Breakfast Adventures

Consecrated, shy Saturday rays.

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There’s just something about stuff on toast. Sometimes, it’s not just about the smushing together of peanut butter and jam. Oftentimes, a more savoury and nourishing hat rattles the old engines and breathes life into mornings. So easy you feel guilty. But guilty at pleasure’s stake.

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roasted grapes with ricotta on grilled sourdough

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baked eggs in baked beans

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A fork affair. Moist avocado ‘crumbs’ and the warm tang of fresh, halfway-there compote.

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smashed avocado and raspberry compote on dark rye

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chia infused banana bread

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I’m excited.

For what?

For the possibilities this world holds when it come to breakfast. The sacred routine of waking up, pondering a little, hovering a little, before either following a set recipe, or perhaps just mixing unexpected ingredients together, just for the sake of amateur experimentation, laden with a golden hope.

Ready to learn.

Group Therapy Café

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I stumbled across this hidden gem a good chunk of a while back now, back during the summer holidays, which was God knows how many weeks ago. However the last time I went, I only had a swig of bitter Ethiopian iced brew; the sort which stings a little on the tip of your tongue, before running its way down all throughout your system, jolting your nerves, almost harassing them.

This time, I went in for an actual bite. A nibble, a dig if you will. I craved the same darling nook I visited 5 weeks ago, and so Group Therapy it was. Just that this time it was solo therapy, which was just as good, and in fact probably better. The place opens at 11am, and when I arrived at 11.13, the best window seats were already occupied. I choked down my disappointment and hobbled over to the back area, where there are lovely high metal chairs which are actually rather light when you have to physically pull them out and plonk your bottom on one.

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iced Ethiopian brew; flavourful acidic notes
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piccolo latte

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Let’s talk coffee. I wasn’t so much as excited for the latte as I was for the brew, mostly because I almost never order milky coffees since they make me a tad nauseous afterward and I’m always in need for something refreshing to envelope my throat with.  But I did anyway because I live on the edge. This piccolo was done with master professionalism, despite the obvious lack of caffeine concentration. At $4.50, it was decent pay.

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sunny side ups atop two slices of grilled ham, mashed avocado and thick toast

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Apologies for the blur first shot of those beautifully cooked sunny side-ups. I was torn between this and the poached eggs and hollandaise with smoked salmon on thick toast option (gosh that’s a mouthful), but I went with this instead, because I was curious to see how they would incorporate the mashed avocado into the rest of the dish, which is practically an eggs benedict with the eggs fried and not poached, sans the creamy yellow blanket of snow on top. To my initial disappointment, I realised they did not include small chunks of avocado, or slathered moist clumps of the stuff like a rotund bed of pale moss under the eggs, but literally smoothed the mash across like peanut butter on toast. Luckily for me, the helping was generous enough to seep through the airy pockets in the thick white toast, which was bordered with a most appealing brown yet forgiving crust all the way round. That crust. The seeping made each bite a partial swarm of green, offering a light earthiness and opaque moisture to the salty ham. I only found fault with the portion size and thickness of the crust, which was at least 2 inches in width. Eating this one dish meant pulling up your sleeves and stabbing the belly multiple times before making it possible to get down to the  very bottom. which was quite an unnecessary hassle at times. They should either have thinner toast for maximum flavour impact or cut it into two for better handling. All that cutting and tugging made for a slightly inconvenient ordeal.

Overall, it was a good meal, even if that meant not finishing it. Pities of the world. It would also be nicer if the waitresses wouldn’t constantly look from a distance at the customers, standing and observing, twitching themselves whenever I moved. The coffee is not bad and the fare slightly above expectations, albeit nothing really special. They have a chilli crab tart here as well, which doesn’t look half bad. Promises lie in such hearty packages.

Rating: 4.3/ 5

Group Therapy Café

49 Duxton Road

Wild Honey

When I’m sad I watch videos on how to poach eggs.

Current favourite: http://whiteonricecouple.com/food/video-poaching-eggs-appreciating-life-details/

And when moods coalesce and snowball into a ginormous thunder of unstoppable, guttural hunger, I go to Wild Honey.

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Nowegian Breakfast

The thing about eggs is that I can never tire of them, unlike a lot of people. They enjoy picking out the yolk or the white and frankly I may even be half-guilty on this one myself, since yolks may be my life’s vice aside from a really good fish head curry.

If one is HUNGRY, one must control thyself’s lazy Mickey Dees urges (depending on your level of sophistication, of course) and come to this one place, for some extensive menu choices and serious, heavy satisfaction. I was scoffing this Norwegian Darling when I came here with my mum and sisters once at Scotts Square, where the air is cold and the shops are lonely.

Avocado, grilled asparagus spears, two perfectly poached eggs wrapped with Norwegian smoked salmon, gorgeous homemade hollandaise and salmon pearls resting like jewels on top. I prefer hollandaise slightly tangier, with an orangey tinge right at the end when it curls and hangs around your epiglottis. This was more on the gloggy, boggy side, with more opaque notes. Back then I couldn’t care because I was so darn hungry. The salmon rated a 9 on the sodium scale, which made me less appreciate its indigenous origins; what made this dish unique in the first place. Ah, pity. The asparagus on the other hand, was beautiful and my incisors cut right through like creamed butter. The whole wheat bread was soft with a perfect crust, just right for supporting all its baby fat on top. The mother pillar.

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The bread spread is massively impressive. I just can’t be joking here. Quality stuff, this. the blackberry and strawberry jams were mighty fine, with a rocking depth beneath each sweet facade. I only could have wished for a less watery strawberry jam. There was sweet French brioche, whole wheat and white rolls, croissants and seeded breads. It reminded me of the stodge spread in Nice, France, where there were olive and sesame beauties parading their round, baked bottoms at every course.

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Portobello Road

So yes, it’s portobello, not portabello. Ooh the infuriating spelling paranoia.

Happening, justifiable, good.

Anything more?

Well yes, I believe the hollandaise was more decent this time round, and the mushrooms were actually bouncy and full-on juicy, without any of that banal nonsense. Happy, happy.

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‘Which one is the best?’

‘The steak sandwich, madam!” The blond waiter smiled. Being the only white person around, it didn’t take much for him to stand out. It was a redeeming feature in that dim red restaurant with a scowling queue lining up to look at one poor iPad.

Grass-fed sirloin, vine-ripened tomatoes, shaved onion and parmesan cheese, fresh horseradish and coriander mustard on toasted ciabatta. Right off the menu, that. And honestly, I was much less than impressed. It even left me with a proper frown in between bites. Perhaps I exaggerate, perhaps I am a lonely and fussy soul. But my tongue couldn’t deny the brittle dryness of that bread, which did not live up to its mediocre stuffings. Sandwiches and burgers with too much bread is quite a boring headache, and this was a little too greasy as well. For some reason the sirloin didn’t reproduce the tomato-juiciness I expected in such a tasty part of cow.

Despite some disappointment, this place could still claim a brunch crown. Come on, you can’t turn down a date here.

And well, if you love eggs…

Rating: 3.2/5

Wild Honey

6 Scotts Road

Level 3 Scotts Square

Tel: 66361816

Pique Nique

Being MIA has instilled within me a rushed urge to pen down (or type out, rather) some sort of spilling from my head, my memory, my any form of past experience or happening. Just anything. A deep urge to merely engage in some good outpouring.

So I thought, why not talk about the book I just finished, or perhaps my first week at school (which was more fun that what I had initially playing out in my head, with a ton of dirt and soap and ruggedness and hearty laughter). Then I thought, hey, there’s that food post I missed out on. So I opted for a missed call rather than something relevant to my own present. I’m absurd and boring that way, yes. Basically, this is the restaurant I went to a few days before I left for France for a food and ski escapade, one which whom everyone probably already knows about.

Pique Nique. Literally pronounced picnic, quite unlike what I had in my head whenever I walked by the new place a few years ago, my uvula ringing from a post French word half horse grunt. It’s in an open area where everyone can admire their collection of whoopie pies and blueberry cheesecakes. A quirky little space which I believe replaced Mcdonalds or something or another, though the genuine quirky factor is dimmed down by the somewhat unprofessional gimmick of service; slow and amateur to say with full politeness.

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The burnt-coloured chairs look heavily inviting. Plush exterior to mislead the eye, for once one sits down, you are brought back to a 1950s red bar booth with a cheap plastic cover. Very homely and chic, though.

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Bacon carbonara with poached egg

I believe there is a mighty correlation between a person’s age and his/her attraction to a dish such as carbonara. I remember as a child I would happily wolf down a full plate of this after school, made lush and complete with lashings of Thai sweet chill sauce, since I believed it cut through the opaqueness of such a thick white swimming pool and made the crisp bacon bits even more distinct. Now I watch my two youngest sisters ordering the stuff whenever available in a restaurant. It’s always the cream pasta and meat which appeals to the palette, though I myself fail to keep up with childhood memories and have stopped ordering it altogether. Call me what you may, but I’m certainly not the sort to order the same thing over and over again at different restaurants, for fear that the lack of variety may one day end up killing the sentience of my taste buds and whatever there may be present to provide me with the ability to distinguish between flavours. It’s mostly fear, and a little boredom.

Stole a bite from my dear cousin’s plate just to be sure that they weren’t serving it for the sake of Western tradition. A good sauce and slightly overcooked pasta. Tasty, albeit predictable. And the predictable stuff is only half worth it, oui?

I actually found the most interesting thing the salad, which was really well dressed, and had the correct components of everything in a delectable ratio. I was guessing that the salmon might be a tad too salty, and indeed it was. I sound incredibly cynical and snarky. To guess and be correct is a satisfying feeling, since it offers peace of mind and less hefty an emotional price. However this case presents a more disappointing sort of correctness, hence the satisfaction is not achieved. The egg was sufficiently poached, but it was the sort of dish which made you wonder if good quality would be maintained time and time again, long after the hype diminishes and the spotted teenage waiters move on.

The thing I was most disappointed about was the terrible lack of drinks available. We perused the menu and ordered iced chocolate and iced lattes, only to find out that ‘none were available’. None. The word cut me up on the inside. We were forced to resort to tea, water and coffee. Oh yes, and a glass of apple juice (the sort which you could taste the carton brand of). Of course it had to be our fault for coming to eat on the wrong day at the wrong time with the wrong expectations. The disappointment almost turned to enragement, but I kept my hat on and merely scowled for a few seconds. It’s not the end of the world.

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Classique Croque Madame

So. My dish. I saw the fried egg of course. That sort of said quite enough once I opened the coffee-dipped menu. I’ve tried Croque Madame a good few times; enough to tell whether something of this profound size would behold enough taste to prove it’s worth.

Plainly saying, it was overwhelmingly bready. I was forced to cut through rounds of dry white bread, with each piece failing to soak up enough eggy goodness. It’s all about the yolk, but the gargantuan portion of cheesy bread was putting me off. Cheese was present; all lovely and crusty and sometimes even gooey between the two-inch thick slices. The only wrong thing was the disproportionate ratio. Portion= utterly westernised. Not entirely a bad thing, but evidently it was perhaps too much of a normal thing. Nothing to blow my (non-existent) socks off. These cases present to me something more unattractive than appetising, even if I was absolutely ravenous.

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Waffles with chocolate ice cream

And here you may admire the luscious serving of crusty Belgian waffles which I recommended to my overwhelmed 5-year old sister, since I am a selfish human being and wanted to have a few bites myself. One of the better waffles out there, which don’t rapidly melt away into a soggy mess with something like ice cream and whipped cream on top. Each bite was wonderful, and the ice cream itself wasn’t full of that artificial, Hersheys-esque aftertaste. A half-real chocolate taste, which was impressive considering the decent price. The ratio in this case was spot on. The ice cream could coat the whole thing with an ample, plump brown blanket, creamy and nourishing. Waffles were simply spectacular, what with the golden edges and crunch throughout its ridged, pressed body. The chocolate was just asking to be sploshed into every square cubby hole, lying there to soften and sweeten a hardy bread texture.

Magnifique.

Rating: 2.6/5

Pique Nique

391A Orchard Road
#B1-01/02 Ngee Ann City
62386705

Killiney Kopitiam

Curse my atrocious sense of direction.

I only learnt that Orchard and Killiney are neighbours sometime earlier this year (yes cue the curses). It came as a sudden and embarrassing discovery, considering how close by I stay. So painfully close. I should find a way to conquer and eventually squash this oblivion of mine in one way or another. Honestly, how do I even live in this world. If one wishes to lose him/herself whilst travelling, come pick me up. I’d be happy to help strand you on some faraway island.

I swear I can’t even walk in a straight line.

Back to the actual point. For my father and I, Killiney Kopitiam is one of those quaint and good old-fashioned eateries which will always have that nostalgic effect on us. It’s memory and patriotism rolled into one square, white-tiled nook down the street. Constantly, I am reminded of my local roots, and what I really am made of, no matter how ginormous my ego sometimes.

All with some good kopi, crisp and creamy kaya toast and half boiled eggs. That’s all that’s needed to really wake me up.

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The right marriage of local flavour. Those eggs are the most divine things in the world.

This is where we started with breakfast. Us. Singaporeans. Slurp down those eggs like a hooligan without a care in the world, with great streams of light soy and white pepper. Feel it slide down your throat and relish the purity of a couple of unfertilised eggs (oh I make it sound so appealing). The kaya toast is, without a doubt, the best out there. I remember first trying it, thinking it absurdly simple and nothing much to care for. It’s grilled white toast and plain old kaya. Stodge upon sugar and back again. Then I tried other coffee chains such as Toast Box and Ya Kun, before coming to the stark conclusion that yes, this retains the most local flavour and bang for the buck. The curds in that homemade kaya meld beautifully with those cold alabaster slabs of butter, brought together harmoniously by that crusty, ridged rectangles of toast. Not too thick or thin. It basically screams the love emanating from some apron-bound Chinese grandmother. And do NOT skimp on the butter. Won’t be exploding with goodness if you resort to that.

Nothing like freshly grilled toast. Grilled, I say. Beats my traditional burnt toast anytime, with the perfect proportions of green, ivory and toast. Green, ivory, crunch and crunch. Yum.

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I could pass on the french toast though, for it’s rather blah and well, predictable. Though I must say there are always those mornings when all I crave is some charred eggy bread with blobs of syrup.

Cheap flavours, everlasting memories.

Rating: 4.7/5

Killiney Kopitiam

67 Killiney Road

Don’t call, just go.