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Archive for August, 2010

The French Stall

I’ve been wanting to try out the food at The French Stall back when it first opened its first outlet in Little India but somehow, didn’t get around to doing it. Its formula of serving French fare without frills in a coffee shop setting is apparently quite a winning one since it has expanded by opening another branch in MacPherson. No reason to put off a visit now that it’s nearer to home!

I was really happy when I saw the executive salmon set on the menu cuz it’s my “dream menu”, i.e. what I would have ordered ala carte anyway.

Executive Salmon Set (from $28.80++):

Leeks with vinaigrette dressing;

Grilled salmon chunk with red wine sauce and spinach, “Genevoise”style; and

Homemade tiramisu.

I’m rather fond of leeks, especially leeks that’s served cold with a tangy dressing and boiled till so tender that its stringy fibrous texture became more delicate than tough.

Salmon was just salmon, nothing memorable.

Surprisingly, the tiramisu was way better than decent! Very moist and nice balance of mascarpone cheese to soaked ladyfingers. In fact, I enjoyed this even more than what I had at top Italian restaurants like Garibaldi and Otto.

Regular 3-course set ( from $17.80++):

Soup of the day;

Grilled pork medallion with braised cabbage, sauce diable; and

Giant profiterole with vanilla ice cream topped with hot chocolate sauce (additional $4.80++).

Soup was an uninspiring mixed vegetables, while the thin juicy pork medallions were cooked just right, and paired nicely with the peppery/rosemary sauce.

The highly recommended giant profiterole was behemoth, alright. A hulking choux pastry shell stuffed with scoops of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with dark chocolate sauce. Unfortunately, the pastry was rather chewy and tasted stale…

Though the food was generally good, I wouldn’t come back anytime soon. Lack of air conditioning is one, the obscure location is also another reason. And if you notice, prices are not exactly cheap after all the additional surcharges have been included in the final bill. That said, the concept of making French food affordable for the masses is still a great one!

 

The French Stall
83 MacPherson Lane
6746 0183

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Heart Bistro

“You are what you eat and how you choose to eat”.

That’s the basis behind Heart Bistro’s concept: nutritionally balanced dishes that don’t sacrifice on taste. While occupying the former premises of Marmalade Pantry in Palais Renaissance naturally up its chi-chi factor a notch, the atmosphere is still very casual and laid-back. And the food served here is just my kind of thing!

Initially, our intention was just to order mains from the ala carte menu. But we had a change of mind when we saw the weekend brunch ($32++ for 3 course) cuz it’s more value for money.

Small shots of lemon+honey tea were served as welcome drinks.

I’ve been craving for real, feel-good food like bircher muesli these days, so much so that I’ve been making my own quickie version at home. And that’s why I was delighted to see that Heart Bistro offers homemade bircher muesli! Definitely tasted better than mine, creamy and moist with lots of grated apple, nuts and berries~

This is my first time trying the Myanmar inspired pickled tea leaves with ripened tomatoes and mung beans and it caught me by surprise. I thought it’ll be a mild salad but no, no. It’s a mishmash of textures and strong flavours: spicy, salty and tangy all at once. Thumbs up for this.

For mains, I had the roasted black cod with baby spinach and edamame from the ala carte menu (additional $6++). The oily fish was moist and tender but the highlight was the ginger broth, incredily light and aromatic. Soba purists will probably wanna stone me when I say that I had a side of soba noodles to soak in all that pure heart-warming consommé~

Another recommendation from the ala carte menu was a claypot of steamed chicken with chinese wine, shiitake and white fungus (additional $6++). A bottle of chicken essence was generously poured over the dish when it arrived at the table. Though it sounded good on paper, the chicken was a tad bland and not as fragrant as it should be.

Considered a signature dessert here, the sticky date pudding was deliciously moist and the least sweet one I’ve tried to date. Love the combi of warm pudding with icy cold homemade vanilla ice cream!

In keeping with the theme of healthy dining, the chilled cream of double-boiled milk with berries was well, light and healthy. Very smooth and the gingery flavour hit the spot.

Tea/coffee is included as part of brunch so I had my usual chamomile tea. On a side note, the heart-shaped teacups look so pretty!

I gotta say this: I Heart Bistro! =)

 

Heart Bistro
#B1-08 Palais Renaissance
6737 2148

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 So many online reviews have praised Absinthe for its food and service that my expectations were raised correspondingly.

Carpaccio of Hokkaido scallops with artichokes salad and bottarga, lemon and dill dressing ($24++).

Salad of pan fried almond coated king prawns, mesclun and smoked ocean trout ($23++).

Half a serving of fish and seafood bouillabaisse scented with absinthe, saffron aioli and croutons ($40++ for full portion). The house signature and rightly so!

Grilled fillet of Atlantic sea bass, braised Jerusalem artichokes, fava beans and roasted cherry tomatoes in coriander butter jus ($36++).

Roasted black cod with saffron potatoes and sauteed baby spinach in pernod sauce ($39++).

Grand Marnier Souffle ($15++).

Hazelnut parfait that’s very “ferrero rocher”.

Of course, we had to try Absinthe’s namesake — the absinthe alcohol. It’s a distilled, highly alcoholic spirit that’s also known as “the green fairy”.

It’s prepared by placing a sugar cube on top of a slotted spoon which is then placed on the glass filled with a shot of absinthe. Ice-cold water is dripped over the sugar cube until it’s melted completely.

Sorry to say this but it tastes awful! Definitely not something I want to try again.

Verdict? Pleasant but not outstanding.

 

Absinthe
46 Bukit Pasoh Road 
6222 9068

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An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a daily scoop of ice cream will keep me smiling all day everyday! =)

Though it was already past 10pm, the little cafe was still packed with people young and old. Love the happy vibe of the place!

All the ice creams are hand-churned and made on the premises at The Daily Scoop. There’s more than 40 flavours but not all are available daily.

My bowl of 3 scoops ($6):

Ginger Crumble — sweet ginger ice cream with a sprinkling of crystallised ginger. The star of the night!

Utterly Avocade — a blend of avocado and gula melaka. Beautifully smooth and creamy consistency.

Cha — earl grey tea sorbet. Light and refreshing~

The Daily Scoop
43 Jalan Merah Saga
#Chip Bee Gardens #01-78
64753128

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We miss Paris so much that we went to Mirabelle Patisserie bright and early on a Saturday morning just to get a taste of the popular croissants that’s been said to be the best in Singapore.

The plump butter croissant ($1.50) is wonderfully crisp and so buttery that it’s a heart attack waiting to happen. But I still prefer the one I had in Paris cuz that was ultra rich and yet so light.

Even better is the almond croissant ($2.20) — moist frangipani filling inside and crisp almond sugar topping on the outside. This is something we’ll definitely get again!

Look at these cute bamboo charcoal buns! I love how black they look.

We had the custard and an pan (red bean) buns ($2 each). Both are good flavour-wise but more filling would be appreciated!

After buying the breads, we went over to the basement of Plaza Singapura to devour these goodies. One auntie actually walked up to us and asked where did we get the breads from! See, that’s how appealing they are =)

 

Mirabelle Patisserie
27 Mackenzie Road 
6238 6235

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Like McDonald’s and Starbucks are to America, boulangeries (bakeries) are seemingly found on every corner in Paris, selling what else but breads and pastries. So how to pick a good one? One tip I hold dearly to is to look out for boulangeries with the word “Artisan” on the window or awning, i.e. the bread is (usually) baked on the premises and not imported from elsewhere.

Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement is one of Julia Child’s favourite hangouts in Paris. It’s said to be home to the best street market in the city but it was real quiet on the morning I went. While exploring the cobbled streets, we found this fabulous boulanger by the name of ‘Le Fournit de Mouffetard’. Impossible to miss the bold black and red awning.

And that’s where I had the bestest-best buttery croissant, delicious pain au chocolat (imagine golden and slightly crispy on the outside, with melted chocolate swirls inside) and cute mini chouquettes (little “pâte à choux” pastry puffs, topped with coarse sugar) ever eaten! Sometimes, the best eats are really the ones that’s unplanned for.

 I’ve already wrote about Poilâne previously and Maison Kayser is another famous French bakery worth mentioning. Eric Kayser is a 4th generation French master baker who has numerous boulangeries throughout Paris as well as branches in Japan,  Russia and Taiwan etc. The sweet pain au chocolat was flaky and buttery, and that’s after keeping it for one night. Imagine how awesome it’d be if it’s fresh out of the oven!

There’s a stand at Galeries Lafayette Gourmet so you can get your hands on Pierre Hermé and Sadaharu Aoki at the same time!

I was lucky on my last day in Paris cuz while visiting the Notre Dame, there was a huge bread carnival near the cathedral. It was a noisy flurry of activities inside the large pitched tent, bakers were busy baking breads and tarts on the spot, and the smell of freshly baked goods was incredible!

And of course, we got to buy the end products. See that guy slicing the apple tart in the bottom right photo above? That’s what I bought! The crispy pastry with thin tart apple slices was gorgeous and we also tried the croissant, baguette and raisin rolls~ By the way, do you know that Parisians carry their baguettes without any cover? I often spotted naked baguettes sticking out of their bags on the streets and in the metro, ha.

Just as easily available in Paris are galettes/crêpes (though they originate from Brittany) and they were my daily must-have while I was there. There’s nothing not to like about these thin soft pancakes — they’re cheap, quick, delicious and oh-so-versatile.

My first savoury crêpe was at one of the sit-down restaurants along Rue de Rivoli near the Louvre (en route to Angelina). It’s a very touristy area and I wasn’t expecting a good one but maybe cuz I was really hungry, I thought my smoked salmon with soft cream cheese was tasty though it was quite thick!

I did a lot of research on crêperies in Paris prior to the trip and A La Côte Bretonne (12 Rue des Deux Portes, near Versailles) was raved by many online. It was full house on a weekday afternoon and we were the only Asians there! Very authentic and local kind of place. They only serve crêpes and galettes, and the menu is very extensive with all sorts of fillings possible.

As usual, I had my smoked salmon and the family had the classic ham-egg-cheese combination. Love how thin and delicate the batter is! And tangy apple cider is a traditional accompaniment so that’s a must-try too. For desserts, the Grand Marnier crêpe (bottom left) was boringly plain so we had a more elaborate version doused in orange liqueur and topped with vanilla ice cream. Délicieux!

Bastille Market is where the locals go on Sunday and it’s a good thing that I went on a quiet weekday so I don’t have to dodge rolly shopping trolleys. The open air market has 3 aisles with vendors on each side and stretches about 2 blocks between rue Amelot and rue Saint-Sabin. We saw a take-away stand and had a sweet paper-thin nutella+banana crêpe this time. It was fun watching the owner deftly folding and wrapping it right in front of us!

Quoting Rick Steves‘Café du Marché (38 rue Cler) is the place to sit and enjoy the action. It’s rue Cler’s living room, where locals gather before heading home, many staying for a relaxed and affordable dinner. For a reasonable meal, grab a chair and check the chalk menu listing the plat du jour.’

That’s exactly what I did — for 2 nights in a row, no less! That’s right, I like it so much that we went to the trouble of taking the metro there for dinner the next day. Portions are good, ingredients are fresh, and prices are fair (less than €20 for a main). The decadent duck confit (bottom right) is a definite must-try and get the day’s special for fish at its best. I had tasty pan-seared seabass on the 1st night and whitefish on the 2nd.

My last proper meal in Paris was at Le relais de l’isle (37 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile), a hidden gem near Berthillon and Amorino. This was a completely random pick and I struck gold! It’s a very small restaurant and the lady of the house was very warm and friendly. We had salmon tartine, salad with parma ham and cheese, trio of meat in kebab style, trout with almonds and carrot puree, and duck au vin. Wonderful service and excellent quality! Best of all, it’s typical bistro prices that won’t blow the budget.

Writing this makes me miss Paris for her food now =(

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End of Story #2

Aye, I can’t help myself. My hands are itching to write now that I’ve read “the truth” and you guys already know the other side of the story. I’ve glanced through the comments and there seems to be mixed reactions, which is all well and good.

1 particular comment caught my attention: Rae commented that I “should probably ask (myself) if (my) current unapologetic stance stemmed from (my) pride and embarrassment that (I) kind of made a fool out of (myself) in (my) previous post. Continuing to dig a bigger hole for (myself) doesn’t help (you) and will only serve to amuse (my) non supporters.”

So here’s my reply:

It may jolly well be a case of miscommunication, but I must admit that I’m quite skeptical. It may be the truth, or it may just be damage control. What is obvious to me though, is the poor attitude displayed. Bringing 3 friends along, being late, and then tossing the credit card when made to pay? Errr, I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound very gracious to me. You may want to read the comments here cuz some of them made a few good points which I won’t repeat. By the way, I wasn’t even aware that this is a contest to garner supporters -__-

True, I’m unapologetic. But it’s not cuz I’m prideful or embarrassed. I see this blog as my platform to voice my own thoughts. If blogs are not personal, then why waste my time and blog? So, sorry to disappoint those who’s waiting for a public apology from me, but it’s not ever going to come. This is not arrogance, it’s just that I still stand by my words and I’m certainly not going to apologise for my own opinion. We don’t live in a dead society where everyone thinks alike. You are entitled to form your own stand, and I have a right to keep mine, cheers.

P.S. I promise promise PROMISE that I’m gonna keep my hands to myself and not write any other post on this anymore cuz t’s no fun to keep harping on the same issue. Paris next! Promise =)

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