and zesty, perfect for afternoon tea!

Though the Assiette of Citrus ($11.90++) scored high marks for presentation, I didn’t like everything on the plate. Lemonade sorbet on orange tulip basket was a tad too sweet to me (I like sour stuff) while the citrus almond sponge pudding was such a misnomer as it’s just a sponge cake that’s rather dry. The group’s favourite was the citrus tart which had a nice balance between sour and sweet!

No English tea can be completed without any scones! Though this holds the grand title of being “RC Signature Scones“($7.90++), it lacked a rich buttery flavour and texture wasn’t light and fluffy enough. I avoided the butter and whipped cream but the Danish fruits spread was great! If only I have better tasting scones to spread it on.

Almond Meringue Cream Butter Cake ($5.50++) was definitely more cream than meringue. Nothing exciting.

I’m finding it hard to be impressed by any chocolate cakes anymore because they are so everywhere now. Though it looked sinful and decadent, The Mudslide Royale ($5.50++) was too rich and dense to wow any of us.

Hands down, this is the most expensive slice of Banana Loaf ($5.50++) I’ve ever eaten. After trying all the other interesting cakes, the unanimous vote for this was “dull and boring”. I think if I were to have this loaf any other day without any distraction, I’d like this for its moistness and sweet banana fragrance.

The ugliest cake of the lot, the Cream of Layer ($5.50++) showcased the poor cake cutting skills of the RC’s staff. The only things I like are the berries on top, which goes to show how much I didn’t like the cake.

One thing about RC’s cakes is that most of them are based on almond/butter cakes, i.e. the classic old-fashioned English cakes which are surprisingly to my liking despite the heavy use of butter. Prices are so affordable that I’m definitely coming back for the English Tea Set and that elusive green tea cake which I want so badly!

Check out the other foodies’ write-ups:

Daniel from Memoirs of Food;

Harris from The Simplest Aphrodisiac;

Justin from j2k3blogs; and

Phoebe from For the Love of… Calories and Weighing Scales.

 

Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge
2F Ngee Ann City
6735 6833

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