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Epicurean Market 2014: Part Two

After gorging ourselves on 19 dishes, my friends and I were ready to explore and get some exercise. Actually we were gunning for $2 espressos and cold pressed juice cocktails from Fresh Pressed! Three-quarters of the 12,500 square meters arena at EM2014 were filled with various wine merchants, cocktail and coffee bars (samples galore!). There were also produce and condiments shopping as well as an Epicurean Campus where Masterclasses took place.

I was particularly stoked to find Proof & Co. giving out complimentary Gin & Tonics with a Gin of your choice. Unfortunately I only discovered this much later before we left. Bummer! At the booth was the sixth best Bartender in the World, Peter Chua, from 28HKS. I nearly freaked out! My expat friends could not believe this slim-built, gentle, and well-mannered man in front us was a formidable Mixologist. Unfortunately we did not get the leisure of his concoction as his only job was to mix G&Ts. Ah well, at least it’s something mixed by his hands. I got a (brand) gin which was alright – I’m through and through a Hendrick’s girl.

IMG_4549Also at Proof’s booth, the widest array of Gin were stocked.

IMG_4440Another cocktail I was eager to get my hands on was from Fresh Pressed. With their special juice concoctions, spirits were mixed in to them. I could not resist the Spirit Base: Sipsmith Summer Cup with Apple, Strawberry and Basil, while my friend, SY, went for the Tequila Base with Ruby Grapefruit, Honeydew Melon and Rosemary. After payment, we were each given a tasting glass of our choices. Bad move. We disliked it. But we were unsure if we could “reject” it since we already paid. So we sucked it up, grabbed our glass bottles and walked away.

IMG_4523For $18, our cocktails were a rip-off! The only regret purchase of the weekend. A tiny weak weird-tasting cocktail, I’m particular prone to break out in an Asian Flush but after finishing the our drink, I remained stone cold sober. My friend’s drink was another odd concoction with the jarring taste of tequila. Both drinks did not agree with any of us.

IMG_4528Disappointed, we trotted to the other end of the arena where Masterclasses were held: Epicurean Campus

IMG_4536Our minds were quickly distracted by the first class: Cut’s Cooking Alaskan Halibut. Chef Joshua Brown demonstrated a butter-basting method which infused the meaty fish with tons of flavour and retained its juiciness. After the session, his answers and knowledge on local seafood alternatives were impressive.

IMG_4540Chef Tetsuya from Waku Ghin presented a Seafood Sensation class which saw him prepare five dishes in an hour. He also revealed his true colours: a warm humorous gentleman. His easy laughter and banter on fellow chefs present made his class both educational and entertaining.

IMG_4542Chef Tetsuya demonstrated a few unusual, useful techniques. Such as ensuring the Wagyu beef is fridge-cold before searing in the pan. Ensuring the Wagyu beef is baked evenly by laying it on a bed of rolled up baking parchment sheets. Setting the oven to 70 degrees C to retain the moisture and bring out the best in the beef. This was highly unusual as the oven was nowhere near hot; Chef himself placed his hand on the baking rack to prove it. With this method, the Wagyu beef could be slowly cooked for one to one half hours; perfect for entertaining when guests hardly arrive on time or together.

At the end, there was a mad clamour when we were allowed to taste all five dishes. My eager beaverness paid off again by being the FIRST to score a cube of his expert Wagyu beef steak. My Mama sure was proud when I recounted to her afterwards.

IMG_4546-0Paired with fresh grated wasabi, the little cube of beef was luscious luscious luscious. Silky fatty cube was a heaven in my mouth. I refused to swallow the little gem and only did when it almost disintegrated into nothingness.

Chef Tetsuya further shocked and impressed us with his truffle dish with fish below. I don’t remember the fish below but it didnt matter because just look at the amount of truffle he shaved on the plate…

IMG_4544It was as if truffle was free… to him.

Aside from the Celebrity-chef restaurants, there were other affordable food booths too. A re-branded Swiss Butchery served up freshly-grilled Sausages for $3 each and Lamb Ribs ($8 for 3). They were extremely popular and throughout the day, long queues could be seen at the booth. At the same time, sausages were retailing at affordable prices too. SY and I could not resist picking up a couple of packs in anticipation of our party this coming Saturday. Weirdly but interestingly, they were pushing for Black Cow Milk Vodka  and cheese too…

One of the best parts of festivals is discovering new brands and cuisines in Singapore.

Food distributor, Shiro Food Corp, devoted an ENTIRE booth to Canadian produce; predominantly Beef products. At the same time, a small Canadian Wine sampling was set up. My Mum and I were enamoured with the crisp and clean Reisling.  

IMG_4421This Beijing No. 1 booth with its traditional Chinese desserts was a wonderful surprise! I am a big fan of Chinese food in China. The flavours are usually more robust with aggressive seasoning. I have noticed the Chinese love their food in extreme forms, like me. Bland food is such a waste of time. 

IMG_4430If not for my stuffed self, I would gladly have gone for a few packs of these inviting sweets.

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This Red Date Glutinous Cake with layers of Glutinous Rice and Red Bean was so new!IMG_4423

This Red Bean Glutinous Rice Roll coated with rolled sandy peanuts looked absolutely inviting! IMG_4426Epicurean Market 2014 was such a good experience. As an adventurous and ADD foodie, the variety of activities and food booths made for an enriching gastronomic weekend. After seeing my crazy lot of pictures, my Family is game planning for next year’s event: attend as soon as it starts, and grandparents take care of grandchildren while the in-betweens divide and conquer!  

In the meantime, thanks for reading. Till next time! YY x

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The Incredible Epicurean Market 2014, Part One

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The past weekend was a gastronomic feast! I hit up the three-day Epicurean Market 2014 festival where I plonked down tons of money on creative, inspiring food plus drank more than my weight’s worth of alcohol. What an adventure for my tummy and I! The jam-packed weekend will see me write two posts. I am certain you will kill me if I made you scroll through in one post the crazy amount of pictures.

You might remember, after Creatory, I was up for another food festival. And EM2014 was the next big one. But I only decided to purchase the festival pass on the day itself. Even though tickets were released early, I was still apprehensive. My weight gain from the Creatory-weekend and recent gain left me adverse to such gastronomic events. But on Friday morning, I showed my Mum an upcoming epic food festival in London, #Ribstock 2014, that we will miss by the time we get there (thank god!), and she wondered out loud if Singapore had such similar events. I’m sorry whatttt??? Why yes, I replied. EM 2014 and we could go tomorrow!!! Mummy was all game for it. The fat stars aligned; I knew then and there my next food adventure was calling out to me. So on the very same morning, armed with my Citibank credit card, I purchased two tickets at 10% off. The planning commenced!

Organized by Marina Bay Sands, EM2014 was set in the 12,500 square metres Convention Centre. The uniqueness and highlight of the event is that only MBS’ celebrity chef-driven restaurants were featured. Like last year at their individual booths, fine-dining dishes in tasting portions were served up. At wallet-friendly prices, one could comfortably get a taste of the restaurants that would normally be deemed unaffordable. More excitingly this year, future MBS celebrity-chefs were present in anticipation of their new restaurants too! Chef David Thompson, from Nahm, and Chef David Myers, joined MBS stalwarts, Chefs Tetsuya Wakuda, Justin Quek, and Nancy Silverton.

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That 42: End of the Training (for now)

As dramatic as it begun, I have stopped training for the Marathon. For the sake of my health I had to. Hear me out. I began the training with gusto and enthusiasm. I was determined to finish and survive the 42km on 7th December. Except my training did not go as plan.

First, the training was stressing the hell out of me! I kept thinking I had to run everyday, train everyday. I was worried sick when I didn’t because I was just so freaking tired. And when I did push myself out of the door, I was all zombified. Every step was a blur. When I decided to stop training three days ago, it was as if someone had set me free. Instantly I felt lighter and a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders.

Second, training in my whole tired fatigue state left me more exhausted. Losing sleep as a result of the adrenaline from long runs was not the worst part. You know what happens when one lacks sleep? Crave for sugar. Yep, all I wanted to eat was chocolate, cookies, and more chocolate. All day. I have gained 3kg since my training began. It is not muscle. It’s pure fat from the crap I have been ingesting and my tired self can’t be bother to bring myself to pick the good food.

Third, as my metabolic rate increased, my intuitive self disappeared. I lost any willpower. I lost the ability to stop and assess if the food in front of me was fattening or my body had enough. I was inhaling everything in sight. Anything in front of me was not safe. You may be able to tell from my onslaught of foodie posts beginning from lunch on Friday, dinner on the same day, to the monumental lunch on Sunday while most of my family went for healthier options.

Fourth, and most damningly of all, my knees hurt so badly. This morning I woke up to a sudden pain in my right kneecap. At first I wondered if I was just dreaming. So I lay in bed and waited. Surely enough, a searing pain around my right kneecap surfaced then quickly subsided. Stunned would not describe my feelings and sadness at that point. I have done it. Did myself in.

So for now, I am giving myself a big fat break while I assess how to safely and heathily go forward this training. I sure am not ready to throw money down the drain and give up on 7th December. Maybe I could walk the whole way?

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Splendid Set Lunches @ Sushi Kuu

Sushi Kuu, an offshoot of the famed Hong Kong restaurant, is a pricey place to eat. This afternoon, almost every table ordered big fanciful bowls of colourful sashimi and platters of intricate sushi, some topped with a prawn head each. They were no doubt expensive. It is hard to imagine my prudent family doling out large chunks of money just for lunch even on a special occasion like this afternoon; my Dad’s birthday. But weeks ago when my sister reported back about their Set Lunch Menu with dishes from $32 to the priciest Sea Urchin option at $66, it seemed reasonable to us and we pounced on Sushi Kuu in no time.

Located on the first floor of Palais Renaissance, the Set Lunch options, consisting mostly of a protein with rice, were surprisingly long and varied. More affordabl-y, every dish was served with a bowl of miso soup, udon(!), and ice cream; it seemed value-for-money. Turns out, the set lunch was a steal as every dish was served in huge bowls or plates with generous portions to match. Even more impressively, every dish was intricately plated and flavorsome.

This afternoon, most of my family were going through a healthy phrase. Five out of seven of us went for the eatery’s popular Assorted Sashimi or Sushi options which dominated the menu. Every dish consisted of an abundance of fresh and sweet seafood. Needless to say, everyone was satisfiable-y filled to the brim.

My Dad’s gorgeous Assorted Sushi Cube on Sushi Rice:

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Both my sisters went for the Assorted Seafood on Sushi Rice

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My eldest brother-in-law’s 5 Kinds Assorted Sashimi:

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On the other hand, my Mum and I threw caution to the wind and indulged. We went for their Beef Sukiyaki in Hotpot with Rice and for me, Deep Fried Black Pork with Curry Rice. Now I know where my weak willpower comes from…

The tender slices of beef in the Sukiyaki set was delicious! However the rich Sukiyaki broth was a tad sweet. 

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My Deep Fried Black Pork with Curry Rice was excellent. It made my day. The portion size may be daunting at first but the fragrant Japanese curry with its deep earthy tones lured me in and caused me to clean out the plate. No chance of a “light lunch” with this dish. Especially so when each thick piece of panko-crumbed black pig tonkatsu was impossibly crisp and fattening-ly juicy. Damn.

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The Japanese curry may seem unattractive and akin to slug but its unusual “rough” appearance was due to an abundance of pork bits (!), tender onions, and grilled potatoes and carrots. A comforting flavorsome curry was assured.

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For ice cream, there was a choice of three flavours: Yuzu, Green Tea and Sesame. Most of us went for the Yuzu which was perfect.

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Good food, reasonably priced, warm service, and ultra luxe atmosphere, I really enjoyed Sushi Kuu. We were served warmly despite being one of the few tables that afternoon having the set lunches. No one made us feel less of a customer just because we didn’t go for their extravagant sashimi bowls or their $100 sushi. I will be back, for sure.

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Unfussy and dependable Prego @ Fairmont Singapore

Prego is one of those eating establishments that is just there. I hardly hear of friends who “crave” for it but praises abound whenever one has visited. It is one of those reliable eating establishments that has been there forever and always delivers homey Italian food. Last night’s dinner was no different but I also noticed the good food was paired with great service. Every staff was ready with big smiles and a genuine desire to serve. I found myself smiling not only at the food but also at their willingness to accommodate us. It is heartening to find the restaurant hasn’t given in to those annoying hire-only-Singaporeans calls, and continues to hire an army of Filipino staff. At the end of the day good service trumps all else.

With four friends, two new ones (these opportunities are such a blessing), our dinner at Prego was a spontaneous choice. We began the evening at 7.30pm with a talk on valuing art at Ode To Art next door. Disappointing and annoyingly so, NO wine or canapés were served. I felt it was a tad rude on the part of the organizers, to be honest. The talk dragged on until close to 9pm before our starving selves took over and we bounced out the door before the end. Dinner was a choice between Prego or PuTien, where I am still so enamored with the Fried Oyster Omelet. Prego triumphed in the end as it was the closest to the art gallery and Italian food paired better with wine. At 9pm, a time way past peak dinner service, I was surprised we even had to wait.

For dinner, we shared two starters and desserts, a bottle of wine, and a pasta for each of us. Food here is neither stellar nor astoundingly good but every dish was well-seasoned, and flavours on point. All-in-all, we were hard-pressed to find faults.

The Fegato Grasso: Roasted Foie Gras, Warm Leek, Watercress, Toasted Hazelnut and Vinaigrette, arrived beautifully plated with balanced harmony of flavours and textures. However there was a disappointing element; the toasted white bread on the side. The soft bread did not compliment the equally soft foie gras. This choice of bread was surprising given the sturdier complimentary bread.

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The Calamari Fritti: Fried Calamari, Lemon, Spicy Tomato Dip, could have been better. A thicker crispier batter encasing the non-rubbery squid would have been appreciated. I guess one can’t be a winner in every aspect.

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The staff apologized profusely when we asked for their famous complimentary bread that is baked in-house. There was no need to apologize. It was us who should apologize to our waistlines; no one held back.

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Next came our pastas. Despite our faint complaint about the generous portion, it did not stop us from finishing to the very last carbohydrate. 

I went for the Penne Tartufate: Sauteed Mushrooms, Creamy Truffle Sauce which I substituted for Fettuccine. My initial thought about its boring-ness (just mushrooms, cream and carbs) quickly dissipated when the plate arrived. It was a truffly-bomb, alright! 

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I really could not have asked for more. Generous amount of tender assorted mushrooms, pleasurably rich cream, and al dente fresh fettucine topped off with a strong truffle essence. It was simply satisfying. I got what I asked for. Prego really triumphed with this simple goodness.

All my friends were pleased as a punch with their pasta choices too.

Our two desserts were not mind-blowing but its straightforward execution did not lack flavour or stinginess with portion. 

The Tiramisu, a House Signature, set out what it intended to be.  

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The Mousse al Cioccolato: Milk Chocolate Mousse, Caramel Fudge, Chocolate Sauce was akin to a chocolate cheesecake with the smooth chocolate mousse atop the brownie-like bottom. Crunchiness was delivered with those chocolate nut brittles and the single drop of chocolate fudge sauce prevented our tummies from exploding at the end of the high carbohydrate dinner.

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Dinner at Prego was a wise choice. I left impressed with their desire to not complicate food and the ever-smiley staff who bade us farewell with high levels of enthusiasm despite the late hour.

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Il Fiore Ristorante Italiano to the Rescue!

Dear Il Fiore Ristorante Italiano, you have no idea how amazing you are! But I reckon you already know this judging by your perpetually busy restaurant packed every lunch and dinner times. Even when I called in advance to reserve a table, I still waited to be seated. It’s o.k. You took my order before seating me which assured me I was being taken care of. 

Today was one of those days when I am so damn tired of dieting. I have rolled oats in my bag, fruits stocked in the fridge, but I really needed FAT. Lard and carbohydrates. I also wanted to eat unabashedly. To let go and eat without worrying about any damn calorie. So I rounded up two colleagues, crossed the road, and down the stairs into the dungeon of a restaurant.

We began with an Otah to share. Tradtionally, a fish paste with spices wrapped & grilled in fragrant banana leaves, yours looked like it rolled straight out of a plastic packaging from the grocery store. I had zero expectations. But quite frankly, it was good. Large bits of prawn and fish with a pungent fish paste.  

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But I want your chicken wings and luncheon meat fries next.

My lunch companion and I shared two carbohydrates-heavy main courses. Lately I have been ingesting so much protein (shakes and salad) that today I swear I might actually puke if a piece of chicken was placed in front of me.

I selected the Sambal Luncheon Meat Fried Rice. It came topped with a beautiful fried egg whose yolks were still runny but whites firm. The extra crisp brown around the whites were sexy!

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To describe this dish as delicious would be unkind. I am going to call it stellar. Large cubes of luncheon meat fried till the exterior of every piece was ultra crusty. The sambal fried rice was dry and smoky – devoid of any oiliness and of course, nutritional value. Undeniably, heart-wrenchingly good.

And we ordered the Signature Fried Bee Hoon which was served with TONS of fresh seafood. Told you I was letting go this afternoon. My only gripe was your small portion! But other than that, damn, what a delicious plate of seemingly simple noodles.

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The noodles here were wetter than the fried rice but still didn’t feel oily. Every bite tasted like heaven. I was probably in one – I spend wayyy too much time depriving myself of food.

Thank you Il Fiore. With the caloriffic food in my tummy, I am all ready to conquer the day!

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Song Kee Fishball Noodle: worth breaking plans for.

IMG_4143.JPGLast night’s dinner at Song Kee Fishball Noodle was purely accidental. Or the result of sheer lack of willpower. I was saving up my once-a-week dinner for this Thursday. It’s Associates’ Drinks evening and a feast of fried chicken wings and ice cream sandwiches were in order. A bowl of Fishball Noodles threw those plans aside. So I guess NOW the plan on Thursday is to order in and quickly run away before I give in to temptation… Wish me luck!

I spent the WHOLE of Sunday at Lazarus Island celebrating the Neptune Regatta. Essentially a few boats docked together near the shores of Lazarus Island, and people just boat-hopped and partied. My friend and I did nothing but sun tan, drink, and engaged in some light swimming and standing up paddle board (I loved it! If not for the sun, I would happily take it up as a hobby). After the tiring day of being an absolute bum, I was all ready to head home. But when I arrived on the main island, my parents texted they were queuing for dinner at Song Kee. It was going to take a good hour for their dinner to arrive. Perfect. I missed them badly so I grabbed a cab from Keppel and joined them straight at Upper Serangoon Road. My original plan was to chat with them; update them about my lazy day.

But my plan was quickly thrown out the window when I saw the coffee shop FILLED with people eating big red bowls of noodles with monstrous sized fish balls. I could.not.resist. So I got myself a large bowl of soup with ingredients; no noodles.

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What a joyous bowl it was! The four handmade fishballs alone took up half the bowl. The other half was occupied by Fried Tofu filled with fish paste. Underneath it all were handmade fish dumplings resembling white stingrays. While the fishballs were good with it’s fresh taste, it lacked certain bounciness.

It was the triumphant white fish dumplings and noodles that made dinner all worth it! When biting into the fish dumplings, one would be rewarded with uber flavourful brown fillings. I stole bites of my mum’s noodles and every strand was perfectly cooked – tender yet retaining a bite.

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Song Kee was the best surprise ever! Only open in the evenings but till late, I foresee many special dinners there.