All about Amsterdam (tried and tasted)

the end of exams saw me promptly escaping to amsterdam the morning right after my last paper! it was a wonderful short getaway with my mother dearest and i proclaimed that i would definitely be back after just half a day of exploring the place – i was won over by the amazingly friendly people, the charming bridges and canals, the idyllic vibe, and needless to say, the good food finds 😉 will be sharing some of my favourites in this post!

1. Gartine
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gartine was where we had our first meal of the trip! it is a cosy little cafe with limited seating space and apparently they are often packed (so reservations are recommended), but we visited at tea time so we were lucky enough to get a table immediately. service was polite and always with a smile (as it is all over amsterdam, we soon learnt), and they serve a range of what are supposed to be traditionally dutch open-faced-type sandwiches, along with afternoon tea if you visit mid-afternoon. the mother and i were planning on doing lots of food-hopping so we ordered just 2 items to share.

we were spoilt for choice and ended up opting for something recommended by our server – the pumpkin sourdough bread topped with smoked salmon, young salad and chive yoghurt (€8.50):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
it was a pretty generous portion and we thought it was pretty reasonably priced! especially compared to what we’d have to pay for something like that (probably labelled something along the lines of a gourmet-type sandwich) back home in singapore. the chive yoghurt was delicious and the ingredients were extremely fresh, especially apparent in the greens! the bread was also very yummy, the perfect base for great toppings.

spotted a fridge full of homemade cheesecakes right when we walked in, and knew from that moment that we had to try at least one! i think the options that are available vary daily depending on what they have freshly made. on that day, we were lucky enough to get to try this pear cheesecake infused with lavender and honey (does that combination not sound heavenly?). i can’t remember the price but it was definitely not exhorbitantly priced at all.
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this wasn’t a regular cheesecake; it was much lighter, fluffier and almost airier in texture. it reminded me of the japanese cheesecakes which are much less dense than the classic american-style cheesecakes. my favourite part of the cheesecake was the whole pears that were standing proud in the cake slices, and also the crunchy base which was different from the regular digestive biscuit-type base. this biscuit base had more of a light chocolate-y taste to it, and it was kind of oaty/grainy/chunky-ish so it added a very nice bite and a great contrast of texture and taste to the cheese bit of the cake! the cheese bit carried a subtle but very nice lavender taste and together with the honey, it made for a great combination! i initially didn’t quite like the texture of the cheesecake as much as regular cheesecakes, but i have to say it definitely grew on me. it was a very light dessert, the kind that’d probably make you unknowingly wolf down a few slices (dangerous!!!).

gartine is a great cafe for a light, tasty and reasonably-priced cafe-style meal. its a perfect place to rest your feet after some shopping given that its located on a little lane off the main shopping avenue. they also do full-blown afternoon teas which is worth checking out if that’s what you’re looking for (throughout our meal, i was jealously eyeing/sneaking furtive glances at the very appetising-looking tea date that the 2 ladies at the table next to us were enjoying).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gartine
Taksteeg 7
Amsterdam 1012 PB

2. Banketbakkerij van der Linde
stumbled upon this shop while walking ambling down the main shopping street right after our satisfying meal at gartine, and after we saw the snaking queue (largely consisting of local patrons – always a good sign!) outside, how could we not give it a try to see what the fuss was all about?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhile in the queue, we chatted with a friendly local lady in front of us who assured us that our initial plan to get a tasting portion-sized small to share (they have 3 sizes and even the largest is only about €1.50) was not a good idea – “at least a large!”, she said. so that’s what we ended up doing, and we definitely did not regret it!!! best soft-serve ever – i am now unable to view mcflurries in the same light ever again.

the queue moves quickly and the excitement escalates as you reach the front and see cone after cone of the creamy goodness being scooped.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

unfortunately i don’t have a pic of the ice cream before i attacked it; i just could not wait! but it came in a really cute shape – not round like normal ice cream scoops but kind of flattish at the top so its almost semi-circle shaped (clearly not happening in the picture i have… i am sorry! haha).20140521_164925
this was some heavenly soft-serve ice cream and after taking the first bite, my mum and i both understood how its been around since 1937… something so simple but yet so, so good! it was amazingly smooth, creamy and light as a feather, almost like eating fresh whipped cream but in a slightly more solid ice cream form. it only comes in one flavour which is what you see here. i wouldn’t really describe it as vanilla because its not exactly fragrant vanilla bean-type ice cream, its more like whipped cream-flavoured ice cream, nothing like anything i’ve had before.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetthe face of the lady behind me to my right says it all – “why did she get her ice cream before me..??!”

when you see tons of people strolling down the street happily licking these white globules of goodness (nevermind the rather unglamorous mess their lips and mouth are left in), you’ll know you’re close.

Banketbakkerij van der Linde
Nieuwendijk 183
1012 MG Amsterdam

3. Winkel 43
after some exploring on foot, we found ourselves right in the vicinity of this cafe famous for its apple pie, so we popped by to try some of their famous apple pie even though we had just inhaled gartine and ice cream!

dubbed the best apple pie in amsterdam, we had high expectations and i have to say we were not disappointed at all! it was served to our table warm (presumably fresh out of the oven), a big slice with chunks of huge apple chunks and a perfectly crusty (for lack of a better word to describe it) crust. so. good. the whipped cream that accompanied it is also a must-try – went perfectly with the pie and it was so light and so fresh!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAjust look at how huge those chunks of apple are! i can’t decide if i what i liked most about the pie was the crust or the filling. i loved that they used chunks of apples for the filling which were juicy and moist while retaining just the right amount of crunchiness, and it came together perfectly with the raisin and cinnamons to make an amazing filling. as for the crust, it was also pretty much perfect in terms of texture and thickness – oh so buttery, and the fact that it was warm accentuated how it was wonderfully crusty but not crumbly.

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the face of a very pleased exam-free girl who is having her cake (pie) and eating it

Winkel 43
Noordermarkt 43
1015 NA Amsterdam

4. Bird Thai Food
unfortunately i did not take any pics of this meal we had, but this is a great spot in amsterdam’s chinatown (a stone’s throw from the red light district – what an experience!) for a thai food fix! run entirely by thais, there is both a bird restaurant and a snackbar; they are across the street from each other in chinatown. the former has a more extensive menu and is pricier (you pay for ambience) while the latter is just a little bigger than a hole-in-the-wall and serves the purpose of fuss-free dining.

i was honestly not expecting much from it, but was really impressed with the authenticity of the pad thai and tom yum soup we had. the servings were large and they were generous with the ingredients added. we ate at the snackbar and there was barely any space to move around; to get to our table we had to get other diners to stand up and shift their chairs/tables around a bit! it is a completely no-frills fuss-free place but they serve great food at affordable prices, and that is what matters! if you’re looking for a bit more of a polished environment, hop across the street to the restaurant and i’m sure the food will be as good.

Bird Thai Snackbar
Zeedijk 77
1012 AS Amsterdam

5. Eetcafe Singel 404
okay, guys. this is the real deal – this place is so good that my mother and i went twice during our trip. a pity we discovered it on our 2nd last day only; that means we only had one other opportunity to have it on our last day before heading back to london. if we had discovered it earlier, i’m pretty sure we would have gone every day!

singel 404 is a small cafe by a canal that is conveniently located. they serve some of the best sandwiches i have ever eaten.
feast your eyes:
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the focus at this cafe is definitely on the sandwiches, and here’s the super extensive menu that was a real (happy) problem for me – wayyyy too many choices, and everything sounded amazing (from what we had, i’m sure everything tastes amazing too) and was priced so so reasonably.20140523_111515

on our first visit there, we tried the roast beef sandwich (left) and the brie with smoked chicken (right), both on cornbread, along with a fruit mix smoothie with yoghurt. never had better sandwiches, i swear this is true!!!20140523_104831
left: roast beef with cottage cheese, fresh pesto, grilled courgette, sundried tomatoes, rucola – €6.75 / right: brie with smoked chicken, guacamole, sundried tomatoes, italian herbs, garden cress – €6.75

trust me, they tasted as good as they sound and look. and at such a steal too! given the amount of ingredients they heaped onto each piece of cornbread (note that you can choose from a range of breads) – we were in sandwich heaven. not only were all the different ingredients of a high quality and very fresh, they came together perfectly to make more a very very (i cannot emphasise this more) satisfying meal. these sandwiches really fill you up and are the perfect fuel for a day of exciting touristy explorations.

my mother, who is a huge roast beef fan, was completely sold by the roast beef sandwich. the fresh pesto (so yummy) and cottage cheese was an amazing combination, and topped with the sundried tomatoes and those (numerous) thin slivers of beef, she was beyond pleased.

i too thoroughly enjoyed my brie and smoked chicken sandwich – smoked chicken, brie, sundried tomatoes and guacamole; what more can one ask for?!? so many of my favourite things together atop a piece of delicious cornbread! my only qualm about this was that it was rather heavy, i think it was probably the guacamole that caused it to be so. very very delicious nevertheless!!!

on our second visit the very next day, i tried something different while my mum stuck to her roast beef because that is how much she enjoyed it the day before. we were worried that if she got anything else, she wouldn’t be as satisfied and would have to return to london dreaming of the singel roast beef sandwich that she could not have a second time… hahaha. on our second visit there, i tried the bacon with brie instead, and we opted for the same fruit mix smoothie, but this time with ice cream (even though it was morning and our first meal of the day – that’s how we roll)!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
brie with bacon, walnuts, honey, thyme and garden cress – €6.50

i preferred this brie with bacon sandwich to the brie with smoked chicken one i had the day before. i think the bacon and the crunchy walnuts (loved this) added a different texture to the mix of toppings and the lack of guacamole definitely made it lighter! also loved the honey; i can never say no to bacon and honey – to me, its one of the most perfect combinations of sweet and savoury (read: bacon, banana & maple syrup pancakes etc!!!)!

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nothing better than starting your day with some amazing sandwiches by the canal

i’ll be back here every single time i’m in amsterdam, that’s for sure. if i lived in amsterdam, i’d probably go to singel for lunch every day if i could…

Eetcafe Singel 404
Singel 404
1016 AK Amsterdam

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6. Lanskroon
a friend recommended i come here for freshly-made stroopwafels so imagine my delight when i was happily devouring my singel sandwich, looked across the canal, and saw lanskroon right there at the corner across the bridge! post-sandwich dessert was thus settled, and we were greeted by not just stroopwafels, but an array of freshly-made traditional cookies, pastries and pies when we entered this cosy corner shop. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

it isn’t the fanciest or newest of cafes, but the smell of freshly-baked homemade treats should be more than sufficient to draw you in and keep you there till you’ve had your fill of their delicious goodies. try some and trust me, you will not regret it!!!

on our first visit there (yes we visited multiple times during the course of our 4 day trip), we tried their specialty the honey stroopwafel (they also do a coffee one which my mother preferred), an orange and poppy seed biscuit, and a slice of their apple-cranberry pie.
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amazeballs

behold the glorious freshly-made honey stroopwafel:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthis stroopwafel was unlike any i’ve tasted before – definitely far, far different from the commercially made ones you find in supermarkets, and different from the regular ones you get along the streets in amsterdam which tend to be softer as well! the two pieces of wafel were extremely thin and wonderfully crisp, and the honey filling glued them together perfectly. my mother didn’t enjoy it as much as i did though, because she didn’t like how the honey got stuck to your teeth! i had no qualms about that however, and happily wolfed it down. tried the coffee one on our second visit, and my mother much preferred it because it lacked the stickiness of the honey!
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coffee-cinnamon stroopwafel
i liked both – the honey was sticky but that made the stroopwafel more moist as a whole while the coffee provided a more dry/crisp snack; both different but both equally good! we bought a bunch and carefully handcarried them back to london.

and our absolute favourite thing from lanskroon: their apple-cranberry-walnut pie. check it out in all its glory:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
this pie is legitly awesome. legitly. awesome. we also bought 2 slices of this back to london and surprisingly, they survived the journey without getting completely smashed; in fact they held their form pretty well! this pie was different from the apple pie we had at winkel 43, but equally amazing in its own way. the fresh cranberries (just look at how plump they were!!!) were my favourite part, and the apple bits and walnuts added the perfect crunch to the filling. the crust was also deliciously buttery, not too thick, and was the perfect casing for the fab filling. it was sooooo good that we had this thrice in the four days we were there and i am salivating looking at this picture. if only i could fedex some of this to me now…

we also tried the orange poppy seed biscuit:
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it was really interesting and like nothing i’ve had before! normally i see poppy seeds being sprinkled in cake (eg lemon poppy seed muffins – yummm!) but never like this where the whole biscuit is stuffed with poppy seed! it gave the filling an almost black sesame-like texture and taste, but i wasn’t complaining at all because i love black sesame! the orange flavour also went wonderfully with the poppy seeds. they have a huge range of homemade traditional biscuits like this, so definitely try some!

oh and before i forget, look out for their resident cat – the fattest cat i have ever seen. and i mean fattest i have ever seen:
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#selfie

i love this very authentically local bakery, and will return again and again and again whenever i’m in amsterdam. a must visit!

Lanskroon
Singel 385
Amsterdam 1021 WL

7. Pancake Bakery
what is a trip to amsterdam without having some dutch pancakes? there are a few pancake parlours that are known to serve up the best in amsterdam, and this is one of them! the mother and i were ambling around looking for somewhere to have dinner, and found ourselves right in front of the pancake bakery so it was there that we decided to feed our hungry selves for the night.

the shop has 2 floors and was nearly full when we visited but luckily we were able to get seated immediately. i think they must get pretty crowded but service is brisk so turnaround time shouldn’t be too long! they have a very extensive menu including many interesting international options (think mexican, indonesian chicken curry, greek gyro etc pancakes), and a large range of both savoury and sweet pancakes. they come in one (huge) size and the prices differ according to the toppings added.

we ordered a bacon and cheese one for our savoury choice, and an apple and cinnamon one topped with cinnamon ice cream (gotta love some cinnamon) for dessert!
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bacon and cheese pancake

i didn’t manage to take a very appetising-looking picture of the savoury pancake (lighting problems!!!) but it was delicious! i think the cheese made all the difference – the slightly burnt bits formed a crispy and super tasty top layer. the pancake itself was thin and the bacon and cheese were heaped on rather generously! i thought it was a bit pricey though, if i’m not wrong this pancake was about 12 euro or more, and the international ones with fancy ingredients were going for about 15 euro! compared to the delicious sandwiches at singel, the pancakes were definitely on the costly side. (though i think the price for pancakes across amsterdam is generally comparable to this.) yummy yummy yummy in my tummy! the serving is (clearly) big so if you are a small eater, definitely share! we were satisfied but the sweet tooth ever present in both my mum and i was calling out for more, so we proceeded to order another pancake, a dessert one this time.

lighting is much better for this one:Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset
apple cinnamon pancake, topped with cinnamon ice cream
the sweet pancakes were slightly cheaper, i think this was about 10-11 euros. this time we could taste the pancake itself better because the taste of the batter wasn’t adulterated by the cheese (so good though) and bacon that topped it. the apple slices were sweet and added a great crunch to the pancake, while the cinnamon ice cream (hopefully homemade!) was very yummy and heaped onto the pancake so that every single bite could be savoured with some creamy cinnamon goodness.

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massive mug of syrup

The Pancake Bakery
Prinsengracht 191
1,015 DS AmsterdamOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

8. Hap-Hmm
on our last night in amsterdam (mega sad face), the mother and i decided we should try some traditional dutch food! a quick search on google brought up this little family-run restaurant in a neighbourhood out of the city centre and near our hotel, so this was where we picked for our sampling of some homestyle cuisine. we went for an early dinner around 5.30 and it was already full of locals enjoying hearty homecooked meals (i think we were the only tourists there!).
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i didn’t take a picture of the menu but the food is priced extremely reasonably and all of it is good old-fashioned homecooked food, exactly the kind of food i imagine the dutch have at home. we started with a beef carpaccio and it was so yummy that we were tempted to order another serving but decided to hold back so we would have space to fully enjoy our mains! 20140523_180118

the carpaccio was absolutely delicious. the beef slices were fresh and cut to perfect thickness. topped with a mixture of cheese, pine nuts, fresh greens and some kind of light vinagrette-type thing, this made for an amazingly flavourful dish. we loved every single bite of it and it was polished off in no time. also came at an astoundingly reasonable price of just a little over 5euro!!!

for mains, we tried a traditional beef stew and the fish of the day. we were too excited to start eating and i forgot to snap a pic before we started so this pic of us midway through the meal will have to do:
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the beef stew was warm, hearty and very delicious when eaten with the sides that accompanied each main (a mix of vegetables and potatoes). the beef chunks were wonderfully tender and so tasty! as for the fish, it was fresh and went well with the sauce that it came with. we also thoroughly enjoyed the vegetable sides – the carrots were some of the sweetest i have ever tasted; it made us wonder if they were coated in sugar?! the other star of the meal was the fried potatoes – nothing like fries because the potatoes were cut into large pieces and not strips. i guess they were a little like flattened wedges if that makes any sense to you? they were so crisp on the outside yet so soft, warm and toasty inside – the mother and i finished the entire bowl even though we knew it was really going to fill us up, it was worth it!

hap-hmm is located along a very residential street and is a distance away from the main tourist belt/city centre area of amsterdam. it is certainly not somewhere you would chance upon unless you are specifically looking for it, but it is worth the trek if you are looking for some traditional homecooked dutch fare at affordable prices in a warm, authentic and homely setting.

Hap-Hmm
1e Helmersstraat 33
1054 CZ Amsterdam
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9. Cheese
there is cheese everywhere in amsterdam, and i mean everywhere. there’s a cheese shop at almost every corner and the number of flavours and types of cheese they have is pretty astounding! its dutch tradition to eat cheese with mustard (i never knew this till i was in amsterdam) and as odd as it sounds, a sliver of cheese topped with mustard is actually really yummy and addictive! all the shops lay out plenty of cheese and accompanying mustard for customers to try so go in, feast, and come out 1kg heavier 😉
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10. Raw Herring
another thing the locals in amsterdam love is raw herring, and we were lucky enough to chance upon this stall selling just that while we were strolling through albert cuypmarket on the last day of our trip. didn’t understand what the signs said but i gather they were definitely accolades that the stall had earned for the raw herring they served.
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also could not resist some fresh tuna tataki and smoked salmon from the stalls selling fresh fish at the same market – yummy!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and that concludes my list of foodie picks in beautiful amsterdam!!! as always, i’ll end with a few pics of this gorgeous city and its canals:
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amsterdam central station20140522_150141
maarken fishing village
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zaanse schans windmills

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Quite possibly the longest meal of my life (Kokkeriet, Copenhagen)

at the end of a wonderful day exploring copenhagen, it was Restaurant Kokkeriet that my family and i headed to for our michelin-starred dinner – a must-do activity in this danish city that is famous for its range of exciting gastronomical options! we were only in lovely copenhagen for 2.5 days prior to boarding our cruise ship and because they were a sunday and a monday, we didn’t have many options to choose from (most of the restaurants open tuesday-saturday). case in point: noma, consistently named the best – with the occasional slip to 2nd best – restaurant in the world, was on our must-try list but it wasn’t open on both sunday and monday! just means that we’ll have to make another trek to copenhagen sometime, i guess.

kokkeriet is located a short distance away from the busy city centre of copenhagen. it is a small and cosy restaurant that is smart-looking without being pretentious. service was very good, with each dish being introduced as it was served, and the restaurant prides itself on the the modern twist it introduces to traditional Danish dishes ie using plenty of traditional and seasonal danish ingredients like potatoes and beetroot in modern and exciting ways.

for dinner, they had 3 options – an a la carte menu where you choose 3 dishes (starter/main/dessert), a “large menu”, and a “smaller menu”. we opted for the large menu despite the scarily long list of dishes we were going to be served, going along with the mantra of just going all out since we were there anyway hahahahaha. as it turns out, “large” was quite an understatement but hey, no complaints from any of us, even when we took close to 5 hours (see post title) for the entire meal 😉

the menu for the night:20140602_184935
(
the smaller menu excludes the dishes in italics)

before service of the actual menu got underway though, we were served 5 light snacks to kickstart the meal. they were really interesting bites and a good preview of what was to come over the course of the rest of the meal:20140602_182801
smoked salmon/sour cream
i remember thinking that this wasn’t what i expected at all based on how it was described. the salmon was in floss form, and i couldn’t really discern the sour cream?

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oats/cheese/almonds
the “snakes” on those sticks (inedible, as the waitress kindly pointed out, just in case we were over-zealous foodies hahaha!) were breadstick-like things. we really enjoyed this! had a very addictive savoury taste and if they came in any larger quantity, we could imagine a situation of having unknowingly consumed a whole bowl/pack.

20140602_183435 game meatball in barbeque sauce

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beetroot/duck liver/chocolate 
i found this the most interesting of all the starter snacks and this was my favourite! because of the really unusual combination of flavours, it was quite an acquired taste i think, but i personally thought they were delicious little morsels with a really interesting mix of textures and tastes!

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cod/vinegar/mustard
another favourite at the table – paper-thin pieces of crispy fish. i remember this to be perfectly crispy, flavourful and light, with no hint of oil despite being fried. reminded me of the fried fish skin that tops thai green mango salads!

we also had bread before we started on the main meal, and oh my, the bread was out of this world! we all agreed that it was one of the best breads we’ve had – served wonderfully warm, crispy on the outside but perfectly fluffy within. made even better when eaten with the accompanying butter (left) / yoghurt-chive mix (right)!
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we each had at least 2 rolls i think? and had to remind ourselves to exercise self-control and not go for thirds despite being offered, lest we run out of stomach space for everything else that was to come! when we raved about the bread to the waitress, she told us that their secret (oops, guess its not a secret anymore now) is that when they first bake the bread, they only do so halfway. the completion of the baking is done just before serving their diners so it really has the taste and feel of being fresh from the oven!

one final thing before the actual meal – amuse-bouche:20140602_185843
green asparagus/shrimp gel

and finally after all these, our tongues were (more than) sufficiently tickled and appetites sufficiently whet for the start of the actual 15 courses from the menu we chose! Feast your eyes on all that FOOD:
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crab/fresh cheese/chamomile

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white asparagus/hen egg/herbs
for those who have been following this blog for a while now, it’d probably come as no surprise that i repeat the fact that i ADORE wet egg yolks that burst in your mouth. well, hidden under the pieces of white asparagus was one such amazing egg yolk 😉

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spring cabbage/scallop/clam juice/buttermilk
this was a family favourite – the scallop was perfectly cooked and very naturally sweet and juicy. yummy!

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carrots/grape/trout roe
an interesting combination, but a good one nonetheless!

more food:20140602_195108
haddock/celeriac/kornly cheese

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yellow split peas/beets/spruce

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walleye/crisp bread/nettle

keepin’ it comin’:20140602_202756
quail egg/smoked herring/radish
i remember the smoked herring broth of this dish to be delicious! it was very light and tasty, a good break from the heavier sauces that were stronger in flavour prior to this.

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tongue/peas/horseradish
okay, unfortunately this definitely took the prize for least well-liked dish of the night. we all thought the combination was just rather odd and unfortunately, nobody finished this dish! the green soup/sauce thing tasted extremely raw, like we were drinking wheatgrass juice and somehow it just didn’t work for us…

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wing/rhubarb/pickled cucumber
delicious chicken wings! cooked to perfection such that the meat fell off the bone.

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duck heart/mushrooms/Gammel Dansk
my first time trying duck heart and i’m not gonna lie, i was initially rather apprehensive. the texture was just as i imagined it to be – quite chewy since its muscle-y, but it was well-cooked so that it didn’t end up being rubbery. it was actually quite flavourful and had a nice bite to it!

okay by this point we were getting sleepy (though very happy):20140602_211841
potato/cream/smoked ham from Skagen

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pig/mash/onion/bacon
this was my personal favourite dish of the night! it was like the finale of the dinner and the sauce that was poured over the pork was set on fire on the plate right before your eyes. not only was it visually exciting, it tasted really good too! the pork had a crispy skin, the meat was really tender and juicy, and the mash by the side was delicious and had bits of bacon mixed into it rather than just sprinkled on top of it. this made for a really satisfying and hearty end to the (savoury bits) of the meal in my opinion!

and finally, dessert! sorry for the poor quality of the dessert pics, it was getting dark outside as we made our way through the meal and i didn’t want to use flash cuz it wouldn’t do the prettiness of the food justice. you can thus see how the pics became progressively darker because of the sun setting outside, but the pics in the collage below are slightly brighter i think!
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sweet bread/lemon mousse/meringue/verbena
loved the varied textures in this dessert, and the lemon was very welcome and refreshing at the end of such a big meal.

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anise/berries/beetroot/nougatine
you can’t see how pretty this dessert was because of the extreme darkness of the pic (sorry about that!!!) but just imagine everything in the most vibrant shade of fuschia pink, my favourite colour! looked good, and tasted good too!

and with that, it was close to midnight and we had finally reached the end of this gastronomical adventure. if you’re looking for some traditional danish food with a modern twist while in copenhagen, then kokkeriet is definitely the place for you! in fact, one of the waitresses told us that it was the first danish restaurant in denmark to receive a michelin star! reservations are necessary, so do make them in advance, and go with a big, empty stomach 😉

it was a really good night with great food and even better company in the form of family. a wonderful start to the trip! happy, happy times 🙂

Restaurant Kokkeriet
Kronprinsessegade 64
1306 København K
www.kokkeriet.dk

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ps. some pics of copenhagen:
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the fantastical tivoli gardens

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best hot dog ever!!! organic hotdog from dop, a chain of hotdog stands that you may be lucky enough to chance upon. there’s one right by the round tower!

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made our own magnums at the magnum store! YUM. (didn’t matter that it was a cold and wet day)

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postcard-perfect nyhavn

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smorrebrod aka open-faced sandwiches all day every day! gotta love their really dense rye bread!!!

Link

http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/07/an-introduction-to-singaporean-food-cuisine.html

“I could spend the rest of my life eating in hawker centers.”
“I get the sense that Singaporeans are less likely to “go out” for Chinese or Indian than they are to just go out and eat everything in sight.” (emphasis added)

as i’m sure i’ve said many times before, Singapore – home to only some of the most unpretentious yet the most delicious food in the entire world :’)

Gorging in Germany (Berlin)

Now that Rach’s opinion of the phrase ‘fat pig’ has been taken to a whole new level, to preempt my swinish laziness from redefining it even further, I have decided to emerge from my hibernation.  While Rach traveled to French Riviera and all its glory, I visited their best friends – the Germans –  in their capital, Berlin. Now I know that it is a common mindset that if you visit a place, you should strive to try local food as it would be an experience unique to the land. However, I disagree – I mean, why would you deprive yourself of objectively good food in general just for the sake of having an arbitrarily local experience – especially if the locals themselves have been receptive to outside influences and cuisines? That doesn’t necessarily mean that certain local foods are less delectable than others (to each his own, I guess) but so long as good food is available does its provenance really matter??? It’s like choosing 100 Zimbabwean Dollars over 100 USD just because you’re physically in Zimbabwe? (FYI the Zimbabwean Dollar has been indefinitely suspended since 2009, but you get what I mean)

OK. Enough of Zimbabwe; back to Germany. I was there over my Easter break – yes,  it was eons ago – and wasn’t expecting much gastronomically. After all, Berlin isn’t well known for her culinary identity, unlike say Naples in Italy, among others. Heading into Berlin, the most uniquely-Berlin dish I could think of having heard of was currywurst – even then it turned out to be more a street snack than a wholesome meal. More on that later though, let’s zoom in on the heartier highlights first.

As I mentioned, coming to Berlin one does not necessarily have to only try authentic Berliner food. After all, not all geographical or social bodies have cuisines that are unique to them and them alone. More often than not, their culinary development would have had been influenced by outside cultures and hence diluted into something more universal. The same applies to Berlin I guess – a city with a rich cultural  history but also one whose past was intertwined with many external incursions, bringing along with them new influences.

Hofbräu Berlin 

Most culinary cultures have comfort foods of their very own. For instance, as a Singaporean, I’d hazard a guess that most of my countrymen would pick Hainanese chicken rice as their go-to fare. Likewise, in London, it is never surprising to see Londoners going for their fish & chips or fisherman’s pie as their fail-safe option. For German cuisine schnitzel and roasted pork knuckle are two that immediately comes to mind. Despite not being dishes native to Berlin, they have become standard fare for Germans in general. Hence that was what I looked for immediately upon my arrival. We found this beer garden near Alexanderplatz called Hofbräu München, Berlin – a beer garden chain from Munich. The restaurant was styled after traditional Bavarian beer gardens with its long wooden tables and benches.Image We ordered a schnitzel each with a pork knuckle to share plus a beer…….little did we expect the beer to be more filling than the actual food.

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The glass of beer was HUGE. Just compare it with my head. And the serving of food was pretty hearty as well. Image

The schnitzel was fried to perfection, crispy on the outside with just enough batter used and the meat inside was soft and juicy. What I loved most about it, however, was the mushroom sauce that it was coated with. Not that the schnitzel would have been too dry without it but the sauce – which I must add was extremely buttery – brought a mellowness to the savoury fried fillet.ImageThe pork knuckle was another delight – the skin was so crispy and and flavourful;  it was as though all the essence of the meat had been sucked out into the skin. It wasn’t a trapping of oil, just like many mediocre pork knuckles are, and the meat was soft and rather juicy.The only pity was that the meat wasn’t as tasty as the skin itself (which was to be expected) and that there was too little skin for the meat underneath (maybe they should roast me instead since my skin is so thick). Thus once the skin had been devoured, there was nothing much to complement the meat with. Bavarian delights in Berlin – so far a good start.

Hofbrau Berlin

Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 30, 10178 Berlin, Germany

Monsieur Vuong

As we had to see the Brandenburg Gate in its lit-up best at night, we were left scrambling for a place to have dinner after. No worries though for there was a highly recommended Vietnamese restaurant called Monsieur Vuong which we heard is open till late. As we made our way there, we were excited about how we managed to find an eatery whose opening times suited our itinerary and that we’d arrive post-peak hour, hence avoiding the dinner crowd. We were wrong, however, as off-peak does not seem to exist in Monsieur Vuong’s vocabulary. It was 9:45pm and it was still packed. Thankfully the turnover was pretty fast and we only waited 10 minutes to be seated. ImageImageThe dumplings were heartwarming, literally – in the coldness of Berlin’s pre-spring and the minced meat was soft and well-seasoned. Even the dumpling skin was tasty. ImageWe also ordered a cold dish – glass noodle salad with chicken shreds. I felt it was a good contrast to the warmth provided by the soup – it was light and refreshing. What I absolutely adored about the salad was the fried shallot. Image It was simply divine and added a whole new dimension to the taste of the dish – crunchy and flawlessly-fried, with the shallot oil shamelessly oozing out as I sank my teeth into each piece. It was like having whipped cream with your frappuccino (Rach – remember Starbucks happy hour craze before Panama??) – not necessary but a wonderfully decadent addition. However all my praise is reserved for the main course – the pho. For the uninitiated, pho is a form of Vietnamese noodle soup, a form of street food served with a topping of chicken or beef. The reason why Vietnamese restaurants are aplenty in Berlin was due to the city’s Cold War legacy where the East Berlin, under communist control, hired workers from Vietnam – who were also communist then. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, these Vietnamese settled for good in Berlin, contributing to its strong Vietnamese community and  hence a propagation of its mouth-watering cuisine. Image Here we decided to go for the chicken pho. It doesn’t look much but, as the saying goes, appearances can be deceiving. Indeed, despite its plain Jane look, the pho tastes anything but. Its broth was sweet, blending the taste of the chicken and other spices which I couldn’t distinguish – and I think that’s the beauty of the broth: to me the fact that one cannot identify the constituent components despite its rich flavour is testament to a perfect balance of ingredients. ImageImageLots of beansprouts and a fair dosage of small chilies – perfection! It was wonderful and, having been to Vietnam before, I still feel that this was the best pho I’ve ever eaten. ImageJust look the smile of obvious satisfaction on my friend, Anish’s, face after slurping every drop of soup and every strand of noodles from his bowl. If the bowls could be eaten we would probably have done so. Simply put, it was phontastic.

Monsieur Vuong

Alte Schönhauser Straße 46, 10119 Berlin, Germany

Burgermeister

Burgermeister is a burger joint converted from a public toilet underneath a bridged motorway. ImageIts provenance alone was worth the visit but the food too was thoroughly deserving of a trip down as well. If my memory serves me well we got a Meisterburger and a Hausmeister. ImageHere is the menu and just look at the pricing – I felt we got a really good deal, especially when you look at the burgers themselves.Image I mean, a hearty, juicy patty with such a generous serving of caramelised fried onions to perfection with a strip of bacon for less than 4 Euros? ImageNot to mention the Hausmeister which has cheese, jalapenos and roasted mushrooms for slightly more than 4 Euros? The patties were juicy and well seasoned, the meat finely minced and fried just right, not overcooked unlike many other burger joints. It was a pity I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of the open kitchen to show you how the chefs worked but, hey, that just means that you gotta head down to check it out yourselves!

Burgermeister

Oberbaumstraße 8, 10997 Berlin, Germany

Gambrinus

This was a restaurant we stumbled upon whilst checking out an old abandoned building which used to house independent artists. It purports to serve authentic Berlin food and had a historical feel to its layout with many photographs of old Berlin as well as artifacts representing Berlin across her history. ImageThe service was really friendly and as my dining partner and I enquired about the portions, they were really upfront about the serving sizes and even recommended that we downsize our order (swinish behaviour, no doubt). ImageThis is bratwurst in beer sauce with sauerkraut and potatoes and the portion was really hearty for only 7.50 Euros. The bratwurst was well seasoned and you could taste of herbs and spices was really strong.ImageWe also ordered this smoked pork served with bacon and potato omelette and if the bratwurst was hearty this was lungy. The mixed veggies were nicely buttered which made them even more delicious and the omelette was crisp and light, not too much oil used. The bacon and potatoes in the omelette complimented each other very well, the former giving a savoury taste and the latter providing a smooth fluffy texture. The pork unfortunately was a tad tough and dry, but the gravy was thick and flavourful and it added moisture and taste to the otherwise pretty disappointing portion of meat. ImageImageGiven the charming historical ambience of the restaurant we decided to stay for a bit more and each got a desert – a cherry and raspberry compote with cream and vanilla sauce which was refreshing after the onslaught of meat and carbs. However whilst the serving of fruits was generous, the vanilla taste was sorely lacking. Image If ambience is a big factor in your choice of a dining location then this is the place for you; otherwise the food, whilst more than decent, may not be worth a trip down specially for.

Gambrinus

Linienstraße 133, 10115 Berlin, Germany

Fassbender and Rausch 

Everyone has a sweet tooth so when we discovered this chocolatier in the heart of Berlin’s business area, it blew me away (it was so good, however, that it blew me back again the very next day). It was raining and cold so what better beverage to have than a hot chocolate? Fassbender and Rausch have an entire catalogue of beverages for one to choose from, but being traditionalists, we each went for a conventional hot chocolate with cream topping – one dark, one milk. ImageNo surprises when our drinks were served that a small piece of chocolate, containing the actual chocolate blend used to make the hot chocolate, came together. What I found interesting was the serving of water that came with the beverage. It was meant to cleanse one’s palette after each sip so that, I believe, the purity of each taste is preserved. However, after trying a sip of the hot chocolate, I would never have wished to clear my palette as it tasted heavenly. Now Belinda Carlisle’s song finally made sense; and for that moment it resided in the cup in front of me.

It was thick, creamy, smooth and the taste of the chocolate distinct and fragrant . I preferred the dark chocolate over the milk as the latter was a little too sweet (but I concede this is nitpicking as I would have found the milk chocolate faultless had I not tried the dark one). As it was lunch time and the rain was still pouring, we ordered lunch dishes which use chocolate as their main seasoning. This was fascinating to us for never had we expected chocolate to be used in savoury food. ImageThis was venison sprinkled with a dark chocolate coating – the meat was tender and juicy and the potatoes had a nice roasted taste to it. However, I felt the taste of the dark chocolate was too overpowering and the taste of the meat was lost in the strength of the chocolate.Image It was a shame as the venison was really cooked immaculately as the edges were crisp and the inside supple; and the meat was, by itself, very tasty.ImageThe chicken with milk chocolate was far better as the chicken itself was saltier hence offsetting the sweetness of the chocolate. Also, the use milk chocolate instead of the darker variant gave a sweetness that was not too intense, in fact it blended in nicely with the saltiness of the chicken to give a rather rounded taste. Yet all things considered, we felt that the chocolate infused lunch dishes were a tad indulgent by Fassbender and that chocolate is meant to be a sweet treat and probably, in our eyes, will remain that way. With all the chocolate on show, we had to go for a course of dessert. Again, there was a plethora of tarts, pastries and cakes available – ah, the agony of choice. ImageAfter much consideration  we settled on a dome dessert with dark chocolate and walnut mousse, another dome dessert with white chocolate mousse and raspberries, and lastly a marzipan pouch with raspberry jam – the latter specifically chosen because we saw tables around us ordering it. ImageImageThe mousse on both deserts were creamy and smooth, the sponge biscuits blending in nicely with the walnut mousse and white chocolate respectively. My pick of the bunch however was the walnut dome, with its rich dark chocolate outer complementing the thick yet light walnut mousse inside. ImageJust look at mousse oozing out! ImageThe marzipan pouch was a real disappointment – the only thing we gained from it was a lesson learnt in not following others blindly. The marzipan layer was so thick and chewy and its sweetness did not mix well with the raspberry jam. Despite a mixed experience with the deserts, the hot chocolate was enough to bring us back the very next day; and again we tried our luck with some sweet treats. ImageThis tiramisu-based confection was so good – it had a rich tiramisu taste and the sponge cake was really smooth. It also contained some coffee and rum which added another dimension to its taste, without overpowering the tastebuds. ImageThis is a cream-based dessert topped with cherries and kirsch mixed with a dark chocolate coating. The kirsch and dark chocolate went well together as the chocolate’s aftertaste blended in with the mildness of  liqueur the cherry. It wasn’t too sweet and the cream gave the desert a nice silky texture. Fassbender and Rausch is definitely a place that I will return to, if only for its chocolate desserts and its hot chocolate – which is to die for. Even if you don’t have time to eat-in, check out their amazing chocolate shop – I mean just look at the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag!ImageImage And compare it to the vehicles and people walking outside. They are HUGE. ImageAnd their selection of chocolates for sale can possibly rival the Rolling Stones for number of smash hits. You have to see it to believe it, taste it to savour it. Best (hot) chocolate in the world? Very possibly.

Fassbender and Rausch

Charlottenstraße 60, 10117 Berlin, Germany

Café Nö!

On our last night in Berlin we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal (not that all our meals hadn’t been nice) and we came across this quaint cafe on a street off the main business district. It was highly welcoming with its warm yellow lights and compact cozy layout. ImageImageDespite having to wait for our table, we were still attracted by the restaurant’s decor. In fact it’s the kind of place to go out on a dinner date to – not that it would detract 2 maleswines from checking it out.ImagePretzel to accompany the sausage!ImageMy favourite: boiled sausages – which was so juicy and silky.I was so excited to try it when tragedy struck………ImageUnfortunately, our clumsiness with our utensils left us with only one of the two sausages and the sense of loss probably augmented my opinion of it. *SOBS*ImageHere is venison with potatoes and asparagus. It was really herb-y and rich in the taste of thyme and lemongrass. I mean just look at the whole stalks of thyme served with the dish! ImageWell cooked meat with a generous serving  of spices – and how fresh and fragrant they were; I sucked the thyme stalks dry! – what more can one ask?

I guess the fallen wiener was forgotten, for a while at least. What I liked about this cafe was its ambience fused with the close attention of the service staff, who constantly check up on how we were finding our meal; had they offered to replace our sausage, I’d have given them a 10/10 for dining environment. Nonetheless the food was extremely fine, very polished – unlike our handling of utensils – and the meal definitely well worth the money.Image

Café Nö!

Glinkastraße 23, 10117 Berlin, Germany

Some more pictures of the rest of the food we ate!

ImageVietnamese coconut cream soup!ImageFried dumplingsImageStir-fried glass noodles with mixed veggies and chicken. The chicken was so succulent; according to the restaurant owner, it was possible because of no MSG used!!!ImageSchnitzel with Spezi, an orange flavoured cola drink popular in Germany. It was super refreshing and nice – this coming from a non-soft drink fan…….

No one can say that they have been to Berlin without at least trying the iconic dish of the city: currywurst. Here are some pictures:ImageThis version was rather sweet, the tomato taste still very distinct and strong.ImageThis was saltier – just look at the curry powder sprinkled on top! I reckon it’s more than the amount of gravy?Image

Sausages being cooked.

As I mentioned, currywurst, is to me at least, more a snack than a meal – which is good because of its portion size, many portions can be had a day without guilt! The sausages tend to be very smooth – in Germany one can’t really go wrong with sausages anyway. The yardstick to measure if the currywust is good or not is, for me, the gravy – usually a tomato based base with curry powder. Some are sweeter whilst some are a bit more savoury. I guess in this regard it’s a personal preference. I personally prefer a slightly savoury incarnation, as it tends to complement the saltines of the sausage. However, since the servings tend to be small, I guess the onus is on you to try as many to suss out your personal choice!

Berlin is an amazing city: her nightlife, arts scene and history are possibly amongst the greatest in Europe. Indeed one event Berlin will always be remembered for is the tearing down of the Berlin Wall; I, for one, will forever look back at Berlin and recall how my stomach walls almost tore, bursting with such diverse gastronomical goodness. Looks like Panamanian pigs aren’t the biggest after all; a Singaporean swine in Berlin can now lay claim to that crown .

Panamanian picks (or pigs?)

so i think i mentioned in my previous post that i spent the first 10 days of june in panama on a volunteer trip! i was part of the first ever ucl human rights brigade that went to the darien province (the most impoverished and abandoned region) in panama to provide a community there with legal assistance and education on their rights, working alongside panamanian lawyers. we went under the organisation global brigades, and it was a great experience – eye-opening and fruitful (not just in the sense that we were fed lots of sweet, sweet fruit :P), one that i really enjoyed.

our daily meals were lovingly prepared by a group of ladies who woke up at the crack of dawn (or earlier, actually – 3am!!!) every day to ensure that breakfast was ready for all the brigaders living in the compound when we woke up, and our packed lunches were ready to go when we left the compound for our respective communities. they mostly served us traditional panamanian food, and there were definitely way more hits than misses!!!

here are my five favourites:
1. arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) – a panamanian classic!Image

i remember this being one of our first few dinners and we all loved it so much that most of us went for seconds! the rice is amazingly flavourful and as you can see from the picture, has bits of shredded chicken, veggie, olives and raisins in it. i’m not sure what gives it its orange colour, but i’m guessing stuff like tumeric/paprika/cumin/saffron maybe? (from the spices i’m listing, you can probably vaguely imagine the kind of taste it had?) it was really really realllyyy delicious omg i miss eating it so much! and i also absolutely adore how it is such a colourful dish with such strong, vibrant colours. maybe i should google and try out a recipe for it heehee.
the pink stuff you see in the picture is what commonly accompanies arroz con pollo; its a beetroot and potato salad and i loved it not just because it is a gorgeous pink (my favourite shade too!) but also because it was really really yummy. its served chilled and the beets really add a very nice and subtle sweetness to the salad. its amazing how different a regular potato salad with mayo can taste just by adding some beetroot! even people who don’t normally like beets liked it, so that’s definitely saying something, i think?
on our last day there, some villagers also cooked arroz con pollo for us for lunch in this gigantic pot. i observed them putting all the rice into some kind of soup stock-looking thing and stirring the rice round and round (and round) in the huge pot till all the stock had completely evaporated/been soaked up by the rice (the rice is very dry when its done) – its probably what makes the rice grains themselves so tasty and flavourful.
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2. hojaldres
Imagewe had these amazing fried pieces of dough for breakfast twice during our stay there and loved it so much that for our last breakfast at the compound, the kitchen ladies specially prepared it for us to have one last time before setting off (normally groups that leave really early – we ate at 4am before setting off at 5) :’)
they are soft and fluffy while being slightly crusty-ish on the outside, and we had them with honey (pretty much panama’s version of pancakes!). it was hands down my favourite breakfast item we had in the 10 days there. hojaldres are quite similar to roti prata (indian pancake-like fried dough, eaten with curry or sugar), but i think texture-wise, they are even more similar to you tiao/butterfly buns (fried dough fritters – are these singaporean? i’m not quite sure where they originated!). super yummy. definitely the breakfast of champions 😉

3. corn fritters
Imagesorry for all the other distractions in the picture, i realised i didn’t take one that focused on just the corn fritters alone! the corn fritter is the thing you see next to the eggs in the foreground of the picture, with the cheese on top! i think they were just mass produced frozen corn fritters that were fried for us, but they were quite nice in their simplicity all the same, especially with the cheese that melted on top (from the heat of the freshly fried fritters).

4. pineapples!!!
Imagesomething about them panamanian pineapples… omg, SO amazingly sweet and juicy. i was never a fan of pineapples (in fact i used to pick them off hawaiian pizza) until i tried grilled pineapples last year, and i started liking them. these were cut into huge chunky blocks and exploded in our mouths in all their glorious juicy sweetness with not a hint of sour acidity that pineapples can sometimes leave in your mouth as an aftertaste (it used to make my tongue sting which was why i never liked them).
my eyes lit up whenever i saw that we were having pineapples at breakfast heehee. we were also served watermelon and papaya which were not too bad, but the pineapples were definitely my favourite, the rest didn’t even come close!

5. fried whole fishImageanother typically panamanian dish. i first tried it on our first night in panama at a mall which we stopped at for dinner en route to darien province which was a bumpy 4 hour bus ride in the dark away from panama city and into the wilderness hahaha. when i had it for the second time (pictured above) at the fish market in panama city on our last day there, it was even better than i remembered it to be! the fish was extremely fresh, very lightly and simply seasoned, and fried to perfection. eating it off the bone reminded me of chinese-style steamed fish back home! the plantain chips are also a forever favourite. i could really do with some now… way better than regular potato fries!!!

so there you have it, my five favourite foods from panama! and in case you were more interested in seeing a panamanian pig (as suggested in the post title) than my panamanian food picks, here’s a picture of one:
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two:
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and three:Image

OMG, are they not the hugest pigs you have ever seen!?!??!?!?! i was stunned… takes the phrase “fat pig” to a whole new level in my opinion…

btw for those who are curious, this is panama:
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🙂

The French Riviera & its glorious food

one million apologies for the updates drought!!!

life has been one mad rush since exams ended (and I posted about my celebratory end-of-exams meal) – 2 of my bestest friends were in town, and not only did we explore London together, we also had a short escapade in the French Riviera!!! when we got back, 1) housing woes struck (#2ndyearproblems) 2) I had less than a week to pack my entire first year life into boxes/luggages and move out of hall 3) I went to Panama on an 11 day volunteering trip!

met my family in london after panama, and am now typing this post from a hotel room in beautiful Rome. true story. like I said, life has been a mad mad rush since exams ended, but I suppose its a (largely) happy problem.

its been so long; where so I begin?! guess i’ll start with foodie adventures with some of my favourite people in the world in beautiful South of France 🙂
IMG_20130522_161843unfortunately i don’t think I remember all of the names of the restaurants we ate at; i really should have noted them down somewhere 😦 next time I will!!!

my favourites out of all the food we ate in france:

1. smoked salmon cream cheese pizza: we had this for our first lunch of the trip, which was at beautiful eze village. it turned out way better than any of us expected i think! its been a while but i still remember how it was one amazing, gooey mass(/mess hahaha) of cheese-y goodness. on top of the regular cheese that goes on the tomato base on the pizza, the thin crust was loaded with cream cheese and finally topped with salmon. SO. GOOD. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2. seafood risotto: i LOVED the meal we had at this restaurant near our hotel. unfortunately i can’t remember its name but if any of you really want to go if you happen to be travelling to nice, its along the main shopping/restaurant stretch near place massena and it’s the only restaurant there with a tripadvisor sticker in its window!!! (which is why we chose it) (i am truly a believer in tripadvisor stickers when i travel– i think they’re normally the sign of something at least average to above average!!!)

the servings were huge and service was really friendly! we had seafood risotto, spinach & cream cheese ravioli and a beef pasta thing. they were ALL good, but if i had to pick a favourite, i’d probably pick the seafood risotto! it was of the perfect consistency – neither too dry nor too wet, and there was a delicious prawn-y taste in every bite. the rice was also done perfectly for risotto, not too hard or too soft, and the seafood was sweet, juicy & fresh.

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20130522210242160 2013052221224591920130522_210015(photobombing waiters are always welcome hahahaha)

3. azzuro gelato: read that it’s the best gelato in nice on tripadvisor and though we didn’t try many others, i’m still inclined to believe so after trying it!!! its by a nice little square in the old town and they have a HUGE range of flavours but don’t worry – you can get cones with up to 10 scoops if you can’t decide 😉 i had the tiramisu and something with berries (something like raspberry ripple but i can’t remember exactly what it was anymore L) and they were both really good. very creamy and smooth! i found some of the flavours (candy-bar inspired ones) which I tried before deciding on the 2 I chose were too sweet though! j and l got nutella, pistachio, chocolate etc and we were all happy kids. so happy that we returned the next day to get more heehee20130524_13270920130524_132937OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4. pastries from random boulangeries: france was croissant heaven and we had amazing croissants, brioches and other similar pastries for breakfast every day!!! they were so. good. and so cheap too. most of the legitimately local bakeries you find in the old town/along random streets sell them for between 1-2 euros and we didn’t have any bad ones over the few days we were there. who needs fancy & overpriced stuff like paul in singapore/london??? J was particularly pleased with her plain butter croissants – going back to basics is always best (Y)20130523091801725OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsuper yummy chocolate brioche ahhh take me back now please!!!

L giving legit local bakeries her stamp of approval:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAchocolate croissant in all its amazing buttery & flaky glory

5. crepes: we had amazing crepes for lunch on the day we were in st paul de vence! we sat in this little cave-like opening off a quaint little alley and enjoyed an apple cinnamon crepe and another savoury buckwheat one with goat cheese, fig stew, ham, and pine cone kernels (??). the apple cinnamon one was good, but I didn’t find it particularly special or unique since you can get that at creperies worldwide. i REALLY liked the savoury one though. i know it looks pretty ordinary in the picture but it was really delicious. loved how the crepe batter was buckwheat and the yummy goats cheese that went well with the ham, while the pine nuts added bite and the figs just made it perfect!!! j and l found the taste of the goat cheese a little too strong for their liking though.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6. Jean Luc Pele, Antibes: stumbled into this shop while roaming the streets of antibes. we were taken in by their fancy, hunger pang-inducing shop display – check it out!!! j tried their macaroons, l had a giant macaroon, and I decided to go for something chocolate-y since chocolate seemed to be their specialty. they were all good! the macaroons were above average (though my ultimate favourite macaroon maker is still pierre herme (more on that later)!!!) and what was really cool was the CHOCOLATE CAVE in their shop. we didn’t even realise it was chocolate on the walls and ceiling (too busy stuffing our faces with sweet treats) until we started scrutinising the writings that were carved into the walls. worth a visit if you’re in antibes!
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CHOCOLATE CAVE!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgorgeous treatsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

7. beef carpaccio at café bianco in nice: we read about this restaurant run by a french man and his Japanese wife in easyjet’s travel magazine on the flight to nice, and were so pleased when we discovered that the restaurant was right round the corner from our hotel. it’s a simple and quaint little place where the daily menu is written on a little blackboard that the wife takes to your table for you to check out. we had an amazing cheese toast as appetiser, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
and the beef carpaccio as main:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit was a huge plate for each of us but we finished every bit of it – sliced and lightly seasoned to perfection! L isn’t a fan of beef (especially raw beef!) so she opted for a fish + zucchini spaghetti thing from their a la carte menu. what was interesting about it was that there wasn’t actually any noodle in it at all… after a few bites we realised that the “spaghetti” was actually all shredded zucchini/cucumber/similar veggies. it was reallynicely presented but besides how fresh the fish was, i personally felt that it didn’t taste exceptional! in fact, it kind of tasted like an asian stir fry (japanese influence?) with quite a heavy sauce that I thought didn’t go that well with the lightness of the fresh fish! but we enjoyed the meal thoroughly nonetheless!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
oh yes and the wedges were to die for:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(at this point I must interject and just mention a tiny detail – I never got to finish this post in rome; I am now on a cruise ship on the Aegean sea! we left Istanbul this afternoon and will be in kusadasi tomorrow morning! really exciting times, and LOTS of good food on board. a post for another day!!!)

8. our dinner in cannes. one of my favourite dinners of the trip, besides the fact that the waitress was completely racist and unprofessional, making faces behind our backs (which she thought we did not notice) and exchanging snooty glances with her colleagues. it was totally uncalled for and we were so mad and super close to just walking out but thankfully we didn’t because the food was great! the olives we started with were really sweet and juicy, followed by this mysterious bread + cheese + dip combo which they brought to our table though we didn’t order it and didn’t see any other table having it (we decided that they must have noticed how disgusted we were with their service and the free food was a peace offering HAHA) which was so. good.
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for starters we had an amazing salad (with huge pear slices, walnuts, parma ham, cheese, really fresh salad leaves & tomatoes)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand an interesting fish soup! It was surprisingly not too fishy, and we could actually taste bits of fish in it.. quite interesting and reminded me of the fish soup i’ve had in norway! the mains were not particularly exceptional, though the fries that came with the beef were quite interesting! really thinly sliced potato strips that were perfectly fried. the oil used was definitely fresh and the fries weren’t dripping with oil – legit FRENCH fries (Y).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdessert was unsurprisingly, amazing – profiteroles and a yummy panna cotta in all its wobbly goodness heehee.
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(are you drooling yet???)

9. last but certainly not least, the one thing nobody should ever leave france without having – PIERRE HERME MACARONS. 20130525_140622i know of people who prefer laduree (I beg to differ!!!), but my family has always thought pierre herme does them BEST since having them in paris a few years back and being completely taken in by their interesting flavours like mandarin + olive oil, truffle & coing + rose! i now have to make treks to Selfridges before heading home over school breaks to get my hands on these sweet treats so my sister and mum can get their fix. we inhaled 7 macarons right after lunch (and before stopping for tea in a cookie café) and i had what is probably my favourite macaron flavour ever – green tea & black sesame. 20130525_140201OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IT WAS SO GOOD – the ultimate combination in my eyes (i can never resist having those 2 flavours of ice cream in Japanese restaurants heehee)! they even had white sesame seeds on the top and ahhh it was so so good, though i know the pictures don’t exactly make it look particularly mouth-watering! the other flavours were also yummy, and i think on a whole pierre herme in france is even better than pierre herme in london – seriously good stuff.
just casually snapping pictures of food in place massena (typical asians and proud of it wahahaha):
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okay i think this post has gone on long enough but before i go, i shall leave you with some of my favourite snapshots of our amazing little escapade – good food and great company, what more could you ask for? 🙂

view from the top of eze village – 20130522112833091

antibes beach –
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in nice – 20130524122307367

sunset in cannes – 20130524201346886

till next time 🙂 bisous!!!

ps. back in london after the cruise with the family and will be heading home to singapore really soon! more travel posts to come; watch this space 😉

La Nonna, Singapore

checked out this italian restaurant on a tuesday afternoon, and we enjoyed an amazing 50% off the food bill (an ongoing offer they have at their outlet at namly place)!!! good food + great company + amazing discount + parallel parking success outside the restaurant = three happy girls.

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we had a late lunch at 130 and were the only customers when we arrived. they (rather unhappily; probably weren’t expecting any more customers for lunch) told us they were closing at 230pm but that didn’t deter us one bit! good food awaited us and we were ravenous!

the meal started with some bread rolls which were nicely warmed up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the first thing we ordered was a crabmeat linguine in creamy tomato sauce – this wasn’t on the menu but my friend requested it and they were more than willing to do it for us, which was nice. it was very good! the crab was fresh and they were generous with it – definitely not shredded up frozen crabsticks or anything of that sort. the sauce was also great, it had a cream base but was light and of a great consistency – thicker than normal tomato-based sauces but not too thick at all!
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we also ordered their signature pizza which had tomato, mozzarella, parmesan, asparagus, egg and black truffle – it was a really delicious combination and this is something i would go back to la nonna for! not just because i LOVE truffle, but also because of the wet egg yolk (MY FAVOURITE OMG), asparagus and the thin crust! it was a light pizza and something very different from what you’d get from the commercialised pizza chains – the usual oily, unhealthy, processed pepperoni/pineapple/ham stuff.
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the third thing we ordered was the gnocchi. i can’t remember exactly what went into the sauce, but it was cream-based with a touch of lemon zest. we agreed that we preferred antoinette’s version of gnocchi in cream sauce (though that one seems to be heavier), but this was not too bad either! the gnocchi was soft and quite fluffy, and the sauce was not too gelat (i realise i use this word a lot hahaha but it is really the most apt thing i can think of in many situations!!!).
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the servings were pretty big so by the time we got to dessert, we only had space for 1 to share – the panna cotta, which was really really good, and quivering away in all its wobbly goodness! it was extremely well done, and we derived great excitement from watching the wobbly tower threaten to collapse as the waitress brought it to our table. it was light, creamy and of the perfect texture – a great rendition of a classic italian dessert!
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total bill: SGD42 (after 50% discount – AMAZING DEAL)

who i would recommend this to: people who drive as the namly outlet is pretty inaccessible  on foot. an alternative would be to go to the holland village outlet which is a lot more convenient to get to via public transport, but the offer there is a 1-for-1 offer instead of a 50% one. a place for a nice, casual, leisurely lunch with food that’s of a good quality and great value for money when the discount is available for lunch on weekdays!

will i be back? will definitely go back to enjoy the great savings at lunch and if i’m craving italian food!

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La Nonna
76 Namly Place
Singapore 267226