Thursday, July 30, 2009

Orgo's amazing cocktails

Me & my cocktails. What can I say. Knowing that fact, all my friends have been telling me about the rooftop bar at Esplanade that has a Japanese mixologist (that's what they are calling them nowadays). Of course, I had to check it out.

So after our show, we hung around the Esplanade till they opened at 5pm. When you have a 4 year old on tow, you have to start the party early. So of course we were the only ones there & it gave me the opportunity to nose around & snap away. I love the open concept & even tho there are private rooms, they are like glass cubes on the terrace.

I'm sure it would be real pretty at night.

That aside, I got down to the business of ordering my martini. OMG the selection ! I couldn't decide - pomelo & basil, dragon fruit & vanilla, apple & shiso - such exciting combinations. I decided to place my faith in Fazlie, my server aka Mr Smooth Operator (I swear that's what his name card says) for his recommendation.

Strangely enough, the bar is tucked away so I didn't get to see Mr Tomoyuki Kitazoe work his magic.

So here it is - a soursop & calamansi martini.

Absolutely delicious ! A good cocktail when it's done well, hhmm.

I can't wait to go back again to try out the rest. Wanna join me ?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

More substitutes

We all improvise when it comes to cooking. If an ingredient is not available, we try to find an alternative & if inspiration hits us, we might even concoct something wonderful. Admittedly I'm not very innovative when it comes to cooking. I tend to stick to tried & tested recipes.

I'm sure you all know how I feel about the prices of wine in Singapore. So what is one to do when the recipe calls for white wine ? Do you buy the cheapest bottle of wine & hope for the best ? In France, I never buy wine just for cooking. I will cook with whatever wine we have available - an unfinished bottle in the fridge & if there's none, I won't think twice about opening any one of the bottles that we have ie. a wine that we would drink.

So I'm eating my words when I said I wouldn't dream of substituting white wine with chinese wine. Well that day has come. As part of my quest to find Asian alternatives to expensive Western ones, it was time to test that out. Now that seafood is fresh & cheap over here, you know what I'm making all the time - yup seafood pasta. So instead of white wine, I decided to try adding shao xing bearing in mind that the latter is sweeter so it's best added sparingly.

It substitutes quite well but I must qualify that I don't have a chef's sophisticated tastebuds which means I didn't detect any significant difference. Have you tried it ? Did it work out for you ?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ballet under the stars

Of all the performing arts, my favorite has always & will always be dance. It can be in any form - jazz, folk, modern, classical ballet, I love them all. There's something mesmerising about watching the graceful pirouettes of a ballerina, a well choreographed piece or the skillful execution of a dance move.

New York spoilt me. There was always so much to offer. It was also home to my favorite dance group, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. I never missed a season in the years that I was in NY so you could say I was a dance junkie.

No surprise when Ballet under the Stars was announced, I made my way to Sistic.

It was so packed. Even more crowded than when we were there for Much Ado about Nothing. No grass patch was spared - picnic mats were almost one on top of the other.

I can't get away from olives & pate at a picnic.

Nothing gets The Girl more excited than when one mentions the word "picnic". I try not to say anything until we are about to leave else it would be a constant barrage of "when are we leaving", "have you packed the food", "did you bring olives" from the time I utter the magic word.

Almost everyone went with plastic bags of food, the more organised ones brought cooler boxes & pretty picnic baskets but the prize for the best looking picnic carrier goes to .....

.......this antique food basket which belonged to my neighbours on the mat behind us who also graciously let me take a photo

Enough of the pre-show babble. We went there early not just to chop a spot but because The Girl was driving me crazy with her "are we ready". Good thing we did cos there were pre-show performances which I didn't know about since it wasn't mentioned on the ticket.

I don't believe I've ever watched the SDT perform & the Ballet under Stars is in their 15th year (that just goes to show how long I've been away). I liked what I saw. My favorite was the final piece called Pop not least because it incorporated one of my favorite songs by Annie Lennox - Walking on Broken Glass which had me humming all the way home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Journey to the West @ Esplanade

photo credit : flickr/tianyake

The Girl & I saw 2 performances last week. The first one being Ballet under the Stars which I'll blog about later but I really wanted to talk about the second one first.

I got excited the moment I read the synopsis, a retelling of the famous Chinese legend, Journey to the West
西遊記 and not only that, performed by the Guangzhou acrobatic troupe. What better way to introduce some Chinese culture to The Girl and I knew it would be something that we would both enjoy. Despite that, I hesitated buying the tickets because they were expensive (going up to $108).

In the end I caved & a good thing too cos the show was worth every cent (I didn't buy the most expensive tickets). The story was told in acts - one of which was their trip to the flaming mountain (hence the picture above cos no photography was allowed). Which was a real pity cos I really wanted to share the gorgeous costumes & the amazing sets - most beautiful was the Spider Cave.

Think of it as a Chinese version of Cirque du Soleil - stylish choreography with puppets, dancing and most importantly, an amazing acrobatic show. Honestly the storyline was secondary to the main attraction but it does add to the entertainment value and it has been a long time since I enjoyed a show that much.

C'est magnifique !

Update : A reader shared this video of their performance in London. Don't take my word for it, see it for yourself.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Le Quatorze Juillet or 14th July @ Picotin

In celebration of French independence day otherwise known as Bastille Day and also because we were missing French food, we went to Picotin. I've never been but have heard good reviews from friends.

There are many French restaurants in town & I'm sure I'll be checking them out one by one but I chose this because it's a casual brasserie style place that seemed very child friendly.
They even have a little sand pit for playing petanque & when I was there, since no one was playing, it became a sandbox for the kids.

When you call to make a reservation, they will ask if you want to sit outside or inside. I'd recommend sitting outside but ask to be seated near a fan (sorry that's just me). The outside dining area is really quite pleasant.

The menu also has pasta & pizza but I was only there for their French food so I just skipped that completely. There were the usual suspects like pot au feu, cote d'agneau, fillet de rouget. Don't forget to check out the board for other specials.

That's the open fire pizza oven - not quite like the wood burning one that Jean Michel has. If you sit inside, you will have a good view of the pizza making action.

So how was the food ?

The Girl had her favorite escargots (she liked them so much, I had to order another portion). I did find them to be bland tho (perhaps the chef forgot to add salt ?)

This was my friend Meng's mushroom soup - creamy, flavorful & very delicious. Which reminded me how much I miss my mushroom hunting days. Sigh.

Duck confit - skin a little crispy, the way I like it & not too dry

Boef bourguignon - braised beef cheeks. Very tender, very tasty. I almost snatched this dish away Meng.

This was the star of the evening. Chocolate fondant with mint ice cream. A perfect way to finish the meal.

My verdict : Good old French comfort food, just what I was looking for.

100 Turf Club Road

6877 1191

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I've always had a soft spot for the Esplanade. I never understood the controversy over the design. All I know is that it's an iconic building & Singapore finally has a proper place to showcase performing arts.

Tunnel art
Even the walkway leading to the Esplanade is used to exhibit art

I love you in Jawi

If you look really closer, you can see another icon of Singapore
The Merlion

The outdoor theatre
where most of the free concerts are held

If you're there, don't forget to head to the roof terrace for a better view
I was told the bar there has a very good Japanese bartender
Unfortunately it was not opened during the day

So we headed downstairs for our afternoon cocktails

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More of Udders

After I wrote my previous post on Udders, I realised the photos taken from my phone really didn't do justice to the place. So on my recent trip there, I made sure I brought my camera & gave it another go.

I had a long hard look at what was on the board & voted for mojito, strawberry champagne, bourbon coke & jack daniel's lime - about time someone came up with these ice cream flavors.

It's all about cow love

My nephew had the chocolate marsh
chocolate with bits of marshmallows - yummy

sigh The Girl only orders strawberry

My brother's Mao Shan Wang Durian
Creamy, pungent & full of durian goodness -
definitely for the durian lovers (& I'm not even one)

The kids doing a bit of art after dessert

I'm lucky this place is within walking distance - not sure my waistline is going to be very thankful.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The real reason we moved back to Singapore

If you ask my mother, she'll tell you this is the most frequently requested dish within the family (well from me at least).

I can finish this entire plate all by myself.
It's not just any steamed eggs. My mother adds century eggs & salted eggs too, using of course the ubiquitous stainless steel dish.

Don't tell my mum but that's why we moved back to Singapore so that I can have this anytime I want.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I heart the heartlands

Ever since I discovered that the Toa Payoh Library is a lot closer to us than the National Library, we've been going there. I'm so glad we made the switch. Not only is the library less crowded & hence, less chaotic, I also get to explore the heartlands. A routine that I look forward to every 3 weeks.

It has now become my go to place for toileteries & household items. Not only are the things cheaper than what you find in town, the folks are friendly & I never have to worry about keeping The Girl entertain while I browse.
Last week alone I bought 3 pairs of shoes (I know I surprised myself), shampoo, toothbrush for The Girl, hand towels, bath mat & even got my eye brows shaped for $10 on top of borrowing our usual 12 books from the library.

Now that's what I call a fruitful day.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

One night at the museum

Did I mention that we are really enjoying our time back in Singapore ? There have been so much to do & to see. As you can tell from the blog, we've been busy. And we've been busy with events like this - the Night Festival.

This is the second year the National Museum is organising the event - 2 nights of performances, theatre, dance, installations & free entry. Something a little more interesting than the usual night out at the bar with the boys.

The Beginning by Sun Yu-li

We headed over to the SMU green after dinner. By then the performances have already started - we managed to catch the Teng Company presenting He. A modern take on chinese chamber music which I really enjoyed (note to self : remember this group & be sure to catch them when they next perform).

It was followed by a chorus dance & then an Indian dance theatre - all very varied. Unfortunately there was already a huge crowd in front of the stage & since we couldn't get a good view of the perfomances, we moved on.

There was a flea market of sorts but we headed over to the National Museum to see the Public Art installation by Asian artists.

The Tree by FARM

What a brilliant idea to incorporate these public art installations as part of the Night Festival.

But all these were a prelude to the main event which was the Loop of Fortune by a German group called PAN OPTIKUM. A performance of acrobatics & fireworks. I wish I could tell you more but unlike the smart ones who got there early to chop a good spot, we opted to have a cocktail in the museum while waiting for them to start. But what we could see was spectacular. Just the fireworks alone was worth making the trip there. Sorry no pictures - I couldn't juggle a camera & carry my 4 year old at the same time (she didn't want to miss out on any of the action).

If you weren't there this year, don't miss it next year.

The Crystal City by Donna Ong