Saturday, August 1, 2015

First Okayama Fair at Isetan Scotts : Giant Peaches and More!

Peach Compote and Tangy Peach Salad Dressing
Do you know that Okayama is the largest city in Chugoku prefecture after Hiroshima? Being known as the "Fruit Kingdom", the city takes pride in its plump and juicy white peaches as well as white seedless grapes that are bestowed with the Royal title of "Muscat of Alexandria". 

Bounded on the South by the Seto Inland sea, the place is also famous for its high quality oysters which has been turned into casual yet mouthwatering B-kyu gourmet dishes like oyster okonomyaki and oyster rice.
From now till next Thurs 28th, Isetan Scott's will be holding its inaugural Okayama Fair so that you don't have to fly to Okayama to get a taste of the fresh produce. Here are some of the highlights:  
Milk Soft Serve with Fresh Okayama Peaches ($8) 
It might just look like a slice of peach but there are chunky bits inside the gelato as well. Not the cheapest ice cream around but you know you are paying for quality ingredients

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pontini Grand Copthorne Waterfront: NEW Semi Lunch Buffet

After months since I've last visited Pontini, the Italian Semi-Lunch Buffet has been refreshed with more exciting features such as live foie gras station and artisan cheese room. The feasting style remained the same, as diners can continue to indulge in all-you-can-eat antipastis, pastas, pizzas and desserts in addition to a choice of main course. 
Pan-seared foie gras already sounded like a luxury treat but how about having it free flow? This is an absolute must for any foie gras enthusiast. Served on toasted brioche, the foie gras is nicely crisp the edges with interiors that are silky smooth. The best thing is the variety of jams and condiments that keeps one from feeling jaded of the richness.
Adjourn to the all-new artisan cheese cellar and you can find an prestige assortment of cheeses imported from Italy. According to the expert recommendations from Chef, one should commence from the soft blue cheese and end with the hardest Grana Padano Parmigianno.

I obediently started from the gooey blue cheese, but soon "jumped queue" to the Truffle Pecorino and "fast forwarded" to the Grana Padano Parmigianno (the giant cheese bowl of the artisan cheese cellar) None of these disappointed and I highly recommend anyone to explore this cheese wonderland even if you seldom take cheese in your daily life.
Similarly, diners can customize their pastas and feast as many plates to their hearts' desires. While the team of chefs remained the same, the pastas were significantly tastier than before.  For instance, I have a penchant for cream based pastas and these toothsome Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli, tossed in Parmesan Cheese Fondue and finished with Raddichio and crunchy walnuts, acted as a decadent interlude to the meat-based main courses.

The Roman Carbonara style was even better, striking just the right balance between savoury and peppery. Meantime, the Chilli Pesto with Fresh Tomato Sauce is also another appetizing yet robust dish mixed with black mussels and olives. 
While some of the mains were more appealing than others, there isn't anything which I particularly dislike. For instance, the Oven baked Barramundi Fillet was unquestioningly moist, crisp and went smoothly with the creamy grain mustard sauce. This dish would feel incomplete without the sautéed spinach and the Castelluccio lentils which offered pleasant bites. 
Leaning against a yellow polenta cube and aubergine ragout, the NZ Lamb Racks is a straightforward dish served without fanfare. It might even appear deceptively dull, but it is precisely the simplicity that brought out the clean taste of the meat. 
Nevertheless, I would pick the Roasted Spring Chicken with Chianti red wine jus if I were to dine alone here without any companions to share a variety of mains. I thought I was full but I felt pangs of hunger as soon as arrived. 

The aroma was dancing in the air and the meat was perfectly seasoned, moist yet crunchy at the part near the wings. Don't miss the soft bed of arugula leaves below the chicken that had soaked up all the juices trickling down. Truly a dish that is executed with finesse! 

It was heartening to see that the dolce spread has expanded from mini dessert shooters to macaroons, whole cakes and tarts such as mixed berries fragipane tart and the chocolate truffle cake. The latter was exceptionally good--so rich and potent with hints of tang from the raspberry. Though my favourite cannoli was available, the pastry was no longer as crunchy as when they were piped a la minute from the live cannoli station. 

That said, this re-visit still brings me great satisfaction as there is not only more variety but remarkably improved quality. Being already very reasonably-priced previously, the revamped semi-lunch buffet is truly a super delicious deal not to be missed. 

$58++ for adult and $29++ for child. 
12pm-3pm on Saturdays and Public Holidays
Level Two, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.
392 Havelock Road, Singapore 169663
Tel: 6233 1100
Click here to reserve a table

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Halia @ Singapore Botanic Gardens: SG50 Orchid Tea Menu

Ever heard of cocktails and desserts that are infused with Orchid flowers? As Singapore's 50th birthday reaches its crescendo, Halia has introduced a unique SG50 Orchid Tea Menu featuring cocktails, mocktails and desserts inspired by Asian ingredients and most importantly, our national flower. 

For something non-tipsy, there is the Singapore Jubilee ($10++, top pic) , a robust red-tea based drink of both sweet and tangy, thanks to the chemistry between Vietnamese honey and homemade lemonade. The chunks of blueberries put an untraditional twist to this drink, which has a soothing vanilla aroma that instantly uplifted my spirits. 

To mediate the tones of Sailor Jerry spiced rum as well as the sourness from lemon juice, apricot jam has been added into this Yam Seng($23++), another red-tea based concoction. I guessed that the Orchid Red Tea might be the most versatile type of orchid tea compared to the white and gold variation, otherwise it would not have been the foundation across all three limited edition beverages. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Marmalade Pantry @ Oasia Hotel Novena

I've heard of lobster roll and a hamburger. But never a lobster burger. Put the two together into an equation with drizzles of miso mayo and tobiko, it is simply pure decadence. 

Mound atop a bed of shoestring fries, this heart-stopping Miso Lobster ($34) is one of the new exciting dishes on the revamped menu of Marmalade Pantry. It's latest outlet tucked beside the reception area of Oasis hotel in Novena exudes a totally different vibe from the Ion Orchard outlet as one can enjoy some intimate space instead of being watched by the shoppers.
Photo courtesy of The Marmalade Pantry
Unlike the lofty Lobster Burger, the Lobster Barley Risotto ($32) displayed a kind of rustic countryside charm as barley was used instead of the usual Italian short grains. These underrated cereal grains soaked up the flavorful stock amazingly well to form a delicious chewy pud that retained a nice firmness. Mixed with garlic flower, butternuts, carrots and onions, it was a delightful and easy dish to eat with just a spoon, even though the lobsters were a little too salty.
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