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

Raspberry Cinnamon Brownies

Don’t give me a plain brownie when you know the rainbow variations it is obliged to take on any time of the day, month, year… yes go on, go on.

So I was eating Strawberry Haagen Dazs in my room and well, you know those bits of frozen strawberry? Yes well, I can’t resist them. Wait a minute. Strawberries. Jam. Baking urge. I needed to comprehend my own absurd wants whilst being weighed down by post-school exhaustion.

I saw this recipe for brownies swirled and glistening with raspberry jam and decided to put a mini itty bitty wicky butty twist on it.

Cinnamon and nutmeg and a little cream. Oh and add a touch of textured, clunky marmalade from the orange Gods. Those were all the changes and that was it. But I want to revel in the pure divinity that is therapeutic baking on a Tuesday afternoon after school, with a history essay on cue and Hitler parading his lovely square mustache on the side, hands up, chest out and all. The tiredness was overwhelming, my lids needed a break from being opened up to the world.

I had to bake. I needed to bake. I needed to feel the flushed rigour of precision and sweet chemistry (yes, this is very very literal.)

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So. Here’s what the English call a recipe.

What you need for these diddlyumptious cuboids (or cubes, whatever works for the geometrical purists):

– 150g 70% dark chocolate

– 115g unsalted butter, in chunks

– 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

– half cup white sugar

– half cup brown sugar

– 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

– 1 tablespoon double cream

– 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract (not essence, no no)

– 2 eggs and 1 yolk

– 3/4 cup plain white flour

– half teaspoon salt

– 16 teaspoons of raspberry/blueberry/ whateverfloatsyourboat jam, or a fruit-and-sugar compote which you don’t mind atop pancakes or waffles. Though more on the thick and glutinous side. Now I’m not saying to physically and painstakingly measure out 16 teaspoons beforehand. Oh please don’t die in the kitchen. You can do this after the batter is made, when you drop 16 teaspoons of jam in little 4×4 rows on top. Plain and simple and no dying.

I love baking brownies. I really do. And talk about a one-bowl job.

What to actually do for these diddlyumptious brownies:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, and grease plus line a square 8-inch baking tin.

2. Melt the chocolate and butter over a bain-marie, which is really just a fancy way of saying dump the globs of black and yellow into a heatproof bowl and melt over simmering (not boiling) water.

3. Remove from heat and whisk in both sugars and cocoa powder.

4. Mix in eggs and yolk, vanilla extract and cream.

5. With a spatula or wooden spoon, add flour, salt and cinnamon. Mix until well combined and take a minute to gape at the gloopy, glossy consistency.

6. Pour into pan and drool a little more. Have any of you watched the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The introduction is practically dedicated to chocolate porn in all its pours and drop layerings. Pretty spectacular. That Wonka was quite something.

7. With a piping bag or teaspoon (despite the desire for excruciating perfection, I still reverted to the latter), put 16 dollops of jam on top of the batter.

8. With a knife, PLAY. Swirl it around and about the batter until you get what should resemble decadent, ornate swirls fit to look part of King Henry’s grand staircase. It may look unkindly messy at this point, but don’t give up hope. The swirls show up in the most gorgeous manner possible in the oven after the batter lightens and gains crusts and steeps and crevices in all the right places.

9. Bake for 25 minutes on the dot. No more and no less. Well, unless you have a peculiar oven of course. In that case you have a little more flexibility with time. It’s typically 25-27 minutes. There I offered some room.

I was satisfied and I was done, and I went up to my room to watch Daniel Craig in The Trench for some bloody ear shots and spilling guts. Chocolate Fingers smiled up at me.

I beg you to all make this, or at least try.

For warmth in the oven and in the heart.

Wild Rocket at Mount Emily

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Ashamed.

Close the curtains, whip out the knives. Attack the Alex.

Where on earth have I been? Well then, I believe life takes over sometimes. Over even what I wanted to ascertain as good old routine. And so I have been swayed from conformity and ended up on the wrong road with a heavy heart. I missed this. The whole process of writing and a-pouring-out. Quite a lot.

Back to this review. Wild Rocket was a place I visited may, many weeks ago. A sophisticated place for all things delectably local, with a Singaporean touch on every invention and mish mash of stuffies, like mahogany on green with a dash of pink. I believe my first time was some sort of celebration with the paternal side of the family. A set menu for a party of at least 10, the appeal established on the grounds of a romantic and dimly lit cove casually thrust in the centre of the place. Oh right, and good food. Come to think of it, I should like to visit this place in the daytime, for all I remember were shades of burgundy and brown- why, even the waiter seems to have a black face. Literally, from the stretching shadows.

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pomelo coconut salad

Airy fairy, light and cold, cold, cold. The pomelo offset the creamy sweetness of the dish doused in this wonderful coconut cream. The oriental factor settled in so appropriately and wasn’t at all annoyingly out of place. A petite starter to get the juices flowing. I actually didn’t expect it to be so tantalising, but it was and I was happy and so I looked forward to the next seam of depth in this intriguing menu.

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Stuffed pepper with crabmeat and potato mash

This was a filler move.

For the vegetarian maman. I myself was surprised at how well it turned out, with succulent crabmeat and a textured mash.

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nori tsukudani spaghettini with arabian white prawns

Tingling, delicate, al dente, perfect. It was a tiny twirl of local goodness on a vast white thing of a plate, with the very arabian prawn (yes, the names of things alter my perception of them) sheltering each strand from any damage (oh God forbid.) But do go ahead, I implore you to not take a bite of this mini mountain of stringy bites. Isn’t the feeling of an explosion of skinny winny noodles the best in the world? When you’re in such a restaurant as this, at least, with the dim light caressing your hair and the moon watching over with a white jealousy. What can she do, for now you have are the king or queen of spaghettini treasure. The flakes added gorgeous spice, and the portion was perfect in the 10 course meal.

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Wild rocket chendol

May I just say the best twist on this local dessert. Ever. Ever. The coconut cream shaved ice was glistening with the shower of thick gula melaka sinking into the smooth, shaven surface of the sphere, hiding the little worms of green chendol and multicoloured treasures. A local sea, if you may. I think I was halfway through when I realised that this was the one time whereby I wasn’t hit with an ounce of slight sugar-induced sickness, since all the components did not rely too heavily on each other and so the balance was absolutely spot on.

Missing these treats already. Such finesse within obvious complexity, and yet everything retained an air of refined elegance. More would be good, thanks. Brilliant, brilliant.

Rating: 4.7/5

Wild Rocket (at Mount Emily)

10A Upper Wilkie Road

Hangout Hotel

Tel: 63399448

A Very Fishy Ramble

Before I blabber on nonsensically, I would like to first tell you about the literature blog Ruru and I set up for the benefit of all literature-loving peers: sjiinookofbooks.wordpress.com. Belles-Lettres was a good way to go. A feminine start to our bright passion! So do go and support us.

So now. Gotta shout it from the rooftop, hollering till my lungs fail and collapse and dissolve into the dense air. Declare it loud and proud. Before I proceed, I must warn you that this post might be extremely non-sequitur, since my mind likes to twirl and fall off a direct one-way path.

I have a very, very fishy fetish. Quite literally, too. I mean I can be fishy at times habits and personality wise but this, my friend, is an entirely different matter altogether. Most people cringe at my ghastly penchant for any animal with an attached edible head and most importantly, brain. For who am I kidding, that’s the best part! No incertitude there I promise.

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Little twins. These two guys look very similar, though really they aren’t. One’s from Sushi Tei and the other, Ichiban Boshi. I actually prefer the former, since it bore more crunch and sourness (two things which encourage a great deal of guilty pleasure whenever I do feel like ordering this.) Squeeze on all the lime and liberally apply some crumbled radish or ginger or both. Cast away the knives and forks and all sense of common dining etiquette. Crack your knuckles and exercise your joints a little, just to get ready for the task at hand. Smile and tuck in like how our ancestors did thousands of years ago. We were born to do it like savages.

One bite of fish head warmed and softened by an ooey gooey light grey brain and slighter darker pituitary gland plops angels in the backdrop of this harmonious dream, singing an ecstatic chorus of fishy glee and rounding out my senses, forcing me to even close my eyes just to savour the wondrous saliferous joy of fish head. Fish tail and stomach is good, don’t get me wrong, but the joy of popping those bulging eyes of translucent, wobbly jelly is simply indescribable. You eat around the perimeter of the head before cracking the very middle with your teeth and swallowing the tender chewiness of that brain. Carnal? Yes. But oh so painfully pleasurable.

And why on earth am I suddenly talking about this?

It got me thinking, as I sat down to another round of head gorging last night, as I sucked on crab roe and bit into a chicken head’s brain for the first time in my life. (I am now extremely proud to say that I, Alexandra Lim, am no longer a chicken head virgin.) Heads bring me such inexplicable joy and excitement it’s ridiculous, childish, absurd. Never mind the weird looks my friends give me, or the slight twerk in my heart as a little show of guilt whenever I imagine that animal as an unborn embryo cooped up in its promising shell before the first signs of cracking. But by gum I just love it. Not just me, of course. Many share the same fishy passion as I, though I’m pretty sure the majority don’t. It’s like the whole durian thing again. And may we all just admit that messy eating is the best thing ever.

But how do we really perceive something to be ‘odd’ or ‘strange’ in the first place?

Bring on the TOK (Theory of Knowledge) talks. I was listening to my ex-math teacher Mr S a few days ago, on human perception and ideals in realism, or how we assume things to be the way they are in the real world. Hell, we are humans with two eyes and a nose and mouth. But how on earth can we take that to be normal with our partial comprehension of the ever strange and glorious world which surrounds us, and which we face on a daily basis? All these shapes and silhouettes make up a minuscule fraction of what actually exists, that is, if we take all those scientific conjectures to be full-on true. Incredibly shattering just to think about this one side of a notion. We looked at the story of Helen Keller, who was an extraordinarily gifted woman in spite of being BDD (blind, deaf and dumb). But to her, this never was a disability, since she never could fully or freely experience the other three senses. She was trapped in a mental gate lock which only her helper Annie Sullivan could pull her out of, with unbelievable persistence made doable by the miracle of love. Nothing is strange or odd or a disability if one has never experienced the fullness of life without any shortcoming. We must be pretty miserable creatures since we only possess only 5 out of a possible 1000 senses. Just because we don’t live in darkness and can enjoy stuff like foie gras terrine.

Charles Baudelaire said that ‘strangeness is a necessary ingredient in beauty.’ Looking at it one way, I like fish because ever since I was younger I’d crave the simplistic and pure white flesh of the red snapper or the juicy amber goodness of the common salmon. I saw no joy in much else, except peas perhaps, which my father would pour on the ledge of my high baby chair as a toddling duckling. Pick and mash and mush and happiness galore. Nothing strange about eating fish head, but maybe what gives it an odd edge is the fact that I find it almost to be just like a drug. I have to have it at least twice a week. Ice cream is similar, though not half as much as my love for fish head and gory bits and bobs which people pick out and happily leave on their little places. And I now come to my second honesty claim: I am a dreadful picker.

Can you imagine how annoying it is for me when I’m surrounded by people at a table who don’t lick out the bone marrow of chicken thigh bones or don’t polish up every little strand and nickel of fish hanging limply on their scales? It’s chaotic mental paranoia. I’m almost afraid that by not engaging in this OCD with bony bits, they might actually miss out on a fleeting taste of heaven. So strange but absolutely part of me. This is the sad way my mind works. Only natural to feel my brain cogs turn and clack when I see a pile of abandoned onions or half picked at fish or chicken bones. I become fretful and worried. I think I even started sweating once. No, Baudelaire, this is not a beautiful trait of mine, but I have indeed almost come to embrace it once or twice, as I feel so accomplished when I feel  the fish head snuggling in the pit of my stomach, not gone pitifully to waste. But it’s sad how I only enjoy these leftover, unwanted nicks and nacks. As if by eating them comforts the inanimate things into knowing that no, they are never always abandoned.

So to me, this is normal, and to other people, strange.

To people who wear a lot of makeup regularly, such habit comes  naturally, but i find it the oddest thing in the world to wake up at 5 every morning just to perfectly conceal that one red smidgen of a dot on your upper cheek.

People like white chocolate, but I (and Ruru of course) find it so one-dimensional.

People throw on a purple or green blouse or dress as and when they feel like it, but I just can’t bear to. Unless I actually feel an aggressive chemical connection, of course. Now that’s an exception. All these things I find strange, strange, strange, but the only thing which separates me from you is our perception of the world and all the existing things in it.

And I find the combination of familiarity in all the stored memories of my existence as well as a cold oddness inherently beautiful.

‘There is no excellent beauty that hath some strangeness in the proportion’ – Francis Bacon