Before August ends, I had to write up about my birthday this year. It’s truly been the most special one yet, not least of all because it was my last one as a single woman.
Florian kicked it all off with a lovely dinner at Jaan, which sits on the 70th floor of Swissotel. It’s helmed by British chef Kirk Westaway and has been consistent in being awarded its one-Michelin star the last few years. Word has it they’re aspiring to get another under their belt.
We arrived slightly earlier than Jaan’s opening time of 7pm, so while we waited, we were treated to a view of Singapore panned out before us with the sun beginning its descent into the horizon.
Dinner commenced with set of 4 snacks. We were advised to begin at the bottom right with the beetroot meringue topped with smoked eel – I LOVED it!, and make our way round clockwise. The Devonshire cheddar within the buckwheat pancake ball was like a molten cheese-filled aebelskiver and although light and fluffy, the balls of cheese bread we had at Cheek by Jowl still has my heart.
Chef’s cheeky rendition of Fish and Chips in the form of a wafer thin potato tartlet filled with cured codfish and capers managed to bring back memories of this sinful British favourite, but with a cleaner finish. The rice cracker with chicken curry and mango chutney egg yolk puree was creamy, crunchy, but a little sweet for my liking although it captured the flavours of Britain’s national dish, Chicken Tikka, very well.
Next, we were treated to a Potato Mousse and Truffle Soup, imbued with a dashi stock. It was some chopped macadamias added in which I enjoyed for the textural contrast it provided. Alongside it was a mini loaf (it was absolutely miniature!) with Devon butter – really it was a one-pop puff pastry that tasted of delicious sin!
Irish Oyster was presented to us in a beautiful tin, with a generous side of caviar and an artichoke foam on top. I was blown away by how massive the oyster was that I actually turned to Flo and went “OMG I was only expecting one piece of oyster and they gave us three!”, only to be told that they’d simply cut it up for easier consumption.
The oyster was incredibly fresh, juicy and clean on the palate. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish, especially because it was kept simple flavour-wise. There was nothing to detract from the taste of the oyster.
The Country Loaf Sourdough bread was presented to us, sitting on some hot stones to keep it warm and served with Devonshire butter and Seaweed butter. To be honest, it was perfect on its own. Crusty and fluffy with that magical taste of sourdough.
If Flo could have ‘ta baoed’ this home, I know he would have. This loaf blew him away and in his opinion, was the best loaf of bread he’s ever had in Singapore – that’s coming from a man who comes from a country that consumes more bread than anywhere else! Needless to say, he had as much as he could over the course of dinner and near enough polished it off.
The English Garden was an interactive dish involving a gorgeous plate of raw and cooked vegetables, and a little watering can containing dashi broth and fresh herbs to be ‘watered’ onto the ‘garden’. I enjoyed how the blobs of beetroot puree, sweet salty black olive sugar and anchovy paste to enliven each mouthful and highlight the natural sweet earthiness of the veggies.
This seafood lover was also very pleased with the beautifully cooked Langoustine – so sweet and perfectly seasoned, swimming in a punchy bisque. The courgette slice atop courgette risotto and goat’s curd were a nice touch, and the lemon puree on the side did a good job adding a citrus lift to the dish as a whole.
This “Eggs in an Egg” is supposedly Jaan’s signature dish – Rosemary-smoked cured egg yolk with caviar, pickled onions and mushrooms, and celeriac custard, with toasted brioche fingers topped with grated parmesan. This was presented in a giant egg bowl and when the lid was lifted, I was in awe by how gorgeous the yolk looked with its deep orange hue. It carried a lot of umami within that held its own even when mixed into everything else. Definitely delicious but slightly cloying after a while, for me personally.
The Scottish Scallop with Mushroom Cannelloni was perhaps my favourite of the night (along with the beetroot meringue amuse bouche). I love my seafood and I love mushrooms so both ingredients paired together did not fail me at all. The cannelloni was topped with crusty parmesan cheese that carried a hint of saltiness and crunch against the earthy slipperiness of the mushrooms. And that scallop was perfectly seared. I saved that mouthful for last and hankered for more after.
They say that the uglier the fish, the tastier it is. No truer words have been spoken when it comes to this line caught turbot. This flat fish was firm to the bite and sweet to the tongue. Never a fan of peas, I had to concede that the green pea foam and green pea veloute were quite delicious. The crunchy sugar snap peas too, were a thoughtful addition that gave a grassy edge to the fish.
Now, the last of the mains comprised of pigeon and cherries – Roasted breast, confit leg, seared foie gras, cherry puree and pigeon-cherry jus. To be fair, I haven’t been eating a lot of meat (seafood aside) lately so the gaminess of the bird really hit me. I didn’t like this dish but it’s really more to do with me than the execution of the food which was well done technically. I can imagine my Dad enjoying this though.
There was an option of wagyu beef as a substitute for the pigeon. While I toyed with the idea, I knew that either choice wouldn’t have quite suited my palate so much and so, decided to have a go with what was on the menu.
I was beyond stuff since a few courses ago by the time dessert arrived. It was made up of chocolate – chocolate served warm (liquid chocolate and a brownie), chocolate served cold (caramel biscuit, caramel tuile, chocolate caramel ice-cream), and chocolate served at room temperature. I much enjoyed the warm and cold desserts, especially the warm with the cold. Yum!
A palate cleanser comprising of Pimm’s, lime sorbet, cucumber granita, pomelo and blood orange pulp helped round of dinner. This was exceptionally refreshing and not to sweet.
Filled way past the brim, I totally forgot about the quintessential petit-fours! Jaan was incredibly generous with them but alas, I couldn’t stomach any more. There were mini lemon meringue tarts, coffee slices, devonshire creams, caramel rochers and coffee parfaits. Flo did a taste-test of all of them and insisted the the caramel rocher was a must-try. I popped the whole thing into my mouth and crunched into its exterior crusted with chopped almond. That gave way to a liquid caramel that was surprising and pleasing. Delightful indeed and the perfect way to close my stomach for the evening.
While Flo and I sat back after all the food, letting the first half of it digest, I spied with my little eye two tables being served a whole cake in celebration of a birthday. I said to Flo I hope he hadn’t mentioned it was my birthday because there’s no way we have space for more cake. He said he hadn’t and just as relief washed over me…
My cake appeared!
Yes I made a wish and blew out the candle. This might be my first cake in about a decade to be honest! “Lub chu” is actually my annoying way of saying “love you” to Flo so it was a very sweet, personal touch. We didn’t end up cutting the cake though but we did save it for the evening after, after more celebration.
I’ll write more about the birthday celebrations my dear boyfriend, fiancé, soon-to-be husband planned for me in my next post. I sometimes complain that Flo doesn’t listen enough to the things I say but it looks like he has been paying attention. He remembered me mentioning that I’d love to try Jaan and even with the exorbitant price tag, he generously surprised me and treated me to the stupendous meal. It was definitely an experience that I’m glad we shared together although we both agree that in terms of value and price tag, visit Cheek.
To be honest, I think the last year has seen my desires all become reality one after another. For the coming year, I pray for a few things closer to my heart, but I won’t say it out or my wishes won’t come true! Needless to say, whether or not they happen, I am so very blessed to have a wonderful, loving man like Flo! Right now, nothing feels better than knowing that in exactly a month’s time, we’ll be man and wife!