oink

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Tag: Lunch (page 1 of 2)

An overdue lunch at Violet Oon’s Kitchen

I have a bunch of girlfriends that I have known for years. They are uber talented, smart and “crafty”. We communicate mostly via social media, and we rarely meet up for lunch. Even if we do, there is always one or two missing in the picture. So FINALLY we managed to sit down and have a meal together at Violet Oon’s Kitchen.

All of us ordered a different main and some starters to share. I have heard so much about the dry laksa that I had to get it. It definitely lived up to the expectation. It is not exactly a fried noodle dish – it has enough sauce to coat the noodles without being sloppy. The rempah was beautifully done and they have added the right amount of coconut milk so you would not be sick of the laksa. And there were so much “liao”(translate: ingredients)–beancurd puff, fish cake and prawns. Everyone (including myself) loves this dry laksa.

My friend, R got the dry mee siam. Unlike the dry laksa, you don’t think you are eating dry mee siam. Perhaps it was the choice of noodles which was thick noodles. When I think of mee siam, I always relate to thin vermicelli. However the spices were well done, it was still a good dish.

At our table, another friend, R was brave enough to try the buah keluak pasta. The pasta was a tad too spicy for me but the buah keluak tapenade was strangely nice and addictive. I could not describe the flavour but it was rich and savoury. If the spice level was slightly lowered, I think I can polish off the entire plate

We also ordered the kueh pie tee and ayam goreng to share. The ayam goreng aka fried chicken was crispy and the flavour was pretty good. But the chicken was over-fried, it was a bit dry for me. The kueh pie tee fared so much better. The filling which was made up of bamboo shoots and turnips that were beautifully cooked in a rich prawn broth, making the entire dish super tasty.

We ended our meal with the bread and butter pudding with whisky and custard sauce. The pudding itself was moist and not too sweet. The whisky and custard sauce was the bomb (though some of the alcoholics at the table felt that the sauce can do with more whisky). This is one dessert that I would strongly recommend.

Though I am not sure when we will gather for another meal, this was sure a lot of fun. We filled the restaurant with our laughter and loud chatter. And it was made even better with delicious food in our tummies.

Violet Oon’s Kitchen
881 Bukit Timah Road
+65-6468-5430

Roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon (and yes, a new website. FINALLY!)

Welcome to my new site, oink! I have been planning for this website since the beginning of last year. Obviously efficiency is not in my blood. After almost two years, I finally got the site published. And I couldn’t have done it without some help. Big thanks to Amy (aka Pikaland) for helping me with ideas for the site and editing my profile. And big hugs to Serene, the genius developer behind the site whose efficiency never failed to impress me and so very patient to answer all my idiotic questions on data migration, hosting and blah blah (for your information, she is still entertaining my not very clever questions).

There is still one more thing that I am adding to the site *cough, online store* which will take me a while (read: a very long time) to get that going. In the meantime, I am going to celebrate the launch of the site with a roast chicken recipe. I am a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi – this dynamic duo’s recipes are easy to follow, and most importantly their food is delicious.

For this particular recipe, it is unlike the usual roast chicken that we are familiar with, this one is lemony, fragrant and really addictive. It is really great over a plate of rice or have it with some warm bread (I made maneesh, and I will share the recipe in the next post). I also made some sort of rice porridge with the leftover and it was strangely comforting.

Roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon
(Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Ottolenghi, The Cookbook)
I made quite a far bit of changes to the recipe. Originally it is suggested to use a whole chicken–me being Asian, I favour chicken legs and thighs. Za’atar is not a common mixed herbs that you can find in the supermarket (I got mine from Overdoughs). However you can easily make it at home. And sumac is readily available in good supermarkets like Jason’s and Marketplace (Overdoughs also stocks sumac).

Serves 4

Ingredients
1) 8 pieces of chicken legs and thighs
2) 2 red onion, thinly sliced
3) 2 cloves of garlic, crush
4) 4 tablespoon olive oil
5) 1½ teaspoon ground allspice*
6) 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7) 1 tablespoon sumac
8) 1 lemon, thinly sliced
9) 200ml of water
10) 1½ teaspoon (kosher) salt
11) 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12) 2 tablespoon za’atar

Methods
-            In a large bowl, add in the red onion, garlic, olive oil, allspice, cinnamon, sumac, lemon, salt, pepper and water, and mix well. Place the marinade in a ziplock bag, add in the chicken and seal the bag. Move the chicken pieces around to ensure every piece is well coated. Place the bag in the fridge and leave it overnight.
-            Preheat the oven to 200oC. Using a large tray, place the chicken pieces and marinade. Space the chicken pieces apart and skin side up. Before putting the tray in the oven, sprinkle the za’atar over the chicken. Bake the chicken for around 30-40 minutes.
-            Once the chicken is done, finish with a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle a bit more za’atar and sumac.

*Allspice is a spice (a type of pepper). Allspice is often mistaken as mixed spice.

oink’s guide to … Copenhagen! I was not prepared for the gloomy wet weather

After a few days in Norway and Evie back to work, I travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark. The reason why I chose to go to Denmark was because later the week, Evie and I would be going to Legoland. So yes it was about convenience.

Once I landed in Copenhagen, it was quick a train ride to my hotel. I have chosen to stay in WakeUp Copenhagen as it was apparently a 15-minute walk from Copenhagen Central Station. All I can tell you is whoever timed the walk did not have to pull a large suitcase. As I arrived really early, I couldn’t check-in. I was told that if I upgrade my room, I could get an immediate check-in. I was tired and cold so I forked out the extra dough for a two-hour nap.

When I awake, it was nearly noon. My first stop was the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek museum. Before I view the exhibits, I needed to fill my stomach. Located in the Winter Garden, the museum’s café served up hearty Danish fare. When I arrived at 1.30pm, the café was almost fully packed. After studying the menu, I chose a dish which comprised of two types of herring, boiled egg, onion and capers (DKK98/ S$21). This was accompanied by traditional Danish dark rye bread.

I never had herring before so I didn’t have much expectations and I was unsure if I would even like the dish. In the end, I love it. The herring was pickled hence it was not fishy yet the structure of the fish remained and did not disintegrate. When I saw the rye bread (which was another first for me), it looked cardboard dry. But it was not. With a smear of butter, the bread was chewy and flavourful. I topped the bread with a bit of herring, onion, capers and egg, it was absolutely delicious. I never thought I would like pickled fish that much. The plate did not look like a lot, but I was stuffed. A great start to my Copenhagen trip.

After lunch, I wasted no time and started going around the museum. Established in 1888, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek museum is an art museum founded by brewer Carl Jacobsen (his father is responsible for Carlsberg beer). The museum houses a wide collection of Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman arts. They are also noted for French impressionists and Danish Golden Age paintings. If you are a fan of the arts, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek museum is worth checking out.

Once I am done with my little art trip, I did a random walking tour around the city. As I strolled, the rain started, and it was quite difficult and slippery to walk on cobblestone, I seek refuge at a chained Danish pastry shop – Lagkagehuset (which also happened to be on my eating list).

At Lagkagehuset, you will be swarmed by the choices. There are so many delicious looking pastries. To order, you will first need to get a queue number from the machine. The server will call out your number and you will then tell him or her what you want. After changing my mind several times, I settled for a strawberry tart. The tart was made up of a chocolate shortcrust pastry, filled with pastry cream and topped with fresh strawberry and almond. When you are wet, unprepared for the gloomy wet weather, this strawberry tart cheered me up (and my cup of hot latte too). That said, the long wet walk back to the hotel was horrible. I need more tarts.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek
Dantes Plads 7, 1556 København
+45-3341-8141
Opening hours: 11.00am – 5.00pm (Tue-Sun)
Adult: DKK75/ S$16/ US$13Lagkagehuset
DK-1450 København K
(They have quite a few outlets in the city. This particular one that I went is the nearest to the town hall and my hotel)
Opening hours: 7.30am – 7.00pm (Mon-Fri), S7.30am – 6.00pm (Sat-Sun)

oink’s lunch – a sandwich

Working in the Central Business District (CBD) area can be quite scary for someone who don’t like crowd (read: ME). I am not used to the sheer number of people that can be compact in one place. Though there are some great eats around CBD, I am unwilling to queue or be squashed in one place. There is a few solutions to this problem. I can do takeaways or have my lunch at odd times. Of course, I choose to torture myself by bringing my own lunch to work.

By preparing my own food, I eliminate the problem of deciding what to eat for lunch. The other benefits also include saving money and feeding my tummy with healthy food. I do not bring my own lunch every day – I try to do it at least twice a week (if possible). In addition, I do my best not to bring leftovers – chances are there is not much nutrients and flavours in them.

Depending on what I am preparing, I would wake up half an hour to an hour earlier and start cooking my lunch. If I am on a time crunch, a sandwich is definitely the way to go.

I am not a fan of just slapping ham and lettuce in two slices of bread. I like my sandwich to have some “body” – I want it to be packed with flavour, and it must be fresh too. I like my bread to be more substantial – partly to fill my stomach and partly to prevent the sandwich from getting soggy. Ciabatta or baguette is often my choice of bread.

Besides choosing the right bread, there is a few ways to ensure you don’t get yourself a “wet” sandwich. One way is to spread butter or condiments such as mustard on the bread. This will become a protective layer, preventing any watery filling from penetrating into the bread. Next is the way you prep and layer the fillings. If tomato is involved, you might want to deseed it so it doesn’t get watery and mushy. And they should be placed in the middle to avoid any contact with the bread. Fillings like ham, lettuce, cheese can be placed on top or bottom of the sandwich as they have low water content.

This particular sandwich I made comprised of cured meat (that I bought from Perth), Gouda cheese, tomato, alfalfa sprouts and mustard. The sharpness from the mustard and sprouts went very well with the smoky cured meat. The cheese and tomato bring that bit of creaminess to the sandwich. When I was preparing the sandwich, I thought it look pretty small. But it was very filling. It kept me full throughout the day and I didn’t reach out for a snack.

oink’s guide to … Perth! Fremantle Market

Fremantle, or the locals lovingly called it Freo holds a special place in my heart. When I was studying in Perth, my rented apartment was a 5-minute train ride from Freo. Every weekend, with a basket, I trottered my way to Freo. I always maintained the routine – coffee at Gino’s, book browsing at New Edition and the last stop is Fremantle Market.

Hello Freo

Freo Market might be considered as a tourist spot, still I like to shop there. The market not just housed shops selling souvenirs and fresh produces, it actually had a few good food stalls. One of the must-go for me is Bodrum Kebabs. It is comfort food at its best. Imagine on Friday night, you had a few beers with your friends, and on Saturday morning, you have yet to sober up. And then you were presented with this Lebanese bread stuffed with grilled chicken, fresh vegetables and topped with rich sour cream. It was warm, cold and crunchy all at the same time. At Bodrum, they don’t just slice the meat off the rotating spit and stuff them into the wrap. They would pan-fry the meat on the grill to get them crisp. There are heaps of condiments to make your döner kebab complete (I always go for sour cream). And the döner kebab is huge. Till now, I can never finish one on my own.

Reunited with my favourite kebab

Often after shopping at Freo, I would need an afternoon snack to replenish my energy (yes, shopping can be quite exhausting). Without a doubt, I would run to Michele Crepes Suzette. They have a board full of all sorts of crepes you can get. If you are into savoury, you would love the mushroom and cheese. And if you in the mood for something sweet (like I was when I visited them during my trip), I would go for the nutella crepe. The crepe is thin, crisp and a bit chewy and they are not stingy on nutella. It hits right on the sweet spot.

Nutella crepe

Bodrum Kebabsand Michele Crepes Suzette are my all-time favourites at Freo market. During my trip, I spotted some new eats like Maison Saint Honore and Jus Burgers. Unfortunately I only have one stomach so I have to give them a miss.

I think the biggest reason why I love Freo is it’s a bit rustic, hippie, nor too commercial. You can park yourself at any cafes along the cappuccino stretch and spend hours reading or people watching. There is no stress, no fuss, just sit back and relax.

Fremantle Market
Corner South Terrace & Henderson Street, Fremantle, Western Australia
Opening hours: 9.00am–8.00pm (Fri), 9.00am–6.00pm (Sat and Sun)
Bodrum Kebabs (stall #5) and Michele Crepes Suzette (stall #4) are both located at the Hall.

Pollen

My friend Evie was back in Singapore and I thought I would spring a birthday surprise on her. I asked if she would like to go to the newly open Gardens by the Bay and perhaps be interested in having a meal at Pollen. She gamely said yes.

Pollen

Helmed by Jason Atherton whose first venture, Esquina, is a hit in Singapore, Pollen is set to bedazzle the crowd with modern European fare with a hint Mediterranean flavours. Pollen is also the only restaurant that is located inside the conservatories (it is located in the Flower Dome). And apparently, they get their herbs and vegetables from their in-house garden.

Just Peachy (S$12)

There are two seatings for lunch – noon and 1.30pm. At the time I made the reservation, I was only left with the 1.30pm seating. Both Evie and I got really hungry around 1pm, so we went ahead to Pollen and hoped that we can have our lunch earlier. We were ushered in to the restaurant and we were told that we could order some drinks while we wait till 1.30pm for our lunch.

Set lunch menu

After a 15 minute wait, the maître d’ came and asked if we had a reservation. I gave him the details and the next moment we were guided to the lower level of the restaurant. We didn’t take too long to decide what we wanted. We both chose the set lunch which was reasonably priced at S$55 and it included a starter, a main and a dessert.

Bread and butter

Little plates of awesome-ness

Once we ordered our food, the staff brought us the bread basket – we had a choice of sourdough and baguette – we greedily grab both. To go with our bread, we had butter, olives and this small dish of mashed trout and potatoes (with garlic and olive oil). That tiny plate of mash was delicious – it was sweet, pungent and comforting. I had no idea where they got their olives from but they were equally spectacular. They were not oily or too acidic. I was just happily nibbling on them.

Pertuna ocean trout with smoked aubergine

Both Evie and I chose two different starters. Evie had Pertuna ocean trout with aubergine while I went with the slow-cooked egg, chorizo and patatas bravas. Evie’s ocean trout was beautifully cooked – I think it was poached in olive oil. It was accompanied by an aubergine mousse which mellowed the flavour of the trout.

Slow-cooked egg with chorizo and patatas bravas

I surprised myself by ordering a starter that had both egg and pork. But I really wanted to try patatas bravas which were basically fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce.  Though my starter was not as pretty as Evie’s, it was darn delicious. And it also came with a potato mousse. I got a bit of the tomato sauce, egg, potato mousse and the thinly slice chorizo on my spoon – it was warm and comforting. I even dipped my bread in some of the remaining sauce – nothing shall go to waste.

John Dory with minestrone and baby courgette

We ordered the same main – John Dory with minestrone and baby courgette. Once served, the maître d’ poured in the seafood broth. The broth was thin and rich – the taste reminded me of lobster bisque. The fish was not overcooked and had a good bite. It was quite a hearty main.

Before our desserts were served to us, Evie and I ordered some coffee. Halfway through the coffee, Evie was worried that they forgot our dessert as we waited quite a while. I enquired about it and guess what, they really forgot about it. And how we knew? The executive pastry chef, Andres Lara personally served us our dessert. When the desserts were sent to our table, I could see the gas from the liquid nitrogen. Perhaps I watched too many Heston Blumenthal’s cooking shows, I was hoping for more “drama” but nothing happened. Just gas from the liquid nitrogen (I blame you, Heston).

Bitter chocolate banana, white sesame ice cream and caramel nitro

Despite the anti-climax, the dessert – bitter chocolate banana with white sesame ice cream and caramel nitro – was my favourite dish. It was not overly sweet. Though I did not detect the white sesame flavour in the ice cream, I absolutely love the chocolate banana crumble. And there was a pomelo or grapefruit sorbet that was snuck in, it was a much needed palate cleanser.

Petite four

At the end of the lunch, we were served with a petite four to share. It consisted of two flavoured marshmallows and two types of nougat. All were really good and went well with our coffee. The only problem was we wanted another plate – they shouldn’t make us share.

While we waited for our bill, the maître d’ came and apologised on the service. I readily admit that the service was shaky and it was rather hard to get the attention of the staff. However the food compensated for everything – they were too good to be ignored. This was definitely one of the best meals I had for the year.

Pollen
Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-09
+65-6604-9988
Opening hours: 12.00pm–2.30pm, 6.00pm – 10.00pm (daily)

A simple lunch

Recently I had this insane craving for asparagus. Perhaps it was all the tweets about spring time and the abundance of asparagus. Or maybe it was all these recipes on this gorgeous vegetable.

Asparagus is one of the easiest vegetables to cook and there is almost no prep work needed. All you need to do is trim or snap off the woody ends and they are ready to be cooked. Before I start to cook asparagus, I like to blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds. This process turns them into a brighter green.

For lunch, I pan-fried some homemade chorizo. While the sausage was almost done, I threw in the (blanched) asparagus for a quick stir-fry. In this way, the asparagus will be coated with some of the oil from the chorizo.

A simple lunch – asparagus and chorizo

To serve, I placed some alfalfa sprouts on the plate, topped it with the asparagus and chorizo. I finished off with spoonful of cottage cheese and a bit of Colman’s English mustard. If I had crème fraiche in my fridge, I would mix it with a bit of mustard, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice, and you get this sharp and creamy dressing.

This lunch is quick and easy to prepare and great on a bloody hot day.

Lunch = whatever you have in the kitchen

When it comes to lunch, I don’t usually plan what to cook. I often scavenge the bits of leftovers in the fridge or pantry. For this particular lunch, I made use of the remainder ingredients I had from some of my experimental dishes – ricotta, edamame beans, cheddar cheese and red sauce – I created a spectacular baked pasta.

I cooked the pasta (penne), red sauce and edamame beans together. I layered a baking dish with some of the cooked pasta, sprinkled some cheddar cheese and ricotta. I poured in the rest of the pasta, and added another sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Put the dish under a grill for 5-10 minutes and I got myself lunch.

Not forgetting dessert – fresh strawberries.

oink’s guide to … Washington DC! Art and Soul

en route to the lincoln memorial, we dropped by art and soul, a modern southern restaurant owned by the fame chef art smith (aka oprah winfrey personal chef).

once again, cold bread

the heat in DC kinda killed our appetite so we only ordered one appetizer, one main and a side to share.

pan fried chesapeake blue crab cake (US$14)

crabby goodness

everything came to the table at the same time. for starter, we got a pan fried chesapeake blue crab cake with sauce ravigote. the crab cake was chokeful of crab meat – there was no flour or bread crumb stuffed inside – just pure crabby goodness. the sauce was rich and delicious, and it went very well with the delicate crabmeat.

free range fried chicken (US$16)

our main was free range fried chicken. the chicken was buttermilk brined, seasoned and fried; the dish was served with a side of mashed potatoes. the chicken was tender and juicy (the magic of buttermilk) however i wished the crust was a bit more crispy. the mashed potatoes. sigh. over-salted. we didnt really touch the black pepper gravy that came with the dish – it was alright, didnt blow our mind.

macaroni casserole (US$7)

the last and the best dish of the day was the macaroni casserole – aka mac and cheese. the casserole was topped with bread crumbs that got crisped by the oven, and underneath the crust was rich and cheesy macaroni. we were trying our best not to lick the pot.

even though art and soul has hits and misses, it was definitely one of my favorite restaurants that i visited in DC.

art and soul
415 new jersey avenue nw, washington dc 20001
+1-202-3937-777

Lunch around town

i took a month off during january. this means i have time to go around town, run my errands, and have lunches at places that i hardly had a chance to visit.

spruce taqueria is one of those places that only open during weekdays for lunch. it has been almost half a year since i been there. the menu did not change much except they have removed my favorite short rib *panic*. in the end, i chose the beef tenderloin taco set with watermelon and lime aqua fresca.

beef taco set (S$9)

the beef is buried somewhere

the tortilla was still awesome – soft and corny. the cabbage slaw and salsa provided a refreshing bite to the meaty beef tenderloin. i kinda regretted not ordering the beef tongue. the beef tenderloin was not tender at all – it was tough and chewy – tell tale sign of overcooked beef.

to be honest, i am unsure how long spruce tacqueria will last. considering its opening hours and location (in local terms, up in the mountain), not exactly a spot where you will rush to for lunch. when i was there, from 12pm – 1pm, ehhh i was the only customer. that said, i do hope spruce taqueria will hang around for awhile – they have one of the best mexican food (and at a friggin good price) around town.

a couple of days later, i was at plaza singapura and looking for a place for lunch. i decided to plonk down at saybons where i always enjoyed their crepes and soups.

magherita crepe (S$4) and wild mushroom soup (S$3.80)

saybons had expanded over the years – from a small stall to now a little cafe and even offering escargot! i ordered a regular wild mushroom soup and a magherita crepe (with no onion which btw i think its strange to have it in a magherita crepe). though i find the soup to be a bit watery, it was still nice, and flavorful. as for the crepe, who can resist melted cheese and warm tomatoes in an eggy wrap?

but i do have to say, i paid $7.80 for the above and they only managed to fill up half of my stomach (after saybons, i grabbed a sesame pretzel from auntie anne), thus this made it  a pretty expensive lunch. thankfully, i hardly go to town for lunch.

spruce taqueria320 tanglin road phoenix park
opening hours: 12.00pm-3.00pm (mon-fri)

saybons
68 orchard road #b2-30/31/32
+65-6884-9018
opening hours: 10.00am-10.00pm (daily)

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