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Spring & Summer

2 Jun

More and more exquisite restaurants and cafes have been popping up in Bangkok in the recent years, mostly serving fusion food of some sort: Thai-Italian, Thai-Japanese, Thai-French, you name it. Y and I visited Spring & Summer, on Sukhumvit Soi 49, just two sub-sois away from  Samitivej Hospital, in the Japanese-y area of Sukhumvit Road.

Spring & Summer is an old house converted into a classy restaurant. Mains are served in the “Spring restaurant”, and dessert in the “Summer chocolate house”, although you could just sit in one place and have all of the above. At night, if you aren’t afraid of mosquitoes and bugs, I’d recommend relaxing out in the spacious “Winter bar” garden on a beanbag with a cocktail in hand.

We ordered a Tuna Tataki Salad as a starter. Presentation was simple, yet amazing. We loved the extra large wooden fork and spoon that came with the dish, for us to toss the salad in. The dressing was a delicious soy wasabi vinaigrette, which worked perfectly with both the greens and the tuna sashimi. Sadly, the star of the dish – the tuna – was not as fresh as we would have liked it to be.

Crab and Artichoke Angel Hair Pasta

I always like angel hair pasta because of its thin texture, and I tend to order it whenever it is on the menu. This time, it was something different – not the more typical truffle oil drizzling in Gianni’s, not the mind blowing cold pasta in il Lido. It was stir-fried Thai style – spiced by chili and herbs, and zinged by artichokes. The sun dried tomatoes and olives added a delicious Mediterranean twist to the dish. Flavors were extremely well-balanced here, but the dish could have been better, because the stir-frying made the pasta overcooked, barring on mushy.

This huge plate of chili glazed baby back ribs has a more interesting name in Thai: ซี่โครงหมูต้องห้าม, which literally means “cautioned ribs”. When the waiter presented us with this dish, our eyes widened at the size of it: two half-stacks of ribs with a thick chili glaze served alongside a huge onion basket. The ribs were delicious to a mind-blowing extent. The juicy meat fell of the bone with just a flick of the knife. The only downside to the ribs were the chili glaze, which we found to be too sweet. As for the onion basket, it cleansed our palette well, although it could have been crispier.

Despite us being extremely full from the main meal, we HAD to move on to dessert, because Spring & Summer makes such wonderful chocolate treats!

This plate is christened Better Than Sex. I can imagine why the name, because the baked chocolate mousse was soooooo delectable, so chocolately, so addictive. We couldn’t get enough of it, and almost fought over who got the last bite. The vanilla ice cream was homemade, with a twist of banana in it, which I did not particularly enjoy, because of the slightly artificial taste that banana flavorings always have (I don’t like banana flavors in general). But oh, did I mention the yummy salted caramel drizzle that runs along the circumference of the plate? Too good.

This was another aptly christened plate: Chocolate Bravo. The lava cake was so perfectly executed: the crust was thin, yet moist, and so much sinful dark chocolate oozed out from the inside. It was served alongside a dollop of chocolate mousse, which rightly did not steal the limelight from the lava cake. Bravo, indeed.

On top of these, the friend had a Strawberry mojito (which was too syrupy) and I had a pineapple and tropical fruits smoothie (which was not too shabby).

For the first time in my blog, I will be splitting my verdict between the mains and the desserts, just because it would be fairer that way.

My verdict: 2/5 spoonfuls for the mains (for the prices charged, I’d be expecting higher standards), and 5/5 spoonfuls for the oh-too-heavenly desserts. I’ll definitely be coming back for the desserts, after a meal somewhere else first. Or maybe, just a meal of chocolate dessert here 😉

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Michelangelo’s

18 Aug

As such a frequent visitor and fan of Holland V, it beats me why I only just tried Michelangelo’s. One fine evening, M and I decided to give it a shot.

As with all Italian restaurants, dinner begins with some homemade, warm, fluffy bread. This focaccia was particularly interesting because of its orange hue (carrot extracts?). It was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside – very delicious, especially with the olive dip.

Mozzarella di Bufala con Prosciutto (Buffalo Mozzarella with Prosciutto)

Beneath the Italian Prosciutto was a large ball of buffalo mozzarella cheese. I must say it was one of the best buffalo mozzarellas I’ve tasted: creamy, moist, and firm just to the right extent. The Arugula, however, was disappointingly old thus causing a lack its signature bitterness, other than it being possibly tossed in honey of some sort.

Tortellini Gorgonzola

We really loved how the tortellini was wrapped with spinach and ricotta, and tossed in Gorgozola cream sauce, but not taste overly thick. However, I could not finish it as it was insanely salty. The manager came over to ask what the problem was, and M being the nice person he is, said everything was alright. But me, I had to voice my opinion, so I said it was too salty. The manager apologized, and cleared the dish. A few minutes later, he scuttled back, apologized again, and said that he would strike this dish off our bill. Our guess is that he tasted it, and realized the chef made some serious mistakes in the kitchen…

Risotto con Porco e Porcini (Risotto with Pork and Porcini)

Not your typical risotto with porcini mushrooms, because it is simmered in what they call a secret stock, and with white wine simmered with truffle oil and pork belly. Pork belly?! It was creamy, the way we love our risottos, but again, it was on the salty side. If I could hazard a guess, the secret stock has some tuna in it.

Tiramisu Tradizionale (Traditional Tiramisu)

I’ve read reviews by other diners who complained that Michelangelo’s tiramisu was terrible. But I beg to differ. It is definitely one of the better tiramisus I’ve had in Singapore, perhaps second only to the now closed down Italiannies. Generous layers of mascarpone cheese, the sponge cake moist and bursting with coffee liqueur, and dusted with (slightly too much) cocoa powder.  Cleanse your palette with the strawberry!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I’ve been pretty obsessed with flourless chocolate cakes, with Greyhound Cafe as my favorite maker of the sinful treat. Michelangelo disappointed me with something that tasted like an extremely sweet brownie, especially because of the ground almonds infused in the cake. It didn’t quite taste flourless…

Service was impeccable and atmosphere perfect, but the quality of the food definitely did not warrant the price tag of our dinner. As we stepped out, the manager apologized again, and asked that I not take the issue of the tortellini to heart, and because of that, not come back to visit again. Maybe I’ll visit again someday, perhaps when the mood strikes, just to see what Michelangelo really has to offer!

My verdict: 2/5 spoonfuls.

Lacerise Macaron

16 Jun

I was all excited as I took the escalators up to the 3rd floor of Siam Paragon, and walked towards Lacerise. It’s marketed as a little Parisian cafe, specializing in macarons.

Lacerise offers quite a large variety of flavors, from the usual chocolate, vanilla, and rose to slightly more interesting flavors like mint, passion fruit chocolate, and earl gray. I stood infront of the glass display for a good five minutes like an excited little girl in a candy shop, and I picked the pretty little passion fruit chocolate.

At 25 baht, this has got to be the cheapest macaron I’ve ever tasted. It was a sight to behold, and the passion fruit in the crust was refreshing, bringing up the richness of the chocolate. But surprisingly, the shell was very badly made. It was hard and stuck to my teeth…perhaps over-aged (read: kept too long in the display fridge).

Thank god I only picked one flavor.

I’ve heard that Lacerice is supposed to offer macarons with a crisp outer shell, with the inside of the shell being slightly chewy and melts in your mouth. Unfortunately, I did not have that opportunity to sample that wonderful creation. Maybe next time.

My verdict: 2/5 spoonfuls, simply coz it was beautiful (just like how macarons are supposed to be) and the taste was good.

Another Hound Cafe

15 Jun

The Siam district has tons of eateries, from street food to fancy food havens, but somehow, it’s always, always a pain to have to decide where to eat. Spoilt for choice, perhaps. I’m not a great fan of Italian-Thai fusion (isn’t it weird to have fettucini padthai, wonton skins for ravioli, etc?) , but I do love the ambience these Hound Cafes offers. That evening, we picked Another Hound Cafe at Siam Paragon, over Greyhound Cafe in Siam Center.

After looking through the menu for something like 10 minutes, the both of us still couldn’t decide what to eat. I asked him, fettucini or fusili? He asked me back, fusili or fettucini? Oh god we picked two same dishes. Turns out we didn’t have to elect between either dish, in the end.

Fusili with Shrimp in XO Sauce

Didn’t quite expect it to turn out almost close to a phad kee mao, but I must say it was well executed. The XO sauce blended very well with the shrimp, and the dish as a whole was evenly tossed. Shrimp was fresh and cooked perfectly.

Fettuccini with Shrimps and Champignon Cream Sauce

I’ve been craving one of these for ages. Decently al dente, with generous toppings of shrimp, champignon, and some enoki mushrooms. It was delicious, but could have been better if parmesan was added. We called for parmesan, but it never came.

And of course, no meal is complete without dessert.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I loved this. It made me feel like I was in dark chocolate heaven. Pure bliss. The dark chocolate was smooth, and neither too bitter nor dense. The raspberry sauce was brilliantly made, and when eaten with the chocolate, the slight sweetness and acidity of the raspberry brought up the taste of the chocolate. The strawberry was wonderful for a post-dessert cleansing of the palate.

White Blondie

Apparently, Ysw thinks anything without chocolate was going to help him maintain his figure. He looked at me and said  “Uan!” (fat) when I ordered the flourless chocolate cake. He picked a white blondie, which is the fairer sister of Mr. Brownie. Instead of chocolate, brown sugar is used.

We loved how vanilla ice cream, caramel, cinnamon, and walnuts reacted so perfectly together to create this divine dessert, which was a good contrast to the chocolate cake. It was not overly sweet, but going back to the chocolate cake after a few bites of this made the chocolate taste bitter (in his opinion, at least).

Inside the cafe, everything was perfect. Outside the cafe, there was an event going on, which was a breach of the peace we would usually get in this cafe.

My verdict: 5/5 spoonfuls

Sfree

31 May

This healthy dessert chain has recently been expanding very quickly, sprouting up here, there, and everywhere. Finally tried it last night with my best friend. I thought we stepped into heaven.

Sfree claims to serve healthy dessert, to which I’d typically roll my eyes at. But this really does feel the healthiest you could possibly stumble upon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mikoshi Parfait

Wonderful alternating layers between smooth milk-flavored ice cream, refreshing matcha granitas, soft chocolate pudding, and moist brownies, topped with (slightly too) rich matcha nama chocolate. Oh, the ice cream would have been chocolate ice cream, if not for me changing it to milk. It was so milky, so milky it can’t get any milkier!

This was so heavenly I couldn’t stop eating.

Strawberry Cheesecake a la mode

Fluffy and moist Japanese cheesecake, unsweetened frozen yoghurt, and fresh fruits! The yoghurt was perfectly executed, neither too creamy nor too icy. Oh my god. Beautifully presented, beautifully executed, just beautiful.

I felt like I was in heaven. I wish I could linger by a little while longer, enjoy it a little while longer. But when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

My verdict: 5/5 spoonfuls

Cocoa Taste Test

25 Apr

I’ve always been curious how single origin chocolates taste. I was told that eating chocolate is not merely a happy activity, but an exciting one as well, bringing never-ending surprises to the taster. The soil, the weather, the climate influences the growth of cocoa beans, and by extension, the taste of the chocolate. I finally did a small taste test on Madagascan and Peruvian cocoa beans.

Madagascan cocoa

Taste-wise, there was bright acidity in this one. I did some reading online, and I was supposed to expect acidity from flavors of mixed berries in Madagascan cocoa. Maybe my taste buds are abnormal when it comes to anything sour/acidic. I did not taste berries, but instead it was very citrusy – like orange. Texture-wise I thought this was rather flat. Not creamy or smooth enough for my liking. I managed to break the chocolate bar easily along the ridges, without much effort. Soft, but not crumbly.

If I were to do a food pairing, this would be the post-dinner fruit dessert. Somehow, eating an orange (not a mandarin) prior to this chocolate added much complexity to the chocolate. It did not just taste flat and acidic. The acidity was numbed, making the chocolate slightly smoother, slightly sweeter, and more palatable.

It could also be paired with a sweet but non-creamy cookie/biscuit. I thought it went pretty well with ginger snaps, with the sweetness of the snaps on my tongue adding flavor to the chocolate, yet the acidity of the chocolate addressing the piercing screams of the ginger.

Maybe it could go well with a 15 year Glenlivet single malt, which bursts of cinnamon spice. I think it could complement the acidity of the cocoa. Not too sure about this, just venturing a wild guess.

Peruvian cocoa

I prefer them over the Madagascan cocoa. Taste-wise much less acidic, but still definitely a prominent feature in the chocolate. Hints of tobacco in the aftertaste, but only if you concentrate hard enough in discerning the flavors.Texture-wise, Peruvian cocoa gives off a fuller bodied, creamier, more buttery, and a more velvety sensation. I suppose Peruvian cocoa makes a harder species of chocolate bars as it was also difficult to fracture the bar along the ridges, resulting in me getting oddly-shaped chocolate cubes (but chocolate is chocolate!). If I’m not mistaken, these are often the choice beans (of course mixed with other origins) for confectionary purposes, given their buttery texture.

Pairing-wise, I’m not too sure…I find them really good on their own, unlike the Madagascan which needed complementing flavors. Perhaps with a good bottle of red wine, Syrah perhaps, from 2004. Anything from the earlier half of the 2000 decade, before the start of the bad climate change towards the end of the decade. Could also possibly go well with a mild single malt, like a 12 year Glenfiddich, or a smokey Johnnie Walker Double Black, if whiskey’s your thing. Have the alcohol straight, with a tiny splash of cold water. Having them on the rocks would just numb your tongue.

Hediard

12 Apr

Ever since I saw pictures of Jieying’s trip to Hediard, I’ve been craving to go so badly, but never found the time. Today, I finally did.

After the hell I got at the Thai Embassy (seriously, isn’t the Embassy here to help us -.-), I really needed to get good food, and thank God I did get just that. I’ve gotten back into my bad habit of emotional eating again. Not good.

Anyway, back to Hediard. It’s a real bitch to find. I’m terrible at navigating the little lanes of the Orchard area.

Hediard is tucked away on Tanglin Road, in Tudor Court along the row of shophouses, beside Tanglin Mall. I love the shophouses. So vintage, so un-Singaporean.

I don’t know why, but I absolutely love this poster. Looks like a movie poster of some sort. Exudes a romantic, glamourous, sublime feeling of some sort; it’s so profound I can’t put a word to it. I know a French word to describe this, but I’ve lost it somewhere. I’ll come back for an update when I remember!

Enter the cafe and be welcomed by shelves of oils, chocolates, coffee beans, more oils, more chocolates, and more coffee beans.

Hediard has a $25++ “savory” and “savory and sweet” lunch menu. We had one each.

Our choices were:

Savory:

Soup of the Day (French Onion) + Croque Ferdinand + Madeleine blend coffee

Savory and sweet:

Tartine of the Day (Lamb) + Vanilla Bourbon Mille-Feuilles + Hediard blend tea

French Onion Soup

I was shocked to see how large a portion this soup was. Not the most fantastic looking dish, but it did taste much better than what it looks like. Slice of bread topped with cheese floating in the soup. Didn’t really think much about the cheese when we were eating, but thinking back, it would have been either cheddar or mozzarella, nothing fancy.

They were extremely generous with the French onions. REALLY generous. The soup was salted just to perfection, but for me, the onions were overwhelmingly sweet for me. But that’s what happens when onions are caramelized. It’s just me, though. Dining buddy was perfectly fine with it.

Lamb Tartine

4 medium-rare slices lamb atop of a slice of toast, drizzled with olive oil pesto (if my taste buds don’t fail me). First thing I thought was, omg is this lamb? I’ve never had lamb cooked this tenderly, and with such slight gamey odor. Apart from how well it was cooked, I must say it wasn’t very well marinated. I thought it was rather lacking in flavor – no gamey odor, no salty taste. The olive oil pesto which was not overly oily did make up slightly for the lack of flavor. The toast of normal white bread, however, was hard.

Croque Ferdinand

I thought I was already getting used to the large portions served in Hediard, until this Croque Ferdinand appeared. MON DIEU!! I’ve never seen any dish quite as big as that! It was something like 6 x 10 inches? Insanely huge. I was just talking to a friend last night about how the French have never bombarded me with huge portions of food, but this Hediard, it exceeds all reasonable legitimate expectations. Good heavens!

It’s actually a Croque Monsieur, but they named it after the founder Ferdinand Hediard, thus Croque Ferdinand.

Two gigantic slices of toast sandwiching a layer of parma ham, overladen with gruyere cheese and mornay sauce. Mornay sauce is typically half-Gruyere, half-Parmesan/Emmental/Cheddar. I believe Hediard used dolce cheeses, such that they can still achieve the extremely cheesy feeling, yet not be overpowering for non-cheese diners.

Amazing stuff, other than being too large a portion for me. Definitely will be a choice place for those who adore large portions of food. I’m a fine dining kinda person who has no interest whatsoever in buffets. Definitely prefer petite portions over grande, but I’m not complaining!

Taste wise, it was nothing less than perfect. The parma ham was rather salty on its own (well, which parma ham isn’t), but when eaten together with the toast and cheese, it yielded a perfect combination.

Vanilla Bourbon Mille-Feuilles

I HAD DESSERT FOR MY MAIN COURSE. I MUST BE THE HAPPIEST GIRL ON EARTH (*nudges Rachel*).

Well, to be honest, I wasn’t the happiest girl on earth. It was this mille-feuille I saw from Jieying’s visit that made me want to visit Hediard so badly. But it didn’t live up to my expectations. The pastry was over-baked. Kinda hard, kinda burnt. The vanilla bourbon custard cream was disappointing too, in the sense that it tasted like normal vanilla custard cream to me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t extremely wonderful. I liked how it was not too jelly-like, which would be the result of mixing too much custard powder, and also who it was not too creamy. But even with my pretty sharp taste buds, I couldn’t taste the slightest bit of bourbon. A lot of icing sugar, but nothing close to being too sweet. Overall, I guess it was good, but could have been soooooooooo much better!

Melange Hediard

This Hediard blend was a blend of black teas from china, with a zesty touch of lemon, bergamot, and sweet orange. It doesn’t come in a teabag, but in a sock, wrapped around the cover of the teapot. I thought the black tea (which was not smooth) was too strong, overpowering the citrusy flavors. Pretty impressive how long the tea scent lasts. I had three topups before it started tasting a bit lighter than what it should taste.

Tea came with a mini madeleine, which I thought was too sweet, and a lychee Turkish delight, which was even sweeter, but really good. It was soft and fragrant, although it stuck to my teeth slightly.

This ball of hazelnut chocolate came with the Madeleine blend coffee. The coffee was pretty aromatic. Though acidic, it had a hint of fruitiness, according to the friend. I didn’t try it, but I don’t like acidic coffees.

Interesting things that were left untasted:

Giant macarons – $5.80++

They are HUGE. To make a very undeserving comparison, they are about the size of a Mr Bean pancake.

Seasonal Fruit Tarts – $8++

They look so pretty! Pity I didn’t have a try.

My verdict: 4/5 spoonfuls. It was a wonderful place, but somehow something was missing. I can’t quite tell. I did not have to wait for the dishes to be served. They were prompt at that. Maybe the noise level was surprisingly higher than expected, maybe the portions too large for my liking, maybe I needed dining companions who get as excited over food and dessert as I do, or maybe it was just because the faulty air-conditioning unit which released no cold air, and started to leak, killed the ambience. I think so.