Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: dessert

Baked by Lace

Baked by Lace

If there is one thing that can be infinitely fascinating, it’s finding someone so passionate about baking they’re writing formulas, punching numbers into calculators to get that perfect proportion of ingredients, using premium ingredients, never compromising on quality, and meticulous with every detail.

Well I’m glad to have met Lace.

She’s like me, except only the cupcake equivalent to my bread, but also much more popular (cupcakes > bread) and successful with her batches of inconceivably moist and delicately-crumbed cupcakes.

I won’t be frosting and selling my bread by the boxes anytime soon. Wholemeal Sourdough? Dark Rye Bread? Pssh. Who’d buy that?!

But Lace! Lace has got all manners of maddeningly adorable confectioneries. Salted Caramel! Cookies n Cream (my all-time favourite)! Peanut Butter Chocolate! Classic Vanilla Bean! And then she’s got Nutella under her belt! And Dark Chocolate Sea Salt! Red Velvet! Black Forest! Chocolate Bailey’s! Mocha!

She’s been toying with bread too, and while we’ve launched into lengthy discussions over hydration percentages and pre-ferments, I get the feeling she’ll one-up me with a brioche recipe soon and once again, I’ll be stupefied. I shan’t bother competing.

Peanut Butter Chocolate

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Cocotte – French country cooking

Hotel Wanderlust - Cocotte

When people think French, they think stifling fine-dining, measly portions, extravagant black tie affairs for people who have the luxury of time and money. I’m not going to lie that French food isn’t pricey, but I must draw a distinction between the classes of the French cuisine.

In layman terms, you have the fanciful – but no less artful – fine-dining style of cuisine, and then you have the tuck-a-napkin-into-your-collar-and-get-right-in-there peasant-style of French cooking.

Fresh flowers. No-frills decor.

For all those afraid of formality, well, you can chuck out that bowtie of yours because it’s just going to get in the way of the food and your mouth, and if anything, it’ll only be useful as far as that dribble of sauce down your chin is concerned. At Cocotte, you get incredibly rich gravies so thick they don’t splatter, hearty portions of meat and potatoes and all sorts of root vegetables, and flawless (and very liberal) amalgams of butter and wine.

You get down-to-earth, sincere food.

When I heard that Cocotte was nestled within a boutique hotel, named Wanderlust, one with 4 thematic floors, each designed by Singaporean designing agencies, and after chancing across pictures of their quirky, edgy rooms, I knew I had to pop by sometime. Not so much to see the rooms, of course, because that’ll just be odd since I have no reason to spend the night in Little India, but just to, you know, get a feel of the place since the very name of the hotel just reflects my longstanding affliction of not being able to travel much.

And then I actually saw pictures of Cocotte, the spunky yet provincial decor, with splashes of Le Creuset-themed colours (bold reds, blues, yellows, oranges, whites and blacks…) against rustic, unlacquered wooden furnishings, and saw pictures of the kinds of French country-style foods they whip up, and I really should have contained myself, but I didn’t – I made a reservation.

Beouf Bourguignon (supplement of $12 for the $29-per-pax set lunch)

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Bistro du Vin #2

Bistro du Vin!

I used to shun set lunches like Singaporeans shun the sun (say that ten times fast). I mean, nondescript “Soup of The Day”s, “Garden Salad”s, and “Dessert of The Day”s? You get what they’re trying to do after a while – Cost cutting. You know, things that the chef or the kitchen needs to be rid of in a manner to avoid any wastage. Isn’t it perfect then, to feed the sorry souls hungry for a break from sitting at the desk who brighten up at the mere thought of a ‘3-course set-lunch’ the chowder from yesterday’s dinner rush, and a fritatta of last night’s leftovers?

Oh lordie, am I jaded much?

Right, enough of the mopey grousing over all the times I’ve been hoodwinked into forking out cash for crummy food. I should make it clear though, this does not mean I condone the fact that just because it is a set lunch and not an à la carte order for lunch/dinner, it is an excuse for serving less-than-excellent food. Nuh uh.

That being said, I declare that I am now a convert.

I now order set lunches with wild abandon. So shoot me.

Interior. Complimentary bread.

Bistro du Vin swept me away from my first visit about half a year back. It was dinner that I had then, and their rendition of the timeless Duck Leg Confit (confit de canard) had me weeping at the table with how delicately it literally melted off the bone, yielding to barely a prod of a knife, and had skin so fine and thin and crackly it was like a single, most intense moment of self-revelation – that it put the french in French cooking that I’d never realised before.

So then I heard that they offer equally, if not better, 3-course set lunches at $30++ that could potentially make me burst into tears, I had to go. I needed a good cry.

Salmon Trout Gravadlax with Dill, Citrus and Radish.

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The Dining Room – Sheraton Towers

The Dining Room

Buffets incite the same mixture of feelings within me as savage most-pit slam-dancing in front of the stage, so close you can see up the band’s noses – immense trepidation and morbid excitement.

It’s the kind where you can’t decide if you should refrain from joining in the party since being molecularly smashed against other people isn’t very appealing, or if you should dive right in since you already paid to enter.

What a star diver I used to be.

The staggering, inebriated shuffling out of restaurants after too much of, well, everything was even funny. It was hilarious! There’s no better way to deal with pain than to laugh it out (but then of course there were times when I couldn’t even laugh since my stomach took up all the space left for my lungs to expand).

Then I would just feel like an imbecile. I mean, is there any higher form of depravity than paying to be one chocolate-fondue-coated-banana-chunk away from going kablooey-kasplat?

Sautéed Vegetables. Braised Lamb.

Somewhere along the years, I eventually got into my thick head that the stomach isn’t as expandable as I thought it was, that 3 servings of durian pengat, 2 ice cream waffles and pudding really wasn’t going to fit in with the orgy of seafood, meats and copious amounts of clogging carbohydrates. Boy what a revelation that was. That was a hypothetical scenario by the way, to put my wanton gluttony into perspective for you.

Therefore I am pleased to announce that The Dining Room is my first buffet that no one has had to wheel me out on a gurney. No crutches, no rolling. I walked. Huzzah!

And every single buffet item was good.  Read more of this post

Fish & Co. – xoxo Platter

The XOXO Platter for 2 ($39.95)

Now I’ll just stick true to my principles and not launch into an entirely unneeded spiel of an occasion that needs no further publicity and marketing than already given. Because we all know that.

I will, however, have to admit that the special menu offerings, exclusive set meals, mind-blowing degustation selections, and promotions that restaurants push when it comes to riding the wave of commercialism during times like these really do tempt the passive consumer. You don’t have to believe in such festivities to enjoy an extended menu. Well more’s always good! Just ignore the neon pink kissy kissy stuff. Simple!

About a couple of weeks ago, the folks at Fish & Co. must have gotten wind that I haven’t been there in a while (and also perhaps they heard that I’m like Grinch of Valentine’s Day and they wanted a chance at enlarging my heart and – maybe, just maybe – turning me from green to blinding pink) and so invited me down to sample their new xoxo Valentine’s Day Platter for 2. Read more of this post

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

I take my tarts very seriously. It ain’t a tart if the crust ain’t the least bit crunchy. What is that anyway?!

My memories and impressions of tarts date all the way back to when I was a little tyke, throwing tantrums when I didn’t get my strawberry and custard tart from Delifrance (that and a ham and cheese quiche – which I also take very seriously, but that’s another story for another day). There was something in that tart crust, a particular taste, besides being crunchy and hard. I still don’t know what that is, but I’ll find out eventually. The flaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth sorts are good too, oh definitely, but it’s one that has crunch that really leaves a deep impression on me.

And yes, I’ve found the answer to that.  Read more of this post

Diandin Leluk

Mango Salad ($6.00)

Take me back a year or two ago and at the mention of ‘Thai food’, I’d just think ‘Thai Express’, ‘spicy’ and…well, ‘SPICY”.

Fortunately for me, time has done away with my sorry ignorance of cuisines and I now associate Thai food with Golden Mile Complex. Of course I’ve heard plenty of people making offhanded comments about how overrated and overhyped it is, that there are many more authentic Thai places scattered all over the island, and that I shouldn’t just keep going back to Golden Mile Complex because it’s boring! Well, its novelty for me hasn’t worn off yet.

But that’s probably also because I’m a masochist.

I can’t explain it, but there’s something extremely gratifying about sniveling and spilling copious amounts of tears and mucous, clawing at my dining partners in pain for help (who also begin clawing at me as their tongues go numb and are reduced to a blabbering mess) as I consume awesome, spicy, Thai food, like a Mango Salad.

And then having it practically tear through my system and blaze out of my behind the next day.

I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  Read more of this post

The French Kitchen

 

The French Kitchen

 

It’s hard to come by authentic French establishments these days. Far too many cafes, bistros and restaurants quietly serve up fusion fare, sneaking in herbs and spices otherwise never used in French cooking. But, as Jean Charles Dubois proudly declared himself, The French Kitchen has the pleasure of offering bona fide, untainted French menu selections for lunches and dinners at incredibly reasonable prices. The menus change every now and then, and so if you’re in luck, there’ll be caviar, if not, then pan-seared foie gras, sea scallops, veal or duck leg confit and a myriad of other very possible appearances by seasonal French ingredients may pleasantly surprise you.

The French Kitchen is situated in Central Mall at Magazine Road, a little ways from Clarke Quay and should not be confused with The Central that is directly above Clarke Quay station.

It’s a humble restaurant and seats about 30 people modestly. We easily took up half the seating capacity, walking in blearily after finally having found our way through the downpour that day for a three-course lunch.

The decor is bright, elegant and minimalistic, none of that froufrou ambience characteristic of French fine-dining establishments. It isn’t casual, oh definitely not, but it’s comfortable, and there is nothing else more satisfying than dining at ease, without a choking collar of propriety around your neck. Read more of this post

Nutella Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza

Nutella Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza.

There are few things that irk me more when I’m rummaging through kitchen cabinets and the pantry than to find out that I am completely out of salt.

But not just any salt.

I’m talking sea salt, all kinds of sea salt in fact.

Flaky, coarse-grained, grey, fine, kosher….

There is, however, never a shortage of table salt in the kitchen. But I don’t care for that.

So you think salt’s just salt and what’s with all the fancy schmancy names? I mean, it’s no big deal right? Sure, salt’s important because without it, food’s going to taste like ribbons from the paper shredder, and oh, what with all the low-sodium products bursting forth in grocery stores, perhaps it’s best not to discuss potentially health damaging substances hm?

I apologise, but as you can see, I’m not really giving a damn.

I treat all my salt at home (and when I say ‘all’, I mean the total of 4 kinds of salt that I now have handy when I need them) more precious than any other gourmet ingredient – with the exception of my lone bottle of white truffle oil – because sodium chloride is king.

Have you ever forgotten to include that teaspoon of salt into your batch of cookies? Or perhaps intentionally left it out of your brownies for whatever demented reason? How’d that turn out?

Betcha didn’t really know why no one was helping themselves to seconds. Read more of this post

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pizza

Blueberry Cream Cheese Pizza

Hi.

No, this isn’t me doing wacky stuff in the kitchen as a result of horrible jet lag.

In fact, you know what? I haven’t even been in the kitchen at all ever since I came back from tripping all over Europe. Why? Because I’ve been running myself against the wall, pulling the split-ends in my hair out and threatening my computer with a jack hammer because it refuses to detect over a hundred pictures that I took during my trip. No, they turn up perfectly fine on my camera but vanish in Windows. If you don’t pull your act together you stupid computer, I’m buying a Mac!

So, till I figure out where them pictures are hiding in my CPU or when my computer finally succumbs to my desperate wailing and sobbing, here’s a dessert pizza from a while back – before I went off and got myself deathly afraid of bread from eating it every single day.

This is but the first to come of a slew of dessert pizzas that I’ll churn out once I overcome my temporary aversion to flour and sweet things. That’s weird, you say? The Italians will strangle me with to death with spaghetti for butchering a pizza? Well I’m sure they’ll be welcoming me with open arms once I throw together Nutella and banana. Or baked apples, cinnamon and custard. Or dark chocolate and candied oranges.

Everyone else makes blueberry cheesecakes.

I make pizza.

How about that eh?

So go on, give your favourite dessert a twist. Anything on a crisp, thin crust is fantastic.

Although I should give due warning that not everyone cozies up to the notion of sweet pizza. Like how some people hate tamagoyaki (japanese sweet omelette). Shrugs. Weirdos.

Well less for them and more for you.

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