29 January 2019

Amara Hotel Lunar New Year [Media Tasting]


Chinese New Year is a week away, so it’s time to kick start on the catch-ups and gatherings. And, what’s a better way to do them than over good food and drinks? :)
Amara Hotel is ready for a prosperous Lunar New Year with its festive menu and buffets done up for the Year of the Pig.



Eight Treasures Prosperity Yu Sheng $88++ Small / $118++ Large

First thought of Amara Hotel’s Yu Sheng is that, the in-house sauce is more savoury than the usual sweet ones. There’re are generous toppings of abalone slices, salmon sashimi, jellyfish, salmon caviar, fish roe and fried fish skin (yay) that gives the whole yu sheng various levels of texture.
Not surprisingly, the yu sheng is endearingly done in the shape of a pig to celebrate the Year of the Pig.




Braised Pumpkin Soup with Superior Fish Maw

As simple as it may look, this is one of my favourite item from the dinner. The sweetness and creaminess of the pumpkin perfectly contrasted by dried scallops, fish maw and mushrooms. It is a very comforting broth that feels healthy and yet, effectively whets our appetite. 



Soy Baked Sea Perch with Spinach in Bonito Sauce

This is definitely the favourite of the crowd. It got everyone at the table finding out more about sea perch (bite-size fact, it’s from the same family as the cod fish but less oily and thus able to retain any gravy better!)



Braised Pork Ribs in Black Beer

Pork lovers get to try a new creation of Amara’s - Braised Pork Ribs in Black Beer. The pork ribs are certainly very tender and the sauce is unique, though not much of beer taste? Let me know if it’s just me!





Beijing Duck $68++ ala carte

One of the highlight of the dinner was a live station where the peking duck is skillfully carved. Each piece of crispy duck skin and meat is then wrapped with the crepe, cucumber and leek. Of cos, not forgetting a dash of sweet sauce to elevate the taste.




Fragrant Rice with Chinese Sausage and Mushroom

This looks rather unassuming but it came out great in the mouth! Best complemented by Amara Hotel’s Sichuan Style Wok-fried Chicken with Dried Red Chilli (Mala Chicken).





Dessert Buffet

Consisting of some all-time favourites such as the New York Cheesecake, Lychee Charlotte Cake, nonya kuehs, and tartlets, there are also special Chinese New Year cakes as such the Gold Ingot Fruit Cake ($78, 1kg) and Cherry Blossom Sugee Cake ($68, 900g).



The cherry blossoms on the sugee cake is one of the prettiest decor I’ve ever had on a  cake and overall, the fondant isn’t overwhelming thick or sweet, perfect!



More details of Amara Hotel's dining options here:



***

Amara Hotel

165 Tanjong Pagar Road Singapore 088539

+65 68792607

Breakfast: 6.30am – 10.30am daily
Lunch: 12pm – 2.30pm (Monday to Friday)


High Tea: 12pm – 2.30pm and 3pm – 5pm (Saturday and Sunday)

2 November 2018

Tasting @ Artichoke - by MasterChef Singapore’s judge Bjorn Shen

If you’re a fan of MasterChef Singapore’s judge (the one with a rather slapstick personality), Bjorn Shen, I’m letting you in on a secret now – you may just have a chance to see him in real life at Artichoke ;)
Bjorn is the chef-owner of this Middle Eastern­inspired restaurant in the heart of Singapore’s Arts and Heritage district, since 2010.


More about Bjorn if you hadn’t followed him on MasterChef Singapore closely enough. Bjorn is notorious for his rebellious personality and outlandish style of cooking, Bjorn has earned significant industry recognition over the years. Outside of starting food brands Artichoke, Bird Bird and Neh Neh Pop, Bjorn wrote a monthly column titled ‘Bjorn Says’ for Time Out magazine, lectured at the Culinary Institute of America, and actively consults on menus for restaurant openings. Industry accolades that he has accumulated over the years include ‘Chef of the Year 2013’ ­ SC Global, ‘Rising Chef of The Year 2015’ finalist ­ World Gourmet Summit, ‘Best Local Chef 2016’ ­ SG Readers’ Choice Awards, and ‘WGS Best 20 Chefs 2016’ ­ World Gourmet Summit. Bjorn is also frequently on television, having most recently featured as judge on MasterChef Singapore on Mediacorp’s Channel 5, and also on programmes such as MasterChef Asia and Secret Eats, and in lead roles on Eat List Star Season 2 and The Ultimate Brocation.


Coming back to the restaurant where he helms, Artichoke may be probably the least authentic Middle­Eastern restaurant around. And that's exactly how they want it to be. The food is fun and creative; drawing inspiration from Middle­Eastern flavours and ingredients, as opposed to being traditional. Imagine funky stuff like squid­ink couscous, chermoula­spiced pomfret, malabi milk pudding with strawberry ice for something sweet, and honey za’atar fried chicken and cheeseburger pizzas on the weekends, all served to a backdrop of 60’s soul and 90’s hip­hop. You’ll see more on the individual dishes served later.

Artichoke got us starting the meal with some amazing cocktails.



For tasters, we had the Devils on Horseback ($14) which is wagyu ham wrapped over a dried apricot, labneh, mint, almond.




We were then served the 7 mezze items on the menu, out of which, these 3 are my favourites!

Babaganoush ($10) - smoked eggplant, pomegranate teriyaki sauce, pomegranate
and sesame seeds


Beetroot Borani ($12) - yoghurt, pistachio dukkah, dill


This is a rather tangy dish due to the yoghurt base, which not everyone may appreciate at first taste - so start with a smaller spoonful :) However eventually, I actually enjoyed the borani the most with the turkish toast. 

Iraqi-spiced Mushrooms ($12) - oyster mushrooms, fried egg puree, parmesan.



Apart from the mezze menu, we also had the popular choice of vegetable which is the Fried Cauliflower Salad ($20). I'm not a salad person, but this really suits my palate since the veg is fried!



Moving onto the mains, I absolutely love the Golden Pomfret ($26)!
These are charcoal-grilled locally farmed pomfret with sweet onion, chermoula, and barbecued lemon.



We also had the Squid Ink Couscous ($32), which is cuttlefish, clams, preserved lemon with a base of couscous.



The Smoked Chicken ($26) is also worth a mention, served with toum garlic whip and pickles.



For sweets, we tasted all 3 on the menu and the one that topped the chart for me is the Soft Serve Ice Cream ($6) which is burnt honey and sea salt flavour. If you're also a fan of salted caramel, you'll definitely enjoy this.


The Date Pudding ($16) is on par, with a more complex taste made up of smoked milk custard, cashew caramel, coffee jelly, sea salt. However, every flavour complements one another perfectly.

Lastly, the Malabi Split ($16) is a combination of sweet and sourness with the sweet coconut vanilla pudding and tarty strawberry ice, topped with pink peppercorn.




Apart from an unique dining experience, Artichoke also offers you a place to simply hangout for coffee / drinks on a weekend, with Turkish sodas, rosewater lemonade on the weekends and solid coffee all day from Common Man Coffee Roasters.


Artichoke

161 Middle Road
Singapore 188978

Tuesdays - Sundays
Hang Time: 1600 - 1900
Dinner: 1800 - 2145

Weekends
Brunch:1130 - 1445

8 October 2018

[Lucky Draw] Singpost SmartPac review

What are those lime green boxes many of us have seen flying around between houses and offices? For avid online shoppers like me, you may probably be familiar with it already. For the rest who have not tried them before, those boxes are actually SmartPac from Singpost – essentially a postage paid doorstep domestic delivery with free packaging! On top of that, it comes with flat rates delivery so that you do not have to worry about postage cost calculation or pasting stamps..

I had received some of my online shopping parcels via SmartPac previously. And personally, I have also tried SmartPac boxes in the past, for sending more bulky items so that there’s no need to weigh the content and then to go and purchase / paste stamps. Recently I did another try and indeed SmartPac is working as well, if not better than in the past!



These packaging are extremely lightweight (including the box!) and convenient to use. There are a variety of prepaid packaging (box / polymer envelopes) you can purchase from any Post Office or Shop@Singpost:



The weight threshold for each packaging is indicated on the top right corner of it.

Do note that it is recommended to not send anything that is of high value (e.g. $1000 diamond ring), item with high tendency of leakage (unless sealed tightly) or precious items (e.g. one and only item in the world).

SmartPac gives you a peace of mind (both sender and receiver) as it is a doorstep delivery with tracking system in place.



1. Send – Pack your items into a suitable SmartPac (according to weight threshold indicated) and drop it at/in any Post office or street posting box (there are 57 POs and more than 800 posting boxes in Singapore - https://www.singpost.com/list-of-post-offices).





2. Track – Track your item’s delivery status via SP.com or SP Mobile App. Delivery reaches in 2-3 working days. I sent my parcel on a Wednesday, and found it in my letterbox by Friday evening :)



3. Receive – receive the item from the post man or if you’re not at home, item will be placed in your letter box.



For the month of October, Singpost is now running a promotion for all SmartPac (box/lite/mini) and Poly M (big & small) with discount up to 12% off!
www.singpost.com/smartwaytopac

This applies to minimum purchase of 20 pieces (products are sold in bundles of 10 pieces).

Also, join the lucky draw to win prizes over $100!
Simply:
1) upload a photo of you receiving or sending a SmartPac on Instagram
2) Like and follow @mysingpost, tag 3 friends and hashtag #SMARTwaytoPAC
3) 3 posts with the most number of likes win prizes over $100

Head over to my IG for information too. See you there!


2 September 2018

Learning ArtZ - Gemstone Candle-making Workshop


So, I made a gemstone (above)! ;)

Had the great opportunity to attend a gemstone candle-making workshop conducted by Taiwanese instructor Cindy Chung, who flew over to Learning Artz Singapore, specially for the class.
In about 3 hours, we made 5 different candle designs each and how to gift wrap them beautifully 

Image may contain: text and food

The jelly wax used for the workshop are specially brought over from Taiwan and formulated to have less chemical ingredients but economical to produce and purchase at the same time.

To have scent in our candles, we can simply add a few drops of essential oil or cosmetic-grade parfume (preferred as they evaporate less easily than essential oils)!

These are some of the scents we shared during the class.


All that we used for the day - pretty simply moulds and tools, and some floral accessories.


Coloring for some of the candle designs.


Alright, can't wait to start now isn't it!
(Just like the cute lil' boy in class who seemed too anxious to start while the instructor was doing a demonstration :D)
Let's take a look at what we've made, shall we?


This was the first spherical design we made with flowers embedded in them 




Next up was mixing coloured jelly wax and gold flakes.
The instructor selected a few yellow and gold coloured jelly wax from the pile of leftovers in the big container below (reduce wastage!) for this design.


I chose a piece of blue that looks like the starry night sky.


Add these colored wax and gold flakes into this container..


And, ta-dah!


My favourite candle from the class 
It reminds me of the night sky with millions of stars and I love it so much that I didn't want to add the soy wick - decided to keep it as it is, to use as a display piece instead.

Another shape with hologram flakes added for the glittery effect.


Next up we had a themed candle, can you guess what it is? :) 





Yes, it's the ocean theme!
We used moss as seaweed which is so cute imo. You can also add tiny seashells at the side for the "beach", that would be so nice!


A darker shade of blue if you like deeper seas ;)


The last we did were these tiny candles that supposedly look like unpolished gemstones.
Mixed some purple, blue and pink colouring for the galaxy effect.


Gift-wrapped our candles.


And we all successfully graduated from class!
Check out all different colours we like :)


I have some of the candles displayed at home now!<3 p="">






Overall, I feel that the class is very interesting and easy to enjoy because, even for a first-timers like me, 4 out of 5 of the candles I made turned out pretty well! The first one (spherical candle) had too many air bubbles in it and my flower petals sanked to the bottom, as I probably poured the jelly wax too early (too hot) and quickly, and so the instructor very kindly gave me hers to bring home instead :`) 

I think it will be the perfect activity for a girls' day out or birthday / wedding gathering where you can bring home some lovely and practical craft pieces at the same time.

The class can also be very therapeutic as it gives you a full 3-hour of distraction from everything else and simply work on a new, simple project. Try it out and let me know if you understand how that feels :)

Hop over to Learning Artz Facebook to be updated on more of such classes!

xoxo