30 November 2011

Makansutra Food Safari

Thanks to a recent invite I was privileged to go on a Makansutra Food Safari.  For those who do not know Makansutra is a Singapore based foodies guide for all things good and edible here.  There is a book published yearly with all the best places to eat, a website and many events, one of which is the safari, a tour around some of the best places to learn about the influences on and sample the food heritage of Singapore.   

I well remember when I first visited Singapore catching a programme on TV hosted by a very entertaining Singaporean called KF Seetoh and subsequently seeing him on many food programmes in Singapore showing the hosts the best of what this island has to offer.  Little did I ever imagine I'd one day have the opportunity to meet him myself and go on one of his safari's, but sure enough last week that's exactly what I did!

First stop was, ironically, just around the corner from where I live in Katong (a well known part of Singapore for food), at the Mr Teh Tarik Eating House where we got to see our first delight, Putu Piring, being prepared by the man in the photo below.  He was fantastic and clearly thoroughly enjoyed having all the group on the tour taking his photo, much to the bemusement of the locals enjoying their food.

Putu Piring is a steamed rice cake with melted palm sugar in the centre, covered in coconut and flavoured with pandan leaves.  The cakes are a Malay adaptation of an Indian dish.  It was incredibly sweet, even for me who admits to having a bit of a sweet tooth.  We were given two to sample and I'm not sure I could have eaten any more but they were very good and apparently go particularly well with a coffee or should that be kopi?

The Putu Piring

After this we quickly moved on to the Geylang area, which although 'famous' for many things also has much in the way of good food to try.  First stopping in Geylang Lorong 27 to sample a variety of delicious Indonesian influenced dishes.  The food here just kept coming and coming and was all  fantastic.  There were so many dishes but our food safari here included beef rendang, mutton curry, spicy squid ink (the two dishes in the foreground in the photo below) and a cabbage and tofu curry.

A little bit of everything

Then, of course, as it was a food safari things started to get a little bit more interesting with a visit to another restaurant in the Geylang area (Lorong 3).  The restaurant advertising kind of gave away what we would likely be sampling next!

Sure enough after settling ourselves down out came pots of porridge and pots of frog's legs.  The porridge is nothing like how I suspect some of you reading this may be imaging.  It certainly is not the porridge oats you may have for breakfast on a cold winter's day!  I've tried congee previously which is a rice porridge and the frog's legs were served with this in a very tasty sauce.  I was not completely enamoured of the frog's legs which, and apologies for the cliche, did taste of chicken!  Despite them tasting fine I think for me it was the psychological barrier of eating a frog which put me off.  I also imagine it is the kind of dish that requires you to put the piece of meat in your mouth to chew it off the bones, something I just could not do.

Frog's leg porridge

Our next dish was just as unusual but one I could definitely be convinced to eat again - shark's head.  This was one of the dishes that KF Seetoh got Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations fame to try on a visit to Singapore, so I felt in good company!  The part of the shark head you eat is the skin and gelatinous parts all around the bone, which perhaps does not sound that appetising but served with the chili sauce was divine.

Following this came crab served with glass noodles.  I've tried chili crab previously, my first ever experience of eating crab, and whilst it was good I did not enjoy eating with my hands and the inevitable mess involved.  So I happily watched my fellow diners tuck into this particular crab on my behalf.

We rounded off the evening at the Makansutra's Gluttons Bay, which is the opportunity to sample some of the best dishes Singapore has to offer as recommended by Makansutra.  It was dessert time for us and we began with kaya toast (which I'm ashamed to admit I'd not previously tried), a very popular dish here in Singapore.  The kaya dip (in this case) is made from eggs, sugar and coconut milk flavoured with pandan.  It was delicious so next time I have a kopi I must make sure I have this as well.

Finally out came some banana fritters and whilst I imagine not particularly good for you in large quantities were absolutely gorgeous.  The batter was light and the banana suitably gooey and I inevitably ate far too many of them!

Singapore is a foodie heaven right - so a food safari is definitely the thing to do.

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 GOODSTUPH and SingTel for the invitation and of course to Makansutra for a wonderful evening!

24 November 2011

Dreams and Reality Exhibition - National Museum of Singapore

I recently visited the National Museum again, this time specifically to see the visiting Dreams and Reality exhibition.  I'd been made aware of this by another blogger, Singapore Actually who recently wrote a series of posts after her visit there and I decided I should go too.  The exhibition showcases over 140 pieces of art work housed at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.  I do not pretend to be an art aficionado but I've always enjoyed visiting art galleries and I know what I like and enjoy.  To have this art work on loan and display here is, without doubt, a coup for Singapore.

The collection that has been brought to Singapore showcases Salon, Realists, Impressionists and Post-Impressionists paintings as well as photographs and drawings from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century.  It includes works by Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and many other famous artists of that period both male and female.  

Wandering around the paintings and soaking up the atmosphere they exude was a delightful way to spend an afternoon.  If you appreciate and admire art, regardless of how little you do or do not know (and I count myself in the latter there) I recommend you pay a visit to the museum and take in this exhibition whilst you can.

I love the way in which the artist has caught the light streaming through the window on to the workers below.  All the photos were taken with my phone and, of course, flash was not permitted so I apologise for the poor quality of some of the images.

I really liked how the women in all these paintings appear to be lost in their own thoughts and far away from the place they were being painted in.  It would be wonderful to know what they were all thinking.  

This portrait of death visiting a young woman fascinated me and I was transfixed for quite sometime admiring it.  

Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night
Although it was not painted in the UK this painting reminded me of a romanticised English summer's day in a country garden and drew me to it instantly.

The Dreams and Reality exhibition is on at the National Museum of Singapore until 5 February 2012.

The galleries are open daily from 10am - 6pm.

Adults - $11

21 November 2011

Vines On Nine

UPDATE: This cafe is now closed.

For one reason and another I seem to be a bit behind on posts but will endeavour to catch up as soon as I can.  So firstly I have to rewind to last weekend.  We actually enjoyed a fairly quite one.  Partly because the weather was not good (especially in the afternoons), partly because we were waiting on a delivery on the Saturday afternoon and partly because my husband was a bit under the weather and did not feel like doing very much.

Saturday mid-morning though we decided to try out one of the local eateries not far from where we live which I'd heard was good for breakfast/brunch (though the all day menu looked pretty good too).  Vines On Nine is in an area called Siglap which is somewhere I always think has quite a villagey feel to it and a very relaxed weekend vibe.  There are several eateries, ice cream and dessert cafes, as well as bars there to enjoy both during the day and in the evening.  It is a stones throw from where we live too so is perfect if we do not want to venture far.

Having now been to Vines On Nine it seems to fit perfectly into the idea I have of the area with a relaxed atmosphere more akin to places we would visit for weekend brunch in the UK.  Of course one advantage here is that they can have both seating indoors and out year round (rain permitting).  Everyone there, when we visited, was clearly enjoying a late breakfast/brunch and making the most of having nothing better to do with their Saturday.  Another nice touch, some people were there with their dog and the waitresses bought him or her a bowl of water too - always a thumbs up from me.

We both settled on the omelette's which were very good, we had a choice of various fillings so we could be creative to our own personal taste.  The omelette also came with a choice of bread which was then toasted for us, my choice being granary.  This was especially good as much of the sliced bread in the supermarkets here in Singapore seems too sweet for my liking, so when I have the opportunity to enjoy this style of bread (or toast) I'll grab it with both hands.  To be honest my phone photos do not really do the food justice, but trust me it is good.  All washed down with a couple of lattes or whatever your preferred choice of coffee is.

My only regret was that my husband did not eat his toast and I was not quick enough to pinch it off him before his plate was cleared.  I guess though another two pieces of toast might have been a little bit greedy!  

I can't believe it took us so long to try this place - definitely somewhere we'll be returning too.

17 November 2011

20th World Orchid Show in Singapore

As I mentioned in my post about the preview to the Gardens by the Bay the reason I managed to see it was because myself and a couple of friends decided to visit the 20th World Orchid Show at the Marina Bays Sands Expo and Convention Centre.  So after seeing what we had to look forward to at Gardens by the Bay we headed back to view some simply stunning orchid displays.  This conference is held every three years and is the 'largest and most significant event in the international orchid calendar'.  This year it has returned back to Singapore after 48 years. 

Once we were inside the exhibition hall there were beautiful displays of orchids from all over various parts of South East Asia and all over the world.  When I visited rosettes were dotted over many of them so clearly the judging panels thought they looked as good as I did.

As well as the beautiful large displays there are also a number of cleverly created displays by individuals which would not go amiss on a dining table as well as paintings and photography.  All of orchids of course.  I never appreciated how big some orchids actually were until my visit here.  There is a lot of information and educational displays about the growing and biology of orchids together with information about the history of Singapore's own orchid breeding programme.  There was also a display of orchid's that have been named after famous people.  I imagine there will be another one on display now as today Sir Elton John had an orchid named after him at the show.

Of course no show of this sort would be complete without a myriad of stalls to browse selling everything orchid related you could possibly imagine.  Perfect for orchid fans or those looking for an usual gift for somebody.

This was part of the display from the Malaysian society and I think this is probably meant to be the Petronas Towers

The Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid which is Singapore's national flower

Finally there have been several of these Orchid Man videos on You Tube which I have found entertaining so I thought I'd share one of them with you.  I love his little reference to the taxi shift change, that made me giggle.  Enjoy and check out the other ones as well.

The 20th World Orchid Conference is on now until the 20 November 2011 tickets can be bought on the day from the ticket counters at the Marina Bays Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Level B2.  This ticket will also get you access to a preview of the Gardens by the Bay.

Tickets cost $15.00 for adults Monday - Friday and $20.00 at weekends.

Concessions are available for children, students and Senior Citizens.

Opening times are from 10am to 9pm.

Gardens by the Bay - A Sneak Peek

Earlier this week myself and a couple of friends (who also happen to be bloggers) went along to the 20th World Orchid Conference (more on that soon).  However the ticket also included access to a sneak preview of the forthcoming Gardens by the Bay.  

When it was first suggested we visit the orchid show I did not even realise that it included a preview admission to this forthcoming attraction and when I found out it did I assumed (wrongly) it would just be a peek into the entrance but nothing further.  Gardens by the Bay does not officially open until June 2012 so what we were able to see, which was fantastic and far more than I expected, was confirmation, if it were needed, that when it does open it is going to be pretty amazing.

To get into Gardens by the Bay we walked across the Garden Bay bridge over the East Coast Parkway (ECP) from Marina Bay Sands (there is also a complimentary shuttle bus if you don't fancy the walk).  Giving me an opportunity to appreciate this building from a completely different angle.  As we crossed the bridge, ahead of us were the iconic Supertrees which those of us living here have gradually watched 'grow' over the preceding months and the the glass domes which house the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest.

Once we had crossed the Garden Bay bridge we crossed over another smaller bridge, the Dragonfly bridge.  By the way, there were aptly enough loads of dragonflies flying around above our heads in this area of the gardens.  Clearly the plants there have been specially selected to attract them.  From there we entered into a number of different gardens including a Malay garden and an Indian garden.  Meanwhile everywhere you turned in the gardens Marina Bay Sands loomed up behind us making a stunning backdrop.

The Supertree Grove
Another glimpse of Marina Bay Sands in between The Canopy and the Flower Dome of the Gardens by the Bay

We then entered the Flower Dome.  Here there are plants, flowers and trees which grow in Mediterranean climates such as baobabs and palm trees.  There were an abundance of cacti plants as well and, of course, many flowers to admire.

Marina Bay Sands from inside the Flower Dome

The Singapore Flyer from inside the Flower Dome

Looking up to the Supertrees

Naturally at the moment as it still a few months from completion and opening you can see where plants are still growing and still needing time to establish themselves fully.  We also did not see the whole of the gardens though we still saw an astonishing amount.  However as a fore taster of what is to come it looks brilliant and will certainly be on my list to return to.

The Gardens by the Bay preview is only open until 20 November 2011 in conjunction with the 20th WOC World Orchid Show which also runs until this date.  If you want to see it for yourself tickets for the orchid show and preview can be purchased on the day at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Basement 2.  

Adults are $15.00 - Monday to Friday and $20.00 - over the weekend
Concessions are also available for children, students and Senior Citizens.

15 November 2011

Diamonds & Triangles - Alley Bar's 10th Anniversary Party

Alley Bar, Peranakan Place, Orchard Road is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a spectacular party and YOU are invited!!

As you can see from the attached flyer there will be a host of DJ's playing to help you party the night away.  Take note ladies and gentlemen if you 'bling up' or show your 'triangular elements' at the door you'll get a free shot of Sauza.

So what are you waiting for???  Get yourself glammed up and head down there this Saturday, 19 November!!

To be sure of your right to party don't forget to RSVP to events@peranakanplace.com

14 November 2011

Water's Good For You ....

.... Especially in the heat of Singapore!  This post, a little diversion from my norm, is with regards to a current island wide offer for the month of November 2011 from Fiji Water.  I got to sample some of this myself over the weekend and for someone who was not really much of a water drinker, until I moved here and fully appreciated the importance of keeping well hydrated, this is pretty good stuff.

In a bid to encourage you to try Fiji Water for yourself, for the month of November 2011 only Fiji Water in collaboration with Swiss Butchery are launching a unique promotion whereby customers, in exchange for six bottled water labels (any brand), can take home a free 6-pack of Lil' Fijis (330 ml).

You can visit any of the three Swiss Butchery stores (from now until the 30 November 2011) to make this exchange.  Fiji Water will also be setting up tasting stations at the stores over the coming weekends for you to sample the water for yourself.

Terms and Conditions:
• Promotion is valid from 1st November to 30th November 2011
• The exchange is only valid at any of the Swiss Butchery stores in Singapore
• Only original bottled water labels (regardless of brand) are accepted
• Limited to one exchange per person throughout the duration of the promotional
• Limited to the first 100 exchanges in the month of November 2011

Swiss Butchery stores are located at:

30/32 Greenwood Avenue, Singapore 289230
Tel: (65) 6468-7588
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday – 9.30am – 7.00pm (including Public Holidays)

56 Tanglin Road, #01-02, Singapore 247964
Tel: (65) 6235 8080
Opening hours: 9am - 9pm Daily

587 Bukit Timah Road Coronation Shopping Plaza, #01-05 Singapore 269707
Tel: (65) 6463 8080
Opening hours: 10am - 7pm Daily

Disclaimer and caveat

This blog resulted from an invitation to sample the product 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.

Images and promotion information courtesy of FoodNews PR

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