Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: gelato

artichoke cafe + bar

In the 4 months that I’ve been away from writing proper, I’ve been violently sucked into a whirlwind of events, bludgeoned with massive amounts of food, met the incredible people behind food establishments, harvested an insane amount of food photographs, and got tossed into the world of publishing – all in the name of Urban Relish. What was supposed to be a small-scaled summer food publication almost immediately blew out of proportion and there went 4 months.

But that’s not the point of this post.

The point is: Meet my latest obsession.

Moorish Cuisine – a melange of cuisines from the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean countries. Turkey, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, and more, Moorish cuisine is best summed up as probably the best thing that the rampaging Ottomans left behind before the empire was broken up into what we know today as Turkey, Arabia, Syria, and the like.

In a nutshell, you’re supposed to be feasting at a table with friends whom you love enough to share the bounty with. You order up a storm, and dive right in. And there’s so much to love about such a philosophy that I’ve been back about a total of 5 times now, with a handful or so of returns in the planning.

As part of the mammoth food guide, Urban Relish, that I was slaving away for, I had the opportunity to visit Artichoke for a tasting session. All I’d heard about them was their brunch. And if you’re like me and have only heard about their brunch, well I have just one thing to say: Stop hearing it, because I’m going to tell you about their dinners.

Of course, it’s chef Bjorn Shen who has crafted this contagious culture in his restaurant, and all I needed was just a little chat with him for it to start infecting (in the best way possible). If you need an example of his kitchen philosophy, just have a look at that chalk-scrawled wall in the picture on the right. He’s great with his meats, just in case you can’t tell.

It’s all about great food, colour, texture, boisterous groups of people, passing around a Forgotten Grain Salad to share, mopping up plates of dips with flat breads, and perhaps a meat platter if you’re so inclined. Although I must say that if you do order a meat platter, chances are, Chef Bjorn himself might just come right up to your table in the midst of grilling some haloumi and try to convince you to order a Beetroot Tzatziki instead.

When at Artichoke, if something on the menu looks foreign to you, order it. Don’t know what’s blackened Turkish butter? Or the aforementioned haloumi? Only one way to find out. If you’re still insecure, I’m telling you they’re all good. Details in a while.

Here he is, orchestrating the photoshoot as I was perched atop a high stool. He admitted to having dabbled in food photography a while back before starting Artichoke, and burst out of the restaurant arms full with cups, bottles of cider, cutlery, napkins – anything and everything that could be a prop.

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Brunetti – an Italian café experience

I figure I should test the waters of the current state of my writing, because unlike investments, it’s not going to appreciate by just festering in a corner over 3 months. So let’s start of with what I had for tea.

I was introduced to Brunetti – one of Melbourne’s most iconic Italian cafes – just this week, 2 days before it opened it’s first branch here in Singapore on the 29th of September. It came as a recommendation, for Italian coffee, pastries, gelato and the whole shebang. And trust me when I say that Brunetti is your one-stop wonderland to almost every Italian treat from biscotti, to millfoglies, hand-made chocolates, paninis, cornettos, espressos, straciatella gelato, and pignolos. Hand your wallet over to someone reliable, because you’re your own worst enemy in the face of at least 10 metres of glass displays with glistening pastries so shiny and vibrant you’ll need shades to gawk.

Brunetti has been around in Melbourne for more than 30 years now, and diehard fans of the outlet at Carlton have been anxiously waiting ever since there was news that it would open its doors here at RWS. But thank goodness it’s Tanglin Mall they’ve decided on instead of Sentosa. I can’t imagine having to go out of my way for a good cup of Italian roast or what could be the closest experience to sitting in an authentic Italian café.

It’s the tiled floor, the mosaic pieces, the black and white photographs of people sipping coffee, the sheer amount of sweets, and the smell of deep, smokey coffee that slows time down, draws you in and teaches you that a cappuccino should last a good, long conversation instead of having it taken-away and chugged down as you’re walking. There’s an otherworldly charm about Brunetti. It whisks you off to another time and place, and if you tried hard enough, maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to hear the staccatos of rapid-fire Italian over the buzz of the cafe. You won’t have to try as hard for Singlish though. Just saying.

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