Monday, May 28, 2007

The Great Singapore Sale

I'm just not cut out to shop, at least not for clothes or shoes. My idea of shopping is to wait till I absolutely need something, rush into a shopping centre, and buy the first item that more or less fits the bill. HM's modus operandi is much more methodical: she is what I would call a grazer. People like her systematically cover the same grounds over and over again, picking up bargains on a regular basis. People like me do the hit-and-run, much like how a hunter works. The only time I graze is at a bookstore or a music shop. I have to concede that the grazing method is much more productive if one is not to end up with the exhorbitantly priced, the incongruously inappropriate or the irritatingly ill-fitting in one's wardrobe.

Anyway, the latest grazing session, at Vivocity, resulted in the following:

embroidered bustierre-style top, $35, from Utopia
HM bought two of these, one in black and the other in turquoise blue.

cap, $25, from Gap
Finally, a cap that actually fits my head and is sufficiently low-key, and from all places, the Gap.

shoes, $130(left) and $120(right), from Aldo
Those Aldo shoes look remarkably like Camper...

socks, $8 each, from Nike
Nike socks at Malaysian prices...

pyjamas, $49 in total, from La Senza
HM waits for the annual sales before indulging in her pyjama habit.

tanktops, from Pull & Bear
Another of HM's obsessions: tanktops...

$15 for two books, from King Bookshop
Two totally random and opportunistic buys...


Sunday, May 27, 2007

For Your Eyes Only

And so it has commenced, the season of looting and pillaging aka the Great Singapore Sale. To fortify ourselves for a day of shopping (and to buy my compliance for a whole day), HM whisked us off to Corduroy Cafe at Vivocity for an early lunch. Our first choice was in fact Brotzeit but it was still closed for business when we arrived at 11.45 a.m. Over at Corduroy Cafe, we were early enough to have our pick of tables, and I must say, it is a lovely space.

With leather and corduroy (what else?) upholstered armchairs galore, all clustered around round low coffee tables, the place rather reminded us of a typical Aussie cafe which I suppose was quite the point. With lots of sunlight streaming in, and a sea view to boot, the setting was very pleasant indeed, just the kind of place for a leisurely brunch. Unfortunately, the food did not quite match up to the setting. It was pretty food, decent enough, but the quality was just not quite there. (If I had to compare the food to that of P.S. Cafe, Graze or even Wild Rocket, which I would consider to be Corduroy's closest competitors, there would be no contest - the other cafes would win hands down.)

cafe latte and cafe au lait

meatloaf and gherkin sandwich

warm chicken and tzatziki salad

That's not to say that the food was bad, but it could certainly have been better. Take, for example, the meatloaf and gherkin sandwich. There was something about the quantity of ingredients (or lack thereof) between the slices of ciabatta that left us somewhat disgruntled. As for the warm chicken and tzatziki salad, the chicken was delicious but the salad and chicken were both overdressed. Sometimes, the little things do count.

apple rhubarb crumble

Still, we were enjoying the meal, at least we were, until we decided to order some dessert. That took forever to arrive. By this time, HM was itching to start shopping. It took 15 minutes for the crumble to be served, and, no, it was not accompanied by an apology. It wasn't one even the type of crumble that had to be freshly baked (it was chilled), so why did it take so long? The crumble itself wasn't bad, although it tasted mostly of custard with barely any hint of rhubarb.

The next time, we will try ordering the all-day breakfast items, this being an Aussie-style cafe. Those looked sizable, judging from what we could see at other tables. Either that or we'll just go for the view.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bravo! Encore!

Nothing gives us more pleasure than sharing a favourite restaurant with good friends (except perhaps discovering a new favourite), so it was with a certain amount of glee that we dined with MM and KKN at Menotti at Raffles City. Menotti is where HM and I go to when we need a pasta fix, and we're talking good to excellent pasta, at reasonable prices. Sure, the set menus are somewhat limited but, hey, where else in Singapore can you find set dinners comprising full-on portions of soup/salad, entree, pastry and expresso coffee at SGD$29.90 (before taxes and gratuity)? And the icing on the cake (pun fully intended) is the mouthwatering pastries.

spinach and crab soup

bruschetta pomodoro (from the ala carte menu)

bruschetta gamberetti (from the ala carte menu)

beef carpaccio with rucola salad and parmaggiano cheese

For starters, we had soup, bruschetta and some carpaccio. The beef carpaccio (raw beef dressed with olive oil and lemon juice) was a stand-out. Of the two bruschettas (grilled ciabatta or Italian bread with various toppings), we preferred the pomodoro, topped with chopped vine-ripened tomatoes and basil, to the gamberetti which was topped with prawn and lemon. The soup was unfortunately a tad too peppery, quite unnecessarily so.

cod-stuffed ravioli (from the ala carte menu)

veal scallopine with mushrooms

fettucini with chicken, rucola and parmiggiano cream

The entrees all passed muster. The most "gourmet" of the lot was the cod-stuffed ravioli. The ravioli was made with squid ink - delicious! The veal scallopine was tender. The gravy was pretty much like brown sauce and went really well with the bed of mashed potatoes the veal was sitting on. The fettucini was yummy too, especially the pasta itself which had a lovely texture.

Of course, the highlight of the evening was the pastries.

profiterole (chantilly cream puffs coated with chocolate)

catalana (cherry creme brulee)

soffiato (warm dark chocolate cake with chocolate chip ice cream

limoncino (lemon custard and meringue pie)

The pastries at Menotti's are very good. The limoncino was, as it should be, refreshingly tart. The profiterole as always tasted better than it looked (yes, yes, it looks like Quasimodo). We have had the cherry creme brulee before and weren't that impressed previously, but that night, it was absolutely delicious. Our all-time favourite is the soffiato, a warm lava-type chocolate cake made with oh-so-good dark chocolate.

After we had fought over the desserts (we had to order an extra catalana to keep everyone happy), we settled back with our coffee to chat. Dining at Menotti's usually leaves us with a good feeling after, and that night was no exception.


The Sun (and the Moon) Also Rises

In my book, there are two kinds of favourite restaurants in the world. There's the kind that may be absolutely wonderful from a culinary point of view, but by virtue of their spectacular prices, exotic menus, or sheer ostentatiousness, should be reserved for special occasions. Then there is the kind where one knows exactly what to expect - consistently good food at reasonable prices. The experience need not be exhilirating (that's the other kind) but it should warm the cockles of one's heart and leave one feeling that all's well with the world. By my book, Sun Moon Cafe at Wheelock Place is a familiar favourite. That is precisely why it has taken this long from the time we discovered it to this, its first appearance in this here blog. It's the kind of place we never set out to go to but end up at more times than we can count, sans camera. Still, better late than never, as they say...

honey fruit tea and yuzu tea

hokkaido seafood kamemeshi

We are nothing if not predictable. We like to order familiar favourites, especially when we're tired and grumpy after a hard day's shopping. Ever since we discovered the honey fruit tea and yuzu tea (black tea sweetened by honey and fruit), we have never failed to order these.

The other mainstay is the cafe's signature kamemeshi. This is the equivalent of Chinese claypot rice. There are ten or so versions of this on the menu, even one with foie gras. The hokkaido seafood variant is served with lots of yummy stuff including unagi (eel), ebi (prawn), and hotate (scallop). The rice is the perfect balance between soft and crispy, and is delicately fragrant, infused with pickled ginger.

The last time we went, we ventured into new territory, ordering some Japanese-style snacks.

minced pork and cabbage omelette

The omelette was served with a well-balanced vinegar-based dipping sauce that was an excellent complement to the fried omelette.

Japanese croquettes

The croquettes, creamy-smooth on the inside and coated with a super-light tempura-like batter, were served two ways. One was smothered in brown sauce and accompanied by wholegrain mustard. The other was smeared with a horseradish sauce and accompanied by regular mustard. Perfect PMS food.

It was a pity we didn't have room for dessert that day. We'll just have to return for more, which is no hardship really. We would recommend Sun Moon Cafe to those who want something different from the usual sushi menus of the Sakae Sushis and Sushi Teis.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Bee in the Bonnet

If this keeps up, should I start a bird blog? Hmm...

radjah shelduck

whitebreasted waterhen

black swans