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Borough Market – Feast Your Eyes, Satisfy All Your Cravings!

London’s oldest Market (1,000 years old!) was definitely the highlight of our trip in London. I had grand plans to embark on a Three-Markets Crawl beginning with Borough. But we filled ourselves up with so much goodies there that there was no way we could eat further. So we ended up shopping on Regent Street to walk off our full bellies. Haha.

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Borough Market needs no introduction. There are many many blog posts dedicated to the AMAZING eats you will find there (here, here, here, and here). Plus with free Wi-fi, you CANNOT come to London and not make a trip to Borough. In fact, I highly encourage you to set aside a lot of tummy space and time for the stuff here. A lot of people say Borough is a tourist trap. Well, I am not sure about that. Isn’t the definition of tourist traps when one pays for substandard and overpriced food. We did not experience such in our four hours(!) there. Everything we got was worth it. And the immense size and selection in one space was amazing for us tourists. We were respectively craving something (sweet for me, savoury pies for my parents) and Borough was there to satisfy it and more. Plus it was highly convenient for it avoided us running all over town for just one good food.

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My parents and I all had a favourite from our feast that morning. Mine was definitely getting my grubby hands on the doughtnuts from Bread Ahead Bakery.

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On my final day in London, I could not leave without having one more doughnut for memories’ sake. It was an unforgettable doughnut and worth every sprint on the treadmill when I came back.

IMG_5859.JPGMummy’s highlight was the Scotchegg from Scotchtails.

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Fried to order, each Scotchegg constituted a perfectly crisp batter surrounding tender minced pork with that perfect perfect half-boiled egg. How beautiful does that egg yolk look?!

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Dad’s favourite was these god-awesome, god-damn cheap, and giant Oysters from Richard Haward’s Oysters:

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Fresh palm-sized oysters… killer-ly beautiful.

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My favourite part of this Oyster joint, the hand sanitizers and napkins, free for all.

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Whenever Dad is in England, he has to eat a Steak and Kidney Pie. And he satisfied his craving with one from Pie Minister. It was a good call as later I learnt this stall has published a cookbook! Surely a sign of good pies.

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They had the cutest named pies:

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We unisonly enjoyed a Kate and Sidney Pie (A British beef steak, kidney & real ale pie)

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The fillings were rich and generously filled with chunks of steak pieces with hints of the kidney. Plus that stellar golden brown puff pastry shell wasn’t just inviting, it was deeply appetizing. This pie quickly warmed our hearts. It was a good pie and I need to go back and try the others.

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Cheese Toastie from the renowned Kappacasein stall.

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Constituting of Montgomery cheddar, leeks, onion, garlic, and sourdough, this seemed a little bland that morning. Maybe because I just had two doughnuts before… haha. 

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We also shared a carb-less platter of Roast Pork from Roast Hog

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I was told this was sublime but quite frnakly, I don’t remember much of this.

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Read on for more delicious pictures.

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Oven & Fried Chicken at Telok Ayer, Singapore

Back in Singapore, there is a new Korean Fried Chicken joint in town!

If you are not in love with Korean Fried Chicken, what is wrong with you?! I will not allow you to judge my love for it despite it still hanging on my hips 12 hours later.

This new joint on Telok Ayer Street in Tanjong Pagar is called Oven & Fried Chicken. I’m serious. Check it out for yourself.

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Dinner at OFC tonight was purely accidental. We were on our way to another friend’s cafe when a shop with bouquets of flowers signifying the opening of a new business caught my attention. I read the signboard and the name said it all. You got to admit, it was CALLING OUT to me. My companion, equally a fried chicken-lover like me, was as taken with the signboard too. And just like that we abandoned our plans and walked right in requesting for a table of three. The staff were mostly Korean save for some Singaporean teen waiters. We were in safe hands. Handed a brand spanking new leather-bound menu, the tough decision of what to satisfy us began.

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OFC offers up two types of chicken. Oh wait, that was obvious right? Roasted oven-baked and deep fried; the Korean way i.e. delicate, crackly crust. But we quickly learned that at OFC, it wasn’t just any fried chicken but fried Rice chicken. I have no idea whats the difference but I can tell you, we had some pretty stellar fried Rice chicken.

No roasted chicken for us. Fridays are cheat evenings. So we skipped the selections on the first two pages and headed right for the heart-clogging options on page three. Two whole pages of fried chicken in whatever cut, amount (whole or half), and sauces you would like. This place catered to all preferences. Amazing!

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You can choose either simple fried ones or fried WITH sauce. Ooo no one does great saucy fried chicken the way Koreans do. We had to get both!

Before our chicken arrived, we were served metal utensils and a square box of prawns crackers and cubed pickled radish to whet our appetites.

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I pulled out my Truffle Crisps all the way from Barcelona. These were truffly good! Thin crisps rich with the fungus flavour, it’s a shame this flavour is hard to find in Singapore.

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Then our heart attacks on plates arrived. We had half portion of the simple Fried Rice Chicken and half portion of the Original Sauce Rice Chicken with additional spicy.

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Boy did the simple fried chicken fulfill any dreams of Korean Fried Chicken we had! The crispiest crackliest skin wrapped around moist chicken meat. A wondrous joy.

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The spicy saucy Chicken was S.P.I.C.Y! The teenage waitress who highly recommended it can really handle her chilies. But the spicy sauce was so addictive! With our lips burning, we simply could not stop at one piece. With this plate, we swiftly forgot about 4Fingers Chicken. This easily trumped the Korean Fried Chicken stalwart.

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Thank goodness we had iced-cold Aloe Vera drinks to sooth our lips.

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Spontaneity tonight won us all a delicious dinner. But having like-minded friends who believe in the power of fried chicken to lift one’s mood is EVERYTHING.  

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Barcelona’s Pasteleria: Mauri and Escriba

If there was anything in Barcelona that surprised and impressed us, it was their Pastelerias, or Pastry Shops. After having an assortment of pastries from two of Barcelona’s best: Mauri and Escriba. We concluded that the Spanish’s offerings could rival their higher-profile French neighbours. 

Mauri

Establish in 1929, this grand old pastry shop has had its regular customers salivating over the endless range of sweets, chocolate croissants and gourmet delicatessen items. Mauri’s amazing selection of freshly baked bread, cakes, pastries and other sweets has kept it a local favourite for more than 80 years.

One evening, while strolling around our hotel, I came across this Pasteleria just a street away. I remarked to my parents on its “fame” and just the next morning, they sent me out on a pastry run to get our first breakfast. Later hungry again, we popped by for two more sweet treats.

I got us four sweet pastries and savouries: Chocolate Croissant and a Mallorca snail-shaped classic, Ensaïmada, a round Pastisset De Tonyina marked with a “X”, and Patisset de Carn.

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For the chocolate croissant, we were enamoured with the generous thick chocolate filling and dainty flaky croissant.

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Unusually filled with minced pork, the Pastisset de Carn was an appetizing little treat with its moist filling and buttery puff pastry.

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Stuffed with tuna, the Pastisset De Tonyina was equally as flavourful and endearing for us fish-lovers.

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Dusted with icing sugar, the Ensaïmada was a flake-master. It flaked all over us. A cross between a croissant and brioche, the light, airy and delicate spiral-shaped dessert was delicious for the first few bites but the lack of flavour, aside from butter, got monotonous and boring. I was glad my parents were there to share this with me. I was hard-pressed trying to finish this.

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A quick walk around our hotel saw our tummies rumbling again and we popped back to Mauri to get two sweet treats. A signature, flaked with almonds, the circular Amond Cake, and an Apple Tart that reminded me of the French Tarte Tartin.

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The Almond Cake had a touch too much almond essence, and with its tender sponge and solid buttercream was different from the sort I had back home. While I did not enjoy this immensely, I did not dislike it either.

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 The Apple Tarte Tartin with it’s weak apple flavour failed to register in me. Mummy enjoyed it more though.

Escriba

Originally estalished in 1906 as a bakery, this Pasteleria is also widely know for it’s chocolate and elaborate sculptures of the same dessert. We grabbed three sweet pastries on our way back to the hotel after a long afternoon.

We could not resist the opulent shopfront along La Rambla. We got a square of icing sugar-dusted coarse crumbly Orange Sponge Cake, A chocolate-sprinkled Chocolate Croissant, and a Pine Nut-topped Coca de pinones.

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The Chocolate Croissant was remarkable with its dainty flakey pastry. More than half of the pastry was filled with the rich and thick chocolate.

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The Pine Nut Pastry lacked any flavours, and the Orange Sponge Cake was a tad dry but bursting with a citrus flavour.

Sure, there were hits and misses but when done well, the Spanish/ Catalans do work up a mean pastry.

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Cal Pep in El Born, Barcelona

Cal Pep is said to be THE best tapas restaurant in Barcelona. Acclaimed for it’s fresh tapas especially the seafood, super fun atmosphere, amazing service, it is no wonder the long queues out of the restaurant is notorious. This restaurant is also famous for the lack of menu. Simply tell the English-speaking Filipino waiter how many courses you want, he kindly recommended us lost tourists the best, and sit back to wait. I can’t second the “best tapas” claim for Mummy and I only tried three dishes. Such a shame as I am sure if I had more stomach-room for more, I would have tasted the best Cal Pep had to offer. However the three dishes we had were SPLENDID! It was where I experienced for the first time the truly amazing Spanish Codfish!

One late afternoon at 2pm, my Mum and I finally got a little hungry after walking off our three breakfasts. So we decided to head to El Born where Cal Pep resides since so many guides raved about it; also the only reason we ventured into El Born. When there, the small tapas bar was packed. There was a queue but only 6 people in front of us therefore saving us the torture of waiting outside under the hot Spanish Sun.

After twenty agonizing minutes, we finally sat at the end of the bar. I was absolutely delighted with my placemat. And so the acclaimed fun begins. The portly man in specs is the legandary owner, Pep Manubens.

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Here he is, in the flash:

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Every diner had a different illustrated placemat too, I liked this place immediately!

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Mummy’s was particularly interesting too.

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When asked how many courses we wanted, we decided three would be best for two of us. Dad had gone on a Big Bike Tour.

A must-order, this Grilled Green Peppers with large salt flakes sprinkled on it, was unusual, not spicy as I expected, and good!

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The restaurant recommended us this: a Seafood Platter comprising of expertly deep-fried Calamari (OMG! YUMS!), little fried shrimps, and two types of fish. You might think it is hard for deep-fried food not to be tasty but how often does one have really good deep-fried grub that is devoid of the heaviness from oil?! This dish was it.

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And finally, this! Cod Fish with Spinach and Aioli. To describe this as splendid or marvellous would be unkind to the good people at Cal Pep. This was stellar and unforgettable! I could literally taste the freshness of the codfish! The sturdy fish contrasted beautifully with the soft spinach and evenly sliced tender potatoes. It was a fine dish.

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If you do head to Cal Pep, do ensure an empty tummy to fill yourself with more of their delightful dishes and save some room for their desserts which look AMAZING!

Address : Pl. de les Olles, 8
Zip code : 08003
City : Barcelona –
Area : Ciutat Vella
Email : calpep@calpep.com
Website : Cal Pep – Barcelona
Opening hours : Monday from 7.30pm to 11.30pm / Tuesday – Friday from 1pm to 3.45pm and from 7.30pm to 11.30pm / Saturday from 1pm to 3.45pm / Closed Sunays and holidays
Prices : Tapas 5€ -15€ Restaurant from 40 €
Phone : +34 933 107 961
Phone 2 : Fax: 933 196 281
Metro/Bus : Metro: Barceloneta (L4) / Bus: 17, 36, 40, 45, 57, 59, 64, 157

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Gold Mine Restaurant in Bayswater, London

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For any Singaporean or Malaysian, Gold Mine is Duck Mecca. Whenever we are in the Big Smoke, it is mandatory to make a trip to the Bayswater restaurant and feast on a plate of THE Roast Duck. Then when one returns, the inevitable question will be “Roast Duck?” Expect judgmental reactions if one says no. Therefore no trip to London is ever complete until we have had had this Roast Duck.

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What’s the appeal? You might be thinking: “it is just duck, what’s the big deal?!” Oh no, no no, no. I am talking extremely fatty duck (a thick layer of fat underneath the skin), uber-tender meat (devoid of any gaminess), and brown crisp skin. Get those three factors right and watch us South East Asians coming running!

In my six days in London, I went to Gold Mine twice. The first when my friend held her birthday party there. The second with my parents. On my first visit, I was sure to take note of other dishes besides Roast Duck that was served. Then I noticed a high frequency of Lobster Noodles being served up so I made sure this was on my parent’s itinerary. When we got there, the Lobster Noodles was our second order. Guys, the lobster was so meaty and succulent! Marvellous.

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One of the non-duck dishes I adore is the Pipa Tofu; fried tofu shrimp patties shaped to resemble a pipa – a Chinese instrument. I first had this four years ago and I am so happy to announce just last week, it was still fantastic! The heaviness of the deep-fried balls was cut by the soy-based gravy. Satisfying and addictive!

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To seem healthy, we needed a vegetable dish so we got this Sambal Lady Fingers. We were not expecting much but boy were we impressed! Fried until the green fingers just retained a bite, this dish alone proved the Chef here in Gold Mine is of a high calibre.

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I love Gold Mine not just because the Roast Duck is so epic but they pay equal attention to the rest of the menu. Come here for an all round satisfying Chinese meal. 

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Ottolenghi Islington, London

[Hello friends! And now I move on to my eats in London although I have a couple more on Barcelona... stay tuned on that!]

I really wanted to like this place. With the legendary cakes display like this:

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And next to it, displays like these:

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Or the freshly-baked cake like this Meringue on Blueberry compote on Almond Cake awaiting all to feast on:

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Or the homemade jams such as Banana (delish!) and this crunchy and luscious Chocolate Hazelnut (described as a “heart attack in a jar”), that one can heap on till their heart’s content:

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Or the handsome Dualit Toasters available for all to toast their bread to their desired brownness:

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I really wanted to fall madly in love with Ottolenghi.

Except I didn’t. I left unsatisfied with the worst tummyache from the Goat’s Cheese.

Out of the four bakes we got, only one stood out (Almond Croissant). The other three were just weird (sesame seed topped, cumin-heavy Swiss Chard & Cheese Pie), unappetizing and massively lacking in flavour (Savoury Muffin with Goat’s Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes, Pesto and Pine Nut), or not well-executed (Orange, Currant & Oatmeal Scone – it was dry and biscuit-like. Scones are meant to be moist and sticky – it has to stick to your teeth.)

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Maybe I went on a bad day. Next time I am going to try Nopi.

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Cervecería Catalana, Barcelona

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Cervecería Catalana is often referred to as the best tapas restaurant in Barcelona. We did not try that many Tapas Bars to agree with the proclamation but we certainly liked this place. We liked it so much, we went back twice!

I will forever remember Cervecería Catalana as the place where we had this amazing Cabreaos Egg Style. Super thin crispy potato sticks with a slightly spicy tomato sauce topped with two fried eggs (with the yolk still runny). It arrived like this:

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Then the waiter proceeded to cut the eggs into pieces so that the yolks run over the tomato sauce.

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He continued to mix everything together.

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Then it was ready to be served. Every potato stick was coated with the delicious tomato sauce and every stick remained crispy until the very end. Incredible!

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We had some unusual Tapas such as this:

Foie Gras on Jellied Pig Hoofs

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On the counter in front of us was this layered Potato, Foie Gras, Mushrooms and Truffle Cream. As it also looked unusual, we did not hesitate to try it. I am ever glad my parents are adventurous eaters too.

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When it arrived on our table, it sure did not look good but was bursting with flavours! Be careful, it is highly addictive. Unforgettable

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Another highly unusual dish we could not resist ordering was this:

Habitas Salteadas Con Gambas Y Jabugo: mushroom, ham and asparagus

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When served, it looked wilted but certainly did not lack seasoning or flavour. Mushrooms here are simply delicious and to be able to try the Spanish varieties was such an experience for us.

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This Camembert croquant montaditos was a must-try. A melting cuboid camembert coated in almonds and served with raspberry jam:

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Another signature: Grilled Veal Loin with Roasted Peppers topped with large salt flakes.

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The Spanish love their salt! It took us two meals to get used to the heavy-handed seasoning.

Cervecería Catalana is also well-known for their Mondatitos. After our wonderful Quimet experience, we did not bother ordering too many. These two (Tuna in Red Pepper and Prawn on Crab with Sweet Corn) were not bad. I especially liked the crab version; I could literally taste the freshness.

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Grilled beef steak sandwich was utterly satisfying!

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We also had super fresh seafood. At this injuncture, after three days of fresh seafood, this was the norm rather than surprise but we were still “wowed” by the offerings here.

Little fried fishes. They nailed the deep-frying to the tee. Thin crisp batter around each fish was such a delight.

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Super crunchy Prawns on skewers.

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and… Razor clams

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For dessert, another memorable dish: Creme Catalana. Like Creme Brulee, this came with a caramlised sugar crust but unlike the expected creaminess below, it was a thicker custard; sturdier cream.

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Coconut Pudding“: I use inverted commas here because it was more of a wet Vanilla sponge atop a shredded coconut base. I really was expected a coconut explosion but no. I would not recommend this.

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