Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve: Ricotta Dip with Country Bread

Chef Inspired Recipes: Victoria on FoodForLifeTV (Ricotta Dip)

It's been a fantastic 2012.  I don't even want it to end!  But alas, New Year's eve is here and now we celebrate the end of this year into the new.  Tonight, thirty of us will be gathering at a friend's house for a black tie pot luck (we should be dressed our best to ring in the new year!).

I don't have much time to prepare today and everyone else seems to be bringing heavier dishes like roasts and potatoes.  So I'm turning to one of my favorite quick antipasto recipes.  Andrew Carmellini's A Voce ricotta cheese dip.  It sounds simple, and it is, but the dish blew me away the first time I had it at A Voce NYC all those years ago.

Urban Italian offers Andrew Carmellini's signature ricotta recipe

One of the keys to the spectacular nature of this dip is, as always, the ingredient(s) involved.  Carmellini uses a particular Sardinian sheep's milk ricotta, whereas most ricotta you'll find at specialty stores are made of cow's milk.  The second key is to whip in a splash of milk for extra fluffiness against the denseness of the cheese.  This results in a richer, tangier, velvetier ricotta dip that will usually have guests scraping the bottom of the bowl for.

Here's Carmellini's recipe for the dip:

Sheep's Milk Ricotta Antipasto
adapted from Urban Italian

serves 6
2 cups Sardinian sheep's milk ricotta (if you can't find this, use sheep's milk or regular cow's milk ricotta)
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp fleur de sel
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbls dried oregano
2-3 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
Grilled Country Bread rubbed with garlic, for serving

1. Beat the ricotta and the milk together in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle (or in a medium bowl with a whisk) until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the fine sea salt and mix well.
2. Place the mixture in a serving bowl. Generously sprinkle the sea salt, pepper, thyme and oregano over the top.
3. Top with the olive oil, which will settle on and around the cheese.  Add sliced fresh figs or shaved truffles. Serve with grilled bread.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What Foodies Want For Christmas

Merry Christmas!  This holiday season, we asked nine notable individuals in the food and drink scene about what they want this Christmas.  Together with my buddy and fellow culture editor, we spent a week hopping from spot to spot to see what they had to say.  Check out the photo story below. Photography by Adam Tun-Aung.  (Original article for here)

KF Seetoh, Founder, Makansutra
This makanguru is Singapore's champion of local street food (and a columnist at  What does Seetoh want for Christmas?  "Sexy cha kway teow ladies in our midst."  As if cha kway teow wasn't sinful enough.

Guo Yi, Director of Operations, Jigger & Pony
Co-owner of one of Singapore's latest cocktail bars, Guo Yi wants a ticket back to Madrid to visit Michel Alessandro and Carlos Mureno. Co-owners Guo Yi and Indra Kantono met the hospitable duo one fateful evening in Spain. Alessandro and Mureno's warmth, kindness and great food and wine offerings inspired Guo Yi and Indra to open their own venue in Singapore. Guo Yi hopes to bring the same Spanish hospitality she experienced to her guests at Jigger & Pony. (Read here for more on Jigger & Pony)

Nicholas Lin, Owner, Platypus Kitchen
Heavily influenced by the food culture while he was working in the United States, this consultant turned cookbook author and chef craves nothing more than the comfort of food truck goodness.

Amy Van, Editor, Appetite Magazine
Amy Van, editor of one of Singapore's most established food publications goes back to basics. But as we know in the food world, the simplest dishes can be the hardest to perfect.

Harry Grover, Owner, Forty Hands and Broadcast HQ
It is often said that Forty Hands was the key in transforming the Tiong Bahru area into Singapore's latest hipster locale. This Australian-born barista is getting what he wants for Christmas. He flew off to Australia the next day after this shoot... and is now probably sipping his crisp, fresh white wine as you read this.

Yvonne Wang, Editor of The Muse, Communications Manager for TripAdvisor
Yvonne is an avid home cook (I can personally vouch for her amazing cooking), but has what may seem like the extra difficulty of living gluten-free. ”A gluten-free lifestyle can be challenging especially around the festive seasons. I want to raise awareness that there are great Christmas recipes that don’t contain gluten,” she says, confident that having a gluten-free holiday isn’t as daunting as it sounds.

Mohd Irwan, Head Bartender, CUT by Wolfgang Puck
Trained in the Japanese-style of bartending, Irwan dedicates his life to the craft (he has the battle scars to prove it during his ice-carving and fresh ingredient handling). This Christmas, he wants a 24 karat gold Bar Set. And it's not just for the bling. He explains, "Gold tends to control the temperature better rather than stainless steel, so the temperature of the ingredients won't alter while stirring or shaking."

Jon Yongfook Cockle, Director, 24-12 Systems
Mr. Cockle, the man of many talents is also a contributor for and has developed countless recipes for the public. “Big-ass soup pot” doesn’t quite capture the truth about the elegance of his cooking, so he elaborates, “I’ve been eating lots of Cantonese soup in the last half of 2012 and love it. I enjoy anything that’s cooked low and slow and I admire the purity of these soups – often there’s nothing more to it than a few fresh and dried ingredients (less than you’d think), water and time. I would love to be able to nail Cantonese-style ginseng chicken soup and pork rib / lotus root soup in 2013 to add to the several classic French soups I already have down pat. Although I’m a software entrepreneur, I do harbor fantasies about opening my own soup place one day!” We may see the revival of the Soup Nazi just yet.

Victoria Cheng, Editor-in-chief of
Hey, it's me! Adam suggested that we include my photo in this series... When I moved to Singapore, I ended up selling most of my kitchen--an extremely heart-breaking process, might I add. This Christmas, I want to begin re-pimping out my kitchen, one cocotte at a time. But first, a Misono santouku knife would be a nice start.

Norman Hartono
Norman's wish for Christmas: For the Mayans to be WRONG.  This photo was taken two days before the world was supposed to end and today is now Christmas.  Looks like he got what he wanted for Christmas!

What I got for Christmas

As a follow up:
Christmas Eve morning, Norman presented me with this!  An 8" Shun Chef's Knife!  I hadn't even hit "Publish" for this article yet before getting this.  =)  It also looks like that most of us on this list have gotten what we wished for this holiday too!  

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Customize your sushi on a budget at Maki-San

What do you get when you have two advertising designers and a shop space to serve sushi? You get some of the quirkiest pop-art decor and creative packaging — they’re so attractive that even the owners, Joseph Koh and Omar Marks, have been surprised to learn that customers have often returned simply to collect the maki boxes.

At Maki-San, you can design your own makisushi (rolled sushi) or Japanese-inspired salad, so to speak. Offering over 80 ingredients to choose from, you can put together your own healthier option of unseasoned brown rice with unagi in a Soy-Seasame wrap, or maybe you want to add so many bacon bits that your maki is near bursting at the seaweed seams.

This isn't quite the place to go if you are the sushi purist. The casual concept reminds me of a Japanese cuisine alternative to Subway sandwiches. This isn't a bad thing if you're on a budget and are craving a better balanced Asian lunch alternative to typically high cholesterol option of hawker food.

The Cathay #B1-17/18
2 Handy Road
Singapore 229233
Tel: 6737-8772

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Educated Cook

Not too long ago, you would often find that the older generation of star chefs first got into the industry not necessarily through passion... but rather, because they dropped out of school and/or needed a way to earn some cash to support their under privileged family (this includes Joel Robuchon and Wolfgang Puck!).  You won't find many Michelin-starred chef owners who have a completed Bachelor's degree.  Dishwashers and line cooks?  You'd pick them from your favorite lot of immigrants and raggedy kids who could take it.

These days, new recruits are coming in from college, if not college with additional culinary school training.  They're backed with knowledge and are complete nerds about the food scene.  Some are just doing it for their shot at Food Network fame, but overall, it's been fascinating watching the evolution of this industry.

Many chefs complain of the 'softness' of the incoming generation -- this new batch tend to be indignant when scolded and own a sense of entitlement after swooping in with their expensive culinary school diplomas.  For the most part, I empathized with these long time chefs, restaurateurs and operational staff.  Recently though, in an issue of Lucky Peach, I read Thomas Keller's take on it.  Overall, his point was, "When is too much education ever a bad thing?"

Good point, T-dawg.

Just wanted to jot down that late night last thought.  Good night, Moon.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Best Brunch Spots in Singapore

Restaurants listed in order of personal preference under each sub-category.

Best for Something Different

Address: 82 Collyer Quay Singapore 049327 
Tel: +65 6534 0886

Address: 68 Orchard Road, #03-01, Plaza Singapura, 238839 
Tel: +65 6884 4566

Address: 16 Jiak Chuan Rd, 089267 
Tel: +65 6222 1616

Address: 22 Martin Road #02-01, 239058 
Tel: +65 6235 4990

Tong Le Private Dining read more here
Address: 60 Collyer Quay, OUE Tower, Level 8 & 10, 049322 
Tel: +65 6634 3233

Best for Groups

The Disgruntled Chef read more here
Pros: Mini portions, great for a group to share multiple dishes or if you're a hungry guy who likes bite-sized eggs benedict all to himself.
Cons:  If you're a hungry guy who doesn't like to share. 
Address:  26B Dempsey Road, Singapore 247693
Tel: +65 6476-5305

Trio of Oysters at Skyve

Skyve Wine Bistro
Pros: There's plenty of natural light pouring in through the floor to ceiling windows.  The restaurant itself is spacious, making it ideal if you need to make reservations for a big group. Recommended dishes include the Trio of Oysters, Spicy Kalbi Short Ribs, Skyve Beef Tartare, and the Mango & Cheese Semifreddo.
Address: No.10 Winstedt Road Block E, #01-17 (next to Anglo Chinese School)
Tel: +65 6225-6690 
Best for Atmosphere

Rider's Cafe
Pros:  Beautiful settings amongst the greenery and nature at the quiet Bukit Timah Saddle Club.  Watch the horses gallop in the grassy fields around the stables from your seat.
Cons:  Very inconvenient to reach unless take a taxi, have your own car or maybe own your own horse.  
Address:  Bukit Timah Saddle Club, 51 Fairways Drive, Singapore 286965
Tel: +65 6466-9819

Kith Cafe (Quayside Isle)  CLOSED, visit their other locations
Address: 31 Ocean Way, #01-08 Quayside Isle, 098375 
Tel: +65 6734 9007

Best for Hangovers

Pros:  American fare, American portions, NYC West Village quality.  Breakfast/brunch served everyday (until 11am on weekdays, 2:30pm on weekends). 
Cons:  A pretty compact place, so you'll probably want to call ahead to make sure there's seating available.
383 Jalan Besar, Singapore 209001
Tel: +65 6298-8962

Address: 136 Telok Ayer St, 068601 
Tel: +65 6224 6091

Best for a Swanky Weekend Brunch

Bacchanalia Brunch Series  Update: Bacchanalia is now a Michelin-starred restaurant, and no longer runs this brunch series.
Pros: Starting as a pop-up champagne brunch series, Bacchanalia has evolved into a full scale restaurant and cocktail bar. Bacchanalia has set the trend for chic Saturday brunching, recreating the weekend atmosphere you would find in New York City and London. With Chef Ivan Brehm (formally from The Fat Duck and Per Se) helming the kitchen, you'll find innovative touches on familiar brunch favorites.  But at 2:30pm as diners begin to polish off their plates, the lights begin to dim and the DJ cranks up the music.  Socialites and young professionals break out the Moët, Dom Perignon and Belvedere bottles and party until sunset.
Cons:  Usually a chance of champagne showers.  Don't let your Birkin get wet.
Address:  23A Coleman Street.  Check Bacchanalia Facebook Page or e-mail for more information.

Best for Champagne Brunch

Brasserie Les Saveurs
Pros:  For SG$170++ you get a main course, endless access to the elegant antipasto, seafood and dessert counters, and free flow Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut, Bloody Mary and juices. 
Cons:  This is the anti-Bacchanalia brunch.  The crowd tends to be more mature and the price reflects the atmosphere (ie. if the socialite tai-tai scene isn't your thing, you might feel uncomfortable here).
Address:  The St. Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road
Tel: +65 6506-6888

Pros: Ritz-Carlton's Sunday Vintage Brunch at Greenhouse is nothing short of decadent. (SG$168 – 2002 Vintage Moët & Chandon champagne, wine and selected cocktails $84 – kids aged 6 to 12 $42 – kids aged 3 to 5).  Twice a year, Ritz-Carlton also holds the SuperBrunch, featuring an endless buffet table, spannin across the entirety of the first floor by special guest chefs.
Address: Ritz-Carlton Millenia, 7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore
Tel: +65 6337-8888 

Best for Cantonese (Dim Sum)

Tunglok Teahouse
Address 1: Far East Square 9-13 Amoy Street, #01-01 Singapore 049949 
Tel: +65 6877 1123
Address 2: Square 2 10 Sinaran Drive, #01-73, Singapore 307506 
Tel: +65 6893 1123

Taste Paradise
Address:  #04-07 ION Orchard, No. 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801
Tel: +65 6509-9660

Pros:  There's a reason I wrote a glowing review about Cassia last year.  The interior design by Hong Kong designer, Andre Fu, is beautiful and I say without hesitation, the service is phenomenal.  Attentive, patient, helpful, warm, gentle and all around professional.
Cons:  Transportation is a problem without your own car or taxi.  There have been reports on dim sum quality being somewhat inconsistent - I admittedly have only had their dim sum once, so cannot confirm (I've dined there numerous times for dinner).
Address:  1 The Knolls, #03-00 Capella Hotel Singapore
Tel: +65 6591-5045

Lei Garden
Address: #01-24 Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street, Singapore 
Tel: +65 6339-3822 
Opening Hours: Lunch 11.30am to 3pm, Dinner 6pm to 11 pm

Best for Health Fix

Common Man Coffee Roasters
Address: 22 Martin Road, #01-00, 239058 
Tel: +65 6836 4695

The Missing Pan
It's a modern bakery & brasserie that prides itself on freshly-baked goodness and offers hearty, all-day dining options (that includes all day brunch). Try the Beetroot Quinoa Salad.  It contains candied beetroot, arugula, herby flatbread strips ($12++)
Address: Tel: 619D Bukit Timah Road, #01/02-01

Toby's Estate
Toby's Estate is a specialty coffee roaster from Australia. They opened their doors in Singapore in 2011, serving cafe bites and their in-house roasted coffee.  The bircher muesli is addictive.  And the coffee is pretty swell too.
Address: 8 Rodyk Street, 01-03/04 Singapore 238216 
Tel: +65 6636-7629

Real Food
Address: 110 Killiney Rd, 239549 
Tel: +65 6737 9516

Address: 01-01, 12 Gopeng St, Singapore 078877 
Tel: +65 6221 3029

The Daily Cut
Address 1: 1 #B1-31 One Raffles Place, One Raffles Place, 048616
Address 2: 1 Fusionopolis Pl, 138632

Joe and the Juice
Address: 30 Raffles Place #01-35A Chevron House Singapore 
Tel: +65 6221 2126

Best for Brunch Buffet

Equinox Restaurant
Pros: Quality spread, especially if you love Sunday roast and Yorkshire pudding -- award-winning Chef de Cuisine Lee Bennett hails from Yorkshire, after all.  The crêpe Suzette here is also one of the best I've had in Singapore (Le Saint Julien makes my favorite crêpe Suzette, but that's for another post).  The excellent panoramic view from the floor-to-ceiling windows over Singapore's Marina Bay is also hard to beat.
Cons: The offerings aren't as wide or varied, as say, Shangri La Singapore's brunch buffet spread.  Also be sure to make reservations for Sunday brunch well ahead of time... request for a seat by the window while you're at it.
Address:  Level 70 Swissotel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road, Singapore 178882
Tel: +65 6837-3322

Ash & Elm
read more here
Address: Level 1, Intercontinental Singapore 80 Middle Road Singapore 188966
Tel: +65 6338-7600

The Line (Shangri-La Hotel)
Pros:  Is there anything The Line buffet doesn't have?  Indian, Japanese, Western, Chinese, dim sum, seafood, roasts, fresh juices, smoothies, desserts -- heck, there is even a candy section with cabinets full of gummy bears and lollipops, and a station for local drinks such as teh tarik.  Best yet, buffet is offered every day of the week.  Not too shabby for SG50++ (Saturday), SG$78++ (Sunday), SG$47++ (Weekday).  
Cons:  It gets extremely noisy on weekends when families bring their little ones -- try not to trip over them as you waddle back to your table with your piled-up plate.
Address:  Shangri-La Hotel (Lower Lobby), 22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350
Tel: +65 6213-4275

Best Eggies

Baker & Cook
Pros: The smoked salmon eggs benedict hits all the right notes, especially when it's supported by Baker & Cook's freshly baked bread.
Cons: Besides the eggs benedicts dishes, many of the other cooked dishes are lacking in presentation, value, and taste (especially the simple scrambled eggs and sausages).
Address: (Two locations) 77 Hillcrest Road, Greenwood or 38A Martin Road.

Halia at Raffles Hotel
Pros: Presentation and composition of Halia's brunch dishes are lovely, including the eggs benedict.  The atmosphere is quaint and grand all at the same time with the elegant colonial surroundings of Raffles Hotel.
Cons: The menu at Halia at Botanical Gardens and Halia at Raffles Hotel are completely different (created by different chefs).  I personally prefer Raffles Hotel's menu by far.
Address: Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road, #01-22/23 Singapore


If you don't see certain places listed it means one or more of the following:
1.  I didn't think it deserved to be there.
2.  It slipped my mind!  Remind me, please.
3.  I didn't have the time/stomach space/cash to check it out yet.

If you think a place deserves to be considered, please message me or leave a comment below.


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