Frozen berry pudding (two options)

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I never was one of those girls who have greek yoghurt and fruit (maybe honey, oh my!) for breakfast. Nah. I always needed something carby, or at least warm. The typical day starts with warm oats and tea. Hot on hot on hot… Yes, in this bloody hot weather. But (there’s always a but). I’ve recently experienced a health kick, and decided to experiment a little with all the frozen berry smoothies I’ve been seeing all over the internet. It’s always ‘frozen this’ and ‘frozen that’. The trend has seriously taken the world by storm, but I tweaked it just a little so one need not have to blend everything the morning of. Tired? Got work? Then try this. You may not be the greek yoghurt girl with logos strapped across her bottom, but nevertheless it’s worth a go.

It’s filling, nourishing, chock-full of antioxidants and vitamins. Creamy yet sharp, pseudo-lush yet clearly one of the most healthy things you can have in the morning. This would traditionally be called a smoothie/slushy/ice-cream variant, but I label it a pudding because that’s the word that jumped at me the moment I dug my spoon in the bowl the next morning. Thick, not quite the full-on pudding consistency, but still more pudding-like to me than anything. The chia seeds voluminised the entire body of fruit, so it almost seemed aerated. There are 2 options for this recipe: blend it all in the morning, or blend most the night before, mix in the chia and let sit in the fridge overnight. The second yields a more liquidy, pudding-like result, whilst the former is like ice cream’s sister. Outrageous.

Frozen berry pudding (for 1)

one cup frozen mixed berries

half frozen banana (you can pop in the chopped up banana in the freezer earlier in the day)

40ml milk of choice (I used my mum’s ridiculously thick and creamy almond milk)

pinch of salt

one teaspoon maca/acai/vanilla/cacao powder (optional)

one tablespoon chia seeds

Toppings: nut butters, sliced banana, honey, whatever your heart desires

Option 1: Blend everything except the toppings in a blender (I used a Vitamix) and serve yourself some morning ice-cream!

Option 2: Blend the first 5 ingredients in a blender, then dish out into a bowl. Mix the chia seeds throughly into the thick and cold mixture. The next morning, take the mix out of your fridge and top with whatever you like.

Halia (Raffles Hotel)

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Yeah, um. You see that? I’m not even starting with a decent introduction to the place. Instead I just thrust their sticky toffee date pudding in your faces because I believe that’s what you deserve as a perfectly decent introduction. So now yes, I proclaim this a decent introduction. I hope that’s alright. And because I believe in revolting carnal pleasure before anything less provocative gets in the way. Halia at Raffles Hotel, or in other words that place I always pass by whilst brisk walking with my Dad in the Botanic Gardens, except this time it’s at the oldest hotel in the country. I’ll just run you through this pudding real quick.

Sticky toffee date pudding –$10

Honestly one of the best I’ve ever had. Ok so, when it came, I thought it looked a little boring. Average-sized flattened cuboid with some probably average vanilla ice cream for tradition’s sake. Ha, wrong again. It undoubtedly beat the one from Marmalade Pantry, in terms of texture and sweetness level. This tongue can’t take too much of a sugar overload, I swear. Yes, even I. It could shrivel up and die. This was surprisingly moist, although the banana bread appearance could be refined. Moist, dense, with the right amount of aeration to soak up all the cool vanilla and warm, sweet caramel, like a brown child grovelling on sticky ground for some fair-weather pleasure. I particularly enjoyed the slight addition of sea salt and homemade (yes, yes) butterscotch.

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Chilli crab dip with toasted baguette– $14

Deep fried squid, with spring onion lime syrup dip and piquant mayo– $14

Pork sausage and mash (from kids menu)

Fried bocconcini, roast red onion, capsicum and mesclun salad with balsamic – $17

Alright, I didn’t know the fare here was going to be that impressive. The mother and I shared the three starters; that chilli crab dip was divine- mildly spicy, creamy, well-textured with the even slivers of fresh crab meat. Ugh, yum, especially with the oh-so sophisticatedly toasted baguette. Eat it slow, or you may get a crabby overdose with no room for any of the other rather amazing stuff. The bocconcini (mozzarella) salad was a perfectly petite size, offering crunch and serious stringiness, as you may see in the photo above. Yeah, that was vulgar stringiness. Thank goodness for the tart and lemony salad, or the little fried balls by themselves would have been plain, old, trite things. As for the squid, what was most intriguing was the sauces they served it with. Hello, sweet pairings (?). I was confused, then intrigued, then pleased. I used the two dips as an excuse for the baguette, because I thought it’s toasted, airy texture fit the soaking process more, and made the whole experience of dip and eat more enjoyable. I picked at some of my sister’s sausage and mash, almost scoffing at the putrid size (who was I to judge, it was a damn kids option for goodness sake), but was shocked at the aromatic, whipped velvet of white, speckled mash, and juicy, well done pork sausage. It didn’t even need a sauce reduction!

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62.5 degrees C poached eggs with roma tomato, baby spinach and herb butter sauce on toasted brioche– $20 (my mother is a vegetarian so we passed on the extra mortadella and pistachio ham).

Basically one of the highlights of my life. I mean, of the day. You know, it runs the same route.

Here’s another one of my little stories. So I move the golden slab of brioche a little, very, very little on the plate, and then boom. The beautiful little pregnant egg, so delicate and translucent that you can feel the yolk tremble and weep underneath the 0.01mm thick membrane of white, dropped its belly to the white ground. These guys were so careful to poach it at this precise temperature, under such precise conditions, yielding the most vulnerable, scared little egg. Oh, poor egg. Oh, beautiful, poor egg. But weak it was not. It survived not just one, but two falls, after some clumsy knife handling on my part once again. It finally let its inhibitions go once I stroked the surface with my knife, as if that force alone actually beat that of the ground-hitting phase. Really. Yolk everywhere. It was a beautiful, carnal mess.

Mushed it all up. I let the brioche go soggy, let the tomato and spinach drink up the sunny hues of yolk, yolk and more yolk. The fresh, cooked vegetables, bouncy, lovely-textured mushrooms and balsamic-glazed red onions paired the rich egg-and-herbed butter combo perfectly. Every moment was one spent in sanctimony, I tell you.

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Rating: 4.83/5 (I like complicated decimals)

The Halia at Raffles Hotel

1 Beach Road
#01-22/23 Raffles Hotel
Singapore 189673
Tel: +65 9639 1148

Guys, I love eggs.

Open Door Policy

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Impromptu meet ups at nice, tucked away corners with old faces may cost a lot physically, but I don’t put price tags on the reliving of old brother-sister moments. Brunch, you say? Hell yes. I’ll be there, 11.30am on the dot. I’d like to make a reservation for two please, sir. Oh, and in natural daylight if that’s possible (yes I did say that on the phone). I’ll wander all around Tiong Bahru if that’s what it takes to finally live in the moment of the cynosure of this adorned café.

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roasted field mushrooms with wilted greens on toasted brioche with black truffle purée

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Look at that. Basically, it was fantastic. The mushrooms were tender, unbruised little baby ones without too much oil suffocating their gills. You can see that after the knife cut, the brioche was yellow, sweet and fluffy, making it an angelic bed for the muted savoury tones of everything on top. The one thing I didn’t like was how when my plate came, the brioche was nowhere to be seen. And I prefer to observe and appreciate each component. Otherwise, it merely looked like a meat eater’s leftovers, neatly placed to the side for the rabbits.

What I really loved was that truffle purée. It looked like the liquid which you would skim off soft bricks of ebony sludge, but the flavour and texture was all right. The best thing to mush on top of the crisp, toasted sides of the skinny brioche wall, laden with a few mushroom stalks and set off nicely with the flat, forgiving greens. Fragrant, thick goop.

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ODP pancakes with Grand Marnier and orange

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And right here you may observe my tartan-clad self attempting to handle my friend’s gem of a film camera.

The pancakes were disappointingly dry coins. As if its spirit was sucked into a vacuum before they served it. Sapped of all life. The Grand Marnier itself could not suffice. Yes there was liquor and orange, and it didn’t look all that bad at first, but I took one bite and declined another. The other thing I could not stand was the woman next to us who wouldn’t stop scrutinising our every little moment. Hovering, waiting. The sort whereby whenever you looked in her direction, she was already looking in yours. But I may forgive her, because she was new and I was in a hey-I’m-not-an-odp-virgin-anymore sort of mood.

The next time I come, I’ll try the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. I will, because I can, and well, salmon.

Rating: 3.6/5

Open Door Policy

19 Yong Siak Street

Physiognomy

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= the art of judging someone’s character by examining his/her facial features.

Do not lie. You have done so before. And even if you’re a God sent cherry-faced cherub living on Earth to witness and record all human sin to report back to heaven in preparation for the throwing of us all in a deep dark pit once we die, you know that such judgement is both ubiquitous and unforgiving.

Careless example right here. Look at the man above. I caught sight of him in a café the other day and took a sneaky picture, pretending to be fiddling with my cold brew and adjusting the aperture for the damn window lights, before I finally let loose my inner Warhol and started sketching his beard. Clearly, my life requires odd fulfillment. Because the thing is, if I didn’t draw him, I would have felt inclined to steal something from him, just to obtain some physical souvenir from this fascinating creature.Unshaven, almost bohemian, dare I say Australian. Rugged, pale lobster. Isn’t it amazing how these are my judgements and my judgements only? I don’t even know the guy and here I am thinking he earns a living painting portraits and riding horses. The Love Traveller with a Macbook.

Another one. Angelina Jolie is known as the most beautiful woman in the world. The chiselled rectangle of a face, pearl-like complexion, as if her face were set in stone centuries ago and emerged only now to separate true beauty from mediocrity. Sleek feline, killer jaw, ravishing plump mouth. Not that I disagree with the fact that she is considered such; I’m much more interested in the meticulous and fascinating science which established all this. What scientists call the ‘golden ratio’. Phrenology. Physiognomy. I read in an article today that we typically unconsciously fall victim to our surroundings, mentally suggesting preconceived notions on what lies beneath the human face. What a terrible world, you must be thinking. It’s so obviously wrong, allowing our egos to thrive or be bust with each turn of the head, with each examination. But everyone does it, and everyone does it without a conscience.

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The human face is fascinating because everyone has a life and everyone has a story, yet we allow ourselves to make such rapid judgements, usually without even taking into account how others may perceive our own selves. Wouldn’t you love to walk up to a clone of yourself and get some conversation flowing? To see what it’s like outside of your precious set of organs, outside of the two holes on your face.

To really see you for the first time.

London Restaurant Festival 2013

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At the top: Red ripple whippy on a red velvet cone. A laughable attempt at the classic whippy, for despite it’s fantastical Alice-in-Wonderland loopiness, the thing’s still a McDonald’s vanilla cone at heart. And apologies for the ghastly red nail.

Regent’s Street was full to brimming, even when the clouds above were hovering and pregnant with imminent rain. My uncle, grandmother and I fought to share one poor, battered black umbrella.

That man was staring at me in the eye, thinking, ‘oh these Asians nowadays, can’t do anything but take pictures. Always pictures, pictures, pictures’. Embarrassedly, I walked on into the frigid arena, crowded with long-legged socialites, dedicated foodies and yes, more cameras. This is the real life, people. You can’t walk anywhere in the 21st century and not document every precious, london-lit second. I was walking around starry-eyed, and believe it or not, the rain soon stopped. I swear.

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An innocent take on lamb rendang. It was superb, I must say, though a little too sweet for my liking and perhaps not spicy enough. Not one of the special highlights, but a calm starter.

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pulled pork shoulder with pickled red cabbage and a slice of cornbread

It’s around 11pm now and my mouth is watering at the sheer sight and memory of that gracious, sacrificed piece of meat. Good heavens it was good. The pulled pork was just, once again, perhaps a tad too sweet, but on the whole I couldn’t care less for it went so wonderfully with the soft bite of cabbage and buttery cornbread. The first forkful (which was not to mention, incredibly fork-tender) sent me to porky heaven. Dripping with marinade, slightly chewy, soft and sharp. How ridiculous.

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roasted apple ‘burger’ with caramelised onions, mayonnaise and pickles

How unusual! I exclaimed. I inched closer and closer to the little counter, and delicately asked for what they labelled as a roasted apple burger. Of course I didn’t expect much meat in it. I respected the fragility of a good roasted apple. The man at the front immediately placed a plate in front of my uncle and I, said ‘thank you miss’ and rushed away to attend to the bottomless mosh pit, armed with hunger and fuelled by the new London heat. The apple itself was soft, though not sappy and sloppy, with the perfect amount of filling. I loved the whole idea of an apple burger, and the size was so becoming.

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1. Pork and chilli dumplings. Altogether, really nothing outstanding, but I appreciated the insertion of Chinese cuisine amongst the oodles of burgers and Middle Eastern get-ups.

2. Oxtail doughnut with apricot jam. Yes, this was a glorious, fried, doughnut. A prying open of the crisp and battered surface, like golden, compressed crumbs, revealed a tender oxtail stew, coupled with a lightly sweet jam. What genius, what spectacular cruelty.

3. Lamb and yoghurt. You see a trend happening here?

4. And lastly, the best ice cream I have ever tasted in my life. Pictured is the banoffee flavour. We also tried the fresh berries and clotted cream, which was more subtle, less sickly sweet but just as magnificent. I never thought anything could beat the luxury of Haagen Dazs, but I guess I was wrong. Purbeck Ice Cream nourished my heart and soul for a good 5 days after my first bite. As creamy as a molten white river having just turned solid on a sudden snowy night, blessed with the richest virginal quality and orgasmic aftertaste.

One of the best days of my life, to put it lightly.