Archive for December, 2011

Reflections on the last day of 2011

December 31 is upon us again. For me this day each year has usually brought upon me a heavy heart. I used to wonder why it is that people could look forward and celebrate a new year, while my energies were spent in trying to stop time. Now that I am older and wiser, I have come to accept the following as a plausible explanation. The reason for my depression every late December is because once again I am reminded of the furious pace time passes. It’s easy to say “I’ll do it tomorrow”, but if tomorrow is no longer 2011, reality becomes stark. That in itself isn’t a negative thing, unless it is coupled with the truth that one hasn’t achieved all that was set out to do at the beginning of this year.

Another reason why I hate to have to usher in the new year is that I don’t want December to go! December is a period of celebration, of holiday and festive cheer. I haven’t even had enough of Christmas yet and January wants to poke its nose in? I’m definitely not removing my Christmas tree until the last day! And what about January, a month that I calculate to be 11 months apart from December? January just screams “Holiday’s over. GET BACK TO WORK!” It will be 11 months more before it’s December again! The humanity of it!

That being said, this year has been a pretty significant year for me in several aspects. A number are personal but on the blogging front, I am proud to say that probably a year ago I would not have envisioned my blog to be what it is today. I have loved every minute of it and I’m thankful for all the opportunities given to me in the blogging world. I really am looking forward to more activities for 2012! I have a great many ideas on what to do with my blog, some ideas shared with me by close friends, and I can’t wait to get started on those.

So maybe starting from this December 31, I’ll try to be positive. Hey that’s inspiration for a New Year’s resolution! I shall enjoy and live to the fullest every single day possible such that every December 31 would be a day to celebrate successes, and not a day to lament lost time.

This evening, I shall enjoy a nice dinner hosted by a close friend. Considering that I only met him at a conference one year ago, it’s a miracle that we’ve become such good friends. This is yet another resolution I wish to fulfil, that is to make more friends each year, as well as to reconnect with my old friends. And after dinner, I shall make my way down to the Marina Bay Countdown 2012 at the Marina Bay Floating Platform to usher in 2012 with a bang! There’s going to be a concert, light show and most importantly, FIREWORKS!!!

Have a very very HAPPY NEW YEAR and a FANTASTIC 2012! May all your dreams come true!

NDP 26 June 2011 Fireworks (7) NDP 26 June 2011 Fireworks (5)

Better buy butter back!

Ok I was trying to get more “B’s” into the heading. It is correct though. If you’re planning to make a truckload of Chinese New Year cookies, now’s the time to stock up on your butter! I was at the Shop n Save supermarket today (people go window shopping at the malls, I do it at the supermarkets) and a number of butters are on discount!

SCS butter

If you grew up on SCS Butter and you swear by it, now’s the time to buy it! 2 SCS Butter for only $7.35! That amounts to about $3.70 per 250gm, when the usual cost is $5.20! Discount ends on 31 Dec 2011!

SCS Butter vs Cowhead Butter

Some people say that SCS butter is the best because of the higher butterfat content, which makes for richer cookies and cakes. I tried making cookies using SCS butter vs another brand, and that statement does seem justified. While rolling the cookie dough, the dough made from SCS butter just seemed to be oilier in my hands. However, when you look at the actual ingredients listed, SCS butter doesn’t contain more butterfat than others!

The picture above compares the SCS Butter (white packaging) vs the Cowhead Butter (Golden Packaging). You can see that both state a minimum of 80% milk fat. I am assuming here that if your butter contains more milk fat, you would naturally want to state so for marketing purposes. So since both butters only indicated 80%, I have assumed that the butters have only 80% milk fat and no more. So, SCS butter is no better than Cowhead Butter!

So, why do I bring this up? Because Cowhead Butter is going at 2 for $5.75!!! That’s equivalent to about $2.90 per 250 grams! After scrutinising all the various brands of butter in the supermarket, Cowhead Butter seems to be the cheapest at $2.90/block. I went ahead to buy 2 blocks of it today!! And I’m contemplating more….

Anchor butter

Anchor used to be my favourite, as it is the only butter from New Zealand. It used to cost less than $4, but with milk prices escalating, $4.70’s no longer a price I’m willing to fork out. A year or so ago, you could get WestGold butter from New Zealand in Singapore. For some reason, it cost only $2.50! I checked the ingredients, naturally, and they were exactly the same as that of Anchor butter, so I was a firm supporter of WestGold Butter until it mysteriously disappeared, as mysteriously as it appeared to begin with.

Cowhead Butter vs Golden Churn Butter

Golden Churn Butter of Australia wasn’t on discount today so it was more expensive than Cowhead Butter. Also, while it didn’t state the butterfat percentage, the energy content of Golden Churn seemed to be a tiny bit lower than Cowhead Butter. The difference seems minimal, so go for the cheaper one depending on when you are buying it.

Lurpak Festive 3 in 1 butter pack

You know what, if you’ve always been hankering after the European butters, now’s also the time to buy them! Lurpak is on massive discount! 3 for $12.55 which is equivalent to $4.20. The usual price is $6! Danish butter…..mmmmm! Get me some hot toast right now!

toastST081006_228x310

Got this picture and line off this website. TOAST IS A VEHICLE TO TRANSFER AS MUCH MELTED BUTTER (SHORT OF DRINKING IT) TO YOUR MOUTH AS POSSIBLE. Seriously, how apt is that??? Why is there no bread in my house right now???

Buttercup Luxury Spread

But whatever you do, do not mistake Buttercup Luxury Spread for butter. This luxury spread lists Palm oil as the 1st ingredient. Not very luxurious if you ask me. That’s the reason why Buttercup would be so cheap as compared to the other dairy butters.

Now that you have the low down on butter, go forth and bring those butters back. Be sure to drop me a comment if you do so!

Indulge at Grand Park Hotel City Hall

No I’m not telling you to indulge at Grand Park Hotel. The name of the Hotel’s restaurant is called Indulge at Park. Indulge at Park was where we chose to have our very last department dinner of the year for 2011. Yours truly, being the non-closet foodie, was arrowed with the task of finding a suitable restaurant to spend our remaining pot of money. May I say it was not an easy task since I had to take into consideration the budget of about $55/pax, reputation of restaurant, quality of food and also the location. Due to the Christmas period, a number of restaurants were also fully booked!

image

I was glad I eventually secured a table for 8 at the Grand Park Hotel. The buffet is only $53+++ and with a DBS/POSB credit card, one enjoys a 20% discount! (The company should reward me for saving money!) We once visited Indulge to celebrate a colleague’s promotion a few years ago when our office was just opposite the hotel. It was a pretty enjoyable affair the last time so I thought I was safe. Until a friend decided to google Hungry Go Where to read the reviews on the day that we were to dine there! Turns out that the reviews for Indulge at Park were mixed. Quite a number slammed the restaurant for not topping up their oyster counter and the lack of freshness of the food, although some rated the restaurant quite highly.

Personally, I think the sashimi and oyster bar were well worth the money, while the hot food section was pretty forgettable. I didn’t encounter any stale food thankfully. In the end, the buffet cost only $53, lesser with the seemingly perennial 20% discount.

If you’re expecting the likes of Melt Cafe at Oriental Hotel or The Line at Shangri-La, you would be in for a big shock. But you shouldn’t expect so, because you pay double the price there. You might however be able to get more bang for your buck if you are able to get your hands on the 50% discount at The Bar & Billiard Raffles Hotel or at TripleThree Mandarin Orchard Hotel. Those would be more worth it and they seem to have ongoing promotions.

Grand Park City Hall - Fresh Canadian Oysters, Assorted Clams, Black Mussels, Tiger Prawns, Flower Crabs (2)

Sashimi, oysters and crab station. Have to say that all the sushi I took tasted very fresh. No complaints for me at all. I haven’t been eating oysters for a very long time, but my colleagues were having seconds of those, so I think no complaints either. The food was topped up consistently so there was plenty of food to go around, unlike what some readers complained on Hungry Go Where.

Grand Park City Hall - Baked Whole Salmon with Rock Salt and Herb

This humongous whole salmon greeted us at the door and elicited quite a number of oohs and ahhs from the colleagues. I thought it was a little dry though. I like my salmon to be lightly cooked, with a hint of pink in the middle.

Grand Park City Hall - Tom Turkey & Maple Syrup Glazed Ham & Roasted Beef Striploin

The Christmassy carving station. Unfortunately, most of the stuff here was a tad dry.

Grand Park City Hall - Christmas Turkey and Roasted Beef Striploin (2)

I was lucky and managed to get some turkey thigh upon request. It was dry but still delicious so I polished it all off. The bits at the back were the turkey. The bits at the front were the roasted beef striploin. It too suffered from dryness. The splodge at the front of the plate was me trying to be creative with the gravy, and failing.

Grand Park City Hall - Stir-fried Prawn with Salted Egg Yolk Sauce

Stir fried prawns with salted egg yolk and curry leaves. The batter coating the prawns was a bit thick. The salted egg yolk flavour didn’t really come through either. There were numerous other hot dishes, but most of them didn’t really appeal to me, as they had been sitting in their pots stewing away for a while. I mostly focussed my energies on the sashimi counter as well as the dessert counter. To be fair, I tend not to eat that much of the hot food section for most buffets, especially if common Chinese dishes are featured.

Grand Park City Hall - Opera Cake with Blackcurrant

The desserts fared much better at the buffet. Took pictures of all the desserts at the beginning of the buffet before anyone else managed to dismember them. The Opera cake was my favourite dessert of the lot. It was rich and chocolaty, with enough layers of cake such that I didn’t think I was just eating mousse.

Grand Park City Hall - Christmas Yule Log Cake

The log cake looked quite festive but unfortunately I was not able to try it. By the time I was ready for dessert, the log cake was more of wood pulp cake thanks to the diners before me.

Grand Park City Hall - Crunchy Hazelnut Feullitine Gateaux

The Crunchy Hazelnut Feullitine Gateaux was nice, chocolaty and not too overly sweet.

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Christmas is coming!

It’s going to be Christmas soon!!! My most favourite time of the year! I love Chinese New Year too, but January doesn’t give me the festive feeling as much as December does!

How are you all planning to celebrate the Christmas weekend? I’ve got a lot in store on my side. For Christmas Eve, the Partner will be cooking dinner just for my parents and us. His parents are in New Zealand so they obviously won’t be joining. Maybe I’ll bring my parents for the Swensens’ 12 Sundaes of Christmas. Speaking of which, lots of people are googling that. Looks like Swensens’ is going to have a busy Christmas.

After dinner, we’ll probably go out for coffee somewhere, maybe the Airport even. I would really love to have a drive down Orchard Road to see the lights. I don’t believe I’ve had a chance to view the Christmas Lights at Orchard this year, not at night anyway. But I know it’s going to be one hell of a traffic jam there, believe me I tried several years ago.

For Christmas Day, I’ll be hosting a party for 10 people!! And the best or worst part is that most of them don’t know each other, but they are all my best pals. I’ve always wanted to have my very own party, and this year it’s going to happen! I hope it goes well, if not I guess I’ll have to ply everyone with more alcohol!!!!

This is my proposed menu. I am going to make the cakes from scratch, including the marmalade! Can’t wait to get started on those!

Canapes
1. Potato Cakes
2. Bacon wrapped prawns

Main Dish
1. Roast Chicken with cranberry sauce
2. Roast potatoes, sweet potatoes and vegetables

Dessert
1. Orange Marmalade Cake
2. Chocolate Log Cake

Drinks
1. Eggnog
2. Beer
3. Wine
4. Iced Earl Grey

And on Boxing Day, I think I need to rest to recover from the festivities.

Rose Veranda at Shangri-La (Sweets!)

This is a continuation of my recent visit to the Rose Veranda at Shangri-La. See http://365days2play.com/2011/12/19/rose-veranda-at-shangri-la-savouries/ for the write-up on the savoury afternoon tea items.

Shangri La Rose Veranda - Scones with Whipped Cream and Jam

The hallmark of a good afternoon tea service is good scones. The scones at Shangri-La passed the taste test. Slightly crisp and brown on the tops, yet buttery and flaky on the inside. To me, a scone can only be 100% perfect if it is served with clotted cream. Normal cream is served here unfortunately. It’s amazing that not many people know about clotted cream, but really, you’d never look back after you’ve tasted a scone with clotted cream and jam.

Shangri La Rose Veranda (10)

These were not available on the normal buffet and were instead served to all the guests present. Refreshing strawberry and rose sorbet with a jelly like substance on the side. A nice breakaway from the heavier items and they look pretty too!

Shangri La Rose Veranda (13)

Some cake also served individually to the guests.

Shangri La Rose Veranda - Chocolate Fountain

Chocolate fountain with lots of fruits and other items to dip. You could even dip the chocolate balls in more chocolate.

Shangri La Rose Veranda - Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee – Loved the creamy insides. Burnt sugar top was just a little bit too thick which made the creme brulee too sweet.

Shangri La Rose Veranda (8) Shangri La Rose Veranda (9) Shangri La Rose Veranda (12) Shangri La Rose Veranda - TWG Teas

The Rose Veranda has switched from whatever they were using previously to TWG teas now. No more Orange Pekoe. Each guest is allowed 2 tea selections out of a possible 164 choices.

The Rose Veranda at Shangri-La

Phone: (65) 6213 4486

Weekdays
Lunch spread (11.30am – 6pm)
Traditional English afternoon tea 3-tier set (3 – 6 pm)

Weekends and public holidays
High Tea Buffet (11.30am – 2.30pm, 3 – 6 pm)

http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property/singapore/shangrila/dining/restaurant/roseveranda

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