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Archive for August, 2010

Garibaldi

I’ve been wanting to try out the food at Garibaldi ever since the chef-owner, Roberto Galetti, won the Chef Of The Year award at the World Gourmet Summit this year. Sister of Gunther’s, this Italian restaurant was also named the Restaurant of the Year at WGS last year. Certainly not short of accolades and acclaim!

The 5 course Gourmet Menu ($88++ with coffee/tea included) is a good starting point for those who want to have a taste of what Garibaldi has to offer.

Amuse bouche was a small glass of baked pumpkin puree that’s literally a  cheesy overkill.

The first 2 starters were plated together: tuna tartare with orange and grey mullet roe on the right, and pan seared Hokkaido scallop with green asparagus and truffle emulsion on the left.

Both dishes were prepared deftly, though nothing mind-blowing. The finely chopped raw tuna was fresh, the scallop tender with a slight firm bite in the center.

A good Italian restaurant will churn out a great pasta. And Garibaldi’s angel-hair pasta (capellini) with prawns in lobster sauce didn’t disappoint! I know the definition of ‘al dente’ differs for each individual so all I’m gonna say is that this pasta defines ‘al dente’ for me perfectly.

Main is either the roasted Atlantic cod in black olive crust and balsamic reduction or a pan fried lamb tenderloin with caramelised pearl onions. Of course, I went for the former. The oily fish was so tender and the classic combi of cod+olive is always a winning formula! Think Otto and Buko Nero.

Compared to the savoury, the sweets were definitely found to be wanting. The tiramisu had such a thick layer of licorice-scented (yiks!) mascarpone cream with minimal homemade ladyfinger biscuits in between. Better ones elsewhere, certainly. 

The molten lava chocolate cake with hazelnut gelato and raspberry coulis was also humdrum. Nothing exceptional, just average.

For want of a better word, Garibaldi’s cuisine seems to lean towards the safe side of the scale. Cynics may call it boring, I say it’s comforting =)

 

Garibaldi
36 Purvis Street
6837 1468

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LivinGreens

Next to Original Sin, LivinGreens is my favourite vegetarian restaurant. I go to the former when there’s extra cash in the wallet, and to the latter when I just want to have a deliciously-healthy (ya, these 2 words are not mutually exclusive, contrary to popular belief) meal without breaking the piggy bank.

I’m already a regular here and I’ll always, always order the LivinGreens lasagna ($8.50), which is wheat-, gluten- and dairy-free. Every slice of the lasagna contains fresh tomatoes, green and red peppers, carrots, mushroom, and every slice is lip smackingly good with a well-balanced flavour and texture. This is the most sinless lasagna ever created!

The LivinGreens burger ($8) also appears on our table frequently. While the patty is tasty packed with lots of veggies, the homemade bun has a “neither here nor there” texture. It’s not soft but neither was it dense. It’s just… Different. Either you like it or you don’t. It’s not exactly my favourite bread around so you know where I stand =)

And as usual, we ordered our must-have desserts: Avocado Pudding ($4) that combines so perfectly with a syrup of gula melaka and molasses and Black Sesame Pudding ($3.50) that’s incredibly fragrant and has such a smooth texture and clean flavour.

There’s daily specials everyday and if I happen to drop by on a Friday, the fabulous pumpkin pie takes precedence over my beloved trusty lasagna!

 

LivinGreens
325 Beach Road
6396 5523

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Paris: The Overrated City

Bidding farewell to London, we boarded the Eurostar to cross the English Channel and exactly 135 min later, we set foot on Parisian soil! 

Paris, here I come!!! 

First stop on my itinerary was Musée du Louvre, though I made a detour to Angelina and La Maison du Chocolat for my daily sugar fix. Originally a royal palace, this is now the largest museum in the world. To see it all in one day is next to impossible, and I wasn’t interested to do so anyway. All I wanted was to gawk at the most famous works which include Winged Victory of Samothrace (top right) and Venus de Milo (bottom left). 

And if anyone tells me that he went to the Louvre without seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, I’ll laugh and think he’s either lying or an idiot. Let me tell you, Miss Lisa is like a celebrity in the Louvre! Cameras were flashing and all the tourists were jostling to get up close and personal to her famous and enigmatic smile. And of course, I had to join in the fun! Though I must say I was highly amused by the mob scene. 

Exiting the Louvre via the controversial glass pyramid entrance, we walked south toward the Seine river and then headed east for a leisurely stroll along the riverbank. Crossing the Pont Neuf, Paris’s oldest standing bridge, brought us to the heart of the city, the Ile de la Cité

Inhabited since the Roman empire, the Ile de la Cité is one of the two natural islands in the Seine within the city (the other being Île Saint-Louis where I had my ice cream marathon on the very last day in Paris). It houses Sainte-Chapelle (beautiful on the inside!) and the towering mass of La Conciergerie, two of the last three Middle-Aged buildings left on the island. 

What about the last? It’s actually the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of Paris’ most famous tourist attractions. The queue was long but luckily, it moved fast. The interior is not as spectacular as its exterior facade and there was a service going on while we were there. Something interesting to note is the bronze plaque on the ground marked “Point Zero—the center of France and the point from which all distances are measured in the entire country. 

Saint-Sulpice is the second largest church in Paris after Notre-Dame and it has a very impressive pipe organ (bottom right) which is one of the finest and largest in the world. Thanks to Dan Brown’s novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’, it only became more popular with tourists than usual cuz it’s one of the crucial settings in the book.  

There are many chic boutiques surrounding the church and more importantly, Pierre Hermé and Sadaharu Aoki are nearby!!! 

One of Paris’s most recognizable landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe is the world’s largest triumphal arch. Nearby is the Champs-Elysées and we wandered down the famous avenue to Tuileries Garden. Along the way, we popped into Ladurée (#75) and by the end of the walk, I was the proud owner of two gorgeous bags (Louis Vuitton at #101 and Chanel at #42 Avenue Montaigne), yay!  

For more serious retail therapy, we spent almost the entire day at Galeries Lafayette (amazing glass dome!) and it wasn’t enough! Please please please remember to do your tax refund earlier cuz the queue gets insanely long near closing time (I speak from personal experience). Down the street is the Opéra Garnier, the hiding place of the ‘Phantom of the Opera‘ in Paul Leroux’s famous play. 

To the north of Paris is the charming neighbourhood district of Montmartre. It was a long and steep climb (I lost count of the number of steps) to “the top of Paris” where Sacré-Coeur is located. Surrounding the church is the extremely touristy square, place du Tertre, where painters abound to draw your portraits. Lots of tourists sit on the steps leading to the basilica and just hang out to enjoy the grand view. 

At the foot of the butte Montmartre (the hill on which Sacre Coeur stands) is Paris’s red light district and a photograph of the distinctive Moulin Rouge (“The Red Windmill”) is a must! Haha, I still remember watching that movie (starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman) in 2001 when I was just in sec 1! 

Many guidebooks tell me to get out of Paris by or before 8am and that’s what I did. But still, there was already a crowd at Chateau de Versailles, one of the largest and most opulent castles in the world. The Hall of Mirrors (top left) is truly a stunning masterpiece and while the sprawling immaculate gardens are lovely, it’s a chore to walk from one end to the other cuz it’s so huge. 

No trip to Paris is complete without going to the Eiffel Tower! Otherwise, it’d be like coming to Singapore without seeing the Merlion, right? The panoramic view was worth 10mins of battling the cold strong wind and slight drizzle. Can you spot the Arc de Triomphe (bottom left)? At the top of the hour, there’s a lighting display, best viewed from the ground on the long grassy field, Parc du Champ de Mars (top right).  

Frankly speaking, I’m glad that I’m not going to be a cliché and declare “I LOVE PARIS~”. It’s indeed overrated. The sights are kind of underwhelming in reality and somehow, they look so much more magnificant on paper. Too much photoshop by guidebooks/magazines, hmm? 

My sis went “Waaa, why does the metro station look so bright??” when I showed her the photo below. Truth is, Paris’s metro stations are dark and gloomy, and most of the Parisians I saw on the trains looked tired and weary all the time. It’s like a grey, grey world in Paris -_- 

That said, I still adore the food (yes, ESPECIALLY the food!) and shopping in Paris! Keep a lookout for the next post where I’ll share what yummy eats I had there =)

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When the words “A Pictorial” appears in my post’s title, it usually means that I’m too lazy to type a full post and the food is generally good enough for no nitpicking. If you are hankering for Italian cuisine that satisfies, why not give Otto Ristorante a try? It’s always a safe bet for me!

Amuse bouche #1: Lightly marinated bite-sized baked salmon in a tangy tomato dressing.

Amuse bouche #2: Sautéed mushrooms on crisp toast, smothered topped with thick cheese.

Starter #1: Fresh blue swimmer crab meat, creamy avocado and sweet vine tomato timbale with yoghurt dressing ($22++).

Starter #2: Squid ink tagliolini with langoustine and own reduction ($32++).

Main #1: Monkfish “ossobuco” with two leek consistency ($38++). Definitely still loving the cod “tagliata” from the previous visit!

Main #2: A very generous serving of spaghetti with sea urchin and grey mullet bottarga ($30++).

Dessert: Otto’s Giamaica coffee tiramisu ($14++).

Another lovely meal at Otto =)

 

Otto Ristorante
28 Maxwell Road
#01-02 Red Dot Traffic Building
6227 6819

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Izakaya Nijumaru is no stranger to the Japanese food lovers/expats community in Singapore. Located in Cuppage Plaza (my personal Mecca for good Japanese eats), this restaurant has been around for years and for people who like choices (me, me!), there’s an extensive menu of no frills, authentic (debatable) Japanese sets/sashimi/yakimono/sake etc, coupled with extremely reasonable price tags.

I tried a bit of the potato salad ($5++) and didn’t like it cuz it was too creamy. Ryu still does the best potato salad so far!

I was craving for tamago ($6++) as usual and this was good, I think. I realised that I’m not very particular about tamago. So long as the egg omelette is juicy and not too sweet, it’ll get my thumb of approval!

I seldom order oden ($8++) cuz it’s either not featured on the menu or it’s being overshadowed by other more exciting dishes. Oden is actually the Japanese version of our local yong tau foo, and often includes konnyaku, daikon, boiled egg etc in a clear broth. For something light and healthy, order this!!

This is the pork cutlet from the Buta Rose Katsu Set ($10.50++). All sets come with rice, miso soup, a small side dish and fruit. I must say that their teishokus (set meals) come with very generous portions, considering how affordable they are! 

The signature Nijumaru Bento: 3 different types of sashimi, braised fatty pork belly (I heard lots of raves about how this melts in the mouth), tempura, grilled saba with rice and miso soup for $18++ is unbeatable value for money!

And finally, here’s my Unajyu Set ($20++) with either a choice of tempura or sashimi. Absolutely no complaints about the grilled eel, very soft and tender. As with tamago, I don’t have very high standards for unagi even though I love it so much (ironic, I know)!

The menu is in Japanese and whatever English words on it are just a direct translation of the pronounciation, i.e. not helpful at all. Not to worry, you can ask any of the auntie-waitresses (they always look busy!) for the description. Or if you are feeling adventurous, just point, order and see what’s in store for you =)

 

Izakaya Nijumaru
#02-10 Cuppage Plaza
6235 6693

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Simply Bread

Now that training has started, I’ve been making my own it’s-either-smoked-salmon-or-tuna sandwich for lunch. I’m the type of girl who can eat the same thing day in, day out without getting bored if I really like the food. And I really do like my homemade sandwich very much! To me, the filling is secondary cuz the secret in a good sandwich lies in the bread used. If the bread is excellent, half of the battle is already won. My current favourite is the German Muesli bread from Barcook Bakery, with Cedele’s Wholemeal Linseed trailing a close second! What about you?

Not too long ago, I headed to Simply Bread at Cluny Court for (what else but) sandwiches. The bakery is very plain and simple, exactly the sort of place where you can just relax and lose yourself in a good book on a lazy quiet afternoon.

Of course, with a name like that, bread takes centre stage here. There’s a good variety ranging from sourdough granary to rye walnut. If you don’t want to buy a whole loaf home, just take a seat, order a sandwich from the menu and choose whichever bread you like from the display counter.

Smoked salmon would always be my first choice but sadly, that’s not on the menu. So it was tuna salad on sourdough rye ($8.50) instead. I wanted it toasted but the staff advised against it as it’s freshly baked bread meant to be eaten as it is. Basically, this was just water-packed tuna mixed with a little mayonnaise—something I can easily make at home. The sourdough rye, on the other hand, was lovely! Soft and subtly sour with an earthy rye flavour.

The smoked ham and mature cheddar cheese on ciabatta ($9) looked good too! Initially, rustic white was chosen but the staff suggested ciabatta instead as ham+cheese+ciabatta is an ideal match. It’s great that recommendations are so forthcoming so that diners can better appreciate the beauty of bread and sandwiches!

Though the bread is good, it’s going to be a long while before I’ll go back again as I much prefer the bread from Barcook and Cedele. And FYI, to date, my favourite sandwich bakery is still Freshly Baked cuz they make a really mean smoked salmon with tomato confit sandwich that’s out of this world!

 

Simply Bread
#02-07, Cluny Court   
6763 2628

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