Tsujiri Tea House, Singapore

just a quick post to share another exciting green tea find i stumbled upon last weekend – Tsujiri Tea House, yet another place to get a matcha fix on our sunny island!

occupying a small shop space on the first floor of 100AM mall (never knew this place existed) in tanjong pagar (had some problems finding this rather nondescript mall but do persevere if you face the same problem; tsujiri will make it worth the search!!! heehee), Tsujiri is a 150-year-old tea house originating from kyoto that serves a range of yummy matcha drinks and desserts.20130810_194024

here’s the menu:20130810_193602its a simple shop with a small seating area, but the matcha goodies they serve are really rather yummy. having just come from a really filling dinner in the vicinity, myfamily and i only had enough stomach space to order one drink and one dessert to share:20130810_194145shiratama parfait (o-maccha) – $7.80 / o-maccha latte – $5.2

i would say they were definitely some of the best green tea goodies i’ve had in singapore. we could really taste the quality of the green tea powder used, and though slightly pricey for the serving size, i thought it was worth every penny!

the o-maccha latte had a distinct but very natural green tea flavour. it was fragrant and light – a really nice way to wash down dinner!

as for the shiratama parfait, i initially thought it was a little expensive for the serving size but once i took a bite of it, i decided that it was definitely worth its price!!! 😉 unlike the parfait at Nana’s Green Tea, this one does not have any vanilla ice cream/whipped cream/corn flakes, just green tea soft serve ice cream, mochis with crushed peanuts, red bean, and jelly. the green tea soft serve ice cream is quite possibly the BEST green tea soft serve ice cream i’ve had in singapore. it is unbelievably smooth, thick and creamy, and is the green tea flavour is just amazinggg. the next time i’m here i’m definitely going to get just the green tea soft serve ice cream in a cone, on top of whatever else i’m having 😛 it really is very very good; its been a week and i still remember just how impressed i was by it!!! the mochis were nice and so was the jelly; even the non-maccha lovers in the group (how is that even possible i do not understand…) thought it was good! though since they’re not huge fans of maccha, they also said they probably wouldn’t fork out that sum just for a not-particularly-large dessert, but i feel that the ingredients they use are of a good quality that warrants the pricing.

i was so sad when i finished the last bit of the parfait (even though i was super duper full; definitely a sign of good stuff) and promptly decided that i really needed to go back when my stomach wasn’t already 99% stuffed, so that i could try more of what they have to offer!!!20130810_193856

Tsujiri Tea House

100AM Mall
100 Tras Street, #01-14
Singapore 079027

Nana’s Green Tea Cafe, Singapore

my trip to Nana’s was a total spur-of-the-moment decision at 9pm on a sunday night. having just stuffed ourselves silly on crab bee hoon, we were craving something sweet to end off the night’s feasting and my cousin’s innocent suggestion of Nana’s and its matcha treats became something that was just too good to pass on. every time we discussed another dessert possibility in the car, the conversation would just be diverted back to Nana’s and that’s when we decided we had to make the drive to plaza singapura or it’d be on our minds for the next few days till we got to have it. (evidently, the love of food runs in my family ;))

located in the plaza singapura extension, Nana’s is a modern, open concept-type of cafe, surrounded by a few other japanese outlets like Hoshino Coffee, Tsukada Nojo (a place that serves collagen steamboat) etc. it is a popular chain in Japan with such a sizeable number of outlets that it is said to be the Starbucks of the land of sushi! however unlike Starbucks, the focus is not just on the drinks – Nana’s serves both proper food (by proper i mean typical japanese mains such as dons, udons & sushi rolls) and sweet treats like matcha drinks and a range of desserts.

we went all out with the matcha (what else would you do in a green tea cafe) and ordered a matcha latte, a matcha parfait and another matcha dessert to share. thank goodness the service was prompt and i didn’t have to wait in anticipation of matcha heaven for too long. the desserts appeared at our table looking almost identical to what was shown on the menu and i was so excited to dig in that i only have 1 picture (and its a picture of all the desserts together) from that night. sorry! here it is in all its green glory:

20130721_204748L to R: matcha latte ($7.00), matcha parfait ($11.80), matcha anmitsu ($8.80)

let’s start with the latte – it was thick and fragrant and the taste of the matcha was strong, but not overwhelmingly so. definitely one of the best matcha lattes i have had in singapore and beats Starbucks’ green tea offerings hands down in my opinion. i would come here on a rainy day for a warm matcha latte in a heartbeat! they have a range of other matcha drinks with toppings like mochi/red bean/ice cream – i imagine them all to be good especially when they seem to have a really good recipe for matcha-based drinks that are made using what appears to be good quality matcha stuff.

as for the matcha parfait, it was layers of yummy goodness. my favourite part about it was the cornflakes – despite being packed between dense layers of ice cream/red bean/cream/jelly/syrup, they retained their crispiness and added a very nice bite to the dessert. the mochis were also delightfully chewy, just as perfect mochis should be! the cup is huge and this dessert can definitely be shared.

the third item we ordered was the matcha anmitsu. the ingredients were largely very similar (minus the creamy milky layers in the parfait) to the parfait, except they were served in a bowl and drizzled with sauce (caramel, if i’m not wrong?). the azuki red bean paste was very smooth and satisfying, and the matcha ice cream was nice and creamy while the matcha jelly was yummy! but there was an addition of black beans which i could have done without. the black beans added saltiness to the dessert, probably an attempt at striking some kind of balance between sweet and savoury. it wasn’t bad at all; just a little odd in my opinion.

if i had to choose between the 2 desserts though (both are recommended in the menu), i would undoubtedly pick the parfait. there’s something very exciting about digging into a tall glass filled to the brim with layers of green tea goodness with a long spoon 😀 i’m already thinking of going back as i type this post!

we also ordered this drink (i can’t remember exactly what its called), and it was yummy since it came with mochis and a generous scoop of matcha ice cream!20130721_205241

for all matcha lovers out there, this is your mecca. for non-matcha lovers, this might just be the place that will make you jump on the bandwagon and convert you into someone who is greedy for green tea. i’m not sure how the main dishes at Nana’s are, but the desserts are certainly worth trying!

Nana’s Green Tea Cafe

68 Orchard Road
#03-80/82, Plaza Singapura

Oriole Cafe & Bar, Singapore

had been hearing pretty positive things about this place since it started gaining popularity in recent years but never got the chance to try it, so i was more than happy to have lunch here when my friend suggested it.

oriole cafe is a nice spot to rest your tired legs after indulging in retail therapy along orchard road. its at somerset, so if you start your shopping at far east plaza and make your way up along orchard road, i think somerset is around the point where a good cup of coffee or waffles for tea will be a welcome break!

we went on a wednesday afternoon and it was easy to get a table. the restaurant is rather spacious and i felt that the tables were nicely spaced out so its a really nice and comfortable setting for lengthy conversations over a meal. the huge glass panels and high ceilings also add to the relaxed vibe of the place!

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they serve breakfast till 5pm daily, but we decided to go for the lunch menu as there wasn’t anything that seemed out of the ordinary among their breakfast offerings – they have standard brunch fare like eggs benny, french toast etc. we weren’t particularly ravenous (i had a breakfast feast at tiong bahru market that morning hahaha) so we settled on the spicy calamari and the beef cheek tagliatelle to share! here is nikki looking excited that the food has arrived heh:20130710_131935

spicy calamari: it was recommended by the waiter as one of their most popular starters. the chilli was very much like belachan and i thought it added a nice twist to regular calamari, with its spiciness and tinge of sourness. the batter of the calamari was very well done – it was light, crispy, and neither too oily nor thick. we could tell that the oil used was fresh and i loved the fact that it was delightfully fluffy which gave it a really nice bite. i think i would have been happy eating just the batter without the squid within (though the squid within was nice and fresh too)! i would have preferred thicker and crunchier squid slices though, so that the taste of the squid didn’t get lost in the batter.
not sure if it shows in the picture but the serving was big! there were probably 15-20 calamari rings there and given that they were rather big pieces individually, its a wonder we didn’t start sprouting tentacles after eating it all hahaha.

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spicy calamari, $15

as for the beef cheek tagliatelle: we enjoyed this very much! the beef cheek pieces were very nicely braised in red wine (according to the menu, though i didn’t taste a hint of it!), making them deliciously tender. the mushrooms were also very yummy, and the tagliatelle had a nice bite to it (it was very much like western mee pok). nikki and i agreed that we’d gladly come back to have this tagliatelle again!
the serving was very generous once again; we shared this and were both very satisfied when we were finished with it. needless to say, the sauce in this dish is heavier than tomato-based sauce for example, and so given its consistency, i think i might have found it hard to finish if i had ordered this alone. its quite a thick stew-like sauce, but i didn’t find it overly heavy – i’d take this over a creamy carbonara-type sauce any day!

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beef cheek tagliatelle, $22

oriole cafe and bar is well-known for its coffees but since we didn’t order any with our meal we decided to go with a coffee-based dessert! and luckily we did, because the honey crumble affogato (vanilla ice cream, espresso and crunchy honeycomb bits) was  really really good. the giant scoop of vanilla ice cream was thick and creamy, the espresso was very good and everything came together to give us a very enjoyable end to our meal! i can imagine myself coming back to oriole to have this as a mid-afternoon snack/break from shopping 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhoney crumble affogato, $9.50

i hadn’t seen this girl in the flesh for 9 months and so you can imagine how much we had to catch up on… we spent a good 3.5 hours at oriole and never felt like we were overstaying our welcome at any point in time. the staff were polite and friendly and i think if we had continued sitting there for another hour, they wouldn’t have minded at all! given the size of the portions, i feel the food is reasonably priced, and definitely above average as far as cafe/bistro-style food goes. a good place for all-day dining options!20130710153040919reunited in completely unintentionally & unplanned colour-coordinated outfits heehee. still telepathic even after 9 months apart 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOriole Cafe & Bar

#01-01, Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
96 Somerset Road
Singapore 238163

Creamier, Singapore

checked this place out on a whim (had an ice cream craving that needed to be satisfied) and left feeling very pleased with myself and this hidden gem i had found heehee!

tucked away at the base of a sleepy block in toa payoh, Creamier is now top on my list of local ice cream shops, along with Daily Scoop (my other favourite). its nondescript location gives it a very laidback and homely vibe, and the staff are cheerful and friendly, perfect for the neighbourhood joint that it is. the decor is simple, but tasteful and quaint. i popped in on a friday night around 10pm, and it was packed! we waited about 10 minutes for a table; it is a pretty small shop, and many people ended up taking away their ice cream and having it at the tables at the playground which the shop faces.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAchecked out their website (http://creamier.com.sg/) before heading down and got all excited as there were many interesting flavours that caught my eye – figs honey, lemon blueberry yoghurt, lime mojito, raspberry rose, chocolate cinnamon orange etc! unfortunately, many of them weren’t available and i was a little disappointed as the ones that were seemed to be more run-of-the-mill flavours (like horlicks, green tea, dark chocolate) that were available either commercially or at other ice cream shops.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit was probably just the day i went down though… there are so many other flavours that they make and its the perfect excuse for me to return again and again (and again)!!! 😉 

i knew i was going to have to order the waffles once i stepped into the shop and 1) i was greeted by the amazing smell of freshly-made belgian waffles 2) i spotted many waffle + ice cream towers being brought to tables.
smelt heavenly, looked heavenly, and after trying it, i can safely say: TASTED HEAVENLY TOO. we went with what we thought were the 2 most interesting flavours that were available that day – earl grey lavender and sea salt gula melaka, and they sat proudly atop 2 extremely delicious freshly-made belgian waffles. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
waffles with a single scoop of ice cream costs $7.50, and each additional scoop costs $2.50.

earl grey and lavender turned out to be a really light and refreshing combination. i loved how they really complemented each other, yet remained somewhat distinct such that you could taste the 2 components individually.
as for the sea salt gula melaka, it was the perfect mix of sweet and savoury, much like the more common sea salt caramel but with a local twist.
both flavours had not a hint of iciness, and compared to what i’ve had at some other locally-run homemade ice cream shops (i find that island creamery ice cream can sometimes be a little icy, especially their take-home tubs), they truly lived up to their name – creamier.

now on to the waffles – they were some of the best waffles i’ve ever had in an ice cream shop. #truestory. they were hearty and served fresh out of the waffle maker, warm, crisp and dark brown on the outside but soft and fluffy inside, surrounded by a generous serving of maple syrup and chocolate sauce. so good that finishing the serving (they come in pairs) was a breeze 😛

we enjoyed the waffles so much that the 2 of us decided to get an additional scoop of ice cream to round off our impromptu ice cream date. we had a single scoop of horlicks choc chip in a cone:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
a single scoop of ice cream is $3.

the taste of the horlicks was rather light and the ice cream was thus not too sweet. the chocolate chips were also very well-mixed in quite a generous quantity such that nearly every bite contained a few choc chip bits, which i liked.

creamier is a funky little neighbourhood hangout that i am definitely going to return to. they also serve coffee besides ice cream, and i’m looking forward to heading down one afternoon to try it! 

if you are worried about not being able to find the shop on foot since its quite a distance away (about a 12 minute walk) from the more bustling toa payoh central, fear not! i believe there are buses you can take from the central. otherwise, creamier is within walking distance from both caldecott and braddell mrt stations. the trek is worth it! and if you drive, you have even more reason to come since parking is plentiful.
the shop isn’t hard to find at all once you get to the right block, especially if you go at night. most of the shops are closed by then, and so the warm yellow lighting that spills out from the glass windows fronting the shop and customers milling around outside and at the playground it faces are hard to miss! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Creamier handcrafted ice cream & coffee
Blk 128 Toa Payoh Lorong 1
#01-835
Singapore 310128

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 .

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 😉

Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant, Singapore

(a long overdue post that i started writing during easter break but only got round to finishing after exams :/)

killing many birds with one stone is key with every meal given the limited time i have back home over easter. this time, the birds i had in mind were roti prata and butter chicken and this search took me to al-azhar, the stone of the day, which if i may say, rocked 😉 wahahahaha.

al-azhar is located along the stretch of eating houses in upper bukit timah, opposite beauty world and the whole series of similar-looking malls which i remember as the go-to places for huan zhu ge ge collector’s cards when my sister and i were little:i202415487_86414_3
LOL.

okay, enough random digression, back to the food. (but i have to say, that picture of the hzgg cast really cracks me up and i’m sure it brings back memories for all of us who grew up watching it in primary school at 7pm as we ate our dinner. ah, those were the days~)

that upper bukit timah stretch (aka 7 mile) is known to have a few 24 hour eating places serving up a whole range of supper foods, and 2 joints – al-ameen and al-azhar (the one i went to)- are particularly well-known for their roti prata, roti john, mee goreng, murtabak etc offerings; basically everything greasy, good and guilt-inducing when eaten at 3am in the wee hours of the morning.

headed there on a friday night, and walked past al-ameen while making our way to al-azhar. i had always thought the 2 were pretty similar in standard but realised i was wrong after checking out other online reviews – seems like al-azhar is the more popular one while al-ameen had a noticeably thinner crowd and smaller shop space.

the menu at al-azhar is probably one of the most extensive ones you will ever find in singapore, ranging from thai food to prata to fried ice cream to red velvet cupcakes (yes i’m completely serious; we were thoroughly amused)?!

we had butter chicken, prata, roti john and murtabak!

I LOVEEE BUTTER CHICKEN. LOVE IT. could eat it all day every day, and so i was extremely pleased when the butter chicken here turned out to be some really good stuff. even my friend whose mum makes a mean butter chicken agreed!!! it was tasty and extremely satisfying – the gravy was of just the right creaminess and consistency and the chicken pieces were tender. i was eating spoonfuls of the gravy after i ran out of stuff to have the remaining gravy with!!!

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the cheese & mushroom prata was not bad. it was fluffy, not too greasy, and was of a good size. comparable to the one at prata house along upper thomson road, i would say!20130412_204019

my friends had the mutton murtabak and chicken & cheese roti john, which they were both happy with as well! the servings are pretty big and really fill you up (even for ravenous, growing boys):20130412_20395020130412_203958

for dessert, we shared a chocolate tissue prata (though we were tempted to try the red velvet cupcakes just to see how they tasted HAHA) and it was good stuff!!! thin and crispy – perfectly done tissue prata with a good dose of chocolate and sugar heehee.20130412_214657
we attacked it very happily and it was gone in no time, but not before taking a picture with it as a prata party hat first 😉
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so unhealthy, but so good. really reasonably priced too! will definitely come back here to satisfy random midnight cravings in future. and for the butter chicken! shall try it with the naan next time – i hear the naan is good, and it did look good! i was eyeing the naan that the people at the next table ordered throughout dinner 😛

oh yes, and we had drinks:
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this is really belated since i only just got round to completing this post (an entire month late) but to deep and curlz: thanks for taking me out that night and saving me from drowning in case law, guys 🙂 will see you again for more exciting times really soon!!! 🙂2013041222110956020130412221417112
bahahahahaahahahhahah.

good 24h supper spot discovered!!! (y)

Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant
11 Cheong Chin Nam Rd
Singapore 59973620130412_22113220130412_220900

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

Binging in Brighton

had a wonderful time on a day trip out to brighton last weekend! what seemed like a potentially disappointing trip when we left early in the morning (i actually wore WELLIES to brighton; was defeated by the rain D:) turned out to be a great day away from the hustle and bustle of london!!! not just because of the great sights and great company, but also the great FOOD (glorious food).

tripadvisor was helpful as usual with plenty of highly-ranked suggestions, and we settled for this quaint cafe run by a mother & daughter pair just down the road from the train station for lunch. ella’s yummy delights seemed really popular with the locals – there was a steady stream of customers during the entire two hours we spent in the shop, and we even struck up conversation with some of the regulars and the lady behind the counter; everyone was so friendly and there was a such a homely and cosy atmosphere in the little shop! we started with 2 soups – tomato soup and leek soup, and 2 toasties – bacon, brie and cranberry & ham, cheese and onion. All were super yummy.20130316115914633

its hard to take a picture of a toastie that makes it look exceptional, but trust me, my bacon + brie + cranberry one was SUPER DELICIOUS. They were generous with the fillings and the brie was perfectly melted all over the bacon, which was perfectly cooked. A generous dose of cranberry and granary bread to go with it all made it one of the best toasties I’ve ever had!!! Yummmmm – so simple yet so good!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA20130316_120130janus had a ham + cheese + onion toastie, and he found it equally good, saying there was something about “Brighton bread” LOL – don’t ask me what he meant; he got his toastie with what seemed to be normal white sandwich bread.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe soups were good as well – big bowls of hearty, warm, homemade goodness. Lou ordered a tomato soup (see picture above) while Janus went with the leek soup. I thought the leek soup was rather special – it was thick and almost stew-like in consistency, chock full of pieces of leek (cooked till it didn’t have that distinct onion-ish/some might even say pungent flavour) and meat. Homemade and a generous portion as well!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA they both felt that the soups became slightly heavy after awhile though, and a little too salty too! I think “gelat” would be the right word for it – for the uninformed, its malay slang that means something is over cloying.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAi ordered my standard chai latte to go with our meal and i loved how it was thick, frothy and creamy, though a tad too sweet for my liking. I felt it could have done with a bit more spice!

ATTACKED THE DESSERTS NEXT!!!
check out lou & janus excitedly peering into the cake display. we took ages to decide what we wanted and it didn’t help that a regular customer told us EVERYTHING was good and she’d tried them all before haha! she also mentioned that she’d once been to ella’s thrice in a day – that’s how much she liked the place.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAafter some serious deliberation, we finally settled for a cappuccino cake, a moo-moo cake and a spotty!
excited faces (aka a nicer way of saying “the face of pigs”):903622_10151364506138652_249460852_o

the slices were huge and more than enough for the 3 of us to satisfy our craving for something sweet:
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THE SPOTTY: chocolate & vanilla crumble with strawberries
our favourite of the day! it was dense and moist and the layer of crumble on the top was exactly how a crumble should be! it had just the right amount of bite and a really nice texture that made it melt in our mouths along with the icing sugar on top – YUMZ! the vanilla, chocolate & berries combined seamlessly and every bite was delicious (Y)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThick with many layers of coffee goodness and some kind of cream cheese-ish frosting. It was something like a tiramisu but less moist, firmer, and with more cream cheese and sponge! The cream cheese layer was really yummy and we thoroughly enjoyed it but found it a little heavy after a while. As you can see from the pic, it was a giant slice that seemed to be leaning backwards from its sheer weight hahahaha!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think this was our least favourite of the 3 – not that it was bad, but that it was nothing exceptional (i guess sponge cake can never really be particularly unique?)! The sponge was good – moist and of just the right density.

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our overall take on the cakes was that they weren’t mindblowingly amazing, but they were delicious homemade treats; the kind of cake that was wholesome and hearty and perfect for comfort food 🙂

and most importantly, everything was really reasonably priced! The total bill for our 3 huge slices of cakes, 2 coffees, 2 toasties & 2 soups came up to  just around £20 – what we thought was a great deal for the portion size, service and quality of food served.

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Ella’s Yummy Delights

51 Queen’s Rd  Brighton and Hove, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 3XB, United Kingdom
+44 7540 892697
after ella’s, we explored north laine,
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and saw so many other quaint cafes that we wanted to try but unfortunately had no stomach room for! what we couldn’t resist though, was making a froyo stop at Lick.
the bright and attractive colours of the store drew us inside (along with the declaration in their window that they were the “first frozen yoghurt shop in Brighton”) and we were not disappointed!
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we got a cup of their special flavour of the day to share – elderflower. IT WAS AMAZING. none of us had tried elderflower frozen yoghurt before and it was really refreshing, light, and natural-tasting, and the elderflower flavour was subtle yet unmistakeable! it was more towards the creamy end of the frozen yoghurt spectrum, and the granola toppings were yummy as well. can’t say it was better than my all-time favourite pinkberry, though it doesn’t come in too far behind 😉
will definitely make a trip back here next time i’m in brighton!!!
Lick

19 Gardner Street
Brighton, Sussex BN1 1UP, United Kingdom
01273 945102

finally, we ate at a casual seafood restaurant called Melrose for dinner. it was highly recommended on trip advisor and was just a short walk from the pier so we decided to give it a try! the restaurant was not very crowded when we first arrived, but soon filled up as it got later, with a noticeably local clientele (always a good sign?). the restaurant was run by a couple and they were friendly and ever-willing to give us recommendations.
we settled on a pot of mussels, a fish (haddock) and chips, and a grilled fish platter to share.

grilled fish platter:
it came with salmon, cod, halibut, calamari and scampi. they were all lightly seasoned which was great because it allowed us to taste and appreciate the freshness of the seafood without it being overpowered by any heavy or strong-tasting sauce. the fish was very fresh and the calamari & scampi were well-fried (I particularly enjoyed the scampi – but then again, my standards are probably exceedingly low given the kind of scampi they serve in hall hahaha). i wouldn’t RAVE about the dish though.
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fried fillet of haddock with chips:

thought this was rather yummy. the haddock was really fresh and coated in just the right amount of batter so that it really complemented the fish. we could tell that the oil used was fresh, and the fish had none of the “fishy” smell you sometimes get from buying cheap fish & chips from random street stalls.20130316_184338

we also had mussels in white wine and garlic sauce (which you unfortunately cannot see very well in this picture because the sauce was at the bottom) and it was delicious!!! my favourite dish of dinner i think! the mussels were plump and juicy and the sauce was seriously yummy; i was drinking it off a spoon when we ran out of bread (oh, the bread was good – it had some kind of cheese on top of it I think?)!!!
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all in all, i wouldn’t RAVE about melrose but i do think it is a good option for reasonably priced fresh seafood, and i would say the local clientele says something about the standard of the food in the restaurant. not a bad choice for a seafood meal! they also have a dessert cart with homemade puddings & cakes on it for you to choose should you be interested, which i thought was a nice, homely touch.

Melrose Restaurant

132 King’s Rd  City Centre, Brighton BN1 2HH, United Kingdom
+44 1273 326520

shall end off this post leaving you with this picture:
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heeheehee.
am already looking forward to the next time I visit brighton – so many more food places to explore and try out!!! 🙂
– rach

Med-EAT-erranean Delight

Ok, so I was in the sunny Mediterranean city of Barcelona over the past week. Since this is a food blog, I shan’t to bore you with details of how the providential confluence of 7 completely accidental events culminated in me fortuitously getting tickets to the epic, once-in-a-lifetime football match between FC Barcelona and AC Milan. Before going on, however, it’d be prudent to make a disclaimer: this post would probably end up like my hair – not a mess (as Rach would say) but lengthy.

100 Montaditos

I was recommended this place by the backpacker’s hostel where I was putting up. Apparently it is a restaurant chain well-known for its affordability. Let’s see, I thought to myself. Hang on. Actually I couldn’t see it. Initially, at least. Its location at the corner of some poorly-lit intersection, especially with no proper signboard, was inconspicuous to say the least. Thankfully my eyesight was as sharp as my wit, otherwise we wouldn’t be having a post on montaditos – traditional Spanish toppings on a piece of bread/baguette.ImageThe list of different dishes on menu was both expansive and inexpensive. Most of the montaditos were priced at €1 per piece. I ordered 3 sandwiches: (1) Serranito shoulder of Iberian cured ham, loin of pork with garlic and green pepper; (2) Potato omelettes and Iberian spicy sausage on ciabatta and (3) Duck mousse. The first thing I realised was that the sandwiches were rather petite; I reckon the time taken to pronounce some of the sandwich names is longer than the time you’d take to eat it.Image My favourite was the cured ham with loin of pork sandwich. The ham was salty enough whilst the pork loin was tender and added to the mix a different kind of savoury taste that stood out despite the relative saltiness of the ham. The bread was really well baked, crunchy outside but not too hard and very fragrant. Image The other 2 sandwiches were decent but nothing special. The potato omelette was a novelty to me and I liked how it tasted – basically it was an omelette with the powdery texture of potatoes. Somehow, though, the fact that there was spicy sausage was lost on me – the sausage was neither shaped like one nor was it spicy. Image The texture of the duck mousse sandwich was very smooth, almost akin to eating foie gras. However, with the kind of aftertaste that plagues most mediocre duck dishes, it proved a bit of a dampener to my initial excitement. ImageThe food was decent, with some sandwiches clearly superior to others. For its value, however, at €1 a dish, I consider it a steal. Add in the fact that a huge serving of crisps and mug of beer are also priced at €1 each, it’s a nice place to hang out till late or for supper. Also, I’d recommend it to peeps keen on tasting of a variety of toppings. Additionally, I would point out that the restaurant was impressively packed, even at 1045pm, as I entered; interestingly, majority of the patrons appeared to be locals.Image Compare it to an eatery across the street and the crowd appears even more remarkable.Image Yet considering how affordably priced the menu is, I couldn’t help but wonder if the fact that the restaurant was packed with locals spoke more about the authenticity of the food or the state of the Spanish economy.

100 Montaditos
Plaça Urquinaona,1
8010 Barcelona, Spain

La Boqueria

The next morning i went to the famous Boqueria Market. Joining me was a new friend I made on the trip – Englishman, Paul. The market was really crowded and it had an aura of freshness that we somehow don’t get anywhere here in London. The market had everything you’d fathom in a market. It had a fresh food section which was further divided into wet and dry areas, as well as a cooked food area. The selection of food there was amazing. The seafood smelt especially fresh, having probably been that very day’s catch. It sorta reminded me of home when I used to accompany my mum to the wet market every Saturday morning, maybe back when I was in kindergarten.Image Other things that caught my eye were the huge full legs of ham, or what the Spanish call Jamón. They were huge and came in different colours.Image After that we made our way to the cooked food section where there was tapas, pizza, sandwiches and what not. The agony of choice is not one that I deal with easily so out of everything on show, I settled for a simple piece of burchetta. The burchetta here was really delicious. There are many restaurants in the UK that serve burchettas as a starter for meals and, of all that I have tried so far, I would go as far to say that the one at Boqueria was not just a class above but several semesters. The tomatoes were juicy and grilled to perfection, while the topping of cheese was liberal in quantity and melted in my mouth. In fact the pieces of cheese were so thick that I initially thought they were pieces of calamari. Perhaps after just one night in Barcelona my eyesight had degenerated. The bread, complemented by an optimal dosage of fragrant olive oil, was wonderful as well – characteristic of the bread I’d been having in Barcelona thus far.Image One last thing about the market: despite the colossal amount of fresh produce on display in the open, flies were few and far between – impressive. I would recommend La Boqueria to anyone visiting Barcelona. That locals also go there for their grocery shopping and meals probably bear greatest testament to the quality of the food available.IMG_0656ImageMercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
Rambla, 91,
08002 Barcelona, Spain

Senyor Parellada

Next up Paul and I decided to go in search for authentic paella – since that was the dish that people had recommended coming to Barcelona for most frequently. A few enquiries around and we were led to Senyor Parellada, a restaurant on the ground floor of what looked like a boutique hotel. One glance into the restaurant and we were apprehensive about stepping in. It looked so chic and had an aura of EXPENSIVE about it. However, we decided that if we were to try the highly recommended paella, we should have it at a highly recommended restaurant.Image Our gut feeling was right. The paella costs €14.95, before tax and service – not cheap at all. Hence we decided that – just to taste it – we’d order one serving to share. The waitress taking our order appeared unable to comprehend our order of just ONE paella for both of us. We felt like black sheep in the restaurant, especially as hordes of well-dressed professionals and business-people sauntered in, ordering multiple main courses and more. We were clearly the third estate in a customer base of aristocrats inside the restaurant. Service included a pack of black olives and bread. But the main attraction had to be the paella. The rice had a brownish tone, unlike the yellow kinds you find at your regular farmer’s market in England. Also it was much wetter than the regular ones you’d find around and did not look exactly elegantly prepared. Its taste, however, was divine.IMG_0724 The seafood was as fresh as you’d expect and the selection of meat vast, including loin meat and sausages. The meat was cooked to perfection and every bite was juicy. The French beans in the mix contributed to the dynamic combination of ingredients as well. Also, the rice grains were so fat and flavourful – absolutely Chuck Norris-ing the rice we had at Jin Kichi last week.IMG_0722 The base stock was also very fragrant, to the extent that we resorted to dipping our bread into the residual sauce/stock; that was nice, at least until the waitress came and cleared our paella pan. With the amount of paella sauce left, it felt like at least €2 cleared off our table. In general, the ambience was pleasant, and despite having our only dish over-zealously cleared, we did not feel rushed or under pressure to order more. Looking again at the menu, I came to realise why the paella served here was different to our prior conceptions of it – this restaurant professes to serve traditional Catalan food and what we were served was paella in Catalan-style. No wonder it looked and tasted different from the kinds we see everywhere else. If you want to experience a uniquely Catalan palette I would recommend this place to you. However I also imagine that there are other restaurants out there that also serve great-tasting – though not necessarily Catalonian – paellas with equally generous servings of meat and seafood, all for less than the price we paid at Seynor Parellada.IMG_0727Image Seynor Parellada
Carrer de L’ Argenteria, 37,
08003 Barcelona, Spain

La Rita

The last culinary stop of this post is called La Rita. My friend from Singapore, Jon, who’s living it up in Barcelona for the month, recommended this place for its €9.95, 3 course set lunch. On top of 3 courses, the set also came with 0.25l of red/white wine or a bottle of still water. It appeared like great value, and I was hoping the food was as appetising as the deal sounded. Hence Jon, Alejandro – an Argentinian and another new pal made on this trip – and I trudged down to this restaurant, just off Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona’s Champs-Élysées. We were fortunate we had Ale there with us as the menu was worded in only Catalan and Spanish. For starters we all ordered the lasagne.image (4) It was delightful. The layer of pasta was thin and light whilst the amount of cheese was judicious. What made the lasagne so special was that it didn’t just contain mince beef but boiled spinach as well. The meat was minced so finely that it was as thought the chef had done the chewing for you. I guess if you prefer chewing the meat yourself and experiencing the tactile joy of the meat being gnashed between your teeth then you will not appreciate the finesse of the mince. However, the meat was seasoned really well and went excellently with the spinach. Lastly, there was also – to my surprise – lots of cream on the lasagne. It was light and helped the different flavours of the ingredients complement each other very nicely. Indeed, more light cream and less cheese than usual made this lasagne extremely palatable and not overly salty.image (5) For our mains, Ale and I ordered the pork chop whilst Jon ordered the fish with tomato and potato. I tried a bit of Jon’s fish and found it really fresh and liked the way the fish was grilled very lightly. The flesh was firm yet juicy at the same time: a result that – I am told – is particularly difficult to achieve with fish.image (6) The pork chop was really well seasoned. The first bites of the edges were tender and succulent; I thought to myself – this could very well be eaten plain, without any seasoning. However, as I got to the middle portion of the pork it became less moist and that made me add some salt to the meat in an attempt to ‘expand’ and ‘bring out’ its flavour. The veggies served with the meat were well cooked – the brinjal particularly. It had a nice soft bite to it and the subtly grilled outer layer augmented the natural taste of the brinjal; at no point could I taste the powdery aftertaste you get with poorly cooked brinjal.image (7) For desert we all had the walnut cake with chocolate sauce. The walnut cake was above average. What I liked about it was the decently sized nuts in it which you could actually crunch on – typically giving the feeling that you’re getting your money’s worth. The highlight of the dessert, however, was the chocolate sauce. It was delightfully rich in taste yet extremely bouyant in texture. It was like the walnut cake equivalent of a sunny day with clear blue skies complimented by nice cool, light gusts of wind.image (10) I guess this sweet-tooth nirvana – with regards to the chocolate sauce – explains why I polished off every drop I could.image (11) The restaurant has a nice ambience to it and service was attentive, especially considering that most tables were occupied during lunch hour. This particular day’s menu was fulfilling. However, it could have been a case of us having been lucky on the day as the menu changes every day of the week. Despite a few issues with the pork chop, and considering that it was only €9.95 nett for the selection available, I doubt one can realistically complain; to do so would be NICpicking. Indeed I would say that this meal was possibly the best during my time in the Catalan capital.image (13)image (3)image (12)La Rita

Carrer d’Aragó, 279
08009 Barcelona, Spain

The food on this trip was delightful. Perhaps my only regret was that I didn’t manage to try as many seafood-specific dishes as I would have liked. On the flight back I was thinking of a word to sum up my trip. I thought to myself: if aw-FUL is bad and aw-SOME is good, to continue the pattern, this trip to Barcelona definitely had to be aw-EMPTY.

Nonetheless, now that I’m back in London, and hopelessly resigned to hall food on a daily basis, there certainly is an emptiness inside me – and it resides not just in my stomach. Barcelona is a delightful city with delicious food and I will definitely return one day to quell this emptiness. In the meantime, however, I guess I’ll go back to the incessant verbal diarrhoea people know me for; after all, empty vessels make the most noise.

-Nic