Archive for November, 2011

Au Jardin at Botanic Gardens

To celebrate her 4th year at the company, my very generous colleague decided to treat us to a huge meal. At first, it was going to be a 1 night’s stay in Bintan! But alas, we booked too late for the Hari Raya weekend.

The outing was the day after I arrived back from Norway. I woke up at an ungodly hour of 5am thanks to the jetlag, fell back asleep again somewhere around 8am, and managed to crawl to the Botanic Gardens at 10.30am. The rest of my colleagues were already there, snapping photos of everything in sight as we’d also organised a mini photography competition. Yours truly got second place, darn!!

After the photography session, we made our way to Au Jardin. In contrast to the hoards and hoards of people at Casa Verde, and just about any other spot in the Botanic Gardens, Au Jardin was refreshingly quiet and serene. Au Jardin occupies an elegantly restored 1920s colonial residence and serves French fine-dining food. A waiter greeted us at the ground floor and led us upstairs to our table. I was glad to discover that Au Jardin is quite small. Apart from us (9 people), most of the other diners were couples enjoying a romantic date together. It really is a very romantic and peaceful setting, with a view out into the lush gardens. I’m sure Au Jardin must have been witness to many a wedding proposal over the years.

We were there for the Sunday brunch, which comprises of an appetiser and soup buffet, plus choice of eggs, mains and dessert, for the price of $88. From the Les Amis website (they own Au Jardin), it appears that the mains and dessert selections have changed, but the following was what we had when we were there in the 1st week of November.

Au Jardin Dining Area

Photo courtesy of Au Jardin

Au Jardin - Appetiser selections from the buffet

Appetiser buffet - Vine-ripened tomatoes are one of my favourites. Ever since I learnt about the difference between vine-ripened and artificially ripened tomatoes, I’ve not turned back.

Au Jardin - Fried Egg sunny side up (2)

Egg selection – Eggs benedict, cocotte, scrambled or fried. I chose fried because I love my eggs sunny side up. Eggs benedict I thought would be a little too heavy considering that we still had mains coming up.

Au Jardin - Roasted Pork Loin

Roasted Pork Loin with garlic sausage, smoked bacon and mustard sauce – This was my choice of mains and I had no regrets. The pork loin was very tender and juicy. Finished the whole thing. Garlic sausage was a nice addition and made me feel like I was getting 2 for the price of one.

No idea about how the other mains tasted. Didn’t ask, shy lah…

Au Jardin - Panfried Meagre Fish

Pan fried meagre fish with butter leek and green peas

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St Andrew’s Dental Surgeons

Bet you didn’t see this post coming….

Actually, it is of utmost importance. In order to be able to eat well and enjoy the process of eating, would it not be vital that you maintain a healthy set of pearly whites? Yesterday was my bi-annual dental check up. Yes boss, I didn’t skive off early to go for a job interview. I really went to see the dentist.

Going to the dentist isn’t exactly an enjoyable thing. I always feel such rush of relief when no cavities are found and the dentist can go ahead to polish my teeth. There was a period of time when I hadn’t visited the dentist for more than 2 years. It was pretty scary when I finally did go. Luckily all was fine. I realise that as long as I make the visits often enough, say twice a year, there would be nothing to worry about. I’m assuming a cavity takes time to develop??

Anyway, St Andrew’s is on my company’s list of approved dental clinics. A colleague recommended me this place and I’ve been going back since. I haven’t been to all that many dental clinics, but I quite like St Andrews. The clinic is nice, clean and comfortable. There is a waiting area with comfy chairs and lots of magazines to keep your mind off the impending check-up. There is a coffee machine although I don’t think you’ll be wanting that just before you bare your teeth to the dentist. There is a fish tank with colourful corals, if you need help calming down.

St Andrew’s recently moved from the 3rd floor of Amara Shopping Centre to the 11th floor of Amara Corporate Tower. So there is also a view to enjoy now. I like looking out at the Icon Condominium, one of my favourite condos. When I grow up, I’m going to get an apartment there.

St Andrew’s Dental Surgeons is a dental practice where there are numerous dentists with numerous consultation rooms, ie it’s not a one-man show. I won’t comment on the dentists here as I don’t think that would be appropriate. Suffice to say that I don’t see a need to change dentists or dental clinics for now.

St Andrew's Dental Surgeons - Waiting Area

Lots of travel and car magazines

St Andrew's Dental Surgeons - Waiting Area

Fish tank on the left, kiddo play area and waiting area on the right

St Andrew's Dental Surgeons - View from the dental chair

View of The Pinnacle @ Duxton from my dental chair. Check out the sunglasses on the table. That’s so that the bright lights don’t stun your eyes when you’re having your teeth yanked out.

St Andrew's Dental Surgeons - View of Amara Hotel Swimming Pool

While waiting for my dentist, I got off the dental chair to snap a picture of the Amara Hotel Pool. Quite nice huh.

St Andrew's Dental Surgeons - Reception Area

Reception area. The lift opens directly into the dental clinic.

St Andrew’s Dental Surgeons

Amara Corporate Tower#11-01
Amara Hotel 100 Tras Street
Singapore 079027
Tel: +65 6224 0055 FAX: +65 6226 2364
Email:
beautifulsmile@standrews.sg

Mon – Fri: 8:30 – 19:00
Saturday : 8:30 – 15:00
Sunday and PH Closed

http://www.standrews.sg/index.html

Festive Gourmet Food Trail with Ah Lun

*Media Invite*

I was delighted to received this email inviting me to attend the Festive Gourmet Food Trail with Ah Lun, organized by Wan Bao and Omy.sg. Ah Lun is a veteran journalist, but it seems his skills aren’t just limited to writing, he is a very funny host too. Ah Lun would be bringing a group of foodies to sample Christmas and Chinese New Year festive cuisines at 8 famous restaurants. At each restaurant, one would get to sample several dishes.

And the most important sentence of in the email…”Please come with a really empty stomach!” To be frank, while I was delighted, I was also apprehensive, after the really belly bursting 8 restaurant Gastromania Feast at Far East Square! Still, it was an opportunity not to be missed. This time round, only 2 restaurants. I can handle it….

4 session to choose from so I picked the 3rd:-

5 Nov (Sat) – 1230pm to 530pm, Crystal Jade Palace and Swissotel Merchant Court
12 Nov (Sat) – 12pm to 530pm, Shin Yeh Restaurant and Sze Chuan Court @ Fairmont Hotel
19 Nov (Sat) – 12pm to 530pm, Thai Village Restaurant and Rendezvous Hotel
26 Nov (Sat) – 12pm to 530pm, Tien Court @ Copthorne King’s Hotel and Mandarin Hotel

It costs $108/pax, but despite the amount, the event was almost full house! 8 tables worth of people for my session but I am told that the 26 November session, which is already sold-out, has more than 150 sign-ups!

The whole event was very enjoyable. Ah Lun and his sidekick Xiao Peng had the room cracking up with their numerous jokes and games. Since I was sitting at the VIP table, I didn’t have to worry about being hauled up to stage and I could enjoy my food while being entertained. I think I quite like the idea of dining on select dishes and then being ferried to the next restaurant to try out more dishes. Felt as if I was on a tour. In fact, a bus was also chartered just to bring us from the Thai Village Restaurant at Leisure Park (Kallang) to Rendezvous Hotel. They should throw in a short tour of Singapore too! (Ok I’m still in the holiday mood, haven’t recovered from my Norway holiday yet!)

For more information on the event, click here to access the SPH site (only if you can read Mandarin. Otherwise, check out these 2 links for my pictures and a write-up each on Thai Village Restaurant and Rendezvous Hotel.

Festive Gourmet Food Trail – Thai Village Restaurant

Festive Gourmet Food Trail – Rendezvous Hotel

Rendezvous Hotel - (28) Rendezvous Hotel - (9) 

Thai Village Restaurants (Leisure Park)

The 1st stop on our Festive Gourmet food trail was at the Thai Village Restaurant at Leisure Park. Prior to this, I had never been to any Thai Village Restaurant before. All my colleagues who heard about my impending visit advised me to try out their fantabulous Signature Shark Fin soup. 

Thai Village @ Leisure Park - Thai Village signature braised shark's fin

I have to confess, while I feel guilty for eating shark’s fin, I haven’t really made real attempts to stop eating them. The shark’s fin served was huge! I have never seen such a huge portion in a bowl before! The dish totally surpassed my expectations in terms of size as well as taste. The soup was ultra flavourful thanks to the way it was prepared, and if not for the fact that there were more dishes to be served, I would have finished the entire bowl. I definitely finished every single strand of shark’s fin. The worst thing to do is to waste it by not touching it and imagine that you have done your part to save the sharks.

Thai Village @ Leisure Park - Prosperity Yu Sheng with special Wasabi Sauce (5)

Can you believe it, we did a Lo-Hei, in the middle of November! It was hilarious! If there’s one thing about Lo-Hei, it’s that everyone loves doing it (even if they don’t like eating it). And I love the HUAT AH right at the end!

Thai Village @ Leisure Park - Prosperity Yu Sheng with special Wasabi Sauce

锦绣生花庆有余 – Prosperity Yu sheng with special wasabi sauce - This Yu sheng served here is extra unique due to the special wasabi sauce used. I think we didn’t do that great a job of mixing in the wasabi as there were only 5 people at our table. I didn’t get any wasabi while the person next to me had his mouth on fire. The table did get its fair share of the fun as well, what with all the flying bits.

Thai Village @ Leisure Park - Salted egg yolk with sweet wintermelon center roll

迎春接福双喜到 Salted egg yolk with sweet winter melon center roll – An interesting combination. I don’t think the flavours quite blended, but on their own, they were nice.

Thai Village @ Leisure Park - (10)

Too busy devouring the sharks fin soup. Didn’t manage to get a picture before the fish was all ladled out…

Thai Village @ Leisure Park - Thai style Assam Fish

 富贵浮云阿参鱼 Thai style Assam fish - The fish was very nice as it was tender and had a strong taste. There is a tendency for flavours of fish cooked in curry to be overwhelmed by the spices in the curry, but I am glad to say that the spiciness was mild enough so that I could enjoy the fish. Paired very well with the seafood fried rice. My friend, a Thai Village enthusiast informed me that Thai Village serves an even better version of fried rice, but too bad we didn’t get the chance to sample that.

Thai Village @ Leisure Park - Thai Village signature seafood fried rice with crab meat

金银珠宝满华堂 Thai Village signature seafood fried rice with crab meat

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Rendezvous Hotel Christmas Lunch

Next stop on the Festive Gourmet Food Trail…..Rendezvous Hotel Singapore! This is the Christmas themed part of the food trail, if only they gave us Christmas presents….

Rendezvous Hotel - (6)

Me looking really happy for having a seat at the VIP table heh heh heh… And I didn’t even have to know the bride and groom. Ok just kidding. My blogger buddy  Rachel of PXDKITTY helped me take this photo. Check out her blog at http://pxdkitty.blogspot.com/.

Rendezvous Hotel - Honey baked ham & crabmeat croquette

Honey baked ham & crabmeat croquette (Accompanied with granny apply salad, cinnamon pineapple sauce

The croquettes looked festive, with the cinnamon pineapple sauce. There was a nice crunch due to the water chestnuts, onion and pine nuts used. The taste is a little like Ngoh Hiang. Didn’t quite like the apple salad on the side. It had too much salad dressing/mayonnaise in it and resembled coleslaw. I think coleslaw has a very bad reputation, in Singapore at the very least. I suspect it is due to the cheapo and lousy coleslaw served at KFC and Western food stalls in hawker centres. The Partner tells me that KFC NZ serves really wonderful coleslaw, which is nothing like what we have in Singapore. I wonder why.

Rendezvous Hotel - Cream of wild mushroom soup topped with crispy turkey bacon (2)

Cream of wild mushroom soup topped with crispy turkey bacon – Nice as It had a whole load of little bits of mushroom in it.

Rendezvous Hotel - Stewed turkey breast with chestnut and prune in red wine sauce

Stewed turkey breast with chestnut and prune in red wine sauce -

I think where the chefs truly excelled were in the meat dishes. The turkey and duck dishes were done so well that just for these alone was worth the visit to Rendezvous Hotel.

The thing with turkey that is that it’s a tougher type of meat as compared to chicken and duck. Whenever I go for Christmas dinners, I’m always hesitant to order the turkey dish even though I really want to. I mean, what’s Christmas without turkey??? The turkey that we had at Rendezvous Hotel was really tender and flavourful. I was so shocked to discover that it was turkey BREAST that was served! I mean some cooks can’t even do chicken breast correctly and here I was eating these tender morsels of turkey breast. It was GOOD.

Another interesting thing which the chef shared with us. Did you know that turkey for Christmas is only prevalent in the USA? In Europe, it’s duck or goose! In New Zealand it’s duck or lamb. I think the Americans eat turkey for Christmas mainly because turkey is also the traditional dish for Thanksgiving (an American holiday), which is in November and so close to Christmas. It makes economic sense for the farmers to specialize in one type of meat.

Rendezvous Hotel - Baked duck breast topped with goose liver mousee

Baked duck breast topped with goose liver mousse – The chefs outdid themselves again with the sliced duck dish. Once again, the meat was very very tender. I love the sweet accompanying sauce. Didn’t manage to taste the goose liver mousse though. Definitely a dish you should consider ordering for Christmas too. I’m salivating as I’m writing this!! It’s torturous to see but not be able to eat it!

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