Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Simply Fabulicious People - Pastry Chef Christophe's Baubles, Trees and Other Delights

We’ve known about Hilton Singapore’s best kept secret for some time now, and we figured Christmas and the year-end holidays is the best time to throw the limelight on the hotel’s super creative Executive Pastry Chef, Christophe Grilo. So we caught up him just earlier this week with a candid, never-before-seen exclusive interview right here with SimplyFab. 

A master of whimsical confections who clearly spins sweet treats with a lively sense of humour, Chef Grilo’s Christmas confections are quirky and cute. They have a childish fun about them which makes them such winners. We recently had a preview of his lemon tart disguised as a Christmas tree – tangy, smooth and comforting yet not too sweet – and a golden chocolate Christmas bauble filled with tiramisu, all gloriously 3D in form, and as delicious as they are gorgeous. If you want to throw a peerlessly tasteful party for the yuletide season, SimplyFab ladies just have serve up these lighthearted confections, one for each guest. And because SimplyFab had a chance to, we squeezed in some probing, sugar-coated questions for Chef Christophe, just for you ladies….

SimplyFab: Your pastries are very creative and distinctive. How do you get these wonderful ideas and what do you want your customers to get out of it?

Chef Christophe: I feel inspired after two beers…! :) I am always curious and I like to try new things. It is not easy to create a new pastry, so I like to reflect on what has been done before and experiment with new ingredients and sometimes prepare a pastry in a different manner and get wonderful surprises. The pastries that evolved should be elegant and easy to eat. I hope you will feel good seeing it and enjoy it.

Lemon Tart disguised as a Christmas tree

SimplyFab: SimplyFab readers are sophisticated ladies who have been there, done that and bought the diamonds. What sort of confection would you recommend we serve as a suitable dinner party dessert that reflects our luscious spirit and lifestyle?

Chef Christophe: Fresh berries and raspberry sorbet in a shallow crispy meringue spherical eggshell, served with a light vanilla cream will be perfect for the ladies.

Christmas Panettone
(Not the Supremo though, but also yummy)

SimplyFab: What should we buy back from Hilton's Checkers Deli and serve for a Christmas party that will knock the socks off our guests?

Chef Christophe: The Supremo Panettone with High Quality Fruits made with one-year-old yeast and imported fruits from the south of France. To enjoy this bread, you should first lightly toast the slices and have it with a good vanilla ice cream.

Golden bauble tiramisu

SimplyFab: How should we eat the 3D lemon tart and golden bauble in a way befitting our elegance? Break it up from top down? Pull it apart piece by piece?

Chef Christophe: To eat the golden bauble: First, gently remove the top half of the golden sphere with your fingers, thereafter you can scoop up the tiramisu with a dessert spoon. To enjoy the 3D lemon tart, work your way up the Christmas Tree with a fork from its base.

Chef Christophe makes 3D cakes too, like this luxe handbag orange choc cake

SimplyFab: Oooo! We love to work our way from the bottom up all sorts of our just desserts! So what confection do you suggest we seduce someone with? How can you help us?

Chef Christophe: I will prepare an elegant crispy dark chocolate cake shaped in a perfect cube. Ensconced in a thin dark chocolate (66%) is soft hazelnut sponge with layers of chocolate and coffee cream and V.S.O.P. caramel.

SimplyFab: Lovely! And can you share with us a simple recipe we can whip up in our kitchens for post-dinner playtime?

Chef Christophe: Here’s the recipe for the One-Minute Espresso Tiramisu with a Vodka Shot. You should be able to prepare this in 1 minute.

One-Minute Espresso Tiramisu with a Vodka Shot
By Executive Pastry Chef, Christophe Grilo
Hilton Singapore
(Serves 6)

100g Digestive biscuit crumbs
250g Mascarpone cheese
25g Sugar
1/2 tsp Brown sugar
6 pcs Ladies fingers (biscotti)
20g Liquid Cream
2 shots Espresso
Vodka shots, as many as you like
1. Hand-whisk mascarpone cheese, liquid cream and sugar for half-minute.
2. Lay out 6 espresso cups and apportion some biscuit crumbs (don’t use all) into the cups.
3. Fill the cups ¾ full with the cream mix (from Step #1).
4. Add more biscuit crumbs into the cup
5. Add ½ tsp brown sugar into the double-shot espresso.
6. Break the ladies fingers into two and soak the lady fingers into the double-shot espresso.
7. Stick the soaked ladies fingers into the cup of tiramisu and serve with vodka shots.
8. To enjoy, down a shot of vodka and have your tiramisu. Repeat the process with vodka shots as many times as you like!

PS. You can get hold of his baubles and tree at Checkers Deli at the Hilton Singapore from now until 24 Dec.

- Ee Waun

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Monday, 29 November 2010

By The Way - Ideas worth listening to!

Here is an interesting alternative to a gals night out. If you are in Singapore and have some time on Wednesday 8 December and Thursday 9 December then you may want to head to the National Library at 100 Victoria Street from 6.30pm to 9.00pm

Inspiration comes in the form of women sharing their experiences and ideas and who knows, you may just come up with the courage to make one of yours fly. 

Who's talking? 

·      Anna Tsang, serial social entrepreneur and founder of the Mother and Child project, on how to start social enterprises in places with no natural resources.

·      Evi Syariffudin: on Understanding Life, bettering Life, protecting Life, supporting Life. Design, for Evi, is a funtion of life.

·      Esther Tan of the Singapore Women’s Everest team on climbing Everest and conquering our own personal Everest.

·      Kelley Cheng, is one of 2009’s Great Women of our Times in Art and Design and an avid pop-culture junkie. A jack-of-all-trades.

·      Lilian Ing, Clinical Psychologist, on her toughest transformational journey ever: adopting her daughter from China and becoming a mother.

·      Dr Susan Lim, surgeon and stem-cell researcher who performed the world’s first successful liver transplant, will discuss the latest in stem cell research and its potential impact on our lives.

In addition to this, watch and listen to Iris Goh, founder of the Athenarts Performing Troupe showcasing original works from female songwriters in Singapore with a group of women from Singers Club and Karen Ng of Mezzé Flame entertain with lights and magic and talk about the importance of 'Flow' and how it has shaped her life.

Registration required at:  http://www.TEDxSingapore.sg/TEDxWomen with a S$9 adult entrance fee. 

This event is part of TEDxSingapore and was created in the spirit of TED's mission, "ideas worth spreading." TEDxSingapore welcomes people from every discipline and culture who have two things in common:  seeking a deeper understanding of the world and wanting to turn that understanding into a better future for us all. See: http://www.tedxsingapore.sg

- Elaine 
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Friday, 26 November 2010

Buys - Top 10 Christmas Gift Ideas!

A ton of press releases on gift ideas have come our way, from practical to just plain frivolous. It has been a near impossible task trying to categorise them by price and function so instead I picked my top 10 favourites. If you have not thought of something that you want for yourself, loved one, close friend or boss then hopefully this list gives you some nice ideas: 


GIFT #1 - Tickets to Perth, Western Australia for the family. Available at: Singapore Airlines Family Playtime or visit the Best of Perth Travel Deals. It may be somewhat of a warm weather welcome with Winter in reverse seasons in Australia but you can't deny the charms of this laid back city with its great outlying countryside, good wine, great food and just a lovely atmosphere that makes a retreat there so much more relaxing than spending it in bustling built up Hong Kong (at least for me). Highlight events include the East Perth Picnic in the Park, IGA Christmas Carol Pageant and the Christmas Nativity Event at Forrest Place in the City. Check event listings and dates out here.

GIFT #2 - You really do not want a gift that you can't use so I thought the 'Ta Da' Gift  was a pretty good idea. The TA DA Gift (available only in Hong Kong) is essentially a gift experience that is pegged to how much you want to spend - think HK$500 onwards. Beautifully packaged in a high quality glossy gift box, it has a gift card with a phone number to a concierge service where you can arrange to redeem the gift. 

Select from 6 different categories  of gifts for eg. a Zen gift is all about the spa, pampering and relaxation, a Life gift includes gifts like a Thai boxing class or Horseback riding experience,  a Delicious gift is all about gourmet goodies, an Excite gift spells kayaking, war games and the likes, an Escape gift lets the lucky recipient take a break from the norm, and gain a whole new perspective on Hong Kong via an outdoor camping trip or a sailing trip to an off shore island. And of course if budget is no issue, the Ultimate gift offers the crème de la crème of experiences and can go up to HK$15,000. All in all, there are over 200 different choices of activities and things to do, give and receive. See: The Ta Da List!

GIFT #3 - Holidays are the time for catching up on beauty sleep and my bedroom could use this cool gadget called the i.relax ZEN Aroma Diffuser available at all Oregon Scientific stores, SOGO and SEIBU in Hong Kong. You simply plug in your ipod or mp3 player and you get soothing music, mood effects via a a soft glowing night light and a diffuser that gives off different light fragrances, all coming together for a good night's sleep. Product details here! 

GIFT #4 - As an Apple advocate, I have to say I would not mind unwrapping this one from under the tree. We hear that iLife '11 is out as its the new OSX Lion

iLife '11 gives Mac users even better ways to create and share photos, movies and music. There are more slideshow templates, a chance for you to make Hollywood style movie trailers, a faster and better People Finder to locate your cast for your photo and video projects along with new templates for you to custom make your own books and cards. Available at HK$488 as an upgrade for existing users. See: Apple Store

If you liked the Snow Leopard OSX then the Lion promises to be mighty and will give you a better and louder roar. Inspired by many of the iPad's software innovations such as offering new ways to discover, install and automatically update desktop apps. It also introduces Launchpad, a new home for all of your Mac apps; system-wide support for full screen apps; and Mission Control, which unifies Exposé®, Dashboard, Spaces® and full screen apps into an innovative new view of everything running on your Mac, and allows you to instantly navigate anywhere.  Shipping next Summer, start getting into the queue! 

GIFT #5 - In the market for a phone? Vertu and BlackBerry have both launched new ones. The newest BlackBerry Bold 9780 smartphone is the first  smartphone to come with the new BlackBerry 6 operating system, that has a rich new user interface, a fast and powerful WebKit-based browser, broadly improved communications plus multimedia capabilities, and an incredibly useful Universal Search feature. It is also equipped with a high quality 5MP camera with 512 MB Flash memory and an expandable memory card slot that supports up to 32 GB of additional storage. Additional features of BlackBerry 6 include expanded messaging capabilities, a dedicated YouTube app, simplification of the management of social networking and RSS feeds (Social Feeds), and integrated access to BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. 

There is no doubt that you can't afford to lose a Vertu and their new Constellation Quest smartphone offers unparalleled luxury services and business tools with prices starting at S$9,900 onwards for the Brushed Stainless Steel with Black Leather (available early 2011) to the Yellow Gold, Sapphire keys version with Black leather at S$35,000. With the price tag comes a 24/7 Concierge service and an exclusive vertu.me email account. 

GIFT #6 - For that home party, present the host with a special collectible. Two  come to mind - the first is Mumm on Ice a.k.a G.H.Mumm Cordon Rouge, a special edition champagne launched for the holiday season that comes with a carrier tote that transforms into an ice bucket. Available in Hong Kong on 1 December at Wellcome and Jason's Market Place at HK$348. 

The next is Jacob Creek's new Sparkling Rose Moscato. I am a huge fan of muscat grapes and sweet wines, especially white. Yes, call me a peasant but I say that there is nothing lovelier than to sip icy cold moscato when you are chillin'. This one makes a good girlfriend gift not only because of looks but also quality and it has won a host of awards at the Australian wine shows. A value for money gift, available mid December from only HK$99 to HK$109 at selected outlets and retailers. Both drinks also available at selected outlets in Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai in the same period.  

GIFT #7 - I am tired of my boring old black luggage. So this release caught my eye. You are guaranteed to see your bright and bold coloured luggage come down that conveyor belt at the airport if you get any of these eye catching buys from  American Tourister this season. 

Two models, soft case Westlake (in 7 colours) and hard case F'Lite are being launched. Fully tested, these babies have passed the Drop, Jerk, Lock, Wheel and Tumble Test so whats there not to like? 

GIFT #8 - Impress that client or the boss with a trusty hamper. For lavish think H One and Sevva in Hong Kong, Cova in both Singapore and HK and The Link Home in Singapore. They have mastered the art of wowing the Taipan. 

At HK$988, this Appagamento hamper basket from H One comprising Pear Balsamic Vinegar, Black Truffle with Cheese Fonaue, Aged Parma Ham, homemade goodies including Chocolate Truffles, Cookies and Christmas Stollen, amongst others and a bottle of Prosecco, Zeta di Zardetto 2007  is not as expensive as I would have expected. Hampers go up to HK$8,888. Orders at (852) 2805 0638.  H one is at Shop 4008, Podium Level 4, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong.

At Cova in Singapore and Hong Kong, look out for 3 new cake designs, the Dolce Penguino (S$52 for 1 kg), the Chocolate and Cherries Logcake (S$48 for 1 kg) and the delightful Santa's Car (S$58 for 1kg) made from chocolate sponge mixed with butterscotch and gianduia cream.  Hampers abound at Cova where you can choose from 4 different prepacked designs or custom make your own. Prices start at only S$98. Call +65 6733 0777. 

7 beautifully packaged Hampers await at Sevva, mainly tableware gifts including French handcrafted silver and gold cutlery, napkin rings, exotic sugars, teas and honeys. Call +852 2537 1388 or go to Sevva

At The Link Home in Singapore, get your lovely ornaments custom packed into an elegant gift or choose from any of their exquisitely packaged hampers and gifts. 

GIFT #9 is the trusty Coffret Set. The prettiest by far this year are the ones from Crabtree and Evelyn. My favourites were the Vanity Cases (From S$85) and Hat Boxes (from S$95). The queues in Hong Kong rival the ones in LV and Chanel - just for a chance to get a whiff of the lovely smells coming from inside the store. 

GIFT #10 - And finally ... If you have not already bought the all in one latest Nespresso Latissima that we earlier recommended then this is definitely THE time! And to top it off three new limited edition flavours join the ever growing cache of gourmet tastes. Gift a few tubes of Vanilla Variation with its rich and velvety aromas of vanilla and the mellow flavour of the Livanto Grand Cru,  Caramel Variation, that evokes the creaminess of soft toffee and Almond Variation, a melt-in-the-mouth blend that evokes the mellow taste of Amaretti biscuits.

- Elaine

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Binge - The Turkey Has Landed!

Gosh! The feasting is starting…and thoughts of Christmas cakes and turkeys and stollens and candy are enough to pile on the pounds. But ‘tis the season to be jolly and giving, so Santa should be generous…but if he’s not, let’s all hold hands, and promise to be kind to ourselves.

On the verge of December, SimplyFab has already received some questions from you, our lovely readers, about where to get birds and logs and such – clearly you are planning early and thinking party ideas already – so here’s the start of our Christmas postings. The first of our Christmas series – turkey and all the party trimmings. (Most of these featured are available from this weekend or 1 December but call the individual restaurants for details.)

Goose of the Orient

Fairmont Singapore
SimplyFab puts our stamp of lip-smacking approval on their classic Honey Baked Ham ($38 for 1 kg, good value and no fat!) which was superbly juicy and deliciously tender without that rough feel on your tongue that less than quality ham renders. Their Ginger Mango Twist ($15), a sweetish bread confection with a restrained frosty crust, is also really good even though presentation wise, it looks rather messy. It is light and delicious, definitely a good change from the heavy dishes of the season. I would pick this for a Christmas tea spread. For a show stopper, there's a new creation Sparkling Christmas, a chocolate Christmas tree with almond rocher, sugar diamonds and dragees. Pretty pretty!

What else? The Fairmont bird is largely Asian this time, with Turkey La Peranakan ($280) for something different – boneless, and stuffed with pork buah keluak, chestnuts and turkey jus with kaffir lime. If you want a splurge, and Ah Kong is around, take the $450 Goose of the Orient – don’t you love the campy name? – boneless yet again, and stuffed with sticky rice, conpoy, truffle, dried dates and figs – all Christmas and CNY rolled under one skin! Then end the dinner with Snow Flake Song log cake (above, $25 for 500g/ $48 for 1 kg), Chef Kenny Kong’s charming centerpiece of Champagne vanilla, strawberry swiss roll, melba jelly and biscuit. Just cute, old fashioned goodness.

2 Stamford Road
Tel: 6338 8785 or cafenoel@fairmont.com

Mandarin Oriental

Need more fowl? How about an indulgent bird by The Mandarin Oriental, Singapore – whose executive chef, Eric Teo, is also the President of the Singapore Chefs Association. Treat yourself to the Mandarin Oriental Truffle Christmas Turkey ($380), laced with black Perigord truffle, braised cabbage, roasted potatoes, festive vegetables and truffle sauce; or an elegant Duck Ala Orange (S$120) or its roasted Beef Strip Loin ($250)? A must buy would be Chef Teo’s Christmas Fruit Cake ($65) baked using his secret recipe, and any of their luscious logs: Dark Chocolate Truffle Buche Noel, rolled with Guanaja 70% dark chocolate, Griottine cherry macerated in brandy, biscuit chocolate and nougatine bits; Framboises Buche Noel (above), a sexy combination of raspberry, jivara milk chocolate supreme, raspberry crameux, biscuit joconde chocolat, cocoa nibs, macadamia and dried raspberry powder; and Provence Buche Noel – fromage blanc and Tahitian mousse, crème brulee centre and pain de genes atop a crumble-crust (All $36/500 g and $68/1 kg).

5 Raffles Avenue
Tel: 6338 0066

The cakes at 1-Caramel are really, simplyfab, all light in texture but big on elegant, sophisticated flavour. Plus everything there looks picture pretty perfect too. What to pick up here to impress the guests with your unquestionably good taste? How about a myriad marvelous macaroons (above)? Head Pastry Chef Mimi Wahadi has 12 exotic flavours of macaroons for each of the 12 days of Christmas, like green tea with azuki bean, peanut butter chunks and gula melaka with sea coconut (that’s a unique one!). Beyond that, any of her cakes are lovely too – anything with green tea, strawberry and lychee are just the thing.

#01-01A The Luxe

6 Handy Road
Tel: 6338 3282

Rochester Group
If you're a fan of the food at 1-Rochester or 1-Twenty Six, the Group has prepared take-home savouries. Order your birds and bounty between 1-24 December from any restaurant in the Group (including Stellar). There's Roast Turkey with Cranberry and Pear Relish (top picture), Honey Grain Mustard Glazed Ham on the Bone, and Roast Prime Rib with Herb and Horseradish Crust.

klapsons, the Boutique Hotel
Cupcakes may be 'done to death' as we journalists often say, but SimplyFab just couldn’t resist these superbly whimsical ones by klapsons, the Boutique Hotel (their name just throws my sense of correct punctuation to the wind!) in Tanjong Pagar. Just look at the turkey cupcake (left) complete with drumsticks. Don’t you just adore it? The little Christmas tree is so cute too – imagine having one for each guest at their seats at the table. So perfect! These are new offerings by the hotel, and are made in Chocolate Chip, Vanilla and 70% Dark Chocolate, at a most affordable $22.80+ for a box of six. Their signature klapsons’ Or Noir 70% chocolates is also a great value find – just $28+ per box of 45 pieces, and great for a hostess gift. To ensure you get your goodies, order three days in advance (until 17 Dec) or walk in until 24 Dec and take a chance.

15 Hoe Chiang Road
Tel: 6521 9001 or email fnb@klapsons.com

Goodwood Park Hotel
Aren’t the mini designer Christmas cakes (above) just precious? Available at the deli, they come in a choice of two miniature cakes – an elf-sized Christmas tree colourfully decked out in mini macaron ‘baubles’; and an orange pound cake encased in white chocolate ($13.80 each). What we also like are their value-for-money combo specials, and the antidote to hostesses who don’t want to spend all day slaving in the kitchen. If it’s a traditional Christmas you want, get The Traditional Christmas Combo ($280) of classic Christmas turkey, honey-glazed boneless ham with vanilla-pineapple sauce, traditional chocolate log cake and create-your-own gingerbread Christmas tree. And if the old folks are in attendance, they’ll appreciate the Local Christmas Combo (S$260) to serve up Hainanese turkey with chicken rice balls (yums!), Sichuan BBQ pork skewers, D24 durian Christmas log cake and also a create-your-own gingerbread Christmas tree. Orders fully paid for by 10 December will get a further 5% discount.

22 Scotts Road,
Tel: (65) 6730 1867 / 1868
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Binge – Noodle Bar, Cocktails and Asian Chic

Ai Mien Bar, which recently opened in Capitol Tower, is a spacious, stylish yet casual Chinese bistro which serves up all manner of Chinese noodles, Chinese tapas and Chinese-inspired cocktails. Open from 8am for breakfast all the way to dinner and afters, its 4,200 square feet of space, soaring 7m-high ceiling and full length windows is stunning.

Of its 130+ menu items, its piece de resistance, Ai Mien Regional Creation ($18.80) is a definite winner. Comprising four small portions of noodles representing the main regional cuisine styles of China, you get noodles with sliced beef in pork ribs soup from the northeast, a piquant egg noodles with wanton in XO sauce from the south, a refreshing, tangy-spicy chilled spinach noodles with shredded chicken and prawns from the east, and noodles with minced pork in Sze Chuan spice sauce from the west. Perfect for those who can’t make up their mind or just thrive on variety!

The noodles were fresh, springy and had a delightfully subtle bite, and the combination of bland, piquant, hot and sour soups certainly excited the palate. All of these four little portions are cooked a la minute when the order comes in – so it’s added work for the chef, but a Good Thing for customers.

I also really liked the Chilled Mien ($18.80), thick, pale, weighty cold noodles – similar to udon though not as thick – served with shredded chicken, crunchy vegetables, plump prawns and quivering opalescent scallops. This was tossed in an absolutely refreshing and unusual tangy peanut sauce. Sounds odd, yes, but it is delicious. Definitely worth noting are the particularly huge, fresh and firm river prawns!
Chilled Fresh Milk and Coconut Soft Cake

For dessert, you must leave your diet at the door and sink into a parfait glass of icy Avocado Puree with Aloe Vera and Walnut Ice Cream ($5.80) – moderately rich, toe-curlingly yummy and worth every extra calorie. The Chilled Fresh Milk and Coconut Soft Cake ($3.80) is also ab fab: two oblongs of shivering milky custard, just subtly sweet enough, covered in a fluffy down of desiccated coconut and sesame seeds. Eat it with small pieces of the shiso leaf it is served upon – it’ll surprise you what a lovely combination it makes.

Shooter portions fo their signature cocktails: (from left:) Love Potion No 9,
Endless Love, Love Takes Time, One Night in Beijing

The bar here serves up four signature Asian-inspired cocktails as well as liquor and mixers from lunch time, with a long happy hour offering one-for-one deals from 5pm – 9pm. For sweet and safe, take Love Potion No. 9 – a lovely gin and strawberry puree combination that’s definitely quaffable all evening, campy name notwithstanding. Love Takes Time features gin and a dainty stick of ginseng – I thought I won’t like it, but the bitterness of the herb was very discreet, remaining in the background while the rest of the drink was fresh, lively and my favourite, surprisingly. Endless Love, again while sounding unbearably kitschy, turned out a lovely combination of Chrysanthemum and cognac with a few crunchy sweet wolfberries. Nice! While shooter portions of these are not shown in the menu, Vincent the Ops Manager tells me that you can indeed ask for them and it will be served up at $6 per shot. Ask for all four then, like you see in the picture!

Beef with pine nuts

Accompany your drinks with nibbles from its Asian tapas menu. The Fried Beef Cube with Pine Nuts ($6.80) featured very tender beef sweetly marinated and very enjoyable, and the Deep fried Toast with Prawn Paste and Fish Roe ($5.80) was a delectable combination of textures from the tender soft paste to the crunchy toast and the ‘pop’ of the roe. The Deep-Fried Prawn with Crispy Noodles ($8.80) was pretty with a thin layer of noodles wrapped round firm, fat, succulent river prawns. Tapas are available from 3pm to 11pm.

If you work in the vicinity, make your way there early for lunch as it fills up to the brim. But when the lunch crowd leaves at about 2.30pm, Ai Mien Bar becomes a great place for a mid-afternoon brainstorm sessions because of the space, large tables and cocktails. Plus it's such a convenient and pleasant place to meet for after-work drinks and dinner as things get a little quieter and tranquil here at night. And you know what? The best thing is, you get good food at fair prices.
- Ee Waun
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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Boudoir - Pack him off to the "MAN Academy!"

So here is a funny one from Hong Kong .. where male bonding a.k.a networking has taken a new twist. No more beer and pool boys nights out for the Martians amongst us, instead male bonding in Hong Kong comes in the form of the "MAN Academy" where according to organisers NecesCity.com, 25 guys eagerly attended Hong Kong's very first MAN Academy last Saturday, November 13th.

The half day event had the guys attend insightful, short seminars where experts from Circuit 25 and The Body Group gave tips about how to stay fit and eat healthy with a 14 hour work day before the Head Tailor behind Moustache discussed fashion styles and what to watch out for when tailoring a suit. 

Sexpert Sara from Passionately Yours presented everything men ever wanted to know about pleasure and sex (I would love to know what she is holding in her hand ? ) and wine connoisseur Dean Aslin from Saveurs shared his knowledge about wine tasting and matching. Finally Gibson Chan from the host venue, Hush let the participants in on molecular cocktail mixing. And for their bravado, the 25 left with "MAN Academy" Certificates.

Organised by NecesCity.com , Hong Kong's first and only free daily email lifestyle tip for guys, the website looks for hidden gems, and wires subscribers to the city's pulse and everything hip by delivering a short yet meaty tip a day that distills the best of dining, nightlife, gadgets, services, fashion, leisure and travel.

In my SIMPLYFAB opinion, the next session for him should focus on housekeeping, babysitting, groceries, setting up a hot bubble bath, how to give a great massage and delightful foot rubs for me when I get back from an all-nighter of drinky poos with the girls -  now that would really make my day! 

- Elaine
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Monday, 22 November 2010

Binge – Just Want A Good, Old Fashioned Steak?

I received an email from a PR friend recently about a new steak restaurant in town, and she asked if I was keen to check it out. Of course I was. How often have I been asked where one could get a ‘good steak’ in town….and it’s a classic dish. Can’t go wrong with a good steak and sometimes, you just feel like having some….

However, there aren’t many ‘steak houses’ around anymore since the demise of Emerald Steak House – remember that old institution? Sure, there are a number of restaurants that serve up really excellent ones these days, but how about one that does nothing but?

L’Entrecote, opened barely 2 weeks ago, is a fun experience. It’s tucked up beautiful little Duxton Hill, opposite Broth, along its cobble stone, tree-lined street, all nice and quiet and quaint. You’ll probably stumble upon the restaurant rather than spot it as the façade is understated. Walk inside and you’re transported more or less to a traditional Parisian bistro – cosy, a little rustic with lots of wood, and without the glitz and sparkle of ION Orchard.

Tables are a little small and tightly packed, but you are given a complimentary glass of kir and all is well with the world. Owners Loic Martenot and Olivier Bendel say it is to set the mood, and even kids get one too – virgin, of course. That they welcome kids so warmly gives them several points up in my books.

It’s all about traditional French fare here. We started with homemade duck rillettes served with grilled crusty bread – deliciously chewy, not so smooth until you can’t feel a thing, and delicious with its shreds of pork all nicely mixed with herbs. I couldn’t help but order sardines in their tin ($16) served with coarse salt, bread and lemon. I initially thought the name was a gimmick, but no – they were indeed tinned sardines swimming in oil, served up literally in the tin just as they were packed in B complete with curled, half opened lid! That was a shocker, but Loic potters over to tell us they are the best tinned sardines in the world because they were rendered such that you would not be bothered by annoying little bones. Olivier also says these little fish are not caught by nets but individually and painstakingly hand-picked from the sea. So indeed, they were delightful, especially with a sprinkling of the salt and a ladylike squeeze of lemon….and indeed, I enjoyed them….but I couldn’t fight off the nagging whisper at the back of my head that they were really, truly, deeply, profoundly….tinned sardines.

There is only one choice of main course at L’Entrecote – ‘Trimmed entrecôte steak drizzled in our secret sauce with golden French fries and a green walnut salad’ ($29). The words sit primly and starkly alone in the middle of a page! Strictly speaking, I suppose you do have a choice - bleu (rare), saignant (medium rare), à point (medium) or bien cuit (well done). I asked for medium rare – nicely pink and much less bloody than what you see on this picture, rest assured.

It is a thin steak, served sliced for you (the traditional way, Olivier insists) in a creamy, tangy ‘secret sauce’ of which the owners will say nothing more than that they are the ones who prepare it personally every day. It is not a dark steak, quite pale in comparison to that served in other restaurants; the flavour is pleasantly hearty, quite discreet (not the in-your-face-meat sort of steak) and not over-salted as some tend to be. But the texture was not quite as juicy…. perhaps the latter is on account of its thin disposition. Overall, it was enjoyable, and I nearly finished the two steaks (as each order comes in) that were served, one after the other.

An old fashioned dessert of Floating Islands came next, a dessert of poached egg white mousse on a light custard cream, decked with caramel and grilled almonds. It was delightfully light and just sweet enough – a good choice after a heavy meal. I also tried the Lemon Tart (“A must” says the menu) which carried a thick, citrusy, moderately rich curd on a lovely crumbly, thin pastry base. This was absolutely lovely. Other desserts include traditional profiteroles and waffles, crepes suzette and of course tart tartin (all $14). Unique on the menu too is a range of sherberts served with a choice of liquor - Sorbet Pear with Poire William, Sorbet Lemon with Limoncello, Amaretto Ice cream with Amaretto…I will try that next time. You will find some good quaffing bottles of wine (eg Mischief and Mayhem Chardonnay, Leeuwin Estate, Arte Series Riesling, Woodstock, Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Valley) below $100 on their wine list, but I always say to bring own premium wines….

All in all, it was an enjoyable meal, in casual, unpretentious surrounds that makes a nice change from the glitzy stylishness of contemporary restaurants. It’s fun to take in some tradition sometimes, especially in the pretty location of Duxton Hill. (In case you are wondering, no this restaurant is not part of the famous L'Entrecote in Paris.) The only downside to me is that the restaurant will not take reservations – because that’s how they do it traditionally, says Olivier again. While that may be perfectly fine for customers in Europe, I have my doubts that people here would be willing to venture all the way there only to be faced with a long wait, pretty cobblestoned street and free kir notwithstanding. Still, that remains to be seen. In the meantime, I will leave it to a quiet weekday for a return visit.

L’Entrecôte – The Steak and Fries Bistro
36 Duxton Hill
Singapore 089614
Tel: +65 6238 5700

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