Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Ramen Gallery Takumen: chicken soup for the CBD soul

Friends who know me personally would know that while I love a good bowl of ramen, I often feel like the price I paid is hardly justified. Let me put it in perspective, a good bowl of noodles soup with roasted char siew and wantons A.K.A wanton mee ($3.50), a good bowl of ramen noodles with char siew ($13.50). It’s the exact same story with pasta actually, egg noodles topped with minced meat and meatballs with a base of chilli and vinegar A.K.A Bak Chor mee ($3.50), egg noodles topped with minced meat and meatballs with a tomato base A.K.A spaghetti Bolognese ($13.50).

Thursday, December 28, 2017

delirium tremens: rapid onset of confusion caused by withdrawal of alcohol.. ITS HAPPENING RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW!

Talk to anyone on the street about Belgium and ask them about the names that comes to their mind, we can bet that apart from the odd people who will comment “Eden Hazard”, “Kevin De Brunye” and “lukaku”, these are your football fanatics, most people will know “Stella Artois”, “leffe” and “Hoegaarden” in recognition of the immense exposure of the Belgian brands on Asian Shore.

Belgium is a country in Europe, roughly 44 times the size of Singapore and with a population of 11million slightly over double that of Singapore. While they are not big, nor are they heavily populated, a quick search on the internet shows that they are home to more than 180 breweries, making so much beer that roughly 60% of the beers they produced are exported. On average the Belgians also drank about 93litres of beer per capita, easily placing them on the top 10 list of countries that drank the most beer. For everything that they lack in size and quantity, they make up for it with variety. They have the greatest diversity of beer style in the world, and they would be unrivalled in brewing heritage which is deeply embedded in their civilization. Throughout the years, they have succeeded in marrying innovation, new techniques with a strong respect for tradition, making a strong argument to say that they are the best country in the world for beer.

If I draw up a list on some of my favourite things to do, going to an event where (great) beer are flowing freely will always rank among the top 5. While less agree-able people usually comment that I have a drinking problem, I think they are mistaking a healthy obsession for addiction. To say that I have a drinking problem is akin to saying that Bruce Lee has a Kung-Fu problem or that Elvis Presley has a singing problem or that Michael Jackson has a Dancing problem. You get the gist, there simply is no problem if you’re the best at something.

Tuesday night was simply divine, for about 5 hours, top quality Belgian beer and finger food were flowing freely. We were also privileged to have the Ambassador of Belgium, Mr Andy Detaille, join us in this event, who graciously shared about the drinking culture in Belgium and how the production and exportation of beer is big business for the Belgians.

Now on to the beers, apart from the usual commercial brands, we had an opportunity to taste beers that were made on a smaller scale, not losing in taste, complexity and flavours of the larger scale, commercial brands. It would be impossible to actually rattle off all of them and capture your attention at the same time, so here is the list of most memorable beers. 

Chimay is a Trappist beer. The beer is actually brewed within a monastery and brewed by trappiest monks. The legend was that water was not safe to drink way back in the early days and monks who were literate, brewed beer that was both safe and cheap to drink. Profits made must be used within the monastery or donated to charity. Beer drinking and social responsibility, must rank as one of my favourite combination. Chimay Red and Chimay Blue both exudes a fruity aroma, the Red is slightly sweeter while the Blue comes with a spicy and peppery after taste.

We also spent some time talking to the kind people who were serving up Stella Artois and Leffe, these are the commercial brands which are readily available. In Singapore, the majority are not beer enthusiast, with profound palettes and ideas of how an award-winning beer should taste like. But we can all agree that Singapore is a food heaven, in terms of variety of food available, a good beer should most importantly, be served cold and be able to pair nicely with local food. Both Stella and Leffe hits the mark. Stella in particular, is pleasantly bitter and has a very refreshing finish, making it extremely versatile for pairing with food. We also found out that there are a total of 9 Steps in pouring the perfect Stella, any one of the steps not done right would result in a beer of inferior quality.

We also had a go at Delirium Tremens, voted the "best beer in the world" back in 2008, back at the world beer championship. The beer certainly lived up to its name, it is one of the prettiest bottle I've seen and the beer itself was distinctively bright golden. Crisp and fresh, it was certainly one of the better beers I've tasted. Despite coming in at 8.5% Alcohol, it doesn't give that alcoholic punch i was expecting. 

Certainly overdid the alcohol tonight despite it being one of the most satisfying tasting i had the chance to do this year.

Over this festive season, if you drink, don't drive. stay safe!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Amara Hotel Spreading Festive Cheers!

Amara Hotel with the new executive head chef, Chef Charles, has came out with a unique and intriguing festive menu for this season. Chef Charles inserts a local twist to the Christmas menu and let's see how it turns out.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Get a immunity boosting dinner at Ginett.

The few times I had French food got me acquainted rich complex flavours. Sauces were strongly reliant on butter and cream, meats were gamey and cooked in fat. People who loved it described it as a hearty meal, others described it as greasy and heavy. Perhaps then, you can understand why I had to do a double take as I received an email with the title “Get Refreshed with a Gastronomical Fiesta at Ginett”. This is just not the French cuisine that I’ve come to know and enjoy. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Starstruck! : A Culinary Evening With Audra Morrice

Audra Morrice first appeared on all our radars as a contestant on MasterChef Australia. She was a finalist in season 4, coming in third, just one cook off away from gunning for the top prize. She has not looked back since then, going from strength to strength. She has quietly built a cooking empire, from penning her own cook book “My kitchen – your table”, to anchoring her own tv show “tasty conversations” to becoming a judge on “MasterChef Asia”, rubbing shoulder with cooking greats like three Michelin starred Bruno Menard as well as celebrity chef Susur Lee.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Urban ventures - Keong Saik Street PARTAY!!!!

A ground-up place making project, Urban Ventures is a project under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Streets for People’s Programme. Under this initiative, URA helps to facilitate and provide support for such community-initiated projects, to create vibrant car-free zones across our sunny island. At Urban Ventures, a portion of Keong Saik road is closed off from cars, repurposing the public space from one for vehicles, into one for the people.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mooncakes Wine Pairing (Paradise Group/Missing Piece)

Its that time of the year again. Every year Mooncakes is a much talked about gifting and celebration occassion. 

This year we have the privilege to bring a special modern pairing to the table. We have done a multi-mooncakes tasting once, that really brought our tastebuds to a numb. The year after we did a mooncake-tea pairing. This piece will talk about how we bring the alcoholics to celebrate this joyous sweet dessert.

As many people will think, mooncakes are sweet and should pair with sweet wines. This however, may not be necessarily be the case as mooncakes now come in all flavours and different skin types.

We have been graced by Paradise Group to provide their handmade mooncakes and Missing Piece's wines from France to do our pairing session. Let's start!

 Pure White Lotus (Baked) with Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Blanc 2016

Firstly, the ingredients in Paradise's mooncakes are not overly sweet like how we had them in the past. As we know people are more health conscious, but in all honesty, I don't think wine and mooncakes are going to be anywhere near reducing your fat count. Just enjoy! More importantly, the flavours and experience is what you will not forget!

The White Lotus paste in the mooncakes are extremely soft and does not stick to your mouth insides. They literally melt and the white melon seeds adds on to the interesting texture of the mooncake. The baked skin is just nice, not too thick and also does not flake off like how some would. Just sufficient amount of fats and oil to stick everything together, healthier version we like to call it.

This hugely aromatic IGP goes very well with a short to medium finish, cutting through the goodness of the fats with its fruitiness. However, it could be slightly overpowering for the ingredients of the mooncake. That said, it will be a lasting wine to have in a mooncake eating session with friends.

Grapes included in this wine are Ugni-Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Folle Blanche and Sauvignon.

Recommended ageing is 2 years for its freshness to really explode in the mouth together with the lightness and fattiness of the "Lian Rong". However, you will be surprised at the yolked mooncake with the lian rong!

White Lotus Paste with Double Yolk (Baked) with 2014 Domaine de Pellehaut L'Escoubasso 

Just so you know, we don't decide which wines to pair with which mooncakes. It took us quite a while to taste the various wines with the same mooncake and between each tasting we had to drink water and clear the tastebuds before trying out the next wine with the same mooncake. With this Double Yolk, we were pleasantly surprised!

The yolk's saltiness paired extremely well with the sweetness of the L'Escoubasso.We exclaimed in unison and unanimously that this was the perfect match! Escoubasso is Gascon dialect for a conclusion or job done, and also refers to the celebratory meal held at the end of the grape harvest.The freshness of the acidity coupled with tropical honey fruits (peach and apricot, citrus and sweet spice), rich textures and perfect ageing on the less brings this golden wonder to a beautiful finish with the salty yolks! You just have to try this! 

The short finish allows you to go for more each bite and gulp!

That being said, Petit Manseng (one of the key white grape varieties of South West France)  was very well received at the table.

White Lotus Paste with Assorted Nuts (Baked) paired with Taylor's 10 Year Old Tawny Port.

The love-it-or-hate-it "Wu Ren"has this extreme nuttiness in this edition. The white lotus paste is wrapped with Walnuts, Almonds, Olive seeds and more! Nut Lovers, you will just go insane with this and it comes with a little tangerine twist to it.

To match such nutiness, we could only try it with Sherry or Port. To make things more interesting, we decided to use a port that is readily available to all who travel (yes! you can get this at airports!). Matching this mooncake with the subtle oakwood, butterscotch and chocolatiness of the port was simple yummy!

Honestly, the Wu Ren is so powerful that only such powerful nutty alcohol can match up. Don't bother eating any other mooncakes unless its Durian mooncakes after you try this, or at least wait about 1 hour.

Assorted Snow Skin Mooncakes with Domaine de Pellehaut Pilaho Rosé
(Matcha with Champagne White Chocolate Centre, Jasmine Flower with Champagne White Chocolate Centre, Pure Japanese Chestnut, and Yuzu with Lychee Martini White Chocolate Centre)

Snowskin mooncakes are so delicate. The ratio of the skin to ingredients to chocolate centers is such a fine delicate balance that just a small mistake can cost the beauty of this style of mooncake to go haywire. This type of mooncakes has been increasingly popular in Singapore with a tremendous amount of variations available. 

Paradise's snowskins have achieved this level with much fragrance also. The flavours are rather safe and traditional yet enough to tickle your tastebuds to be more adventurous. If you are celebrating this with the older folks, yes, get these!

Pairing this delicateness with bubbles/sparklings would be the most appropriate. Try them with a simple Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc simply misses the point. This pairing we used a sparkling rose, with a tender tannin to match the various flavours. 

The best match with this sparkling is the Yuzu with Lychee Martini White Chocolate Centre. This wine with plentiful of bubbles evaporates the sweet fragrance of strawberries and cherries in your mouth. The blend of Merlot, Tanat, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec results in this multi purpose sparkling. The bottle may look cheap but the flavours pack a punch for your buds.

Mini Baked Salted Egg Yolk Custard with Macademia Nuts Mooncake

It is recommended you microwave the mooncakes between 10 to 15 seconds before serving, and be sure to microwave before cutting them to keep the moisture in.When you eat it, its very crunchy and it has the abundance of macademia in the mooncake. Not everyone will like it but we feel it makes a really good variant of the mooncakes of Singapore.

Pairing this wasn't too easy. We feel that it goes best with either a really sweet sparkling or the port/sherry. The saltiness of the mooncake, nuttiness of the macademia and the warm baked skin couples well with either of the two that we had tried earlier. 

We actually took home a couple to try when its cold, going against the advice of the staff, and true enough, when it was cold the flavours of the mooncake really wasn't showing off. Do heed the advice of the staff in future!

The mooncakes are all handmade by the chef of Paradise, even the lovely pigs above. Every velvet carried box comes with a piece of them. 

Paradise Mooncakes are fully sold out as of the time you are reading this. If you have been lucky to have them at home or been given a set, you may consider pairing the wines and feel free to try similar flavours from your wine collection. Do share with us your pairing and recommend them to other readers!

For information on both companies, please see the below:

Paradise Group

Befitting the vast land that it hails from, Chinese cuisine is broad in variety. Coupled with the exodus of the Chinese people to distant lands and assimilation with local culture, this variety has grown even more. But no matter how it changes through the course of history, Chinese cuisine in the right hands still tastes like heaven on earth.

As the hands that rule the wok in our restaurants, preserving such heavenly tastes is the Paradise Group commitment. We want to be an international diners’ paradise for Oriental cuisine – one where gourmet menus meet with good value and tradition meet with innovation.

With this vision, today we celebrate the many flavours of Chinese cuisine with ten distinct restaurant concepts, with over thirty restaurants islandwide, revolutionary in their arena. To maintain the excellence in what we give to our customers, we believe in always improving, enhancing and creating to give exceptional value in every of our restaurant concepts for the ultimate in experiential enjoyment.

Aiming at a sensorial experience, every of our brand immerses the diner in an atmosphere that captures the many interesting points of Chinese culture. From the majestic backdrop of a dynastic era to the infectious charm of a traditional inn, Paradise brand elevates appreciation of Chinese culture, primarily through its dishes.
Besides offering diners with a whole array of restaurant choices, the Paradise Group decided to pool all of this together by offering the best of their culinary offerings as ONE with the introduction of our catering business called One Paradise.

Missing Piece

Finding underrated wines is more than just a past time for owners, Calvin and Holly. After moving back from France, they began to introduce wines from lesser known appellations and countries into Singapore. Even though it started off as sharing new and exciting wines with friends around them, their wines of Domaine de Pellehaut from Côte de Gascogne has now found its way onto the menus of restaurants and bars around Singapore. 

Missing Piece also carries Armagnac, and wines from Corbieres, Languedoc Roussillon.
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