Archive for July, 2012

Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar

Experts say that a catchy name for a business is a marketing tool in itself. I’ve no doubt about this piece of advice and I’m sure many an astute businessman have put it to good use. Just think about all the cafes that have opened recently with names that make you do a double take. SPRMKT, Carpenter & Cook, Henry Congressional, Nylon Coffee Roasters and lots more.

But of all these names, none made me jump off my seat in a bid to rush there, than Nassim Hill Bakery. For those of you who aren’t aware, Nassim Hill is one of the most expensive residential areas in Singapore. If you own an apartment there, well you’ve kind of made it in life already haven’t you. So, for a  cafe that chooses to associate itself with such a distinguished address, it surely mustn’t be any ole run of the mill establishment right?

Nassim Hill - Sunny-side up eggs with choice of beerbeiser sausage, center cut bacon or honey baked ham $15 (1)

Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar is located at the Tanglin Post Office building, which is opposite Tanglin Mall. It’s not visible from the main road. You have to turn into the side road as the main entrance of Nassim Hill Bakery is facing the back! The good news is that if you manage to snag a parking spot in front of the bakery, parking is free. The bad news is that there are very limited slots, say 20? And the lots have to be shared with those visiting the post office too. If you can’t find a spot, you will have to use the paid basement parking.

Prior to visiting, I was told that the chief baker at Nassim Hill is the owner of Freshly Baked along Killiney Road. So it was no surprise that baskets of fine smelling artisanal bread greeted us when we entered the spacious bakery bistro. Even the bread ovens are in full view as their kitchen is somewhat of an open-concept. Speaking of space, there is such a vast amount of it compared to other establishments, that you feel you could do a dance amongst the tables and not be an obstruction.

Nassim Hill - (5)

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New Zealand Auckland Zoo

Finally got round to sorting out my New Zealand 2012 photos. Sometimes I hate it that I take so many photos. It takes eons to whittle out the handful of photos that will make the cut from the hundreds that I have taken. I remember my 1st digital camera 10 years ago. With the memory card being so small, I was happy to get 50 photos at Disney World. And it’s Disney World mind you. Now, just day trip to the zoo gets me like 300 photos, and this is after much restraint!

Anyway, last month, I finally had the opportunity to visit the Auckland Zoo. The Auckland Zoo was low down in my priority list since we already have a world class zoo right here in Singapore. Also, I’ve been to a number of zoos around the world, and in New Zealand, I rather visit the petting farms where I can touch the animals than merely view from afar. But it being my FOURTH visit to New Zealand, I had to dig up something to do.

Let me get straight to the point. The Auckland Zoo is FANTASTIC! It is such a beautiful zoo and such a wonderful experience walking the grounds that at some points, the hairs on my arms literally tingled with the excitement and awesomeness of it all. If you are going to Auckland, you definitely have to take some time to go visit the Auckland Zoo. It would be time and money well spent.

The difference between The Auckland Zoo vs The Singapore Zoo
  1. Visitor Comfort - If there’s one thing that New Zealand has got going for itself, it is the weather. It is very pleasurable to be out and about without having to mop sweat off your forehead every 5 seconds. Unless a huge air-conditioned dome is built over the zoo, the hot and humid weather will always be a bugbear for Singapore.
  2. Lively animals – It’s a no brainer actually. If you don’t want to be out in crazy 34 degrees celcius, guess what, the animals at the Singapore Zoo feel the same way! I noticed a lot of the animals at the Auckland Zoo were up and in full view, pacing around, or swimming, or swishing their tails or just being plain awake. At the Singapore Zoo, most of the times, the animals were lying down, sleeping or hiding somewhere in the shade, out of view. Even the Night Safari animals seem sluggish. I know, because I’ve been there more than 10 times!
  3. Pretty as a picture – Okay I may be a little biased, given the weather and all, but I think the Auckland Zoo is prettier. It is like a beautiful park, which just happens to have animal exhibits! There is a river flowing through the park too, with lots of little duckies swimming in them. I don’t know why there are no ducks in our ponds and rivers and to me, a pond or a river just ain’t complete without ducks! Don’t get me wrong though, I do think our Singapore Zoo is pretty too, and part of the zoo overlooks the Upper Seletar Reservoir. I just think that the Auckland Zoo is nicer.
  4. Location – Auckland Zoo is just 5 minutes from Central Auckland whereas the Singapore Zoo is located in a “remote” region of Singapore. It’s like if you were in Orchard Road, the Auckland Zoo would be where our Botanical Gardens is. But given that Singapore is pretty small to begin with, this actually isn’t a significant point. And, if you were cabbing, that 5 minute ride to Auckland Zoo would probably cost you S$20, same as if you were cabbing to Mandai!

Other than that, both the Singapore Zoo and Auckland Zoo are world class zoos in their own right. The best part about these zoos are that the animal are housed not in cages but in enclosures made to look like their natural habitats. Also, both zoos boast of walk-in enclosures where visitors are able to mingle with the free-ranging animals. I would most definitely encourage tourists visiting Singapore or Auckland to visit the zoos! I make it a point to visit the Singapore Zoo every year or so.

Auckland Zoo (3)

Auckland zoo (6)

Taller than a hippo.

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Food on the Table giveaway!

*Advertorial – For those based in the USA only*

Food on the Table is a meal planning service out of the US that’s available on the web and on your iPhone or Android devices. Plan out your meals with chef-approved recipes and the app will make a grocery list for you. It will even find the sales at your local grocer so you can get the best deal on your ingredients. Planning meals and saving money has never been easier! Check out Food on the Table website here.

The giveaway is for a one-month Premium membership. With it, you’ll be able to plan meals for an entire week. Plus, you’ll be able to browse thousands of chef-picked recipes that will save you time and money!

Ready to start planning meals and saving money? To enter, like my Facebook page and leave a comment on this post that you have done so. Contest closes 5 August Sunday 2359 Singapore time.

Gryphon Tea launches Grand Cru Collection

*Media Invite*

Gryphon Tea Event

Recently, I was invited to attend a private tea and water appreciation session. As this would be very different from the usual eat, eat and eat some more food tasting session, I jumped at the opportunity. I had previously attended a number of wine tasting sessions (Singapore, Australia, New Zealand) and I quite enjoyed the experience, even though I got tipsy for the one in New Zealand. Of course, there’s no chance of me getting embarrassingly tipsy for a tea tasting session. And the thing about such appreciation sessions is that you get to learn so much about the product that you’re tasting. The history, the processes, down to the very reason why you’re even tasting the product that you’re tasting.

Gryphon Tea Event - (6)

The tea master of the day, and also the founder of Gryphon Tea is Mr Lim Tian Wee. He hails from an illustrious tea export family business known as Lim Lam Thye. I like to think of him as the guy who developed a modern identity for his family tea business and imparted in it a refreshingly hip spin.

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Covelli Italian Bistro at Orchard Central

*Media Invite*

Orchard Central is very much the quieter kid on the block as compared to the bustling 313 Somerset Mall. Or perhaps I should use “was”, as I’ve no doubt that people have been thronging the mall since the opening of Dean & Deluca on the 4th Floor? Do check out the 2 basement levels if you go to Orchard Central. There’s a whole row of shops selling quaint little trinkets. And did you know that there is an underpass that connects Centrepoint Mall to Orchard Central?

Apart from Medz Restaurant, where my friend held her daughter’s 1st birthday, there is also Covelli. Covelli Italian Bistro and Wine Bar is a pretty posh looking Italian Restaurant. It has a cosy stonewall entrance, and a black and white themed decor. When you see it for the 1st time, you might assume that it would cost a hefty penny to dine there, but the reality couldn’t be further. Most of their pizzas cost between $20 – $22, which is very reasonable price. The reason why I’m even mentioning pizza even though I didn’t get to try it for dinner is because the people at the next table ordered a pizza. It was so humongous, it was almost covered the entire table.

Covelli Italian Bistro - (9)

Covelli Italian Bistro - (21)This is part of the separate bar area tucked away in a quiet private corner.

My dining companion and I got to sample a few signature dishes at Covelli. The pictures shown here are smaller than the size of the dishes you would get as a paying customer.

Covelli Italian Bistro - Antipasto Fruitti di Mare (Tataki Tuna, cured Salmon, Crabmeat and Avocado topped with Avruga Caviar & Balsamic Reduction) (2)

Antipasto Fruitti di Mare (Tataki Tuna, cured Salmon, Crabmeat and Avocado topped with Avruga Caviar & Balsamic Reduction) $18

For those of you who want a bit of everything, this might just be the dish for you. There was a lot going on in this dish, as you can see from the picture and the descriptive text. For my 1st mouthful, I made sure to get a bit of everything. It was a little overwhelming as the taste of the crab and the caviar were most prominent. Subsequently, I prised everything apart and enjoyed the layers individually, and found the dish to be more enjoyable. I could at least finally taste the lovely cured salmon, which is something I love very much.

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