Artichoke, Singapore

located in sculpture square (a place i think not many people even know exists), artichoke is like an oasis of calm amidst the usually bustling bugis area. my friend and i had a great time there when we met for brunch on a saturday morning – we ended up staying for 3 whole hours having great conversation over amazing food in a nice setting.

we knew how popular artichoke is, especially on weekends, so we made a reservation and managed to get a lovely raised table meant for 4, by a big window that looked out into the artichoke courtyard. yay!Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

the cafe exudes a laidback yet sophisticated vibe; it is casual but not sloppy and spacious but still cosy. it is also bright and airy, and i love how the tables are well spread-out so that it doesn’t get too noisy and you don’t have to worry about other diners hearing your entire conversation.20131221_11305920131221_113150

they serve dinner tuesday-saturday, and brunch on saturdays and sundays. here’s the brunch menu for the saturday we visited (i heard it changes):
20131221_113329i was really excited by the menu – everything was different from the usual brunch fare available elsewhere, and had nice middle eastern/turkish/arabic touches to them. artichoke prides itself on serving moorish cuisine. not quite sure myself what exactly moorish cuisine entails, but that might be because that is exactly what it is – a cuisine that comes from a huge variety of sources and has all kinds of influences (african/spanish/middle eastern etc), with no true definition that encompasses everything under it.

we opted for the scrambled eggs and mushrooms and the lamb shakshouka, and boy am i glad we did, because they were both amazing.

first, the scrambled eggs:
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scrambled eggs and mushrooms: local farm mushrooms/grilled halloumi cheese/za’atar toast – $22

this was super yummy! being an egg and mushroom lover, this was heaven on a plate. the mushrooms were fresh and juicy, and were cooked to finger-lickin’ perfection 😉 love how they’re local farm mushrooms too! nothing gourmet or fancy, but tasted just as delicious. as for the scrambled eggs, they were also pretty much perfect – not too wet nor dry, wonderfully creamy but not mushy at all! the eggs & mushrooms were topped with some fresh greens and these unidentifiable crispy bits (still don’t really know what they are) that were glazed in something (couldn’t really place what the glaze was either… oh dear) that were extremely delicious and added texture to the dish. the za’atar toast was also delicious, making for a super satisfying plate of goodness. our only (tiny) complaint was that we found the grilled halloumi a tad too salty. but other than that, it was grilled well and yummy like everything else! not sure if you can see in the picture because of the lack of scale, but the serving was pretty big! definitely filling, yet light.

instead of the mushrooms, an alternative is to have to have the scrambled eggs with “thick cut maple bacon chop”. when they say thick, they really do mean thick – the slice slab of bacon was about half an inch to an inch thick, and we spotted it glistening away in all its smoked glory at many tables. looked incredibly delicious but also very very sinful. best to eat in moderation! hahaha.

20131221_121628lamb shakshouka: stewed eggs/tomato sauce/roast lamb/cheese/pistachio dukka/toast – $26

i was really impressed with this. it was a pan full of bold flavours and hearty goodness. it was something like baked eggs, but even better. a giant serving of tomatoes, two runny eggs (hidden somewhere in there), amazing braised lamb shanks, cheese, topped with dukka, pistachios and some yoghurt – my idea of moorish food heaven! it was very filling, but so delicious that i just couldn’t bear to not finish it! though it sounds like a huge mess of flavours and things piled together in a pan, i must say it was a pretty organised/beautiful one 😛 the flavours and different components combined wonderfully and the lamb (which they were very generous with) was braised to perfection – it was moist, tender and extremely tasty, with none of the “smell” that people sometimes complain of when eating lamb. dunking the toast in all this was really, one of the best things ever.

case in point:Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetdespite the slightly heftier price tag, i would highly recommend this to anyone dining at artichoke! the serving is big and its definitely something different from the typical brunch fare of eggs benny etc, and in my opinion, in a really good way. its pretty heavy and and can get jelat though, so best to share this and some other lighter dishes with your dining companions if you want a greater range of things to eat.

given the big servings for the mains, we were stuffed by the time we were done with our mains, but were so pleased with the food that we decided we just could not pass on dessert. besides the desserts on the menu, they have a little bakery next door that sells an impressive range of tarts/muffins/baklava (traditional middle eastern/turkish dessert) etc where you can order some sweet treats to be eaten at artichoke:
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the tarts and their really interesting flavours were highly enticing, but we eventually decided on the sticky date pudding from artichoke. once again, no regrets at all because it was very very delicious! check it out:
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date pudding: burnt milk custard, coffee jelly, peanut caramel, smoked salt – $14

it appeared at our table completely different from what we expected, and looked good enough to warrant some oohs and aahs from us and envious glances from neighbouring tables. serving was like everything else big, and the pudding itself was sitting in this deep dish of burnt milk sauce, which to me sounded very interesting but to others might sound odd, i realise. if you belong to the latter category, do not let that deter you from ordering this, because trust me, it came highly recommended and with good reason! the date pudding was not cloyingly sweet like many sticky date puddings tend to be. neither was it very sticky actually! but it was moist and dense and was heavenly when eaten with the sauce surrounding it, the coffee jelly and the caramelised peanuts that topped it. the salt also added a very nice salted caramel-ish twist to the dessert. its priced rather steeply but the serving is definitely huge enough for sharing. so very satisfying! need to try the turkish apple crumble next! and some overdoughs delights.

as you can tell from my pretty much rave review of artichoke, i thoroughly enjoyed it and will be back for more. i loved the ambience, the food, and the service (they give each dinner a pack of sour gummies as you leave the cafe – a nice little touch and really helps in cleansing the palette after all that delicious food!). it was quite pricey but i thought it was nevertheless pretty worth the money. be sure to make a reservation on weekends or you might have to queue or be relegated to an outside seat (which is fine on a breezy day, but rather unoptimal on a sweltering one). i think they allow dogs in the courtyard too! saw some people dining with their furry friends so that’s something worth noting for dog owners out there.

i’d like to return for dinner one day, to see what they have to offer! they do communal dining for dinner, and i’m sure the great food and excited passing around of large sharing plates will make for a lovely experience 🙂

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outside seating area

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my habibi & i 😉

Artichoke Cafe & Bar

161 Middle Road, Sculpture Square
Singapore 188978 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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Flesh and Buns, London

i’d been wanting to try flesh & buns since i heard that it was owned by the same people behind one of my favourite bowls of ramen in london at bone daddies. the thought of roasting your own green tea s’mores was also too good to resist, so it was flesh & buns that we headed to to celebrate one of my housemate’s birthdays!

occupying a pretty large space in the basement of a building at seven dials, it is an izakaya restaurant (drinks accompanied by food) that made its debut quite recently in the london dining scene. decor is simple and modern, with large tables that make it a good venue to meet up with larger groups of friends. it was rather quiet when we visited on a sunday night:
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its a really dimly lit place so unfortunately the photos aren’t going to be great because all i was armed with was my s3 camera 😦

as their name suggests, they pride themselves on their handmade buns, which are to be eaten with their mains. their buns are basically kong bak pau buns (for those who have absolutely no idea what i am going on about, kong bak pau are chinese braised pork “burgers”) – delicious steamed buns that are eaten with different fillings:
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the menu seemed to be going in the direction of fusion, with a mix of interesting asian and western dishes. they do things tapas-style, the idea being for you to order a number of dishes that the whole dining party can sample.
here’s the menu:20131208_203234

the first dish to arrive at our table was the beef tataki:
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beef tataki with onion ponzu & enoki mushrooms – £10.50
this was probably my favourite starter of the night. the sauce was delicious and the beef was fresh and sliced to just the right thickness – not as thin as beef carpaccio but not thick to the point of chewiness. neither was it stringy, which is another huge plus point! eaten with the condiments that topped it, it was a really yummy burst of flavours in the mouth.

the second appetiser we had was the fried squid aka calamari:
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fried squid with japanese pepper and lime – £8
there was nothing very outstanding about this starter, in my opinion. we really wanted to try the grilled beef skewers (with kimchi & yoghurt) but they had run out by the time we placed our orders 😦 it was good calamari and the batter was light and tasty, but nothing exceptional at all.

we also ordered the eel cucumber roll and the softshell crab roll:
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eel cucumber roll (grilled eel, sweet soy) – £10/ softshell crab roll (jalapeno mayo, chives) – £9
we all thought the rolls were rather pricey for the serving size (5 pieces each?!). they weren’t anything to shout about; i think you can easily get better rolls elsewhere. the jalapeno mayo was an interesting addition i suppose, but again it can be recreated pretty easily at other joints, i feel.

the last starter we ordered was the grilled corn:
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grilled corn with lime spice butter – £4
i loved this starter, especially because i adore corn!!! the corn was grilled to perfection and slathered in butter, naturally sweet but yet made even yummier by the extremely tasty butter. i. love. corn.

now on to the mains, which definitely impressed me more than the appetisers (thankfully!). we ordered 4 to share among the 6 of us.
first up, the crispy piglet belly:20131208_210208
crispy piglet belly with mustard miso & pickled apple – £14.50
the crispy piglet belly was basically like chinese roast pork. but it was a pretty good rendition of it! the meat was tender and juicy, and the skin was thin and crispy. the layer of fat wasn’t too thick and it wasn’t too oily too! it went well with the mustard miso, and we all really enjoyed the amazingly thin slices of pickled apple that were a very refreshing twist to the meat!

we also had the crispy duck leg:
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crispy duck leg with sour plum soy and beetroot pickles – £13.50
the duck was also really enjoyed by all of us – it was like duck confit with a slight asian twist. the skin had that yummy melt-in-your-mouth texture, while the meat within was moist and tasty! if i return, i would probably order this if i’m looking for a meat to go with the steamed buns.

our third choice of main was fish; we got the grilled sea bass:
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grilled sea bass with coriander miso and kimchi pickle – £16.50
i remember this to be very yummy, probably something i’d order if i return! the fish was extremely fresh and grilled to perfection. the skin was crispy and coated in just the right amount of coriander miso, while the meat was firm, moist and naturally sweet. our only gripe was the small serving, given the price we were paying.

the above 3 mains are meant to be eaten with the steamed buns or vegetables (which come together with the buns):
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i thought it was good that they had lettuce and other vegetables to eat with the mains – too many buns would fill you up really quickly, and veggies are always a healthier and lighter accompaniment.

finally, we went for the spicy beef hot stone rice aka flesh & bun’s take on bibimbap:
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spicy beef hot stone rice with mushrooms and sesame butter – £8.50
i think this was probably the most reasonably priced out of all the mains we ordered – the serving was definitely the biggest of everything we had ordered! i really enjoyed this dish and how the many ingredients and sauces added culminated in a big bowl of goodness. i felt that there was something different about it when compared to what you get in regular korean restaurants, but couldn’t quite place it. it was really tasty and the veggies added were fresh and retained their crunch. this dish had me scraping at the burnt bits at the bottom of the pot when we were done (not the healthiest thing to do, i know).

and finally, definitely last but not least, we had our dessert – one of our main motives for going to flesh & buns. out of the 4 we ordered though, i felt that only 2 were worth the hype and out of those 2, only one was something i’d return for.
the dessert menu:
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first, we had the bone daddies sundae:
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bone daddies sundae: matcha ice cream, blueberries, jelly, honeycomb, cream – £7
i felt there was too much going on with this sundae – it was nice and exciting to have a huge range of toppings added to the sundae, but the (major) downside is that i thought the matcha taste of the ice cream was almost completely masked. there was also something in it that we could not identify, but that made the whole thing kinda sour..? i’d probably give this a miss if i visit again.

we also had the yuzu meringue pie:
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yuzu meringue pie with raspberry yuzu sorbet – £7
this was very refreshing! the combination of yuzu and raspberry made for a very tart but yet not too sour dessert, and was a good break from the sweetness of all our other dessert choices. i thought the yuzu pie was delicious, as was the raspberry sorbet. i’m not really a fan of meringue so can’t say much about it! if you’re into sour things, this is definitely for you!

we also had what flesh & buns has become pretty famous for (how could we not) – the green tea s’mores!
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s’mores: marshmallows, biscuits, green tea chocolate – £8
we were beyond excited when the charcoal stove was brought to our table for us to roast the s’mores. there was definitely a major novelty factor there – the idea of DIY roasting not just regular s’mores, but green tea s’mores at your table. it was a really fun experience (though the marshmallows ended up being kinda burnt), but i wouldn’t rave abut the taste. we all agreed that the green tea chocolate was pretty lightly flavoured, but teamed with the biscuits and melty marshmallows, still made for something rather satisfying. given that we were only given 2 s’mores though, i would again say this isn’t really value-for-money though it might be worth paying for the fun experience.
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birthday girl with the completed s’more

and finally, on to my favourite dessert and quite possibly my favourite dish of the night:
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kinako donuts with black sugar custard – £8
these. were. amazing. DELICIOUS. amazing. they were like giant sugar-coated exploding donuts. pictures to illustrate my point:
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just look at that!!! the outside of the donuts were as good as the inside – they were light and fluffy, of just the right thickness to hold the amazing oozy custard, and coated in sugar. so sinful but so good, especially because they were served warm. the black sugar custard actually tasted quite like normal custard, but it was extremely smooth and creamy and not too sweet at all! if there’s only one dessert you have space for after dinner, its these amazing balls of goodness that you must go for!!!

all in all, we had a pretty good experience at flesh & buns but i’m not sure how soon i’ll be returning just because i thought it was rather pricey (though looking at the pictures of the donuts again, i now realise that they are indeed quite hard to resist :P)! some of their dishes are rather novel though, so i suppose its worth trying at  least once. they also have a lunch set-type thing, which seems quite reasonable!
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Flesh and Buns

41 Earlham St
London WC2H 9LXProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIMG_20131209_101906
night out with my chicas bonitas aka best housemates ever 😉 ❤

F.A.T by Freddie, London

a while ago, a friend sent me a facebook message: “You’re a foodie right? www.hot-dinners.com/Gastroblog/Latest-news/f-a-t-by-freddie-brings-gourmet-sandwiches-and-ice-cream-to-fitzrovia“. thank goodness for it and major props to him for chancing upon the online article, because it led me to this lovely little gem of a pop-up sandwich, pickles and ice-cream store just off charlotte street!

F.A.T shares a shop space with a hairdresser (sharps) and a coffee shop (Dunne Frankowski), and has a menu of gourmet sandwiches and desserts available at lunchtime that changes once in a while.
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coffee at the first counter, sandwiches at the next, and a hairdresser in the back

when we visited on a wednesday afternoon, here is what freddie (the very nice girl who single-handedly runs her sandwich shop and very recently made the career switch from being a creative director to this) had to offer:20131023_130639

my friend and i couldn’t decide between the kimchi cheese sandwich and the duck pate sandwich so we decided to order one of each to share (indeed, sharing is caring)! service was rather slow despite it not being very crowded, but its because freddie lovingly prepares everything by herself. so go if you’re not in a rush, and i suppose the upside is that you’re guaranteed quality? 🙂

2013-10-23-14-00-21_decowe were beyond excited when the food arrived; we couldn’t wait to see if the sandwiches tasted as good as they looked and sounded!!! and *drumroll please*… we all thought both sandwiches did! after much deliberation, half of us decided that we preferred the kimchi to the pate one while the other half preferred the pate to the kimchi so i suppose it can be concluded that both of them are equally good, it just depends what you’re looking for? 

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kimchi and stilton grilled cheese sandwich – £4.50

i LOVED this sandwich; its something i am definitely going back for and will miss when its gone 😦 it wasn’t just the filling of the sandwich that i adored, i also thought the big slabs of white sourdough were amazing! served wonderfully warm, they were toasted to perfection and i was in food heaven with all that melty stilton cheese and kimchi sandwiched between it.
20131023_134311some might say the combination of stilton cheese and kimchi sounds odd but trust me, if you are a kimchi and a cheese fan you will probably LOVE this. when i took my first bite, i was surprised at how well it went together but now that i think about it, i wonder why i didn’t think of the combination earlier! hahaha. definitely one of the most satisfying sandwiches i have had in a while; i would say this is a must-try if you visit if not because you love kimchi or cheese or good bread then just to give this novel combination a chance!

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duck pate sandwich with parsley salad, pickled beets, and chillies – £4.50

if you prefer having something light for lunch, then this would definitely be the choice for you instead of the kimchi sandwich. the pate was extremely fragrant, smooth, and creamy and topped with pickled beets (which they sell in jars at the counter), parsley, and shallots. everything came together and resulted in a very refreshing open sandwich, full of light flavours! 20131023_133410if you’re someone that needs something more substantial for lunch though, then this might not be the perfect choice for you since the serving isn’t very big or filling. very yummy though!!! maybe have this AND something else? 😉

and of course we couldn’t leave without sampling some of freddie’s desserts after those delightful sandwiches, so we ordered 2 slices of pie to share:20131023_140648
pumpkin pie with stout ice cream & gingersnap crunch – £3.50

20131023_140659chocolate and pretzel pie with black pepper szechuan ice cream – £3.50

the “safer” choice of pumpkin pie was the more popular of the 2 among us. the 3 components really complemented each other – the pumpkin pie and ginger crust together were really very yummy, and the combination was made even better with the stout ice cream that topped it! the pumpkin filling was light and not overly sweet, with the natural taste of pumpkin really shining through.

as for the more “adventurous” choice of the chocolate and pretzel pie, i enjoyed it but the rest were not quite fans of the szechuan ice cream! the dark chocolate pie filling was rich and yummy, but without the black pepper ice cream, the pie would actually have been pretty normal in my opinion. the black pepper szechuan ice cream though, is definitely something to write about. what i thought was most interesting about it was how strongly it tasted of szechuan spices! there was barely a hint of any sweetness in the ice cream; it was purely savoury which explains why it is just not some people’s cup of tea, but i thought that was what made it really special! the fact that i was having in ice cream something i am so used to having as seasoning for chicken and other chinese dishes was rather exciting hahaha. another thing to note about the ice cream at F.A.T is that it is unusually thick and sticky (freddie told us she uses a lot of cream to give it this texture & consistency) so i guess not everybody will like it (though we did!).

given the lovely environment in the shop, the affordable pricing and the yummy food, F.A.T is certainly not your run-of-the-mill pop up shop and is definitely worth a visit before it moves on at christmas. freddie also has a selection of baked goods at the counter and i wouldn’t mind heading back to try some of them as an accompaniment to a good cup of coffee. am already looking forward to the next time i get to sink my teeth into the kimchi + stilton cheese sourdough sandwich 😛

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F.A.T by Freddie (pop-up)

Sharps, 9 Windmill Street
London W1T 2JF

Marylebone Hotel Afternoon Tea, London

no london experience is ever complete without some traditional afternoon tea, and the fact that i study and live here doesn’t stop me from doing “tourist-y” things like this once in a while 😉

having gotten a good afternoon tea deal at kingsway hall hotel via afternoontea.co.uk last year, it was that trusty website that i headed back to when a friend and i decided we were going to treat ourselves to an indulgent afternoon before the madness that school can become sets in.

this time, we got an amazing deal at the marylebone hotel – traditional afternoon tea at just £12.50 per person!!! considering how plush the hotel was, the impeccable service, and the quality of the food we were served, i would say this is the perfect deal if you’re looking for an affordable tea-time treat.

we arrived to a beautifully laid out table, and i loved the fact that we were seated on a huge cushy sofa in a lounge rather than stiff chairs around a table in a coffee house:
20131011_184803afternoon tea is served both in the lounge and the drawing room, and despite the very nice set-up, the staff are informal and unfussy, making you feel comfortable and right at home!

tea began with the waitress bringing us a selection of teas on a tray, explaining each one and letting us sniff them all before making our decision on what to get. they serve a selection of wonderfully fragrant “jing” tea there (which i found random packets of in my kitchen at home over summer and proceeded to make earl grey chiffon cake with – it tasted amazing and even better than when made with twinings tea!), and you’re allowed to have as much and as many kinds as you want throughout the afternoon. the selection of teas isn’t oustandingly extensive (i think we had 6 choices if i remember correctly), but is definitely enough to satisfy your tea desires, from black teas to fruit teas!

here’s the menu for afternoon tea:
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the sandwiches and scones were served first, and everything was plated really prettily (as it should be at afternoon tea!):
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these were the sandwiches we had:
20131011_160542though simple, they were a case of classic afternoon tea sandwiches being done really nicely. the proportion of ingredients to bread was just right, and fillings for the sandwiches were fresh and tasty while the bread was nice and soft. fortunately, they didn’t really fill me up as much as i had expected – they remained light despite all that butter, cream cheese and mayo in them – , because more good things were to come! 😉

next, on to the quintessential part of afternoon tea – freshly-baked scones with clotted cream and jam!20131011_160551i love scones. and when they are really good ones which are freshly toasted and warm, that’s just icing on the cake (what an apt expression to use :P)! the clotted cream was good stuff – thick, smooth and not too sweet, while the homemade jam was very nice too, with whole bits of strawberries! we had a raisin scone and a plain scone each, both of which were delicious – they had risen very nicely and the slight crunch on the outside (which i love) gave way to a perfect airy, soft and moist inside. such a plain-looking thing in comparison to the other fancy tea-time offerings, but so yummy.

and finally for the sweet end to the tea, we got to choose cakes and pastries from a wide range on display which was rather exciting:
20131011_165702they had macaroons, tarts, cakes and biscuits – more than enough to keep that sweet tooth in you happy and satisfied!

our selections were later served to our table:2013-10-11-18-14-25_decowe were actually pretty full by the time we moved on to dessert, but still soldiered on anyway because they all looked too good to resist!

my favourites were the carrot cake and the dark chocolate + caramel tart!20131011_171146
the carrot cake was really dense, moist and had a good amount of nuts, raisins and carrot strips in it. the icing on top was also very light, nice and not overly sweet at all – it went super well with the cinnamon-y cake. yummm.

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(sorry for all these pictures of half-eaten food; we were clearly too excited to tuck in)

my other favourite was the dark chocolate & caramel tart (seen at the front of this picture) – the dark chocolate was so amazingly rich and lovely and the caramel and hint of sea salt prevented it from becoming overly chocolate-y. the tart base was nice and crisp and wasn’t too thick!

the macaroons however, were quite a let-down – they were quite dry and didn’t quite crumble in the way i like them to; we didn’t touch any of the other 3 after having the first one :/ they weren’t exceedingly terrible, but we’ve certainly had better and wanted to save our stomach space for the other treats! (pierre herme macaroons forever!!!)

we also tried a slice of the traditional victoria sponge cake!
20131011_171630the sponge was nice, airy and fluffy while the cream was super fresh and light! we did find the jam a tad too sweet, but all was good otherwise. i wouldn’t exactly rave or shout about this cake, but it was definitely another simple classic done well!

all in all, we had a great experience at the marylebone hotel at a truly unbeatable price. good conversation with a great friend was made even better with such nice surroundings and yummy food, and at no point in time did we feel obliged to leave (in fact they kept asking us if we wanted fresh pots of tea) at all – we sat there from 330pm to close to 7pm without realising how much time had passed! will definitely be booking this offer again if its still available the next time i’m looking to pamper myself by indulging in some traditional british luxury 😉

The Marylebone Hotel

47 Welbeck St
London W1G 8DN

Hummerstons, Singapore

Hummerstons has been around in the casual dining scene for quite some time now, but it was only very recently that i finally decided to pay it a visit. located at robertson quay, its not the easiest place to get to via public transport, which is probably why it was never top on my list of places to check out, until i got more independently mobile lately with my ability to drive myself places! Oh the sweet freedom (and food choices :P) it brings!

the very kind sister decided that she would take leave from work to bring me for a birthday treat last monday, and hummerstons was our choice (not our first choice but there are unfortunately a limited number of places open on mondays) for the day! thankfully it did not disappoint or i would have been a sad birthday girl; after all, what are birthdays without good food???

they only open at noon on weekdays so our plan to have brunch turned into one to have an early lunch. we arrived at quarter past twelve and managed to find a parking space along the street right outside the robertson walk building very easily so that was nice! hummerstons is tucked away in a corner of the 2nd floor of robertson walk and requires a bit of exploring to find. they have both indoor and outdoor seating, and i can imagine it getting quite busy on weekends, especially with the residents who live in the apartments in the area.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the inside is quite nice and spacious, with ample space between tables to have good conversation without worrying about neighbouring tables being close enough to eavesdrop:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAas you can see, we clearly did not have any problems at all getting a table that monday afternoon; there were only about 4 occupied tables the entire time we were there!

now on to the food, the sister isn’t into feasting till her stomach hurts (unlike me ;)) so we decided to go easy with our choices – we ordered their brunch burger and a salad to share!

the famous hummerstons brunch burger has been dubbed the best burger in singapore by many reviewers and i was very excited to see if it lived up to the hype! i wouldn’t be so quick to say that it is truly the best you can get in singapore since i’m not someone who has tried many gourmet-type burgers here, but it was certainly one of the better ones i have tasted, and probably one of the best that our little island has to offer. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
hummerstons brunch burger – grilled beef burger topped with applewood smoked bacon, caramelised onions, tomato, fried egg, greens. 

it looks huge in the picture, and it was really rather big and certainly very filling; definitely suitable for sharing unless you are a ravenous growing boy. i loved how the burger was full of ingredients and not just the standard beef topped with melty cheese and pickles etc (think yupi gummy burgers hahaha!). each component by itself was delicious, and together they tasted even better! the beef was grilled to a perfect medium-rare (which we chose) – it was tender, juicy and retained the taste of something that has been grilled well. the bacon is also something worth mentioning – they were quite generous with the amount they topped the beef with, and it was crispy and sinfully yummy, as were the caramelised onions! the greens were fresh and i loved the fried egg that topped it all off, though i would have preferred a runny yolk (i am the #1 fan of runny egg yolks/soft-boiled eggs) . imagine the yolk running down over all the ingredients especially the beef and bacon – yummmmmmmm.

besides all the yummy components of the burger, another part of it that was my favourite was definitely the bread. here’s a picture that’ll give you a good look at the burger bun:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

it reminded me of brioche and was really moist and buttery. topped with sesame seeds, it was definitely one of the parts of the burger that stood out to me, especially in comparison to other run-of-the-mill macdonalds-type burger breads that you get elsewhere.

the fries that accompanied the burger were pretty well done but nothing outstanding. we really enjoyed the dip that came with the fries though – spiced tomato chilli aioli! yummy.

the staff very kindly halved the burger for us when they realised we were sharing:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

look at that cross-section!!! I SALIVATE.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAif you’re craving a hearty burger, this will provide guaranteed satisfaction in my opinion 😉

we also ordered the super salad bowl in a bid to have a balanced meal and to negate the sinfulness of the serious dood food that came in the form of the burger hahaha. it was a very refreshing accompaniment to the burger and even though we only ordered a half portion, it was definitely big enough for sharing:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
super salad bowl

the super salad bowl consisted of blueberries, pomegranate, flax seeds, peppers, cherry tomatoes, avocado, spinach, chick peas and almonds. all the components of a delicious salad in my opinion, and what made it even better was the spiced avocado herb & yoghurt dressing. the amount of dressing was just nice so the salad wasn’t too dry or too wet, and all the ingredients used were really fresh and added in generous amounts. i loved this salad and its interesting and wide range of toppings mixed in. if you’re looking for something healthy but still very satisfying, i highly recommend this! this was the half-portion and we shared it very very comfortably; the full portion must be a really huge serving!!! it’ll probably be hard for someone to finish the full portion alone, even as a main.

we had a really satisfying lunch at hummerstons! i would certainly like to return one day to try their breakfast offerings (pancakes, truffle eggs etc) and desserts but it will definitely be difficult to steer myself clear of the burger and towards the brunch menu hahaha. i find the prices reasonable for the large serving sizes that you get, and the robertson quay area is really chill and pleasant so after your meal you can take a stroll by the river. i’m sure you’ll be very satisfied 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hummerstons

11 Unity Street #02-14 Robertson Walk,
Singapore 237995

photo (13)a

Little Diner, Singapore

i had been wanting to try this place for the longest time after hearing from a friend that they serve red velvet pancakes. red velvet and pancakes??? i’m personally not a huge fan of red velvet (don’t really understand the hype that always seems to come with it), but  the idea of the 2 combined sounded rather novel and enticing nonetheless.

made a trip to this new york-inspired diner found at a rather nondescript row of shops just before 6th avenue on good friday. my mother remarks every single time we drive by the row (which is often since I stay a stone’s throw away) that the restaurants there always seem to be struggling, with few customers each time we’ve passed them. the shops change hands frequently and I didn’t even know this place had popped up there! i really hope it stays though, because it was a satisfying meal and i will certainly be going back for more!

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we ordered 3 items from the brunch menu (that is served only on public holidays & weekends) – the epic breakfast platter (a special), delancey red velvet pancakes & cereal-crusted french toast.

the cereal-crusted french toast was a real crowd (they say 3’s a crowd :P) pleaser – the toast was ultra thick and of just the right moistness – the texture reminded us a little of bread & butter pudding. It was sufficiently covered in sauce while not being completely soaked, and the cereals added a nice bite. we loved every bit of it!!! for some reason, the pictures make it look rather cloyingly sweet (I think its the bright red of the berry coulis) but it wasn’t the case at all!

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Super cereal-crusted french toast: showered with powdered cinnamon sugar, whipped cream, berry coulis & maple syrup.

the red velvet pancakes were good, but none of us are particularly diehard fans of red velvet so we weren’t exactly raving about them. the pancakes were done really well though – of the right thickness, fluffy, and with a nice red velvet flavour, nothing too overpowering. they came with frosting that looked like a scoop of ice cream (what is red velvet without cream cheese frosting?) and it was good stuff! i think more toppings (mixed berries would have been wonderful) would have made the dish better though! although i understand that they were probably trying to stick to traditional red velvet – just cake and frosting, i got a little sick of what i was eating about 3/4 into my pancake (and so did my friends!). can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to have the whole serving of 3 pancakes to myself! but they were still yummy, so don’t let my less-than-stellar review deter you from ordering them; i do think they are still worth a try!

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delancey red-velvet pancakes: showered with cinammon sugar, cream cheese frosting & maple syrup.

the final thing we ordered was from the specials menu – the epic breakfast platter. given that it was priced higher than the other 2 items we ordered and its name (“EPIC”), we were expecting something either huge or super extraordinary. unfortunately it was neither, though it was a very delicious traditional fry-up. the sausage was made of kurobuta pork, and it was juiciness, crunchiness and tenderness all in one roll – good stuff!!! as for the bacon, it was fried to perfection and the thick slices of toast went great with the scrambled eggs. the potatoes were also very well done and so was the grilled tomato. it was not too oily and overall a very enjoyable and satisfying plate!

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E.P.I.C breakfast platter

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The super yummy kurobuta pork sausage

besides the great food, the service at little dinner is also amazing. check out what greeted us at our reserved table when we arrived – such a simple but sweet touch! the staff were also extremely sincere and friendly, happily chatting to us and patiently acceding to our numerous photo requests (the waiter helping us take a picture even re-arranged stuff on the table several times to make the shot look better hahaha! that was at the start of our meal and we were sold on the place from that point onwards ;)).

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here is the brunch menu:
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they also have some specials everyday written on blackboards in the cafe.

total bill: SGD58

who i would recommend this to: people looking for a casual place for a relaxing meal. the interior of the place is rather simple but that’s what makes it laidback; it is the kind of place i’d go to on a sunday morning with my newspapers and without having to dress up. the service is great and staff are really friendly, so you feel at ease while having a leisurely meal.

will i be back? i hear the lunch/dinner menu at little diner is also very good. their burgers are supposed to be delicious, along with their pastas and fried chicken. the risotto balls also caught my eye! would love to go back and try it one day; maybe in summer! 🙂

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faces of satisfied customers:20130330125718106
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Little Diner
789 Bukit Timah Rd
S(269763)

and just because my friends and i are silly like that:
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love these girls hahahahahaah.
oh, its good to be home :’)

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