In love

Ever meet someone that you cannot stop thinking about? Just one encounter, and you want them in your life forever. Everything about them just feels so right. All you do for the rest of the day is wonder when you will encounter them again. Thinking about their unassuming beauty, the gentle warmth you felt when you touched and the unforgettable way they smelt. Yes, I think I’m in love. And don’t worry, this post is still food related. I found the place that serves the best coffee I have ever tasted. Now if you know me, you know that after water, coffee is probably the beverage the consume the most. It isn’t the healthiest drink the world, but I can never say no to a good cup of coffee. Basically, not to sound arrogant but I am pretty confident that when I find a cup of coffee good, it’s good.  Now here’s the disclaimer, I like strong, not too milky, extremely aromatic brews. I don’t like weak, milky coffees i.e. lattes are not my thing.

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I had this cuppa at Lonsdale  Street Roasters (LSR). It is a quaint but comfortable, non-pretentious cafe near Canberra’s city centre. It was pretty crowded, Australian’s know their coffee. But most were taking away a cup to work and service was really quick for those dining in. Their service really good too. The only other places with that good service for a cafe in Canberra is 2 before 10 or Good Brother. Those cafes have good coffee too, but LSR wins hands down. I cannot say enough about how good the coffee tasted. When I got the coffee it looked pretty standard like an ordinary flat white, nothing special. When I took a sip though my world changed. Everything was just so right about that coffee that it felt kind of wrong to be drinking it. A beverage should not taste this good and be able to give someone so much pleasure. This cup of coffee is the cup of coffee I will be measuring all future coffees I drink against. I was barely half way through the my cup and I was thinking about getting a second cup. I didn’t get a second cup though, decided i didn’t want to risk being on a caffeine high. And it just cost A$3.50. Just $3.50 to get your mind blown, so if you are ever in the Canberra/ACT region, do visit this cafe. The food’s not too bad too. My only regret is that I discovered this cafe a few weeks before I left Canberra. I wish I knew of it earlier. To date I have had a flat white, mocha and ice coffee there. I have to say I love the hot drinks a little more. The ice coffee was a little interesting. I was good, but they add a signature orange twist to it which I think is an acquired that. It did make the coffee a little more refreshing then usual I have to say. Why can’t I pack them up and bring them with me to Singapore?

If anyone knows any good coffee places in Singapore please do let me know, I would love to try them out.

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Instant gratification

As a student, instant noodles, as unhealthy as they are, can sometimes be a god sent. But you do get sick of them at times. I try and be creative every time I make instant noodles. I usually add, fish balls, tofu, bak choy or mushrooms just to make it a little less boring and a little healthier. I have even put broccoli in instant noodles, the soupy kind. I highly don’t recommend broccoli as an additive. Anyways, my sort of favourite instant noodles here is this Korean Nong Shim ones below.

I was on skype once with a friend who was eating it, and she told me she adds cheese to hers. Yes that’s right CHEESE! When I heard that, honestly, I was a little grossed out. Cheese in hot and spicy noodles, seriously? I know some Korean soups have cheese in them but it’s normally a special kind, not the Kraft singles sitting in your fridge. I’m sure you can figure out what happens next, on an unusually adventurous day, I decided to try it. And I was surprised, it was really good. So I turned to Google to see if anyone else does it or it was just my friend that had a highly experimental style of cooking. Guess what? The YouTube channel of the noodle manufacturer had a video of eating it with cheese, which I have added below.

The cheese adds a sort of an additional dimension to the soup. While in the video, he asks you to stir it in, I usually don’t fully stir it in, I like kind of melted on the noodles. It tastes good. I would stick to using soft sandwich cheddar, like craft singles. There was once I only had tasty cheese (it’s a sharper, harder Australian cheddar) and used that but I wouldn’t do it again.

And those of you who are thinking, that cheese in Korean instant noodles sounds disgusting, tell me that after you have tried it.

Cake Spade and Book Cafe (Review)

I think if there’s one thing that both my co-blogger and I are on a constant lookout for, it’s cafes. With the increase in the number of young (and rich) entrepreneurs in Singapore, there has been a steady rise of modern, chic, quaint, unique cafes popping up all over this tiny island.

So I decided to stop visiting my usual haunts (e.g. starbucks, haha) and try out new places that are up and coming. I visited 2 cafes, One not so new and the other probably less than a year old.

Book Cafe:

So this cafe has been around for a while. Tucked in a nice little corner on Martin Road, I found the ambience extremely comfortable. As the name suggests, the cafe was filled with books, of almost every genre. I was there on a thursday afternoon and it was packed. There was a steady stream of customers from all walks of life, coming in for a meal/drink.

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I ordered a chilled honey lemon water and eggs benedict and kept my fingers crossed that the hollandaise sauce would not be a disappointment (as with many cafes in Singapore). Thankfully, it was nice. Not too overpowering yet adding just the right amount of flavour to the dish. What was disappointing though was the hashbrown. I initially received my plate of food without my hashbrown and the waitress, very apologetically told me that the chef had burnt it and was making me another one. In the mean time, they served me my food first so that the eggs wouldn’t get cold. Fair enough. Then came my hash . A sad, measly piece of grated/mashed potatoes (I love hashbrown, but this was bad). I was truly disappointed. Anyhow, I still ate it up and was really happy to have my chilled honey lemon water (it was very refreshing) to make me feel better.

 

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All in all, I would have to say the service was good, the drink was nice and the eggs benedict was decent. I like the ambience, the calmness of being in a library without being restricted to keeping your mouth shut. I would go back again to try other stuff on the menu.

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Cake Spade:

I visited this new cafe on a friday evening. It is a really, really tiny cafe that could possibly fit 6 people inside and another 8 outside. Tiny.

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I felt like ordering everything on display but instead decided on a peach tofu cheesecake and a nutella crumble with vanilla ice cream. I absolutely loved the tofu cheesecake. It wasnt heavy, like a normal cheesecake. It had a really nice, smooth texture. The peaches were fresh and it smelt oh so good. The nutella crumble, minus the ice cream was extremely  delicious. It was warmed up, like a brownie and literally crumbled in my mouth. What was disappointing though was the vanilla bean ice cream. It had a baygon after taste. Yes baygon, the insecticide. No i havent had baygon, but I think if i did, it would taste like the ice cream.

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I hope they expand their cafe soon because I felt really claustrophobic in the corner I was sitting in. Apart from that, I would definitely go back to try their assorted teas and other interesting desserts and cakes.

Jamie’s Italian

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So due to an unexpected trip I had to take, I was able to go eat for the first time at a restaurant chain developed by my favourite celebrity chef – Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian, Singapore.  I wasn’t able to make a reservation as it was pretty last minute. Maybe it was because I was really excited and had really high expectations, when I got there though I wasn’t very impressed. While the restaurant had a nice setting overall, after walking in and looking around I felt it was a bit messy and a little crowded. But then again, it’s Singapore, spaciousness is not very common there. I think if we had a reservation, we may have gotten a better table by the window, so I think if I go back again I would make a reservation, and make it really early. Also, the host at the front looked like she hated her life, thankfully I wasn’t seated by her. Our waitress was extremely friendly, but she was trying to push the drinks specials a little bit too hard and that was a little annoying, especially since the special drinks didn’t seem very interesting. Just regular drinks with fancy names, like the Italian lemonade, based on the ingredients in the menu, it sounded like a regular lemonade.

We (my fellow blog writer and I) ordered the special bruschetta below. The waitress had said it was the 4 cheeses bruschetta. Or that was what we heard, even after making her repeat it a few times (her accent was very thick and a little difficult to understand, if I am honest). It was presented really well and it was alright, but it had a fair bit of peas and eggplant on it, two ingredients I go to lengths to avoid and wasn’t mentioned when the waitress told us about the toppings, so overall, sorry Jamie, I wasn’t very impressed.  I didn’t also see/taste 4 cheeses, at the most I think there were 2.  And if I am being very critical, it was difficult to cut to share.

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For the mains, I had the mushroom ravioli and Rev had the prawn linguine. The linguine was a little under cooked but flavour wise it was not too bad and that prawns & pasta tasted fresh. I only had a bite though so I can’t comment too much on it. The mushroom ravioli was amazing. I am still thinking about how good it tasted and wishing I could have it again. Not one thing bad except now that I look at the pictures, maybe the presentation for both dishes could use some work.

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Though the menu was a little pricey, the quality of the food makes up for it. The service was pretty standard, nothing exceptional. Overall I would go back, to try other dishes just because I am a huge Jamie Oliver fan and in the hopes that other dishes are as good as the ravioli i had. If you don’t care too much about the Jamie Oliver brand or are not a huge fan, I am not sure if you will be impressed. It’s still worth at least 1 visit though. I can’t wait for the Canberra outlet to open to go and try it out. I have a feeling the service would be a bit better at that one.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

After the post below, I felt the need to balance things out with a nice, indulgent sugary recipe (or recipe review rather).  There would have  been some who, like me, saw the last post’s title and totally disregarding the other 2 word, started dreaming about yummy rich cake. This is also to try and make up to them.

I made the first full/large tart in my life over my mid-year break. After looking it up on the net, I decided to try Rachel Allen’s recipe. I normally find her recipes really detailed, which makes it easier to follow and has a higher chance of turning out well. Having watched a fair share of cooking competitions like Masterchef, I was nervous about making the shortcrust pastry. I mean they normally make it sound like a tedious, make or break part of the dish. But honestly, it wasn’t very hard. I am glad I didn’t chicken out and decided to actually try making a it. And now I can say I have mastered shortcrust pastry and blind baking. Because you can use the word mastered after just one attempt right? The only thing I found challenging was rolling it out after leaving it in the fridge, it was really hard, almost solid. It was a cold winter day here, so that may have contributed to that. I don’t think I would have had that issue in back home in tropical Singapore. So do take note of that. I used a 25-26 cm dish, instead of the 23 cm one in the recipe but that didn’t seem to be an issue. In fact there was a lot of excess dough hanging over the sides.  Sorry for the bad photos, I wasn’t expecting to blog this.

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The next step was to make the caramel and chocolate sauce to fill the tart. Those were even more straight forward then the tart base. Just really time consuming. If you are going to be strapped for time, I recommend making the  pastry and the caramel ahead of time and just make the chocolate layer the day you are going to serve the tart.

As you can see below, my crust cracked a bit when I took it out of the oven so be careful. The baked crust, especially before pouring in the caramel and chocolate is extremely fragile.

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In all honesty, I am not a big fan of tarts unless they have fruit and custard in them, but I have to say the turned out really good. If you are a chocolate lover, you would definitely like the rich truffley taste. It is quite sweet though so I would possibly reduce or leave out the sugar in the chocolate mixture the next time I make it It still wasn’t unbearably sweet  or anything, so you have a sweet tooth just leave it as it is.  And if for some weird, unthinkable reason, you don’t like caramel, like certain salmon quinoa cake making people I know, you could technically just make it all chocolate. You might just have to increase the chocolate mixture by a little bit. Or you could use chocolate fudge or something of the likes instead, that can withstand baking.  Happy baking, and here is the link to the recipe in case you missed it.

Salmon Quinoa Cakes

So in my attempt to get healthy, I am always on the lookout for ‘clean’ recipes. Though this might not come across as being very healthy, because its pan-fried, I absolutely loved it. I did not feel guilty eating 5-6 of these mini cakes….’cos they’re quinoa after all :p

This recipe was actually recommended to me by a colleague and hence I don’t have exact measurements. I simply trusted my gut feeling.

Ingredients:

1 cup of quinoa, cooked

50g  smoked salmon

Half an onion chopped up

Wholemeal breadcrumbs (I tore one slice of wholemeal bread and baked it in the oven for 10 mins at 180 degrees celcius)

A handful of chopped herbs (e.g. chives, mint, tarragon)

And whatever vegetables you fancy (e.g. grated carrots/zucchini, peas. I threw in alfalfa sprouts)

1 egg, beaten

Himalayan salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Throw it all into a bowl, give it a good mix and shape them into cakes of any size.

Pan fry with olive oil.

Trust me, it’s yummy.

Salmon Quinoa cakes!

Salmon Quinoa cakes!