Pizza E Funghi
You would think that ever since I’ve stopped working to concentrate on university applications, my life would reach a tranquil reprieve of sorts, that it would be when I finally get to claw my way up to break the surface, sucking in my first gasp of fresh air since selling my soul to paperwork and sending screwy sms reminders to students.
Nothing much has changed.
I still sit at the computer the entire day, and the only differences would be the absence of my pores shrivelling up under sub-zero conditions with the air-conditioning blasting in my face and the lack of need to wear two jackets for 8 hours. Oh, and of course the steady emptying of my wallet. Silly me, how could I forget.
I’ve been so busy reading…things on the computer that I don’t even remember what they were!
But, you know, if it’s one thing I’d remember, it’s food – in the sense that I had yet to settle the date, time and venue for the meet-up with the girls that’s been delayed for almost a month already. It was probably hours before I sourced out this restaurant offering an in-house promotion for Tuesday Pizzas Night, where a selected assortment of thin-crust pizzas go for $12.90 each. Budget pizzas for budgeted students! What other fantastic way to spend Tuesday night could there possibly be?
But I guess Wenhui would beg to differ.
“Oh my tian! Very nice! Ahhh! Christine, very nice!”
Wincing at the high-pitched squeal of delight and her English degenerating into monosyllables, I said over my shoulder. “Yeah, of course I’m nice!”
Wenhui took another voracious chomp off the Lemon and Cranberry scones I made for them and handed out when we met at the station.
“Tao yan! Oh my gadddd! It fo nife!” she exclaimed with her mouth full.
I received a bounteous shower of crumbs and was quick to point out her less than lady-like behaviour.
Naturally, she glomped and swatted at me for making her like my scones and reducing her to a blabbering mess. (I actually met her again at AMK station yesterday to pass her two more scones and six onde ondes. See? I feed my friends well, but not so much my family since I always end up giving my treats away).
Now, I will set out on a bout of passionate advocation about how we women are the most fascinating creatures you could ever hope to come across. We find our way around perfectly fine with or without a map, with only gothere.sg as reference. That nonsense about women being incapable of reading maps? Utter bull. We found the restaurant, nestled in a cosy (albeit, ulu-ated) corner of Serangoon Gardens. And the fact that we were 20 minutes late for our reservation for 8pm, and that I had to ring up the restaurant twice for directions and give a heads up for a quintet of noisy charming girls merely adds to our allure.
Think about it.
Liru and Gushi on the bus.
Right, so pointless shamelessness aside, we swept into Ristorante De Parma, famished and leaning on each other for support after walking for what seemed like ages. The restaurant staff didn’t even have to inquire, the moment they saw five boisterous girls, they swiftly led us to our reserved table.
The waiter promptly handed out our menus and a separate one with selected pizzas that were available for Pizzas Night. I’d read much about the smoked salmon pizza but, as I expected, it definitely wasn’t among those that were going for $12.90. We picked the Pizza Insalata, Pizza E Funghi and Spaghetti Con Funghi E Olives first since we weren’t sure about the portions.
I whipped out my new Canon G11, choosing that night to christen it with it’s first 100 or so pictures. I’m still getting used to it’s functions and non-dslr performance, but I have to say I’m quite pleased with the quality of the pictures, considering that they were shot all under dim, candle-light conditions, and if they weren’t as sharp as I’d have preferred, there really wasn’t anything much that I could do to remedy camera shake.
The crazies and picture-taking ensued, as per normal whenever we meet up with the girls, and it was refreshing, really, since I haven’t had the opportunity of meeting people who can top the amount of insanity they bring ever since Carrine and Wenhui left for poly. They haven’t changed one bit, Wenhui especially, and I’m glad. So amidst her unrestrained and characteristic fits of laughter, the complimentary foccacia bread came floating out of the kitchen onto our tables on two separate plates, one with two slices and another with three. One for each of us. They arrived warm and crisp, the crumb slightly springy and herbed with delicate rosemary. It paired well with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, so well that Gushi kept nibbling from my slice as I was snapping away. From someone who bakes bread on an almost fortnightly basis now, if the bread isn’t as moist as is ideal, it is to be expected because one can only get a soft and steaming crumb during the time window of the bread coming out of the oven and a few hours later. I’d be more than happy if I was told that the foccacia was freshly made earlier on in the day. That’s as fresh as it’s gonna get, and I was content.
Spaghetti Con Funghi E Olives ($17.80)
The pasta was the next to arrive, and I have the niggling suspicion that by then the staff would have been a little more wary of the girls who were close to rolling on the floor in laughter. I don’t quite remember what we were laughing about, but I know enough to know that we didn’t know what was funny either. The girls waited patiently for me to snap a couple of pictures before giggling and tearing the pasta apart like animals. They didn’t even leave some for Gushi. Tsk. Naw, we realised soon enough and deposited enough on her plate.
I find it a shame really, that the spaghetti was a hit and miss in almost the extreme ends of the spectrum. I loved the blend of ingredients, the gently sauteed mushrooms, tender tomatoes, slivers of garlic and toasted pinenuts. The puzzling part was how the ingredients tasted fantastic on their own, but did barely nothing to enhance the pasta in itself.
“It’s a little bland,” commented Gushi. “Tastes kinda like…fried rice.”
On that thought, there was a distinct smokey-ness, almost like wok-hei as the Cantonese call it, which I found would serve well to bring out the flavours if only it didn’t blanket it. It’s quite like that brassy and cacophonous class clown we all should know of, drowning out the potential stimulating and essential questions the others might wish to raise.
I was pleased that the waiter made it a point to inform us that the pizzas would take 20 minutes to prepare, and that was more than an indicator of how time was flying because the Pizza Insalata soon descended onto the table, and needless to say, we all peered in wonder at the deluge of leafy greens, julienned red peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and gorgeous disks of kalamata olives.
“Can I attack it now?” pouted Gushi as I was struggling to compose a picture.
“Wait la,” I huffed, and took a shot, cursing the lighting.
Puppy-dog eyes. “Now?”
“Ya la, ya la!”
I suppose she was really hungry, because while I was pondering on the texture of the crust and combination of flavours on my first bite, she was on her second slice. The crust was thin enough for my liking, though a little tough to cut through with a knife. Gushi’s fingers cramped. The slightly charred bottom made a great accompaniment to the tomato base but it got a little overwhemling after a while. It’s not the best pizza base I’ve had but it was alright.
Slice of Pizza E Funghi
So half the pizza was gone before the Pizza E Funghi was served. It was a unanimous decision that we preferred this to the Insalata, the aromatic mushrooms much more titillating to the senses. Perhaps the pizza was a tad overdone, because the charred base punched through the other ingredients once again, and the cheese was browned and less melty than I would have liked. It was good, nevertheless.
A quick glance at the girls and I deftly plucked up the menu. Another pizza was in order, I thought, because as much as I know we would survive on half-empty stomachs and that we’d leave room for dessert, Gushi was openly making goo goo eyes at the remaining slices of pizza. You’re not the most discreet of people my dear.
Pizza Spinach with Ham
We made quick work of the Pizza Spinach with Ham and it vanished quickly. The sharpness of the spinach and the marriage of ham and cheese was – since time immemorable – flawless.
Liru and Wenhui
Me, Gushi (pink cheeks!) and Carrine
“Aye, so tiramisu for dessert?” I prodded Gushi in the side.
She made a face. “Ew. I don’t like coffee.”
“I don’t like also!” chimed in Wenhui.
I rolled my eyes and sighed. “Chocolate Fondant then?”
“Whazzat?” all four of them asked.
I scratched my head, and wondered how best to describe it to them. “Eh, it’s like a chocolate cake that when you poke it open, the melted chocolate inside oozes out and-”
Their eyes glazed over. I think I lost them at “melted chocolate”. Chuckling, I waved a waiter over and placed an order for one tiramisu and a chocolate fondant.
It was very thoughtful of the waiter, once again, to inform us that the chocolate fondant would take longer than the tiramisu since it has to be warmed up.
So the tiramisu came first, and for someone who doesn’t like coffee, I had to almost physically wrestle Gushi’s eager hands from decimating the perfectly scuplted dessert before I could snap a picture.
Now, I’m not an avid tiramisu fan. But when a tiramisu sends five girls in a frenzy, table-manners reduced to that of sugar-intolerant gibbons, I come to the undeniable and firm conclusion that this is the best tiramisu I’ve had so far. This is purely subjective of course, and also considering that I’ve only had tiramisu about a handful of times. There is something absolutely beguiling and deceptively simple about the silken smoothness of the mascarpone and alcohol-soaked sponge fingers. It’d quite like a love affair, a moment both sublime and fleeting when the complexity of the flavours hits your tongue. I was in love with it for it’s perfect ratio of coffee-infused sponge fingers and almost ethereal airiness of the mascarpone, if not for how it wasn’t (thank goodness) cloyingly sweet. I’d have preferred the alcohol (kahlua? Or perhaps just espresso?) to be a little more cutting, and the scent of coffee more pronounced for full sensory pleasure. But both Gushi and Wenhui completely adored it. I think it was destroyed within a minute.
We soon drifted on to more promising dessert prospects when the Chocolate Fondant was served, immediately stabbing the poor round of cake in anticipation of a gush of chocolatey reward.
Chocolate Fondant ($12.90)
Unfortunately, it didn’t even so much as trickle out. Perhaps it is meant to be as such, the chocolate on the inside resembling the consistency of a mousse more than anything else. It was true to chocolate goodness though, the cake on the outside crusty and delivering a heady rush of cocoa, our endorphins bouncing around in gleeful joy.
It was probably half past nine by the time we sat back, laughing and feeling replete and expansive.
Many thanks to the waiter who came to our assisstance in taking a group photo.
And many thanks to the girls for giving me stitches from laughing about every nonsense under the sun.
Next: Dim sum lunch!
Ristorante De Parma
14B Kensington Park Road
Serangoon Garden Estate
Tel: +65 6281 3380
11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10.30pm
(Closed on Wed)