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26 January 2015

Burns Night

As I'm sure many expats feel when living in another country, it's nice to occasionally have a little of something familiar from home no matter how long you've lived abroad. We got to go to a Burns Night at Rabbit, Carrot, Gun on East Coast Road at the weekend which did the trick for me, even if I'm English and not Scottish.

I've written previously about Rabbit, Carrot, Gun and the Trenchard Arms next door to it and since writing this post they've become firm favourites with us when we decide to go out locally.  My husband spotted they were hosting a Burns Night a while back and we decided this sounded like something that could be a lot of fun to go along to.  For anyone who doesn't know Burns Night and suppers are held in honour of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns and are celebrated in Scotland around the 25 January.  They are becoming more common in other parts of the UK too and I've previously been to one or two events but this was the first time I'd been aware of anything happening in Singapore.

At a Burns Night supper the guests are traditionally served haggis with neeps and tatties.  For the unsure, haggis traditionally consists of sheep's heart, liver and lungs with onion and a variety of spices encased in the sheep's stomach, though it is often now in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.  Neeps is Scots for turnips and tatties Scots for potatoes.  Luckily just because we were in Singapore this didn't stop us enjoying a traditional supper, though I have to admit it was possibly the most posh presentation of a haggis I'd ever had!  That said though it was very good and the haggis had a lovely warming spiciness to it.  The vegetables with the haggis were also a little different in that they were much more crunchy than is perhaps typical (see my photo below) and not as mashed up as neeps and tatties tend to usually be in this dish.  Alongside the haggis there were two other dishes on offer, the haggis, black pudding and poached egg salad which we got to try ahead of the night's events.  This was really interestingly flavoured with the slight spiciness of the haggis complimenting the black pudding and egg really well.  Secondly the Black Watch Scotch egg which was also interesting with the casing for the eggs being a mixture of black pudding, pork sausage meat and breadcrumbs.  The black pudding giving the casing a much darker colour than normal and a bit of a twist on the typical flavour.


haggis, black pudding and poached egg salad - which we got to sample a little of before dinner

The evening kept true to tradition and the haggis, once ready to be served, was piped in by a piper in full regalia.  He looked great but must have been very hot!  There was also a small collection of Scots at the event all looking fabulous in their kilts.  The haggis was then placed on a table in front of everybody and one of the Scots (with a real talent) read out the Address to a Haggis, a poem by Robert Burns.  If you want to read the poem for yourself I've attached it below.  We then all drank a 'wee dram' of whisky to toast the haggis and shortly afterwards the feasting began, and while we dined we were entertained a little more by the piper.  Finally we finished off our meal with a return to England for dessert and a delicious Eton Mess, sweet and incredibly filling!  By the way Rabbit, Carrot, Gun is currently serving black pudding on their regular menu, so if you're a fan and are missing it or fancy trying it for the first time get yourself there asap before it runs out.

Black Watch Scotch egg

It was a really fun night, the food was delicious despite, as I mentioned, it being the poshest haggis, neeps and tatties I've ever eaten.  All the little extra touches, such as the piper made it an even better evening and all the more enjoyable.  Whilst I may not be Scottish it was lovely to have this opportunity to celebrate something close to home.  Hopefully perhaps they'll do the same again next year, and if they do I suggest it will be well worth going along for the evening if you can.

Haggis with neeps and tatties

Address to a Haggis


Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race! 
Aboon them a' ye tak your place, 
Painch, tripe, or thairm: 
Weel are ye wordy of a grace 
As lang's my arm.


The groaning trencher there ye fill, 
Your hurdies like a distant hill, 
Your pin wad help to mend a mill 
In time o need, 
While thro your pores the dews distil 
Like amber bead.


His knife see rustic Labour dight, 
An cut you up wi ready slight, 
Trenching your gushing entrails bright, 
Like onie ditch; 
And then, O what a glorious sight, 
Warm-reekin, rich!


Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive: 
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive, 
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve 
Are bent like drums; 
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive, 
'Bethankit' hums.


Is there that owre his French ragout, 
Or olio that wad staw a sow, 
Or fricassee wad mak her spew 
Wi perfect sconner, 
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view 
On sic a dinner?


Poor devil! see him owre his trash, 
As feckless as a wither'd rash, 
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash, 
His nieve a nit: 
Thro bloody flood or field to dash, 
O how unfit!


But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed, 
The trembling earth resounds his tread, 
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, 
He'll make it whissle; 
An legs an arms, an heads will sned, 
Like taps o thrissle.


Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care, 
And dish them out their bill o fare, 
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware 
That jaups in luggies: 
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer, 
Gie her a Haggis!

19 January 2015

Red Dot Roaming - Farmway LRT - Sengkang Riverside Park Floating Wetland

I got back on to the Red Dot Roaming train (literally) with my first one of 2015 just recently.  This time heading to Farmway LRT (so OK not the MRT but near enough) to visit the Sengkang Riverside park and specifically the floating wetland within it.

The abundance of green spaces and parks etc. in Singapore is one of the many things I appreciate about living here.  You are never that far away from being able to go and sit or walk around one of them and during the week many of them are pretty much empty.  Many also have unusual features and Sengkang Riverside park is no exception.  When I read about the floating wetland I was intrigued and decided I needed to investigate further.

The morning I had decided to visit started off very wet and was the persistent kind of rain rather than just a passing storm.  I debated whether it was a good idea as I guessed there may not be much shelter but in the end took the plunge.  By the time I arrived there was just a very light drizzle so I'm glad I decided to go in the end.  Getting to the park is incredibly easy from Farmway LRT station, it's just a short walk and pretty much in a straight line.  Locating the wetland was also very simple, just walk past the Sengkang sports centre on Anchorvale Street and down a side path before the bridge towards the Punggol reservoir (Singapore's sixteenth reservoir) which runs through the park.



The floating wetland (a kind of large floating mat) is the first of its kind in Singapore and provides a natural habitat for a variety of fish and birds.  I didn't see any fish but I did see plenty of birds on the floating marshes.  Of course there are also a large variety of wetland plants and throughout there are helpful boards giving you information about the different plants you can see.  These include tube sedge, paper reed, dwarf papyrus, narrow-leafed cattail, water pennywort and many more.


As well as being the first wetland of its kind in Singapore it also serves another important function as the wetland helps to clean the water too.  It has been specifically designed to allow micro-organisms on the plant roots to purify the water.  The micro-organisms absorb the nitrates, phosphates, ammonia and other pollutants in the water which helps to improve the water quality.


You can just seen in the photo above some decking and what looks like a giant mangosteen.  This is a bit of sheltered seating and there are also, what I think are giant oranges which also provide seating as well as more conventional seating.  At the time I was a little perplexed by why giant fruit would be chosen but I've since read about a fruit tree trail also in the park (I didn't investigate that part) consisting of sixteen different fruit trees so I wonder if the design of the seating was done to be in keeping with that.

Whilst the wetland may not be huge if you are in the area it's worth taking a look at.  If nothing else, for an opportunity to observe a little more of the natural side to Singapore right in the heart of the housing in the area. 


Farmway LRT (SW2) is on the Sengkang LRT line.  It can be accessed via Sengkang MRT on the North East line (NE16).  

If you missed any of my previous Red Dot Roaming posts check them out here.

14 January 2015

Memories of France

So the final part of our summer trip back to Europe saw us travelling to the South of France for a few days for the wedding of friends also based here in Singapore (though sadly not for much longer).  You can check out her fabulous blog with lots of great food recommendations in Singapore and beyond as well as much more here!

Our base for the few days was a fabulous gite in the pretty village of Cestayrols, possibly the most remote place I've stayed in quite sometime, certainly in terms of a lack of any Internet connection.  Definitely an opportunity to enjoy a break from the connected world for just a few days though.  It felt like you could step outdoors and be in any time period because the village was so sleepy, unchanged and relaxed but it was a welcome and refreshing experience.

The gite was huge, there were ten of us staying there and there was still plenty of room to enjoy it without feeling you were on top of everybody else.  The rooms were also very big and whilst our flat here in Singapore is not the smallest it reminded me again how nice it was to be staying in a house with lots of space.  There were even parts of the gite that were not accessible to us plus the owners home was attached to it so that shows what a huge property it is!  When not at the wedding celebrations, in a nearby chateau, we spent our time eating lots of amazing local produce, visiting the nearby vineyards, playing petanque late into the evening on the village's petanque terrain (I admit I looked up what the correct technical term is for the area you play petanque in) and generally enjoying everybody's company and relaxing.  It was a lovely end to our summer trip back.

Friends who were also there with us, both from Singapore and other parts of the South East Asia region, have already written about some of the wonderful food and other things that we had/did whilst we were there.  If you want to read more check out the following links.

Several posts on the excellent blog, A British Girl Abroad

All the amazing food and wine we got to enjoy at the wedding reception - Living in Sin

Here then, just as for my previous Spain post, are a few photos that remind me of a great few days over in France.




























11 January 2015

Oxwell & Co

It was another Sunday where we didn't really have any definite plans but felt like going somewhere different to eat.  We'd also recently celebrated our wedding anniversary but due to my husband's travelling for work had had no opportunity to acknowledge it.  After a bit of thought and checking out suggestions made to us previously we decided to try out Oxwell & Co in Chinatown.  As on other occasions we hadn't made any reservation as it was a completely spur of the moment decision so turned up fully prepared that we might get turned away.  However the staff were more than willing to accommodate us and found us a table without any fuss.  It is fairly small (the restaurant part is upstairs) and obviously a popular place from the number of people who turned up whilst we were there, so I'd recommend making reservations to avoid disappointment.

Oxwell & Co is actually in the spot on Ann Siang Hill where the Emporium used to be and the famous pork pies!  However that's now long gone as is often the case in Singapore, but based on our meal that day I'd say Oxwell & Co is a more than adequate replacement!




As we went on a Sunday it meant we could enjoy a roast dinner, (which was the reason we went) a bit of treat for us.  So we opted for the roast beef with Yorkshire puddings.  In addition we also ordered a side plate of Brussels sprouts with little bits of bacon.  I've never been the biggest Brussels sprouts fan, years of being served them at Christmas and having to disguise them under every other vegetable on my plate so I could force them down I guess.  However I admit in recent years, whilst still not my favourite, I can eat them.  These though were amazing and I found myself heading back for second and third helpings!  In fact so good were they that my husband was inspired when cooking our Christmas dinner to recreate them and yes his were just as good.

Upstairs restaurant interior

As you can see from the interior shots the place has a funky modern feel to it and is bright and airy with all the windows that you can see from my exterior shot above.  As I mentioned the restaurant is upstairs and in the lower part is a bar area which is equally modern in style.  As you can see in the photo below it has some fun, interesting lights as well as some interesting pumps dispensing drinks with some fun ones listed as on tap.  The decor down in the bar area is definitely a little eccentric but a lot of fun nonetheless.  Our afternoon ended with a couple of drinks in the downstairs bar which was a pleasant end to our late anniversary celebrations.




Brussels sprouts with bacon

Downstairs bar area interior

Oxwell & Co is considered as having one of the best roasts in Singapore and I'd definitely agree.  Make sure you book as it was very popular and I think we were just very lucky to get a table with no reservation.  The Sunday roast is served on Sundays from 11.30 - 3pm, check out their Facebook page here.  I believe since we visited the wider menu has been revamped so even more reason for us to make a return at some point.  Have you visited any other spots with good roast dinners in Singapore?  Let me know as I'd love to try them out!

28 December 2014

Picnic, Walking and a Museum - a Fun Couple of Days Back in the UK

After our visit to Spain back in the summer we returned to the UK for a few days before jetting off again (more on where to that time very soon).  As is often the way we managed to squeeze in a bit of time in Richmond, the part of London we used to live near, deciding on one of our days there to go for a picnic (as the weather was still reasonable) in Richmond park.  So after a visit to the local supermarket for all the essentials we walked from the town centre to the park.  It's not too far and is a pleasant walk before you even arrive in the park, with the opportunity to take in some great views along the way.


The Thames looking towards Richmond bridge

View from the top of Richmond hill, one of the fabulous views on the way to Richmond park

Richmond park is the largest of London's Royal Parks.  In 1625 Charles I brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape the plague in London and turned the area into a deer park, although the Royal connections probably go back much further than this beginning with Edward I (1272 - 1307) when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen before changing its name to Richmond in the reign of Henry VII.  Today both red and fallow deer can still be found in abundance in the park.  It is a lovely spot to visit and despite being underneath the flight path to Heathrow this really doesn't spoil your enjoyment.  In fact for aviation fans like my husband it only adds to the thrill of a walk in Richmond park.  I've enjoyed walks there at all times of the year, one was even a feature of our last Christmas in the UK before moving to Singapore.  There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon in this part of London.

Some familiar sights from London's skyline viewed from Richmond park



Just a couple of Richmond park's numerous deer (and some horses in the background)

As well as our walk and picnic we also decided to visit one of London's many museums before leaving again.  We settled on one I'd not been too since I was in my early teens (possibly even younger) and one also not long reopened again after a refurbishment, the Imperial War museum.  The great thing about this one and many other museums across the UK is that they are free to enter, other than some specific travelling exhibitions which will charge an admission fee.  A great way to encourage people to visit time and again in my opinion.  The museum was first opened in 1920 in Crystal Palace after the Government decided in 1917 that a National War museum should be set up to collect and display material from the First World War (still at that point being fought).  It moved to its present location, which was formerly the central portion of Bethlem Royal hospital, in 1936.

The museum has exhibits from the First and Second World War right up to modern day conflicts.  In the year that saw the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War perhaps the most memorable exhibit for me and one I'd definitely urge you not miss were the First World War galleries.  Amazingly this is also free to get in to though at peak times they issue timed tickets to you as you enter to stagger the number of people viewing the exhibit.  There was a fascinating amount of information, both from the front line and back at home, and plenty of interactive parts suitable for all ages.  My memories of the museum from when I visited as a child are hazy but I remember always enjoying myself there and I certainly wasn't disappointed with my return visit.

Imperial War museum, London 

It's always great to get back to London on our visits back to the UK if we can, wherever we go or whatever we do there.  It's a fabulous city (though I know I'm biased) but it has many fond memories for me as I worked there for over nine years, lived there for a while and still have friends living there.  I'm never sorry to have the chance to get back to London town.

21 December 2014

Roundhouse - Christmas Menu

Maybe you are still looking for a venue for a last minute Christmas get together with friends or your loved ones.  If so, have you thought about trying Roundhouse: Pizza, Bar and Grill at Horse City?  Last Friday I went along to sample their Christmas menu which is currently available until the 28 December 2014.

We had a slightly eventful time getting to the restaurant firstly because we stupidly tried to get a taxi from Orchard the Friday before Christmas and at the time when everyone was either going home or going out!  You'd think I'd know by now!  Then when we got a cab we got dropped off at the Grandstand (Turf City) just up the road from Horse City where we actually needed to be so then had to walk the short walk back down some very dark roads.  However we got there in the end and were made very welcome.  Just bare in mind though if you are visiting the restaurant and getting a cab to make sure you get dropped off at Horse City.

As I mentioned we were there to sample their Christmas menu and we began the evening with the Sweet Red Chili Lobster Remoulade Roll served in a warm soft bun with French fries and salad ($34++).  As you may recall from other restaurant posts I'm not the biggest seafood fan but as is often the case I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the dish.  There were decent sized pieces of lobster meat in the roll and the side portion of fries were really good.   My companion felt that the chili was a little too sweet for her personally but this didn't stop us quickly finishing off the lobster dish.


Sweet Red Chili Lobster Remoulade Roll

Next was the Roasted Spring Chicken stuffed with sage bread, served with baked rosemary potatoes and crispy bacon ($36++).  This proved to be a hit with both of us, the chicken being juicy and full of flavour.  The dish was served with a chicken jus made from the juices from the chicken which really tasted delicious.  The chicken was also stuffed with sage bread under the skin of the breast rather than in the traditional way.  This meant that when you sliced into the breast meat you also got to enjoy a yummy piece of the sage bread.  I like sage stuffing and I liked this way of presenting the dish.  The chicken was served with rosemary potatoes which we both agreed were very good and again full of flavour.  For me personally the chicken beat the lobster dish purely because this is typical of what I would have ordered and it didn't disappoint.

Roasted Spring Chicken 

Finally came dessert always a personal favourite of mine!  We sampled the Winter Log Cake, a white chocolate yoghurt and raspberry semifreddo with red berries financier and raspberry coulis ($16++).  I am not a fan of any of the traditional Christmas desserts or cakes so for me choices such as this on Christmas menus would always be my preference.  I was a little concerned beforehand that this may be a little heavy after our main courses.  However it was in fact really light and although fairly sweet (not a big problem for me) was incredibly easy to eat and certainly did not leave us feeling uncomfortably full.  Once again this was quickly polished off by us and both myself and my companion thoroughly enjoyed it.

Winter Log Cake

Whilst we were there for the Christmas menu the regular menu looks pretty extensive with a range of dishes that would suit all members of the family.  There is an outside seating area and I noticed an area with pool tables as well as signs for a weekly quiz night and flat screen TVs for showing various sporting events.  It certainly looks like a very family friendly place to visit.

The Roundhouse Christmas a la carte menu is available now until the 28 December 2014.

Roundhouse
100 Turf Club Road
Singapore 287992

Opening Hours
Tuesday to Thursday: 6pm to 11pm
Friday: 5pm to 11pm
Weekends: 9am to 4pm, 6pm to 11pm
Closed on Mondays

Reservations
Phone: 6466 0966
email: enquiries@roundhouse.com.sg 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roundhousepbg
Twitter: @rroundhouse 


This blog resulted from an invitation and represents the thoughts and opinions of the writer. All information on this blog is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and the writer will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. All text and photos on this blog are the original works of the writer unless stated otherwise.

Thank you to the Roundhouse for the kind invitation.

16 December 2014

Memories of Spain

With Christmas just around the corner the summer and our visit back to Europe seems like a long time ago now but part of our trip included a visit back to Spain.  

I wrote numerous posts (and my husband also penned one of them) following our last trip two years ago, which you can read via the attached links if you want to.

Puerto Banus
Ronda
Marbella
Camuri - Chill Out Bars Goes Spanish
Casares & Gaucin
Mijas
Selwo Aventura
Tarifa

So this time around here are a few photos which sparked memories for me of our visit this summer. 



Mijas

Wall art in Mijas

Sunday morning coffee in Casares

Casares



Puerto Banus

Has to be done on the Costa del Sol



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