Monday, May 30, 2011

MOoooooo.... Delivery Cows.

A cow showed up at my office.  No, this is not some mean poke at fat Appetite staff.  A cow literally showed up.  I got a call from reception informing me of a strange guest visitor.  So when I stood up and walked over to see, I immediately freaked out and ran over to my assistant editor's desk to hide (she later showed her loving support by following me over with her camera instead).

Sneaking around!

Here he comes...

The gals at Ben & Jerry's had informed me the day before that I would be getting a sample of the new Ben & Jerry's flavour dropped off the next morning.  I didn't know the cow himself would show.

Doh, we're in matching black & white too...

I twittered like mad that morning...mostly freaking out and stunned by the whole ordeal.  The ENTIRE office came over to see why there was a cow in our office... and wondering why on earth was Woody (the cow) taking photos with me?!  This actually happened back in early April, but I never got around to posting about it until now. 

It certainly made my morning despite being absolutely flabbergasted.  I was all smiles the rest of the day.  And the new ice-cream flavor?  "Clusterfluff."  Yeesh, I almost typed that wrong.  Slightly inappropriate typo if that happened.  It's delicious though.  Give it a try.

Udderly yours,
Victoria of Gastronommy

Friday, May 27, 2011

My favorite spot in all of Singapore

I was hesitant to share this spot on my site.  It's a tourist destination during the day, but I didn't want to give away my secret hideaway where I go when I want a quiet late night walk. The bridge was constructed only within the year; you can still smell the fresh wood of the balau planks as you walk across.  And at night, there's a cool breeze that seeps through the cracks.  It's my favorite place to zen out.

I was there again the other night after a two hour walk with the dog.  There was a lightning storm flashing in the distance, and I was lucky enough to catch one or two shots of it.  Beautiful.

 My best midnight walking buddy.

Henderson Waves
(above Henderson Road)
Connects Mount Faber Park to Telok Blangah Hill Park, Singapore's highest pedestrian bridge and ranked one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.  ...and who said the now half-retired PAP who commission these things had no taste, eh.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

GastronommyTV: Cocktail making at TAB Singapore

Finally!  Gastronommy TV visits TAB, a live-music venue, bar & bistro in Singapore.  Besides the fantastic line-up they have every week and their perfect fish n' chips, TAB also has some of the best cocktails in town.  In this episode with me, we have the young Josiah Leming from American Idol and Kenny Leong, a professional wine critic.

Cocktails are by Zach Elias, recent winner at the third and final challenge of Diageo's World class challenge.  He is currently competing against 3 other bartenders to represent Singapore at the Global Finals in India this July (competing against Patrick from Tippling Club, Raveen from Nektar, Akhiro from Orgo).  There, the winner will compete against 33 of the world's most talented bartenders for the title of Diageo Reserve Bartender of the Year.  Suffice to say, he knows his stuff.
Click here for the article on origins of cocktail making.

I'm very well aware of my stuttering in the beginning.  Haha!  I'm embarassed, but the show must go on.

Keep up to date with TAB's latest acts and upcoming parties at

Thanks Kenny and Josiah for joining me at TAB. Big thanks to my friends Adrian Mah, Varian Lim, Keith Tan and TAB's bar staff for letting me invade their bar for this video. Biggest thanks to Michelle Chua, Zoanne Tan, Jason Tan and crew for filming and editing this.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cookyn with Victoria (and Mervyn)

Earlier I mentioned I had a birthday celebration on the actual weekend of my birthday.  I also had a more wholesome gathering a few weeks later at Mervyn &Amanda's kitchen at Cookyn with Mervyn.  We had a cook-off challenge amongst the 20 attendees.

My birthday March 14th is otherwise known as Pi Day (3.14), so going along with that and my basic love of all sorts of pies, the theme was PIE.  Mervyn & Amanda were two of the three judges.  Giving us a list of limited ingredients, we only had 1.5 hours to make a 3-course menu.  We were judged on:

- Presentation
- Timing
- Teamwork
- Cleanliness
- Taste
- Rules (used all of the ingredients at some point and one dish had to be some sort of pie)

Sad to say, I was on the losing team (we won in the 'taste' category though!).  I couldn't pull the, "But it's my birthday" string.  Admittedly, the winning team did have a fantastic finish with much better presentation... though I personally give them 0 points for sportsmanship.  Boy, did they rub it in our faces.

CLICK "Read More" to see the other photos below!
(photos from myself, Jason Iafolla, Hale Cho, Amanda Phan, Regina Tan)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Going to the dark side: VEGAN CHALLENGE

I’ve endeavoured to challenge myself to go where I've never dared to go before.

I will become vegan for one whole week—and trust me, one week already seems daunting.  I’ve never been vegetarian in my life.  You see, to keep this rotund belly of mine nothing short of happy, I very much require the sustenance of meat, fish, butter, cheese, noodles and eggs.  And more eggs.  And bacon.  Lots of bacon.  Sometimes all at the same time.

Slight problem: I’m not sure how to go about being vegan for even a single day.  Going vegan will include avoiding eggs or meals prepared with lard or other animal substances (this includes any type of animal stock).  Curiosity has tasked me this challenge, as it is certainly not for health reasons.  Humans are not made to survive as vegans; we are omnivores by nature.

So it is a morbid curiosity that has led me here.

But what is so curious about being a vegan, you ask?
I’m curious how a staunch vegan would survive in today’s modern world.  As convenient as everything is, I’m hard pressed to find an easy way to avoid anything related to animals without forfeiting a healthy diet (I can’t very well just eat rice this entire time, can I).

Really?  Is that the only reason you’re doing this?

Yes, it’s not a particularly compelling reason. The thought began 2 years ago back in New York when my brother commented to me about my blog.  He said, “My wife and I actually read your blog.  We enjoy it, but do you ever write anything about vegetarian options?”  His wife is vegetarian—and admittedly, I had a thing against most vegetarians (not her, because she’s not preachy, fussy or condescending about it), but it brought about a good point.

I didn’t even know where to start as a vegetarian.  I knew maybe one or two vegetarian restaurants in New York and Hong Kong, both of which I never bothered stepping foot into.  I thought to myself then, I’ll become vegetarian for a whole month and discover all the vegetarian options out there.  Surely, there’s a reason why so many have gone this route.

It never happened.  So I thought, let’s be more realistic and make it 2 weeks of vegetarian eating.  Still seemed daunting, so I thought, okay 1 week.  Still never happened.

Here I am 2 years later in Singapore, with less knowledge about the food options compared to New York, yet going not just vegetarian, but VEGAN.  If I'm going to go out, then I'm going to go all out.

Where do I begin. Short of basic grains and raw vegetable salads, I was going blank.  I’ll be picking the brains of vegetarian friends of friends (I don’t have any direct friends who are vegetarians yet—it was a matter of principle) and hoping I don’t throw the towel in after two days of this.

I’m also hoping work duties don’t interrupt my one week session, but if it does, I might have to break my vegan diet for a meal or two in the name of professional duties.  Noble am I.

I am dreading the likely grumpiness that will result and apologize to surrounding friends in advance for my picky eating and sour moods.

Vegan diet to commence soon…

Taking any and all recommendations on home recipes, restaurants and ways to keep sane.

 And so Mr. Turkey, you live to see another 7 days as I forfeit my meat eating habits.  Gobble gobble.

Monday, May 9, 2011

On Becoming a Wine Critic, by A Wine Critic

Appetite's most recent issue contains a hilarious tongue-in-cheek article by my friend and colleague, Kenny Leong.  I know few, if any, writers in Singapore who can weave words about wine like he does.  Here is his advice on becoming a wine critic.  

On Becoming A Wine Critic
Unleash your inner Robert Parker by following these simple steps.
by Kenny Leong

Lean. Austere. Thin. Round. Nervous. Smooth. Intense. Bitter. Acidic. Nutty.
Sometimes, you might think wine writers are describing mothers-in-law. Or maybe other winewriters. Otherwise, you might believe wine writers are just plain looney. Either way, half the time you’re probably right.

Even as a food and wine writer myself, I do read wine reviews and wonder if the reviewer(s) might have had a little too much to drink. But I think we can all agree on one thing — deep down, we all want to be influential wine critics who can pontificate on any wine and capture the world’s attention. We have a mini Robert Parker lurking in all of us. We all want to be able to describe wine with fancy jargon and impress the girls (and the general crowd).

Of course, the easiest, quickest and simplest way to becoming a wine critic is just a click away. Go on Google and you can find enough information on any wine to share over a boring social dinner. But anyone can regurgitate information. And what if the information is wrong? After all, the Internet is a platform for people to write things without having to support it with hard evidence. A platform for every opinion potentially to be taken as gospel truth. A platform, in other words, to end all truth.

So. Spewing information taken off a technical fact sheet will make you an absolute bore, and the Internet is potentially hazardous to your credibility. What to do? The solution is simple — become your own maverick wine critic. Do what wine writers sometimes seem to be doing. Describe your mother-in-law, your neighbour’s pet, or that alluring person seated opposite you.

Have you just been served a Sauvignon Blanc? Swirl the glass, stick your nose right in, take a deep whiff, sip, and pontificate. The trick here is to say it with unwavering confidence and just that right amount of snobbery. “A little green, a little thin. Some cat’s pee, too. Oh but it has balls of steel, maybe due to it being fermented in stainless steel tanks. Dry and linear, kinda boring. Very acidic, too.” Then study the looks on the faces of your fellow diners. It’ll be priceless.

Let’s try another wine. Suppose you’ve been served a Chardonnay, the wine that, until recently, was fashionable to hate. With ceremonious, purposeful motion, do the necessary: Swirl, sniff, sip and swallow (it is generally considered inappropriate to expel your wine at dinner). Then solemnly declare: “Big. Round. Flinty. A little fat, I think. And somewhat nutty.”

If the lady seated opposite you is beautiful, tanned, attractive and eloquent, you’re in luck. There is so much you can say about the Riesling. “Very perfumed, floral and elegant. I see that it’s also nicely balanced, nuanced, composed, delicate, restrained and nicely framed. Very sexy.” Remember to wink.
Now, the same method applies for reds. Just remember that a Pinot Noir is less dense than a Merlot, which is less dense than a Cabernet Sauvignon. If there’s an unfamiliar wine and you’re stumped, just refuse the drink.

But a good wine critic should never refuse a drink. So maybe think of something we’re all familiar with, and something we all enjoy. Say, our own best friend. “A little fruity. And it wears a perfume of heady spice. Rich, sensual, and a little fleshy. I’m associating it with tobacco and dark chocolate. This must be very popular and likeable.” If it’s a Pinot Noir, think of your wife. “Wow! Sensual, smooth, elegant, and soft. Wears a perfume of exotic fruit. I am thinking plum, raspberry and a touch of spice. This is all about texture and finesse. Very refined and delicate. Truly deserving of all my attention.”

And if it’s a Cabernet Sauvignon you’re drinking, think of the one who helped you when you were down. “I sense incredible structure and power. It’s bold and strong, like a pillar. Supple, vibrant and energetic. I think this can handle a lot of situations.”

And there you have it. You are now an official maverick wine critic. The only thing left to do is to start a wine blog. Then you’re set to capture the world’s attention.

(APPETITE magazine, May 2011 - Subscribe here to see the rest of Appetite's contents)


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