Wednesday, July 29, 2009


It is difficult for this Les Amis partnership to disappoint. Michael Han and his team formed an unparalleled kitchen. The former known for his brainy diversifications on a plate whilst the ex-Fatduck Leandros excelling in pastry realms. I was impressed by the geniality in his desserts.

Lunch at 53 was back-to-the-basics yet out-of-the-worldly amusing at the same time. Therapeutic settings juxtaposed gastronomic creativity.

The double-storey shophouse houses no more than 5 tables and a private dining room. Soothingly wood natured with a slash of modern zen. Even the menu adopts a minimalist approach- strictly Set Lunch ($45) & Set Dinner ($180), foolstop.

a stick of charcoal to absorb impurities

Potato crisps with salt and vinegar powder

The difference is clear from how the meal started. Wavy Potato crisps with salt and vinegar powder accompanied the concise menu to keep our hands busy. Looking like an artpiece, thin as paper. A ton more meaningful than the vulgur commercial chips.

Buckwheat Rolls with buttermilk butter

looks just like a muffin!

Then came Buckwheat breadrolls in a sack, an amazing clothsack fitted with heated cherry stones that retains heat for 20 minutes. how cool is that! The bread's not your usual fluffy fleece but instead tough-crusted chewy, very rustic and buckwheaty. Served with smooth buttermilk butter & toasted buckwheat sprinkles. No barriers between me and a warm healthy-everything bread!

Air Cured Wagyu & Hisbiscus, Beetroot & Apple

Scallop, Buckwheat & Chicken Oysters

Computing every detail in Fiftythree's food would be an assiduous task. From the highlights to sides to finishing touches, Han's effort is conspicuous. Take for instance my wholesome starter of a tender oil-glossed scallop brightened with creamy carrot puree, bits of buckwheat & watercress, and a bland soybean powder to poise the flavours. Oysters? Round chicken pebbles you mean.

Just count the number of ingredients invested.

Beef Cheeks and Onions, Pearl Barley & Watercress

Barramundi, Blackberries & Green Beans

I enjoyed the fancifulness of my main course too. Poaching the Barramundi fillet before searing imparts an extra depth of flavour, so much that it became a tad too salty. Thank goodness it had those sweet viscous pear puree and blackberry jam to neutralize the sodium. Plus those thoughtful inclusions of onions, shredded chestnuts, chestnut chips and tissue-thin ciabatta... flaw completely nullified.

Fig & Sweet Olive Tapenade, Green Szechuan Peppercorn Icecream

Chocolate Caramel, Enoki & Raspberries

Apple Risotto & Rosemary

Awesome was the word for desserts. One look at them and you know its not child's play. The Figs & Sweet Olive Tapenade, Green Szechuan Peppercorn Icecream was an incredible masterpiece. So incredible that an anti-figs&olive person like me would fall for it at first bite. Figs were pleasantly soft. Grainy tapenade kept free from the usual olive pungency. Icecream tasted lavendar-ish, if not already pre-identified.

And i so loved my choice of Apple Risotto & Rosemary. A warm, golden mound of extremely FINE-CHOPPED apple bits put in place of the creamy carbs. Each minute bit translucent on the outside yet bore a crunchy innermost core. Amazing little softies contrasted with some tigernut crumble, a touch of invigorating ginger and airy puffy rosemary foam in the backdrop.

Gin & Tonic Jellies

That's not all. A meal at Fiftythree wouldn't be complete without their exclusive Gin & Tonic Jellies. I took it in timid, tiny quarters and gradually felt the alcohol strengthening in my mouth. The works of molecular gastronomy.

And this is the man behind it.
Chef Leandros! A remarkable talent indeed.

Said my piece. Fiftythree is all about sincere details. Seemingly unassuming dishes that beckons attentive exploration. I'm glad i got to explore Fi53ftythree.

53 Armenian St
6334 5535

Farewell, YoguBliss

Goodbye in 2 weeks.

I'm certainly not a diehard fan of YoguBliss (nuts about Yoguru's Original!) but my universal love for yogurt took me here for a terminal cup. A little pink wouldn't hurt. Especially when it is boosted with dragonfruit & pomegranate antioxidants.

Can't wait for the new flavour to be launched!
What will it be.... Mango? Rockmelon?
Surprise me!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mondo Mio: Spell A-v-e-r-a-g-e

Average seems to be the toughest word.

Mondo Mio at Robertson Quay, is your typical average-joe Italian restaurant. Given the middlingness of my meal, i innately left this very backdated entry unpublished due to my scarce recollections.


Because nothing jumped out of the average box.

Nothing much asparagussy came out of their Asparagus Soup. Bulk of it was watered down by stock and cream. average.

Spaghetti aglio e olio con Prosciutto e Rucola

Forget that lengthy name. The Parma Ham Aglio Olio (in short) was erm, spaghetti aglio olio topped with parma ham and bitter rocket? Dotted with some dried pepper flakes to become common-sensically edible.

Sidetrack: Aged arugula may be bitter by nature but nothing can overpower the bitter rocket leaves of my Smoked Duck Salad at Mietta's. That one was... almost inedible.

Backtrack: Not the mindblowing aglio. hence average.

Tagliatelle ai Gamberi e Cappesante con Pomodori Secchi

I reckon i was feeling adventurous that night. Adventurous enough to order their homemade tagliatelle with (lousy)prawns, (one)scallop & sundried tomatoes in a light tomato sauce. Anything homemade about pasta requires an intuitional trust, and i was convinced i never had it in them. The banmian-lookalike sheets got obsessively commerced in their own twister/ we-love-uhu-glue game, which didn't succumb one bit to the tomato grease. A single lift displaces the entire colony off the plate! whoa.

Verdict: The pasta was quite a disaster. Cleared it up because i was hungry, and that robust sauce made it rather appetising. means... average.

Desserts were scribbled on a portable chalkboard, personally presented by the waiter on duty. They've got a neat piece (i mean literally) of Tiramisu which didn't draw any visible lines in my mind. Guess the word i'll say.

I remembered seeing a chocolate panna cotta on the list but somehow chose the Amaretto Parfait as final statement. Alas. A step out. There's icecream, amaretto, chopped nuts, chocolate chips... quite an aftermeal guilt-shot to feel good about.

It happens, having places which fail to leave visible imprints in your mind. Neither did the food, ambience or service shone. Nor did they whacked too nastily to be remembered. Sad to be boring cause it makes writing more arduous than usual.

Im sorry but im ending off with another, average.

Note to self: find out more about SOUTH italian cuisine!

Mondo Mio
30 Robertson Quay
#01-02S Riverside View

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Surreal Surprise with Bob Blumer

A Cooking Workshop with Bob Blumer
18 July 2009, Saturday
Sunrice Global Chefs Academy, Fort Canning Centre


Bob, Bob, Bob. There is a stark reason why teachers are addressed by surnames but chefs by their names. Teachers are figures whom you (ought to) respect. Chefs are figures whom you respect and, if given a chance, can have ultimate fun with.

Cooking with Bob Blumer was FAB.

The celebrity chef was here to promote his television series Glutton For Punishment, and held an exclusive chef-meet-fans cooking session for lucky contest winners. All thanks to Discovery Travel & Living, i was honoured to be invited to cover the event on Divine Essentials. Extremely thrilled!

all prepped and waiting for chef...

aprons on & we get started!

A total of 3 (fried) dishes were taught- simple yet delicious and beautified by bob's novel presentations. He first demonstrates the procedure then we're off to recreate the dishes on our own. Hands-on session!

The canadian-born's confidence was no different off-screen. No gaps between chef & students, Bob was totally candid and approachable. I really enjoyed interacting with an such affable chef.

Bob's Lemon-Glazed Chicken Popsicles

Bob's Coconut Shrimp Lollipops

Bob's Chocolate Kiss Wantons

Our turn!

My lovely partner Cheryl (thebakerwhocooks) and i made a great pair. We didn't flop things up (only minor glitches here & there cos of the user-unfriendly induction stove) and our dishes turned out yummy! Credits to the failproof recipes~

Our Chicken Popsicles

Loved the breaded chicken popsicles. fragrant with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano and tasted super great with bob's simple-yet-brilliant drizzle of lemon glaze. (we two called it the lemon reduction made by deglazing the pan..)

Our Coconut Shrimp Lollipops

Coated with batter and FRESHLY grated coconuts. Bob did the tangy apricot-ginger dipping sauce for everyone. It was lovely and unaminously agreed: goes well with anything (deep-fried)!

a banana-peanutbutter-caramel hershey's-filled wanton anyone?

caution: 105% sinful.

Now before you start generalizing chefs as stern domineering fellas who thump hard on kitchen hands (think Ramsay)... think of Bob, and you'll think fun.

Be sure to catch more Bob (extreme)action on the brand new season 3 of Glutton for Punishment, airing every Thursdays 10.30pm on Discovery Travel & Living (CableTV Channel 16). I certainly will!

Note: My sincere thanks to Priya & Rita of Weber Shandwick, as well as the many from Discovery Living & Travel for the media invitation. And thank you Bob for entertaining our cameras!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hediard Cafe-Boutique

Everything about Hediard struck like cupid. The elegant, polished outlook of the shophouse. The daring crimson against classy black. The extraordinary range of goods their boutique has to offer. The chi-chi french menu. Everything.

I thought i floated out of Singapore and descended on Parisian grounds.

Hediard's history dates back to 1854, founded by Ferdinand Hediard and now a renowned French name in artisanal preserves production. Walking through the jar-ful shelves of their boutique was an extraordinary feeling. The selections of jams, teas, candies gave every reason for your shoppaholism to tingle. Its no wonder why they satisfy connoiseurs worldwide.

Cafe side, a "Savoury & Sweet" Set ($25++) works on the perfect mechanism. One salad/croque/tartine-of-the-day, dessert, glass of wine/coffee/tea equates lunch perfectto. You go from salty to sweet then something to cleanse the richness away.

Croque Ferdinand

For those in sync with rich & cheesy, Crouque Ferdinand's at your call. The founder probably loved his parma-cheese-cream soo much, he had to incorporate them between brown bread slices with mornay sauce coddled in & over. Just sink into your long-lost kin.

Teriyaki Chicken & Eggplant Tartine

My Tartine of-the-day sounded like the least predictable item to emerge from a french kitchen. But i have to admit how delish this open-faced was. Tasty sauce-glazed chicken thigh slices (with some degree of canto-roast correlation) over a roasted eggplant disc... definitely polishable.

Smoked Salmon Platter

Needless to say, this separate order of Smoked Salmon ($8++) was my idea. My itch for omega-3 fatty acids strikes like an opium addiction. And oohh~ this pairing of regular salmon & another tender, smokier, colour-gone-awry breed was worth the instigation.

Bourbon Vanilla Mille-feuille

Desserts, was a very Vanilla-Bean glaring affair.

Hediard's copious use of VB thrills every vanilla-loving cell in me. Pastry-cream-pastry-cream-pastry sums up the Bourbon vanilla mille-feuille in a word, and wow! aptly describes the satisfying vanilla custard middle.

Raspberry Fruit Tart

Then i garnered my strength for a battle with my the Raspberry fruit tart. hard tart base. Nevertheless, all's left was praise for its fragrant walls, almond filling, rich vanilla custard and fresh berries assemble. Loved it lots.

Hediard Blend Tea & Madeleine Blend Coffee

Every cuppa comes thoughtfully tagged with a bitesized madeleine and square of chocolate au lait 33%. Hediard Blend Tea- china black tea, sweet orange, lemon & bergamot- hardly differentiated from the original earl grey.

The art of luxe parisian goodies requires no deliberate flattery. Intricacy lies in the roots and it's utmost quality is undisputable. Who doesn't wanna have french everything?

Hediard Cafe & Boutique
123-125 Tanglin Road
Tudor Court
6333 6683


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