Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TWG Brunch

Previously, the only sad choice for tea in the heart of Orchard used to be Royal Copenhagen but their desserts leave much room for improvement. TWG's dining does come with a hefty price tag though - if you're willing to blow about $40++ on brunch, this is definitely the place to splurge your money on. Not to say that the food is fantastic, but just the ambience and the vibe makes it worth it. The interior is decorated like those opulent quaint hotels/restaurants with lots of gold embellishments.

Since we were feeling indulgent and thanks to work the weekend brunches are few and far between, we decided that it was well worth the splurge to try TWG since it looked so nice (lol I'm superficial when it comes to restaurants!)

Breakfast sets aren't available on weekends, so the only choices are the brunch and the lunch. Sadly, we were an hour away from lunch so we ended up having their brunch. (Not a bad thing but I'd rather come back for their tea time sets which look extremely yummy!)
I had the Gourmet Brunch set ($40++) which comes with a TWG tea ($11++ ala carte), Freshly squeezed apple/orange juice (I had the apple juice, which has a nice rosy hue), Scrambled eggs (Fresh Farmhouse eggs scrambled with a choice of Matcha green tea, pure saffron threads or white alba truffle oil). No prizes for guessing which one I chose.
I didn't quite like the eggs cos they were a bit too watery and clumpy for my liking. The eggs were served with smoked salmon (one thin piece) and a mixed salad of tender spinach shoots and marinated shrimp. Again, not very impressive.
My set also came with French Brioche toasts served with TWG tea jelly. I didn't particularly enjoy my toast as it was slightly too dry and a bit too crispy for my liking. I still like Wild Honey's Brioche best.
Each of the brunch sets came with a TWG tea patisserie from the tea trolley (urgh forgot to take a photo of it cos I was too busy deciding which one to eat!) It's really fun peering into their dessert trolley and choosing a pastry cos everything looks so nice...
The Midsummer Brunch ($40++) set comes with a TWG tea, juice, a Summer Quiche - warm rustic French style vegeterian quiche filled with seasonal vegetables an served with a light cream sauce, garden salad (don't you just like their descriptions? Makes you feel like eating everything!) and a 'Choice of 2 freshly baked muffins or scones' as well as a TWG tea patisserie.
I'm not a big fan of quiche so that quiche tasted rather passable to me. It's a generous serving and quite a thick size quiche.
My lousy angled shot of the 3-tiered tray which had our Brioche toast and the scones. The scones at TWG are lovely. In fact, for 2 weeks after that especially while on call (all my cravings hit when I am on call) I was longing for the lovely buttery scones which are dainty and small and studded with sweet raisins. They're served warm with butter, tea jelly and whipped cream.
The tea jelly is probably made with apple juice cos there was a pleasant apple flavour.
Paired together, the tea jelly and scone are spectacular and I would return just for them. The texture is moist and soft, and yet sturdy enough to pile on lots of tea jelly and whipped cream.
Their tea comes in a nice tea pot which has a layer of insulation so that your tea stays piping hot while you spend your time chatting. Do note that they don't do tea refills (the teapot doesn't have any tea leaves just the ready made tea).
When we were there, we must have stretched our server's memory cos we simply had such a difficult time deciding from the array of tea choices (one whole menu filled with numbers - and no descriptions so we had to ask our server to describe the nicer sounding ones). In fact, I've forgotten what kind of tea I drank (lol!) but I know it's a green tea... I really can't imagine the amount of time the servers spend memorising their tea menu! Worse than memorizing dictation...
Our tea pastry - this one is a cheesecake with a green tea base. I can't really remember what it's called but it was nice and creamy and the bitter green tea base offset the richness of the cream cheese layer.
Some chocolate dessert we chose (I actually cannot remember the name) but perhaps it was cos I was already full so there was diminishing returns and the dessert isn't outstanding enough for me to remember much about it.

If there's room for improvement, the dessert department needs some serious working on, especially on the presentation. Our second chocolate pastry was collapsing onto itself. I'm not too sure if it was too warm in the restaurant but it looked quite sorry by the time it reached our table. Other than that, the meal was realy pleasant and I'd definitely be back for some scones and to soak up the nice ambience :D
TWG Tea Salon and Boutique
Ion Shopping Mall
2 Orchard Turn
#02 - 21Singapore 238801

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cocotte at Wanderlust Hotel

Read a glowing write up on Cocotte in the Straits Times Lifestyle section a while ago along with the 23456643 other people who saw the article. I think it was Wong Ah Yoke who wrote about it ? And the description of the the Cocotte chicken and how it is lovingly marinaded and cooked for 2 days (hence the limited supply). I was sold after reading about the chicken.

So many moons later, I finally make it down to Cocotte to sample their famous French chicken. Being the last minute people we are, we made a booking at the last minute (actually, we had wanted to try No Menu but being last-minute, there was NO space - Forlino is popular ++) and hence we settled for second choice at Cocotte. Which had space - just that we had to vacate the table by 830pm.
To start, mini French Baguettes with French butter which were nice and crusty on the outside and cottony soft on the inside. Good restaurant bread puts me in a good mood for dinner. In particular, I like the one from Bonta (winner of all restaurant breads - there's a lump of cream cheese hidden inside!) and from Otto (onion bread is fantabulous!) The fresh pear, macadamia nuts and blue cheese (or was it gorgonzola?) salad with a light lemon-olive oil dressing didn't quite hit the spot for me. I partially attribute it to the extreme bitterness of the greens. Though I did like the combination of crisp, juicy pear, creamy pungent cheese and macadamias.
The escargots come with a tomato coulis (fancy name for paste) which was tart and refreshing, as well as a ?basil sauce. Instead of being baked in the usual tray (that most escargots come in) with butter and garlic, these came in dainty choux pastries. The snails themselves were tender, moist and juicy though I won't get the appetisers here again. Passable but not spectacular.
The Chicken (fancy name is Poulet Roti) is only available for dinner and costs a whopping $60 for a full chicken. It's marinaded for 2 days and roasted. And it's no ordinary chicken - it's a hormone free chicken (I suppose they left out the 'injected' cos any live chicken cannot possibly be hormone free).
The meat is so soft, succulent and juicy, that even I, the one who does NOT eat chicken breast (cos I find it much coarser and drier than the lovely juicy thigh) ate the breast happily. The skin is roasted to a brown perfection (though it's not the crispy kind).
The presentation is really nice and I can just imagine how appetising a whole fat roasted chicken sitting on the wooden chopping board... but they've kindly catered to diners in smaller groups and this is the half chicken ($45++) which is meant for 2 people.
The rustic French coutryside vegetables (at least, that's how I imagine it to be, though I can't say for sure where these veggies come from) and the aromatic brown gravy. The roasted baby potatoes are seasoned with coarse sea salt, and the vegetables (asparagus, fennel, peas +++, carrots) are nicely roasted and a nice balance to the chicken.
It was at this point I started regretting ordering a starter because I was 1) getting full 2) really enjoying the chicken.
Though we were slightly full, I had to try the apple tart tartin ($21++, meant for 2 people) which was another of their signature dishces.
The Tart tartin is basically an upside down tart - it was served in a pan and flipped onto a plate at the table. The apples are caramelized into a sweet syrupy pulp but not too soft hence they're able to retain their shape. But bit into one and it will yield to the slightest pressure. The apples also have a nice dark red hue.
I particularly disliked their shortcrust pastry as it was thick and hard. Not very buttery either. Ended up not eating the tart at all. But the apples are delicious - especially when eaten with the creme fresh.
The strawberry pistachio tart ($11++) is a dainty dessert which had fresh strawberries stacked on a thin buttery cookie. The green stuff is actually pistachio paste. It's more elegant than the apple tart but I think if I had to choose between the two, it'll really be a tough fight.
Pink macaroons, with complements from the chef
The bill for all the food above was $135 nett - and we didn't take any drinks. I really cannot remember how much each of the dishes cost but I suppose if you really want to find out, you could either search the internet or call the restaurant.
The general consensus is that it's rather expensive, not the most accessible place (though they do provide free valet). Go for the mains and desserts. Starters we tried were less than impressive. Part of my dining expirence was marred due to a particularly large group in the adjacent table with young children. One of them kept shouting and crying throughout the later 3/4 of our meal which totally spoilt the ambienceD:<
Wanderlust hotel's waiting area is rather intersting and they have all these unique chairs - this one's made from a supermarket trolley (no wheels so you won't roll away) and there's even an old school barber's chair (think Sweeney Todd) in front.
2 Dickson Road,
Ground Level
Wanderlust Hotel
Tel: +65 6298 1188

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pamplemousse Weekend Brunch

I've been wanting to blog about Pamplemousse for the longest time but I haven't gotten around to doing it cos I've never been in the mood somehow... just like how I've never gotten down to packing my horrendous room even though it's nearly 1 year since I've started work!! Can't seem to throw away all my old stuff....

And another thing is that I have to be in a 'chatty' mood before I do all my blog posts and have no one to talk before I am compelled to blog... I suppose this is a chatty mood of mine (at around 1030pm on a weekday and being severely sleep sleep deprived makes me slighly more rambly tho). Pardon the lighting - the restaurant had a combination of both daylight and the lightbulb light so I didn't get the lighting settings rignt on my camera until after I munched down my bread. I've recently taken a liking to baguettes, which I previously used to avoid like plague - somehow I'm now able to appreciate the crusty exterior and cottony soft interior... Under the bell shaped glass is the butter (good quality and very fragrant!). In fact I had 2 pieces of bread and had to resist getting the 3rd cos it was so yummy!

I had this Baked Eggs in Cocotte ($22++) which came with foie gras (yum!) and truffle salt (another yum!) which are 2 of my more favourite things in life... The bread somehow didn't do the eggs justice cos they were buttery and sweet at the same time and a bit too sweet for my liking.

The pool of black/brown stuff is actually the lovely oils spewing out from the foie gras. Though it was a tiny piece and cos it was baked it didn't have the nice crispy exterior, it's oils and juices infused their delicious flavour into the eggs...

It's actually very tiny but filling cos it's cream based and I was rather full by the end of it (and the breads that I ate)...

Just a random thought - I've gone to Cocotte (the restaurant at Wanderlust hotel) and it was great (though I'd rather go back to Artichoke...) but I haven't shrank and edited the photos...
Soft Boiled Egg ($15++) which came with pureed porcini mushrooms, oyster mushrooms (pureed too), parmesan foam and truffle oil
Probably one of the most expensive soft boiled eggs I've eaten (usually get those in the morning 'breakfast set' along with hot milo and 2 pieces of kaya toast for $2) but this soft boiled egg comes with truffle oil and being the biased person I am, I will like nearly everything with truffle oil. Another thing to note is that they use proper chives (which are expensive locally) and not spring onion.
For dessert, we had the Crepes ($11++) which came with Nutella (another thing that can easily win me over anytime!) home made milo ice cream (my favourite drink the morning), and chantilly cream (fancy name for vanilla cream). I liked the milo powder thing at the side (which also had a fancy name that I cannot remember). I think I would have gladly swapped the chantily cream for another scoop of milo ice cream - the scoop was rather skinny and not enough to eat with 2 pieces of crepes...
Pamplemousse is a really nice place to chill and have a slow Sunday Brunch... I'm dying to try their lunch but my previous attempts have been thwarted as work ended late (their last order for lunch is at 2pm on weekdays).
Blk 7 Dempsey Road, #01-04
Tel: +65 6475 0080

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cucumber Sandwiches

I was having this terrible craving for cucumber sandwiches which I suspect was triggered off by my brunch at TWG (insanely expensive for the stuff you're getting - wonder if I'll ever do it again?) as well as a colleague talking about birthday brunch at somewhere lovely with not one but TWO kinds of cucumber sandwiches...

I was in dire need of a cucumber sandwich yesterday so I had to occupy my mind by finding out more of this very humble sandwich (which doesn't have very humble origins) on Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, it's a sandwich for the high class British people who had lots of time to eat (cos they didn't have to work) and thus they will have a very 'light' and un-nutritious cucumber sandwich for tea, as opposed to someone who had to work hard and needed something heavy and more substantial for manual workers.

Of course, I also went to check out many sites on cucumber sandwich recipes (I was wondering if I had to pickle the cucumbers actually...) and I think one of the better sites is here (it's quite an entertaining read even if you don't really want to find out how to make cucumber sandwiches). I decided to pickle my cucumbers so I placed them in a rice vinegar water bath (it's supposed to be cider but I didn't have that at home and I suppose something acidic will do) along with a spoonful of sugar and a dash of salt. I'm using Japanese cucumbers (the local variety looks too soggy and looks as if they will fail me on my cucumber sandwich mission) so I had the slim dainty Japenese strain (which were grown in Malaysia so it's still cheap).

I suppose you can have them fresh and unpickled but I just wanted to try pickling them cos it sounded like they would taste crunchier and nicer... Btw, I used a fruit peeler to get them into really thin slices - my kitchen knife skills are lousy ++ though I must admit that the strips were way too thin and didn't have enough crunch.After taking a bath(yay for post calls!) and letting my cucumbers soak in the water bath, it's time to dry them off using paper towels. According to the Paupered chef, it's importent to get rid of as much moisture as possible so your bread doesn't become soggy.
Prior to putting the cucumbers on the bread, it's important to spread butter/cream cheese (or one on each side of the bread as I did) over the entire surface of the bread in contact with the cucumber so that it will act as a barrier cream does on skin and the bread wont soak up the juices and become wet.
Arrange the cucumbers into neat little strips (just being OCD here it's not necessary at all) but it's important to try to get the same thickness throughout the bread...
For me, the cucumber sandwich wasn't interesting enough so I decided to make a cucumber smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich. I must admit that it's much harder than it looks and I was in danger of leaving my finger marks everywhere on the bread (it's the Gardenia bread with blue colour packaging)
Of course, I don't think it's worth the effort in making it again myself, but I did teach my maid how to make them. Next time I need a cucumber sandwich, I will get myself a cup of tea to go along with it :D

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Riverside Indonesian BBQ

The grilled chicken set from this small stall at 313 somerset was surprisingly nice. According to the sign in front of the stall, they use only fresh chicken and it's grilled using this machine then dipped into a sweetish saltish black sauce. Saw quite a few people eating this dish so decided to try it ( or rather, my mum ate it and I pinched some from her).
The chicken thigh was nicely tender and juicy and I suppose there is mass appeal as the sauce is salty and sweet. The steamed white rice is drenched in fragrant coconut curry and there's a few pieces of fried omelette.
Not bad but I'm not a rice person (unless it's in sushi) so I doubt that I will be coming back specially for this. Furthermore the seating in 313 food area is rather scarce and it took a while to get a seat even at the odd hour of 230pm.

Somehow I am craving for cucumber sandwiches ++++ now. Tragic since I'm on call and there will be not a cucumber (much more a cucumber sandwich) in sight until after lunch Tmr. Can't wait to get myself a neat little pile of cucumber sandwiches tmr!!

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