Monday, February 25, 2013

TortaPistocchi Chocolate Week at Hilton Singapore

In collaboration with TortaPistochhi founder and producer Chef Claudio Pistocchi, il Cielo restaurant chef Omar Bernardi and Hilton Singapore pastry team will serve an array of chocolate sweets and savouries. From Sunday 31 March 2013 to Saturday 6 April 2013, Chef Claudio will be in Singapore to promote his chocolates. We were honoured to be invited for the prelude in January.

Chef Claudio making Hot Chocolate

Torta Pistocchi made its debut 22 years ago in the city centre of Florence and knowing that most will feel guilty of eating desserts, he decided to create something chocolate with minimal calories with no additional ingredients. According to him, the best way to enjoy chocolates is to temper and blend them and since there is no intention of baking it in an oven, flour and eggs are not required.

TortaPistocchi (Classic)

Said to be a chocolate cake and not a cake with chocolate, 60 kinds of chocolates are used in the classic Torta Pistocchi as chocolates with different regions are said to have different level of bitterness, acidity and cocoa butter. By blending many types of chocolates, the cake is able to bring out the different characteristics of the chocolates and provide a sophistication of taste. To distinguish himself with major players in France, Belgium and America, the cake only contains chocolate with 100% cocoa butter. In addition, it contains neither eggs, nor butter or flour, no sugar, preservatives, just the finest dark chocolate, bitter chocolate powder and a little cream. Hence it is technically not a cake but chocolate in a cake form.

One of the more amazing things to hear from Chef Claudio is no change has been made to the recipe and since the original recipe is meant for 100 cakes, they strictly adhere to making 100 cakes at a time, purely hand-crafted apart from using an electric pump to dispense the cake. For those who missed the cake after this Easter period, this cake has more than 400 sellers, mainly in Milan, Rome and Florence.

Door Gift for Media Event

Sounds divine isn't it? Well, this cake, together with Chef Claudio's other chocolate products are available for sale at Checkers Deli from now till April 2013 so chocolate purists, do take note. This chocolate cake is also available in different flavours and intensity to bring chocolate out in dark, milk, white, spicy and tangy manner.

His latest creation dedicated to his daughter Lisa pairs Yuzu, candied pineapple, orange and pear with 9 different spices ranging from ginger, lemongrass, nutmeg, etc. The resulting flavour is exotic and oriental, making it very unique from most of the chocolates available in the market.

In addition, beginning 15 March 2013, Easter Sweets made of TortaPistocchi chocolates will take centre stage at Checkers Deli. A collaboration between Chef Claudio and Hilton pastry team presents the Pistocchi Cheesecake which combines the hotel's famous cheesecake with the luscious yet crispy dark chocolate with rice pops by Torta Pistocchi. Other highlights include the Pistocchi Sacher cake and Pistocchi Chocolate Macarons.

Hilton Pastry Chef with Sachertorte (with TortaPistochhi used)

Apart from the sweets, Hilton's Executive Chef Sandro, il cielo Chef Omar and Chef Claudio have worked together to create a 4-course Pistocchi Cioccolato Dinner to enjoy TortaPistocchi chocolate in different intensity and flavours where it can be enjoyed sweet, savoury, dark and white. Here is a snapshot of the dinner offered at a one-night only dinner at il Cielo (priced at $88++ per person) on Thursday, 4 April 2013.
Chef Omar and Chef Claudio

Savoury with chocolate, sounds impossible but in this special dinner, one can expect fresh vegetables to be paired with chocolate and spice. To strike a balance between savoury and chocolate, Mesclun, Wasabi, Goat cheese, Pistocchi-coated Pecan, Cherry Truffle Vinaigrette are added to the antipasto.
AntiPasto and Insalata
Assorted Vegetables dipped in various Pistocchi Chocolates (foreground)
Mesclun, Wasabi, Goat Cheese, Pistocchi-coated Pecan, Cherry Truffle Vinaigrette (background)

Pistocchi Cacao Tagliatelle with Wild Game was something that left an impression.

Pistocchi Cacao Tagllatelle with Wild Game
Pistocchi Cacao Tagllatelle with Wild Game
Using dark chocolate to make the tagliatelle and replacing parmesan cheese with dark chocolate shavings, the sweet and and bitter contrast to savoury does leave an impression.
Chef Omar adding chocolate shavings to Pistocchi Cacao Tagllatelle with Wild Game
Pistocchi Cacao Tagllatelle with Wild Game
Serving beef with 99% chocolate and vinaigrette vinegar, surprisingly brings out the natural sweetness of the meat and it took us a while to register that the sauce that goes with the beef is actually made of chocolate.

Wagyu Tagliata, Goose liver, Coffee Pistocchi Chocolate Aromas
Wagyu Tagliata, Goose liver, Coffee Pistocchi Chocolate Aromas

Apart from the Easter selection at Checkers Deli and the Pistocchi Cioccolato Dinner at il Cielo, Hilton is also presenting Pistocchi Cioccolato Workshop. This is available on Monday, 1 April 2013 to Wednesday, 3 April 2013 from 10am to 12:30pm, followed by Pistocchi cioccolato Lunch menu. In this workshop, Chef Claudio will share about his passion for chocolates and share tips on making a basic ganache and chocolate desserts. Following the workshop, attendees will enjoy a special Pistocchi Cioccalto lunch designed by il Cielo Chef Omar.

Before signing off, we would like to take the opportunity to thank Marketing Communications Manager, Ms. Joyce Moo for the invitation to the TortaPistocchi Chocolate Media Tasting.

For the purchase of TortaPistocchi chocolate treats and Easter selection,
Checkers Deli, Lobby
Opening Hours: 11am-9pm (daily)
Tel:  6730 3392

Pistocchi Cioccolato Workshop and Pistocchi Cioccolato Dinner will be held at
il Cielo, Level 24 
Opening hours:
Lunch 12noon - 2:30pm (Mon to Fri)
Dinner 7pm - 10:30pm (Mon to Sun)
Tel: 6730 3395

P..S. This will also be our last entry for and we thank all our readers for the support.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Lunar Treasures 2013 @ Mandarin Court

I have vaguely mentioned about Mandarin Court in one of my posts and highlighted the weekend lunch buffet the restaurant has put up. Helmed by Executive Chinese Chef Sunny Kong, one can expect classic Cantonese style of cooking and we were privileged to be invited to Mandarin Orchard's Chinese New Year Media Tasting.

Executive Chinese Chef Sunny Kong

In this post, we would like to share with you the special ingredients for this year's Lo Hei and also some of the dishes available in the a la carte menu crafted by Chef Kong.

Yu Sheng with Roselle (洛神花魚生)

First up, Chef Kong has decided to introduce dried Roselle into his Yu Sheng (洛神花魚生) to provide a natural sweetness and slight crunch in contrast to the freshly shredded vegetables. These are imported from China and apart from making it drier, there is no additional processing and are not cut to retain the original shape. In addition, fried fish skin is introduced for the additional crunch, apart from the all-time favourite deep-fried flour crisps.

Fried Fish Skin

The Prosperity Roselle Salmon Yu Sheng, served with traditional plum sauce, virgin olive oil and spring onion oil, is also available for take-away ($68+ for 2-4 person, $108+ for 8-10 persons) with optional top-ups such as Salmon ($18+ per portion), Lobster ($48+ per portion) and Abalone ($68+ per portion).

Mini Fortune Pot

The media tasting gives us a prelude to the Baby Abalone Fortune Pot and in this miniature version, it came with Brocoli, Scallop, Baby Abalone, Sea Cucumber and Goose Web. Goose web was used as it is bigger and meatier than the regular duck web and the Baby Abalone Fortune Pot is available for take-away at $368+. The serving is good for 5-8 persons with over 20 treasured delicacies, including Dried Oysters, Baby Abalones, Drunken Chicken Wings and Chinese Sausages. 3 working days is required for processing of orders and is available from 18 January 2013 to 9 February 2013.

Sea Perch with Barbecue Sauce

Chef Kong's Baked Sea Perch is always my favourite and is something not to be missed should one visit Mandarin Court. As a Chinese New Year special, Chef Kong has decided to serve the Sea Perch with Barbecue Sauce (燒汁焗鱸魚). The uniqueness of his sea perch lies in the crisp skin but yet the fish is moist, succulent and generously coated with his signature sauce. According to him, the trick lies in air drying the fish after soaking the fish with the sauce before baking it to make the skin crisp.

Stewed Boston Lobster Tail with Lemon Sauce

Stewed Boston Lobster Tail with Lemon Sauce (香檸龍蝦尾) is one of Chef Kong's new fusion creation, where Chinese style cooking meets Western style of making the lemon sauce.

Wok-fried Glutinous Rice with Hong Kong Cured Sausages

Wok-fried Glutinous Rice with Hong Kong Cured Sausages (生炒臘味糯米飯) earns a thumb up for me for the glutinous rice is not overly sticky and adopts a fried-rice texture. This grainy texture is achieved by first soaking the rice in water before steaming, chilling overnight, washing and stir-frying. Think of it being like the Japanese Okowa but flavoured in an Oriental manner.

Glutinous Rice Dumpling in Almond Tea

Glutinous Rice Dumpling in Almond Tea (杏仁茶湯圓) came to me like a refreshing warm dessert and the almond tea is simply divine in my opinion. For those who likes almond cream, this is one not to be missed for the strong almond fragrance with a light and not overly creamy texture.

Steamed Peanut ‘Nian Gao’

Steamed Peanut ‘Nian Gao’ (花生年糕) does not appear to be the "Nian Gao" I have grown up with which is sweet and sticky. This turns out to be very soft and mochi-like. Moreover, when served with peanut, this is somewhat like a healthy version of muah chee.

Well, having to share with you some of the dishes that is available for Mandarin Court's dine-in. The other plus point about the Chinese New Year menu is the flexibility. There are a total of 10 menus catered for a minimum of 2 persons charged by per pax and also menus for a table of 5-10 people charged by per table. Pricing ranges from $98++ per pax with about 6-8 dishes (depending on the menu).

In addition, Mandarin Court offers both private dining areas and having located 35 levels above Orchard Road, do make your reservation early to enjoy the spectacular bird-eye view of the Orchard shopping belt.

Before signing off, many thanks to the invitation and warm hospitality by Ms Ruth Soh and Ms Crystal Lim from the Marketing Communications of Mandarin Orchard Singapore.

Mandarin Court
Mandarin Orchard Singapore, by Meritus
333 Orchard Road
Singapore 238867
Level 35
Tel: 68316288 or 68316262
[ ... ]

Monday, January 7, 2013

First Love Patisserie

Original Mille Crepe

The Mille Crepe Cake trend seemed to be on the raise recently and one of the new entrants is this Indonesian brand - First Love Patisserie. At the time of visit, they sell four flavours: Original, Strawberry, Oreo and Expresso.

Strawberry Mille Crepe

This is one of the few dessert that made me pay them a visit the second time within a week. What impressed me was the thin layers of crepes and the fragrant vanilla cream. This was made even better by the caramel crust on top. I also tried the strawberry flavour which may be a little sweet for most.

The down side is that they serve the cake close to frozen, hence it is better consume it when you are home.

First Love Patisserie
Ion Orchard Food Hall B4-63
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chinese New Year 2013 highlights @ Hilton Singapore

One of the major highlights in the local Chinese New Year celebration would be the Yu Sheng, made of colourful shredded vegetables which is tossed with well wishes. This year, Hilton Singapore presents the Fortune Coin Yu Sheng (鸿运吉年齐捞起), that is specially designed and created by Senior Chinese Chef Toh Choon Hock.

Senior Chinese Chef Toh Choon Hock

The presentation of the Yu Sheng is of no doubt spectacular and requires a whole day of preparation including 4-5 hours of craftsmanship to assemble the coin and the Chinese quote. Written on the Yu Sheng is 福临财到, which augurs good fortune and prosperity in the New Year. Apart from the elaborate assembly of the Yu Sheng, this is also served with generous slivers of whole fresh lobster, tuna and two-head abalone as well as salmon roe, served alongside with a bottle of truffle oil and gold flakes.

However, the highlight of the Yu Sheng lies in the special plum sauce made of fruits, Taiwanese plum juice and sesame sauce to provide a very light and refreshing taste, unlike the sticky and overly sweet Yu Sheng which is commonly encountered. In addition, fresh mangoes, strawberries and green apples are introduced to the traditional recipe to give a fruity twist.

Salmon and Tuna Yu Sheng

The Fortune Coin Yu Sheng is designed for 30 people and is available throughout the celebration period beginning from the Eve (9 February 2013) to the 15th day of Chinese New Year (24 February 2013).  Do note that this is only available for order only when you book the hotel's dine-in prosperity banquet menus. Also since Hilton Hotel does not have a Chinese restaurant, the Chinese New Year banquets are served in the hotel's function rooms and is subjected to availability

The following dishes (except the Home-Made Style Steamed Live Garoupa and Braised Baby Abalone with Dried Oyster and Black Moss served with Garden Green) are available in both the banquet menus and also the Reunion Feast buffet at Checkers Brasserie on Chinese New Year Eve, 9 Feb 2013.

Crispy Katafi Prawns and Scallop Roll (家合添贵子), was a crowd pleaser for the contrasting texture between the crisp Katafi and soft interior housing the scallop and prawn. However, what earns nods from the diners is the accompanying sauce which is not mayonnaise but rather yoghurt blended with peach and chili sauce.

Crispy Katafi Prawns and Scallop Roll

Inspired by the popular Hokkien dish, the Braised Pork Belly, Stewed Pork Knuckle with Mantou (横财易就手), is my personal favourite among the dishes served and I am pretty sure this will be likeable among our elders. According to Chef Toh, what makes a good braised pork lies in the removal of fats which is between the skin and the meat and he does so by using low heat to melt away the fats. To achieve a soft, melt-in-the-mouth skin, apart from the tender meat, Chef Toh steamed and then braised the pork knuckle for at least 4 hours so that it is 肥而不腻 (fatty yet not cloying).

Stewed Pork Knuckle with Mantou

Home-Made Style Steamed Live Garoupa (成名扬四海, not available at the Reunion Feast Buffet), is described to be a Chinese New Year dish served in most households (家乡年菜). Simplicity to keep it light and Chef Toh incorporates home–style cooking with no use of MSG, chicken stock, salt or sugar to retain the natural sweetness of the fish.

Home-Made Style Steamed Live Garoupa

Poached Live Prawn with Enoki Miso Soup (龙马精神), focus on incorporating vegetable stock with the traditional Chinese analogue of miso (豆酱) and Chinese Corriander (芫荽) to give a very tasty broth that can be drank directly like a soup. Interestingly, we learnt from Chef Toh that the difference between the Japanese Miso and the Chinese 豆酱 lies in the way it is processed. While the Chinese 豆酱 is coarse and chunkier, the Japanese miso is said to have a delicate and precise way to make them very fine and smooth and hence, often used in soup.

Poached Live Prawn with Enoki Miso Soup (Top) & Braised Baby Abalone with Dried Oyster and Black Moss served with Garden Green (Bottom)

Braised Baby Abalone with Dried Oyster and Black Moss served with Garden Green (包君年年发, not available at the Reunion Feast Buffet), is a dish where the individual ingredients are carefully prepared. Not only is the abalone carefully simmered with chicken and pork to obtain the natural sweetness, dried oyster is also introduced in the dish for the Chinese pronunciation sounds similar to “good” (“蚝=好”). In addition, oysters are considered as a delicacy, making it an appropriate ingredient for Chinese New Year.

Chilled Black Sesame Pudding with Mango Sauce

Chilled Black Sesame Pudding with Mango Sauce (延年谦益寿), is made to be healthy and the choice of mango and black sesame is to allow contrast in taste. While the ground black sesame releases fragrance when the pudding is consumed, the mango sauce that goes with it, provides a refreshing tang.

It is interesting to know from Chef Toh his reasons behind his choices of ingredients and healthy cooking style. For those who are unable to clock a minimum of 5 tables to enjoy the dine-in prosperity banquet menus, the reunion feast buffet offered at Checkers Brasserie showcases New Year Specialities, mentioned in the post (unless stated). In addition, one can also expect Nanjing-style Braised Duck with Chinese Herbs and Steamed Rice with Assorted Preserved Meat at the buffet line. In addition, apart from the Chilled Black Sesame Pudding with Mango Sauce, one will be pleasantly surprised with the hotel's signature cheesecake to be flavoured with persimmon.

For enquires with regards to the dine-in prosperity banquet menus, do call 6730 3269 or email

Last but not least, a big thank you to Marketing Communications Manager, Ms. Joyce Moo for the invitation to the Chinese New Year Media Tasting.

Reunion Feast at Checkers Brasserie
$88++ per adult
$48++ per child aged 6-12 years old,
which includes one serving of Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall.

Hilton Singapore 
581 Orchard Road
Singapore 238883
Tel: 6730 3390
[ ... ]

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Desserts we have tried in 2012

This is an entry on some of the desserts which we tried but didn't find time to blog about in 2012.


Starting from the most recent is the Cheesecake from Ruth's Chris Steak House. I liked the sour cream layer which paired well with cream cheese. Though I must admit that the mini cheesecake given to the birthday person is actually richer than the original sized one. Nonetheless this is still one of the better cheesecakes in town.


Next is Noel Treasures Cake from Haagen Dazs. This was one of the festive offerings for this year. It is made up of six chocolate balls which contain 2 Haagen Dazs Ice Cream flavours in each of them. Macadamia nut is paired with strawberry cheesecake and the caramel biscuit with chocolate. I believe I need not elaborate further on the ice cream but special mention must be made for the hazelnut praline biscuit at the base. Though sticky, it is crisp and goes very well with the ice-cream. This is also a very creative way of presenting a festive cake as it has 4 flavours with minimal contamination and easy to serve (simply halve the Christmas baubles).


The other memorable cake is the BananaRama from The Line - Shangri La Hotel. This was the cake of the month for October 2012 and the cake which Fen bought for my Birthday. I liked this cake for its strong flavour - rich chocolate mousse as well as sweet banana puree. This was one cake which even my parents asked for a second serving. Though this may be the cake of the month, the Line Shop may allow pre-ordering of the cake as Fen has ever ordered the hotel's Strawberry Vanilla Streusel Cake (needs to be ordered one week in advance) which was no longer sold in the Line Shop. So no harm sending an email to The Line Shop for enquiry.

Le Royale

Throughout the year, we continued to frequent our favourites such as Bakerzin and Canele. Specifically After recruiting former Pastry Chef Christophe Grilo from Hilton Singapore, there was a major change to their array of cakes. Not only the outlook has changed for their signature cakes, there seems to be interesting new creations. The Le Royale has gone through many modifications since we started blogging. Comparing with the previous entry on the Le Royale, there is now a second layer of chocolate mousse and there are improvements to the texture of the mousse.

Triple Chocolate Cheese Cake

As for the Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, there is now a layer of chocolate fudge as compare to the previous version. There is also more chocolate which may delight the chocolate fans as oppose to the cheesecake fans.

Tuxedo Cake

Last but not least, Fen's favourite cake of the year. Tuxedo cake, ever since her first encounter with the cake, she has minimally made me return to Carlton 4 times last year to curb her cravings. According to her, she adore the moist chocolate cake which is not overly sweet nor cloying. This is one cake she recommends greatly to chocolate cake lover for the rich and moist texture which to a certain extent resembles a good toffee pudding.

Finally Happy New Year to all and I hope 2013 will be a fulfilling one.
[ ... ]

Wrapping up 2012...

To some in the internet community, blog posts on invited tastings are bias and we guess that our readers are disappointed with the lack of posts and that the recent entries were all invites. Hence before we publish our next two posts which covers the media event for the Chinese New Year specials, we thought that it might be good to share with you some of our foodie experiences which we did not blog about as a wrap-up for last year.

Our bundle of joy arrived in April 2012 and life is never the same again. Priorities have changed and thoughts of shutting down the blog has been going through our mind again and again but because of the rapport we have built through the years of blogging, we have decided to attend some of the media events to relish the good old days of phototaking and catching up with some of the chefs. 

We do dine out but time spent in the restaurant is precious when our baby is soundly asleep and as he grows older, he starts to be curious with the surroundings and wanting a share of our meals. Hence, we have decided to use the camera for his candid moments and enjoy our food when he is settled.

Being parents, considerations such as the restaurant being child-friendly, space for strollers to park and nappy changing stations within a mall became our considerations rather than good food, ambience and novelty. Crystal Jade, Ding Tai Feng, Swensens and Starbucks became the most frequent visited eateries for this year with occasional indulgence at Dolce Vita, il Cielo, Tonkichi, Cherry Garden, Ruth Chris Steak House, Coffee Lounge, Chatterbox and Mandarin Court.

Anyway, we shall sum up some of our experiences in the mentioned restaurants and for those which are not covered, we realised we didn't take any photos so we shan't bore you with our words.


First up, Chef Omar's signature Tomahawk from il Cielo was an eye-opening experience, not forgetting Hilton's Executive Chef Sandro grilling the meat on a special hot plate, that was specially hand-carried from Italy. The ambience of the restaurant is lovely with a semi al fresco concept to the hotel's swimming pool. The entire restaurant feels like a comfy attic that uses wood and glass as its concept. The only frustrating thing is the ballroom between the lift lobby and the restaurant which can be crowded at times whenever there is a wedding banquet.


Celebrating my dad's birthday at Mandarin Court was another memorable moment for our family. The weekend buffet, priced at $48++ per pax (additional $10 per pax on public holidays), has an extensive menu that is not only limited to dim sum (18 varieties) but also more than 35 dishes to choose from. Some of our personal favourites includes Traditional Pig Trotter Vinegar, Crispy Squid coated with Salted Egg Yolk, Pan-seared Sliced Sea Perch in Superior Sauce, "Wu Xi" Roasted Pork Ribs, Poached Spinach with Trio of Eggs, etc.


For a restaurant with its buffet menu unchanged for so many years, we agree with their followers that it has a special niche on its own. Goodwood Park's porridge buffet remains one of my top favourite and it is no surprise we went there twice this year. That was one of my cravings when I was pregnant. I recalled Yuan was starving with me that morning for my check up. The second visit was a lovely birthday celebration with my dearest colleagues.


I was curious about steakhouses and I proposed to visit Ruth Chris or Morton's. The steak is of no doubt good but also pricey. If memory didn't fail me, T-bone and Porterhouse are from Australia and the other signature steaks are imported from the US. The uniqueness in their steaks lies in cooking their steaks in a broiler at 980°C so that the juices remains on the meat, rather than dripping onto the baking pan. In addition, the steaks are served on plates heated to 260°C so that one can enjoy the beef hot and sizzled in butter.

Ruth Chris' petite fillet

We have both our petite fillet and ribeye served medium and surprisingly, Yuan's ribeye was close to medium well, not sure if this is due to the heated plate. Ruth's Chop Salad was good but the Au Gratin was ordinary. Anyway, Yuan will have a separate post on their signature's cheesecake and some of the sweet treats we had during Christmas.


Anyway, dining-out aside. Nothing beats wrapping the year with us working in the kitchen for the first time after our boy is born. While Yuan whipped out my favourite Baked Salmon with parmesan and parsley crust, I attempted two new dishes, namely the Parmesan Spring Chicken and Pork Chops with Caramelised apples and onions.

The rest of the items we have prepared for that afternoon includes Marks & Spencer's Rosti and Breaded Cod, Waitrose frozen vegetables mix and rice prepared using chicken broth, capsicum and McCormick Original Taco Seasoning Mix.

Parmesan Spring Chicken


Parmesan Spring Chicken (for 8 chicken fillets)
3 Egg White
100-120gm Parmesan Cheese (We use Perfect Italiano)
8 Chicken Fillets
Black pepper
Mixed herbs or Rosemary

1. Marinate chicken fillet with grounded black pepper and mixed herbs, set aside
2. Dip chicken fillet in egg white
3. Coat the chicken fillet with parmesan cheese
4. Pan-fry the coated chicken until brown and crisp

Comments: We felt that this is a nice variant from the regular oven-grilled chicken thighs we have prepared previously for our gathering. The parmesan cheese forms a nice crust and additional saltiness to the overall taste.

Pork Chops with Caramelised Apples and Onions


I first tried this recipe posted by Martha Stewart but realised the chicken broth makes it no different from grilled pork chops with herbs. Subsequently, I replaced the use of chicken broth with apple juice and caramelised the apples and onions with sugar after finding this recipe from BBC good food. Seems to be better.

2 bone-in pork chops (preferably 3/4 inch thick)
Mixed herbs or Rosemary
Black pepper
25gm butter
1 apple, cored and sliced
1 large white onion, sliced
125ml apple juice
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Sprinkle generously with herbs and pepper on both sides
2. Pound the chop with the meat hammer or the back of the knife to make it tender
3. Sear and brown the pork chops (about 2-3 minutes on each side)
4. Swirl the butter into the pan
5. Add the onion and apples
6. Saute until the onion slices are lightly caramelized and the apples have begun to soften
7. Sprinkle sugar over the onions and apples
8. Stir in apple juice
9. Return chops to the pan and simmer the pork chops for about 12-15 minutes, turning halfway through and covering the chops with the apple mixture
10. If the apple mixture needs a little thickening, transfer the chops to the warm plate again and simmer the mixture on high for a few minutes to reduce

Comments: Caramelised apples and onions are nice condiments and being slightly sweet due to the use of apple juice and sugar, we thought it is easier to prepare than char siu.

Alright, guess I will stop writing here and leave the sweets for Yuan to continue.

Happy New Year to everybody.
[ ... ]

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Festive Dinner Buffet at Novotel

Prior to this tasting, my impression of Novotel (when it comes to food) is mainly wedding banquet but little did I realise there is a very comfy restaurant located at level 7, serving a lovely international buffet.


Adopting a minimalistic decor with tables comfortably spaced and the buffet spread presented neatly at a corner, I adore the light hearted setting. The choice of maroon and black gives a nice contrast between homely and stylish. In addition, the balcony area at the other side of the restaurant brightens the restaurant in the afternoon and dims the restaurant at night, providing a nice transition from dusk to night.


With Christmas round the corner, the festive dinner buffet at The Square can be considered as an option for large families and gatherings.  With an affordable price tag, The Square will blow you off with a simple yet extensive selection, not forgetting the usual christmas offerings at their live stations. Both the roasted turkey as well as the baked gammon ham deserved special mention for their tender, succulent and nicely-marinated taste.


Apart from the festive roasts, we were quite surprised by the selection of appetisers offered. We are usually not big fans of appetisers but the wide selection of Italian starters ranging from cold cuts, salads, sandwiches, and anti-pasta intrigue us to try. Among the extensive selection, some of the items that are worth a mention were the potato salad, which is light on the dressing and generously tossed with bacon bits; bruschetta where the bread is contrast nicely with cheese and tomato; the refreshing pasta salad and parma ham though would have been better if it is shaved more thinly.


The house specially is the risotto which is prepared a la minute and stirred into the cheese bowl for the additional cheesy effect. However if you are not a cheese fan, this is probably not for you. It also comes with the special variant of laska sauce. Those who loved their laksa sauce rich with shrimp taste may find this novice.


The seafood section consists of fresh oysters, mussels, prawns, tuna sashimi and the poached salmon. One of the must-trys in the buffet would definitely be the poached salmon for its soft and juicy meat. This simple dish retains the sweetness of the fish but yet does not have an overpowering fishy aftertaste.


Within the hot food section, Fen's favourite was the Irish Mutton Stew. Though most would have dreaded the gamely taste of the mutton, this is surprisingly acceptable to non-mutton lovers like me. The stew is so intense with the flavours that Fen ends up slurping the gravy. According to her, the meat is tender, the potatoes are well-soaked with the essence of the stew, the carrots are juicy. Perfect combination.  


The buffet also offers Asian dishes such as fried rice, mee tai bak, beef rendang, sweet and sour pork and kimchi chicken. Kimchi chicken caught my attention for the mild spicy flavour but didn't earn a thumb up from Fen as she is not a kimchi lover. On the other hand, beef rendang earns her nods in this station.


Since it is nearing Christmas, you will find log cakes, christmas pudding, christmas cookies on the dessert bar. We personally found the log cakes unique as it is made of strawberry sponge and pandan sponge (separately) as opposed to the usual chocolate/vanilla sponge. While the sponge is soft and "old school", the downside would be the large amount of buttercream for the pandan log cake which would have been perfect if they replace the filling with kaya.


You will also find chocolate fondue which often appeal to kids. However what really steals the show is the durian pengat. The paste is so smooth but yet does not compromise on the durian content.


All in all, the selection is pretty extensive considering this is pitted against mid range buffet suspects such as Straits Cafe, Cafe Mosaic and Cafe 2000. While most of these mid range buffets focus on local specialities and seafood, The Square aims to bring in a variety of cuisines to their buffet line.

In addition to the lovely Italian starters, traditional Irish Mutton Stew and the marriage of Kimchi & Chicken, Chef Jean-Philippe Couturier, a French, has also introduced a few memorable fusions such as the Laksa Cheese Risotto and Seafood (mussels are served in their buffet line while cod is available in their a la carte menu) with Spicy Coconut Cream sauce. Another plus point of the buffet is having an in-house pastry chef that brings about a decent selection of pastries and also the local favourite, durian pengat.

In short, the ambience is simple, the dishes are memorable and the price tag is affordable.

Special thanks to Mr. John Paolo Tan, Marketing & Direct Sales Manager of Novotel Singapore for the invite to enjoy this festive dinner.

Festive Dinner Buffet is available from now to 1st Jan 2013, everyday from 6pm to 10pm.
$52++ (Adult) / $35++ (Child/Senior Citizen), from Sunday to Thursday
$62++ (Adult) / $38++ (Child/Senior Citizen), Friday and Saturday

For Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year Eve Dinner,
$68++ (Adult, buffet only)
$88++ (Adult, with free Prosecco Sparkling Wine, Tiger Draught Beef, house wine and 2 kinds of juices)
$48++ (Child)

The Square Restaurant
Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay
177A River Valley Road
Singapore 179031
Tel 6433 8790
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