Bali on the Rocks.

So we slept in Friday morning before indulging in the Villa’s breakfast. FYI we stayed at Villa Shivareva where they provided one complimentary breakfast for us during our time there.


It consisted of a lovely spread of fresh, tropical fruit, all so sweet and juicy I swear! There was also pancakes, toast and each of us was served two sunny-side ups. There’s really nothing quite like waking up to a delicious spread without having to lift a finger.

After breakfast, we adjourned to the pool. Even the glasses of champagne the girls were sipping on had their own little floats to bob around the pool in.

We also had these lovely Choux Puffs from Poule de Luxe that the girls bought from opposite Hog Wild the night before.

I tried the Salted Caramel one and it was so well-filled with Salted Caramel Cream. A little more salt would have been nice but the cream itself was luscious and so indulgently smooth without being cloyingly sweet. I also tried the Green Tea Choux Puff of which there was only one of so we had to share. That had the deep, strong, bitterness of green tea with an incredibly faint level of sweetness. The initial dislike I had for its savoury quality actually morphed quickly into a desire to have more. Nothing like an addiction that creeps up slowly and pounces on you!

The sun was out and we actually managed to spread 3 hours lazing around the shallow end talking about everything and anything. Before we knew it, it was already 2pm and the plan was to depart the villa at 3pm to go to Rock Bar at Ayana Resort in Jimbaran. So we reluctantly pulled ourselves out of the water and got ourselves dolled up for our late afternoon/evening out.

Us being girls, we finally gathered together in our maxi dresses and painted faces at 3.20pm. Not bad considering we had to shower, change, do our make-up and blow-dry our hair with the world’s most powerless hair dryer. I gave up within 2 minutes of turning it on. My niece blowing at my hair would probably have been a lot more effective than their dryer so I ended up having to towel dry it as much as possible before leaving the rest of the work to nature. I mean, the villa was amazing and altogether really awesome in every aspect but their dryer was seriously a big, sad, nothing. 😦 I shall stop bulldozing the dryer now…

It didn’t take too long really, to reach Jimbaran. We arrived at 4.30pm and were blown away at how pretty Ayana Resort was – the calming melody of traditional music playing in the background, the burn of aromatic incense wafting gently through the air, the endless blue seas that lay ahead of it and the sound of crashing waves against the rocks at the base of the resort all just made for an ideal paradise for rest and relaxation. We walked through the Ayana grounds before we were led to a set of trolley lifts.


Down, down, down we went whereupon we were welcomed by the staff at Rock Bar, and led to our table. Guests of Ayana have the privilege of going to the towers where the view is even better. We, however, we placed a level below where the view was slightly obstructed. But because we were early, we were able to pick and choose our table so no complaints about that!

Happily settled into our seats, the servers quickly placed a complimentary bowl of Sambal-flavoured Tapioca Chips on our table and the girls suddenly realised that we had missed lunch. So an order of Popcorn Chicken and Calamari Rings was placed, as well as another bowl of Tapioca Chips.. or 6!

Around 6pm, the sky became overcast and it started to drizzle. We were a little unsure as to whether we should stay for our 7pm dinner reservation or search for an alternative dinner venue at one of Ayana’s other restaurants. In the end, we decided to brave the drizzle and lo and behold, the rain gods looked in us with favour and held the skies up.

We didn’t quite manage to catch the sunset in all its glory. We mentioned to the staff that we had a blocked view and they insisted that the sun had already set. Right. The sun has only set when the skies turn properly dark dark. So I was pretty sure the sun was still out by the horizon somewhere, just not in our line of sight. Still, the skies looked pretty, the air was cool, and company was awesome!

When dinner service took over, the staff at Rock Bar quickly put two tables together to set for us. It took all of 2 minutes before we were given their menu and served complimentary, warm, chargrilled, fluffy bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar – perfection in its simplicity.

3 of us ordered the Grilled Octopus with Celeric Puree, Caramelised Onions with Lemon Dressing and none of us had any regrets. The octopus was served tender to the bite with a subtle char. I happily lapped up the onions since F wasn’t around for me to kiss anyway, and the lemon dressing was more like a lemon aoili – creamy, smooth, sweet and tangy. I wasn’t too hot on the celeriac puree though because it was slighty gritty in texture. Still, a well-rounded dish that I would order again for sure! Only I’m now back in Singapore and it’ll be a while more before I visit Rock Bar again. Boo!

Les had the King Prawns dish and Fel went for the Sea Bass. Plates were cleaned so I assume they were pretty well-executed as well.

The girls were in good spirits after the delicious food and alcohol. For me, it was just the delicious food. Haha. And to put the cherry on top, Kel generously said that dinner was on him so what can I say? High spirits got even higher! We decided to pass on dessert since we still had some Choux Puffs and Brownies back at the villa, so after a couple more drinks and cheerful banter, we headed back to rest. By rest I mean that Fel, Abby, Angie and Les had more G&Ts back home with Abby and Les braving a dip in the now cool, or cold depending on who you ask, swimming pool. I hung around for a bit to listen to the gossip before heading back to the comfort of my room, having a short call with F and then diving into the cushy bed for sleeps!

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Bali Life.

3 full days in Bali. 5 girls. 1 (short) adventure.

Thursday early morning Les, Abby, Angie, Fel and I met at the airport at 5.45am(!!) to catch our 7.05am flight to Denpasar, Bali. We all got there more or less on time, checked in and decided to have a quick cuppa and a small bite before heading to our gate. So there we were whiling away our time until Angie glanced at her watch and went “Hey babes it’s 6.55am already!”

We quickly but calmly scooted off our seats and went brisk-walking towards our gate which was very nicely situated riiiiight at the end of the terminal. About halfway there, this ground staff asked if we were going to Bali, to which we obviously replied that we were. And then suddenly she was off running, beckoning us to follow, and saying something into her walkie-talkie. We ran to our gate where we found the entire lounge clear of passengers already, and quickly had our bags scanned whereupon all 4 girls, bar me, were made to open their hand luggage because Abby had poked a teeny tiny hole in their duty-free bags holding bottles of alcohol. Apparently, that’s considered tampering and the staff pretty much said it wasn’t allowed but would let them off with a warning. While this was going on, I had to run through the lounge and get my boarding ticket scanned, then run down the gangway, and into the plane.

Upon entering, the plane looked quite empty so I figured being this late wasn’t too bad… Only to realise that the first couple of rows were the usual, unfilled ‘Business Class’ seats and from then onwards, the plane was pretty much full and we each had to walk down the Aisle of Shame as we made our way to Row 26 – about two-thirds the way to the back of the plane.

First time for all of us almost missing our flight. And there we were still sipping on coffee and tea no realising that we were due to be at the gate already. Unforgettable start to our trip that’s for sure!

******

We arrived at our villa around 11.30am and were let in by the villa staff only to realise within 2 minutes that the guests before us still hadn’t checked out yet. One was still in her bikini and she came out, a little cross – unsurprisingly – going “We still haven’t left yet!”. So we asked to have our belongings locked in one of their rooms and decided to go for a walk and look for some lunch.

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We had a bit of a walk towards the Seminyak Square area where we decided to lunch at Sisterfields. They had a bit of a waiting list so we went across the road to Tiger Palm for drinks and because we took our time, we went back to Sisterfields only to find that they had jumped us.

They were quick though in getting us our table because did tell them we’d be at Tiger Palm instead of next door at Boss Man where their guests were supposed to wait, and they had said it’d be ok but I suppose they didn’t quite note that down.

Anyway, Sisterfields was so filled with Caucasians we could have probably told anyone that we were somewhere in Europe rather than in Indonesia, and they would have believed it. I didn’t have too high hopes for the food seeing that there is a lot of hype around Sisterfields but guess what?! I had to eat my words.

The food exceeded my expectations, as did the Piccolo Latte I had which had a lovely, smooth finish. The coffee also helped perk me up a little too much such that I ended up crashing early evening. No matter. It was nice.

acai berry bowl  (gf)
Blended frozen blueberry, banana, almond milk, cocoa nib & goji berry granola, coffee honey

We ordered everything to share beginning with their truly delightly Acai Bowl. It was incredibly flavourful, generous with fresh fruits and the fresh crunch of granola was the icing on the cake. I didn’t expect to be that blown away because even the one that most people consider to be the best in Singapore – Project Acai, fell a little flat when I tried it in terms of the texture of the Acai blend and how small the portion was for its price.

soft polenta, poached eggs 
Grilled baby corn, fresh jalapeno, avocado & corn salsa, corn chips, manchego cheese

Les wanted to try the Polenta dish so we had a portion of that. It was very Mexican-inspired, very creamy and indulgent, very comforting. Personally not something I would go for but I can definitely see why people would go for it.

smashed avocado 
Semi-dried cherry tomatoes, popped capers, feta, lime sea salt, whole grain toast


Yes, we did opt for the additional egg! I found the smashed avo a little on the salty side, possibly because of the capers on top of the sea salt. And the crust of the toast was a little chewy for me. But poached egg on smashed avo on toast is really a combination that can’t go far wrong.

chamoula butterflied sardines 
roasted cauliflower, smoked almonds, lentil, spicy salsa verde

I wanted the Poached Squid Salad but it was off the menu that day so I went for the Sardines. My first time trying seared fresh sardines and they were really nice! The smoked almonds added texture and flavour while the cauliflower lent an earthiness to the dish. Earth, Fire and Water.

Sisterfields dirty burger
160g beef patty, smoked cheddar, pickled onion rings, mustard, aioli, special house sauce, fries

I didn’t try the burger because I was quite stuffed by then but the girls went crazy over this. Apparently a proper legit burger executed to perfection.

We popped by one of the minimarts before we caught a taxi back to our villa which was thankfully cleared out and cleaned up by the time we reached.

We had a good poke around and I managed to claim a room for myself!

With my own toilet so no need to share my butt seat with anyone else!!!

It was a really nice villa – very airy and modern, with comfy beds and a well-equipped kitchen. 

We ended up relaxing in the pool most of the late afternoon and early evening before I felt myself crash from the caffeine (both from the coffee and a coke zero I had just before it). Suddenly felt light-headed and a bit out of sorts so I decided to stay in and have some oatmeal for dinner while the girls got their fingers dirty of Pork Ribs at Hog Wild followed by drinks at Potato Head Club. I did however, manage to skype with F while he waited to catch his flight to Venice via Amsterdam so that was a highlight for me!

Will write more on days 2 and 3 in Bali tomorrow or the day after. It’s late now and sleep beckons. Good night!

Gaggan, Bangkok.

A few blog posts ago, I shared about F’s and my wonderful dining experience at Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin while on our whirlwind of a trip to Bangkok. I also mentioned that I would share my meal at Gaggan, where I dined at about a year ago. Unlike Sra Bua where making a reservation was a breeze, I had to make a booking with Gaggan more than a month in advance to ensure that I would get a table.

Upon arrival at Gaggan, I was blown away by how pretty it was. It looked like a full-sized doll house from the outside and all around was quite a bit of hustle and bustle. We later found out that they were filming on site a documentary about Chef Gaggan, whom we had the privilege of meeting but not take a picture with as he was wanted everywhere by everyone.

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I believe that Gaggan now only offers their 4000++ Baht menu but when I went, there was a smaller menu offered at 2500++ Baht which I opted for. This consisted of 7 different amuse bouches, 5 ‘mains’, and 3 kinds of desserts.

Amuse Bouche

To start, we were asked to down this interpretation of Indian lemonade called Rose – Shinkanji. It was a sweet jelly-like concoction that melted into a liquid layered with fruity undertones and little bursts of rose jelly to bring in the taste of summer. There were tiny savoury inflections of dill I believe, that made this drink feel very much like a little garden in a test tube. Definitely a sweet beginning to the meal.

This orb had a membrane that taste a little eggy – something I didn’t quite enjoy. But once that thin skin bursts in your mouth, you get an explosion of thick, beautiful, smooth, Indian-spiced yoghurt that had hints of cumin and dried coriander. Hence, aptly name ‘Yoghurt Explosion‘.

This next one was one of my favourites of the array of amuse bouches for the evening. Within this edible rice packet were finely ground Spiced Mixed Nuts swimming in a mixture of sugar wasabi. There was still a crunch retained and it reminded me a lot of wasabi peas, only a tad sweeter to curb the heat. Noms!

The Chocolate Chilli Bomb I wasn’t quite so impressed with in terms of flavour and texture. Encased within the white chocolate shell was a slightly bitter, surprisingly fluid liquid of green chilli chutney. I would have preferred a filling with a creamier mouthfeel perhaps.

Birds Nest (Right) consisted of a crunchy vermicelli-like base which was fragrant and fresh, but somehow managed to overwhelm my tastebuds such that I was unable to taste its toppings properly. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to the flavours, in which case, my bad! Lol.

Bengali Mustard and Noori Pakoda (Centre). The mustard-nori marriage made it taste much like wasabi, and the texture of this amuse bouche was akin to chocolate truffle only with more grit. Interestingly, I didn’t quite like this but I remember that as I was writing my notes on this meal later in the evening, I found myself hankering after it.

At the end of the amuse bouche line up was the Papadam with Tomato Chutney (Left). The papadam was more like Thai rice crackers – light, toasty, crunchy and with a small dollop of perfectly balanced chutney that tasted so good I could have had another one, two, three more of these babies!

‘Mains’

We began our ‘mains’ with Magic Mushroom!

Truffle, Forest Mushrooms in the shape of a log, edible soil and the garden.

The truffle hit was pretty strong on this one. The thin, crisp mushroom log was very addictive and had a subtle sweetness about it. I didn’t start off loving this dish but the more I ate, the more I fell in love. This abstract piece of food art turned into a creamy, luxurious mushroom soup within my mouth. Magic Mushroom? For sure!

Charcoal. 

This was a mighty clever dish. I loved the surprised inside which tasted very strongly of a familiar Indian dish. It was slightly on the salty side but was still incredibly tasty and one of my favourites of the evening.

I won’t disclose the elements that make this dish since it’s supposed to be a surprise- just in case some of you are planning on visiting Gaggan. Don’t worry, their kind server will enlighten you after this dish is sitting pretty in your tummy.

Pig & Pickle. 

72 Hours(!!) Slow-cooked Iberian Pork Loin. This was insanely soft and yielding to the bite. It was paired with the most exquisite sweet and sour Punjabi pickle mix, velvety mash, and pickled onions to add that dash of ‘zing!’.

Daab Chingri aka Coconut Prawn

Loved the little bubbles of coconut foam and shredded coconuts that were shaped like noodles. This was highly refreshing although the sticky mash beneath the prawns was not to my taste. The prawns though, were nice, big and bouncy (that doesn’t sound quite right does it? Haha), and were a delight to eat especially for a seafood fiend like me!

“I Want My Curry!”
A choice of Chicken Tikka Masala or South Indian Fish Curry. Accompanied with fresh breads of the day.

Obviously I chose the sea. No regrets although my dining companion’s chicken was also fantastic in its rich, hearty, aromatic gravy that went together with both plain and garlic butter naans beautifully.

The fish curry was lovely, with the freshest sea bass that tasted so clean. The curry was light and had a tinge of sour from the tamarind (assam), making it rather moreish.

This was our last ‘main’ and it made me feel as though we had landed right back on solid ground with these homey, more traditional Indian flavours – a world apart from the more extravagent playfulness of the previous dishes. It was like being on a little trip through textures and flavours, only to touch down back onto familiar home soil.

Dessert

Gajar Halwa
Black Carrot Ice Cream, Crispy Carrot Flower, Cardamom Oil

This was presented in a dramatic fashion with a shroud of dried ice billiowing out from the serving bowl. The crispy carrot flower cone was delightful and tasted exactly like halwa. The black carrot ice-cream had a stickier, creamier texture than the usual ice-cream – almost like our local red bean paste (tau sar). I love the taste of cardamom so the cardamom oil only sought to round off the entire one-bite dessert making it a party in the mouth. One mouthful of flavour bomb this was! I know I mentioned a few favourites earlier on, but this has to be my favouritest of my meal at Gaggan.

In Season.
Machanahok mangoes. Coconut LNs Semi-sphere. 

This white on white seasonal dessert consisted of a light mango mousse hidden beneath a liquid nitrogen-‘cooled’ coconut half and it ate like a dream.

As with a real coconut where you have to work to get to the delectable fruit and water at its centre, the same goes for this dessert where you need to smash through the shell in order to get to the sweet mango mousse.

Candies.

Rose Jelly.
Anise Caramel Brittle – I really liked this
Tamarind Pâte de Fruit – A little too salty with a spicy finish
Passionfruit Jelly

This should have been the end of our meal but celebrating my dining companion’s birthday meant that we had a 15th dish…

I believe this might be their interpretation of Magnum from their more comprehensive Degustation menu. Rich chocolate ice-cream encased within a thin shell of tempered chocolate, then rolled in cocoa powder. Surrounding it were light, crunchy, nutty bits of crumble providing a much welcomed textural contrast. Definitely something any chocolate addict would love!

The service here started off quite clinical but the staff warmed up to us as the meal went on. By the end, as they were serving this final dessert, they came singing “Happy Birthday” with such gusto it literally melted my heart. I generally prefer service to be on the side of warm so it was nice seeing the servers let loose a little.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Gaggan and cannot deny the creativity and work put into his dishes. There are a lot more theatrics involved, as well as the use of molecular gastronomy (as compared to Sra Bua), which can border on being gimmicky or pretentious depending on how you want to look at it.

The food on the whole, is definitely above average – presented with finesse and mostly well-balanced in flavour, but I find that most of them lack the heart and soul that I found very endearing in his naan and curry course. Still, I’d say that a visit to Gaggan is not necessary a must, but it’s an experience for sure, and a pretty good one at that!

Finding that Sweet Spot.

As some of you might have already guessed, I bake for a living. And on the most part, I love it. I love getting into the kitchen, putting butter with sugar, adding in flour, and churning out delicious cakes and pastries. Although I trained more in the art of Classic French pastries creating delicate looking dainty desserts, I find that my preference leans more towards rustic, comfort cakes – cakes that evoke a sense of childhood, the kind that you hanker after at the end of a bad day, the ones that are full of fat and butter!

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Chocolate Chocolate Cake

Whenever customers ask for recommendations, I often suggest Chocolate Chocolate Cake for the chocolate lovers, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting or Banana Walnut Cake with Peanut Butter frosting for those who prefer something fruity, and Cheesecake for those who are after a richer form of indulgence.

Earl Grey Lavender with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

More recently, there are those who look towards more modern classics – combinations such as Earl Grey Lavender, and Orange Poppyseed. And these, I have come to decorate simply and tastefully. I enjoy baking these kinds of cakes too and keeping them minimalistic in form because I prefer to follow the train of thought where less is more.

So we come of the kinds of orders that have me screaming ‘NOOOOOO!‘ in my head and nodding ‘Yeah! Sure‘ to my customers. Perhaps it is because of doubt that I might not be able to execute the cake to their level of expectation, or mine for that matter, that I question why I even took the order. And I often agree to do the cakes at a price that I usually later realise was probably far lower than I should have quoted. But I take it all as a learning curve for myself in trying to build up more confidence for the cakes that daunt me.

These cakes tend to be fondant 3D cakes as well as cakes that require some form of design. Think: Children’s cakes. The upside is that the amount of satisfaction I get from them when they are done is far greater than from the ones that I am much more comfortable doing.

I remember earlier in the year when I was asked to bake a cupcake with 5 different Marvel comic figurines. I had to handmake all of them with fondant. I got myself into this little fix simply because I didn’t think through all the work I would have to do before agreeing to make these cupcakes. This is exactly the reason why I often end up taking on the cake orders I dread – I open my mouth much faster than my brain can process the information.

5 Bad boys and uhm… a ladybug

But I put my head down and got to work on the figurines. One at a time. Looking up pictures of those that I’ve never heard of before since I don’t follow Marvels very much. To those who are seasoned, they could have probably made these with their eyes closed. Me? I set aside a time frame to complete at least two a day just before the cake was to be ready. And to be honest, I was rather proud of myself when it was completed. Sure, the figurines weren’t all perfect, but they at least looked like what they were supposed to look like. And it gave me immense pleasure to see the entire cake come together.

More recently, I was tasked to make an Owl Cake and an Elephant Cake for a little girl’s 2nd birthday. The cakes are relatively simpler to make than 3D cakes, but while fondant work is something I don’t do on a frequent basis, I have never even touched on these buttercream-designed cakes before. I knew how to do them in theory, but wasn’t quite sure how they would turn out in reality. And we’ve all seen those Pintrest vs Reality photos now haven’t we? 

Hoooooot!

I’m pretty sure that most of us have certain areas in our line of work that we enjoy doing more than others, but I guess part of life involves pushing ourselves that little bit more in the ones we enjoy less. And that, inadvertently helps us to grow. In this case, I really wanted to make sure that my animal cakes would end up looking like the animals they were supposed to look like. I had to cross-reference a few different cake designs and prepare my material beforehand. I also made sure that time was on my side in the case that things didn’t quite go as planned and I would have to make another.

I didn’t have to.

Elephant with its ball

And while these are still not my favourite cakes to look at in my portfolio, I’m pleased that they turned out the way they did. Aaaand even more pleased to hear that the little girl loved them. That’s what counts at the end of the day no?

Right now, I think I’ve managed to find a pretty sweet spot in my balance of cake orders. On the most part, the cakes I do are more straightforward to make – basic sponge, flavoured accordingly with frosting and minimally decorated. And once in a while, I get thrown what I consider to be a curve ball where the cake requires a lot more time, effort, and patience. While I don’t think I have a flair for making them (contrary to what my momma thinks), I cannot deny that all that work is more than worth it when the cake is done, is received with delight, and is eaten with relish!

I Told Me So.

I was right. When I said I would go and be a good friend and be Pearl’s bridesmaid, I did. And it wasn’t scary. And it all turned out well. And her wedding reception when smoothly. And I was more than happy watching her and YJ present themselves to the world as husband and wife for the first time.

7am mornings

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, after sharing my thoughts and feelings with F, I felt my nerves calm down. I managed to get some rest through the night but kept worrying I would oversleep. So when I woke up to pee at 5.30am, I felt so awake I wondered whether I had slept past my alarm, only to find out that I still had another 45min of sleep left. It felt like a mere 3min before my alarm went off fir real and suddenly, the alertness that visited me at 5.30am had dissipated into sluggish tiredness. I managed to pull myself out of bed, get dressed, slap on some makeup and down a quick breakfast before Dad very sweetly gave me a lift to the beautiful bride’s home. All for the sake of love for my best friend!

The 4 ‘Sisters’ aka Bridesmaids ready to go!

Our dear Pea was very relaxed and calm about the whole thing so we were able to be quite chilled through the day. We didn’t really have too much to do when we arrived at her home apart from take selfies, wefies, and help Pea into her gorgeous wedding gown.

Then it was just a waiting game as we anticipated the YJ’s arrival with his ‘brothers’ aka Groomsmen. As you can see from their outfits below – crisp white shirts and laid back berms, the theme of being laid-back featured strongly in the whole affair.

As is often practiced in most Chinese weddings these days, there is the ‘gatecrashing’ event when the groom arrives at the bride’s home. Pea and YJ decided to do away with this but rather than let him have a free pass to Pearl, Applie and XY thought it’d be nice to have him answer this one question: “Describe the extent you love Pearl without using quantifiables e.g. a lot, very much…”

He hemmed and hawed for quite a while, gave a few answers that for the thumbs down from us, before one of his ‘brothers’ helped him out with the aid of Google. Immensely romantic I know! Haha. YJ got an ‘A’ for effort anyway so we allowed him in finally.

I’m a little hazy on this bit but he walked into Pearl’s room where she was waiting. I think the way it goes is that the groom will then unveil the bride and give her his promise that he will love and care for her from this day on. Pearl’s Mum then served them some noodles with eggs that they were supposed to feed to each other.Ok, don’t quote me on this because I’m not sure whether noodles are always used. I assume they might be, depending on which Chinese dialect group one belongs to, and also, I assume that the significance of consuming the noodles is related to longevity.

Photo taking with Pearl’s side of the family then took place quickly before we hopped on over to YJ’s home…

… where Bride and Groom fed each other tang yuan – glutinous rice flour balls which are meant to represent wholeness and togetherness.

… And to offer incense to… their ancestors?

It was a really short, quick stop at YJ’shome before we moved on to Goodwood Park Hotel where the tea ceremoney and wedding lunch reception was to be held. Prior to the tea ceremony, we also had a short photoshoot of the throwing of Pea’s bouquet to the bridesmaids. Guess who caught the bouquet?!?! Hahaha.

Pearl decked out in her Kua ready to serve tea

The tea ceremony is when both husband and wife serve tea to their relatives individually. It’s a way of showing respect, acknowledging them, and also introducing each relative to their spouse. Relatives, upon being served, usually give a red packet or ‘ang bao’ containing money, or gold jewellery as a blessing to the couple.

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While Pearl and YJ busied themselves at the tea ceremony with the help of Pearl’s other two sisters XY and Serene, the rest of us scurried around fixing up the details for the banquet. Applie and I set up the reception table -Thank God Applie’s really awesome with making the table look pretty so I merely had to heed her instructions and try my best to look useful.

By 1pm, nearly all the guests had arrived so we were able to pack up and join our respective tables for lunch. I was seated with our friends from secondary school and my parents who have known Pearl since school days. There was only 7 of us at the table so it was food galore, which also meant high food wastage :(. I don’t understand why banquets need to consist of so many courses and oftentimes, hotels and restaurants serve portions that are more than what a table of 10 can consume – unless all 10 guests are young, strapping men who work out every day and need truckloads of fuel to keep their energy levels up.

Anyway, the food overall was ok. The ‘Live’ Prawns were sweet and fresh and I’m a seafood fiend anyway so this made me happy!

I also loved the Mushrooms with Spinach dish just because I always do. The thick slices of abalone mushrooms and juicy shitakes were just noms! The rest of the courses were passable. I’m just being a typical Singaporean here needing to discuss the quality and standard of the banquet food. Yes, Singaporeans have this need to talk about how good, bad, or average the food served at weddings happened to be, and which dishes were great and which were duds. Then we’ll start reminescing about the time we went to X hotel and found every single course stellar, especially the steamed fish, or the braised duck, or the perfectly portioned lotus rice. It’s just our thing!

But really, what I enjoyed most at my table was catching up with Sher and Sera. Sher and I have been planning to meet anyway for a while now. We’ll still be fixing something up soon.

And Sera and baby Leo I haven’t seen for a couple of months. Leo’s now got more hair and is even more adorable than ever!!! *hearts in eyes*

This was me being annoying and making him take wefies with me. I have a dozen more shots of him and I together, mostly with him not bothering about me. I’m so unloved. All forgiven though after he gave me a couple of flying kisses. Badly aimed so they may have gone to Sher instead. This little boy’s going to grow up to be such a cutie – stealing hearts of ‘Jie Jies’ (older sisters) now, and those of little girls’ in time to come.

I know that I would never have missed today for the world and as much as I can tell myself “I told you so”, which is so true, I don’t know why whenever I have these big events that I know will upset my daily routine, I end up feeling distressed and upset. Even while knowing that everything will work out better than I expect them to. That switch doesn’t turn off very easily and I wonder if I will ever be able to shrug it off totally. Perhaps it’s all about reconditioning myself to face these challenges that scare me, but the process itself isn’t so easy to go through either. It’s really the case of mind over matter I suppose. And yet, while I can say that my mind right now is weak, it is also incredibly stubborn and strong-willed in its refusal to accept change as easily as I’d like. Oh the irony!

On a much happier note, not only did I survive today, I cannot help but feel immense joy that Pearl and YJ’s wedding reception turned out smoothly and they were able to go through the paces without any hiccups. They were truly a wonderful couple to work with and again, I cannot stress just how happy I am for Pearl to have met a wonderful man in YJ – a man who dotes on her, is patient with her, and who I can see loves her just the way she is. I pray that they will grow in love – always a little more each day, and that they will create a life that springs many beautiful memories together!

I Miss This Face.

THIS FACE!!

Today’s not been the easiest day for me. Without reason at all I have been feeling down down down, and it’s made me miss F even more. I think it’s just a few factors together that have once again made me feel anxious and flustered about all the upcoming events and work that I need to get through. Mentally, I know that I will be able to tick them all off my to-do list, but somehow, it’s always the anticipation and ‘before-the-event’ nerves that make me feel as though I might not be able to accomplish what I need to accomplish by their respective dates.

 

Major Throwback!

 

Tomorrow, one of my oldest, closest friends will be holding her wedding reception and I am one of her bridesmaids. As happy an event as it is, my mind is all sorts of anxiousness. I cannot put a finger on why. Perhaps it’s knowing that my routine is going to be thrown out of whack for the day; perhaps it’s the thought that I could be working away in the kitchen; perhaps it’s fear that I will not be the perfect bridesmaid considering I have little idea of what my role is.

After going through the ‘timetable’, I have a clearer idea now of what I am tasked to do tomorrow. Whatever the case, I know that my thoughts are exceedingly selfish and I know for a fact that I will be there tomorrow, I will get through tomorrow, and I will be so incredibly happy to see my dearest Pea walk down the banquet hall in front of all her friends and family with the man who will be next to her for the rest of their lives.

I’ve also been feeling incredibly antsy about all my upcoming December orders and events. It’s all exciting and I know based on past experiences that again, I will be able to complete all my orders because even if time is tight, I will do whatever it takes to make sure my customers get what they ask for. It’s one of the perks of working from home. I can bake 24/7 if I need to, but I know I won’t need to. And yet, there is still this fear that clouds my mind, telling me that perhaps I might not be able to complete them all this year.

It frustrates me that I know how things will turn out and still, I somehow cannot seem to shake away this voice that tells me I won’t be able to handle it all. Why?!

In order to try and tackle my doubts, I just drew up a calender for December for what I will need to bake on which days in order to fulfill all my orders. It’s calmed my mind down quite a bit being able to see visually the things I need to do in what I hope is a realistic timeframe.

I hate that when anxiety creeps up upon me, I become moody and argumentative. It’s not fair on those around my for sure, especially when they are the ones who love me and support me through every one of my ups and downs. Then with F being away, I nearly picked a fight with him over something stupidly small but somehow managed to avert it by telling him the truth of why I was being so angsty – that I was feeling really down and anxious and frustrated and tired…

My Happy Pill

F then gave me a call and we talked through my emotions and why I might be feeling them. Hence the above revelations just shared in this post. Just airing out my feelings with F made me feel so much better by the end of our conversation. It also made me miss him more and wish he was here. Or rather, wish I was there. I know that everything will be more than ok at the end of the day.

I’m super blessed to have a man who is able to remain calm with me and be able to comfort me despite being in another country right now. He has a soothing effect on me and manages to always put a smile on my face at the end of my little panic attacks. Thank you baby!

Thais That Bind.

My boyfriend goes to Boracay and sends me this! Jealous much.

F and his sister are currently in Boracay leaving me here alone. Boo! I’m glad they’re enjoying themselves though especially since they now live so far away from each other. Them being away made me think back on F’s and my recent trip to Bangkok only a month ago. We’ve previously travelled to Phuket together but I wanted to share the main highlight of our Bangkok holiday apart from us spending time together of course!

It was a whirlwind of a trip with us going just for the weekend but we managed to fit in a small bout of shopping, a lunch with a couple of my Le Cordon Bleu friends(!!), and a beautiful dinner at Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin at Siam Kempinski Hotel. The main event of our short getaway obviously being Sra Bua! Afterall, F is a proper foodie and I only spend my calories on meals that I think are worth it. And honestly, Sra Bua blew me away not just in the quality of their food, but also its gorgeous ambience and amazing service. I personally think Sra Bua is superior to Gaggan (which I’ll blog about soon), and even e-mailed them after to thank them once more for making our dining experience one that we will keep in our memory box for life!

A brief background before I begin waxing lyrical on our eating journey…

Basically, Sra Bua was conceptualised by Chef Henrik Yde-Andersen of the Thai restaurant Kiin Kiin, which is in Copenhagen. Apparently, Kiin Kiin is the only Thai restaurant in the world currently, that holds a Michelin-star. Obviously, this sets the bar high for Sra Bua in serving Thai food with a modern twist to diners expecting a standard on par with or even higher than that of Kiin Kiin’s. I haven’t tried Kiin Kiin – yet!, but if Sra Bua’s food is anything to go by, it has to be pretty awesome as well.

We both dressed up nicely for date night before hopping into a taxi to get to the hotel. When we go to Sra Bua, we were promptly welcomed and invited into their restaurant which looked a perfect blend of modern and traditional Thai, with their ornate structures and contemporary furniture. Menus were presented on an iPad which I felt took away from the intimate setting. Call me old school but I still prefer the feel of paper in hand.

Anyway, I knew that I wouldn’t have the stomach to inhale all 10 courses of their The Journey degustation menu, but the sweet service staff said that since F was going for it, that they would try their best to give that extra bit more so that I could try some of the menu as well. Take note that those 10 courses come after their wide array of amuse-bouche – of which there were eight! And even with my ordering ala-carte, the amuse-bouches were also included in my meal.

Amuse Bouche

This was an incredibly light, savoury Cashew Soy Meringue served with a lightly spiced wasabi yoghurt. It was the perfect start to our meal! I was so impressed by the lightness of the meringue and how delicious this little bite was that I might try my hand at baking these at home just so I can get my fix from time to time. Might as be as good but cravings hit, it’ll have to do.

The Tom Yum Cashews packed in an edible rice paper packet were a touch on the salty side for me, but they were punchy and crunchy, dispersing the familiar flavours of Thailand with every bite.

Prawn Cracker with Chilli Mayonnaise – these were reminiscent of my childhood shrimp crackers that were a go-to snack for my brother and I. Only obviously, this one was a lot classier to look at and more dainty to eat.

This Frozen Peanut Cream on top of a Crispy Chicken Skin, finished with Candied Ginger was as interesting take on satay for sure but not quite a favourite of mine. The salty crackle of skin was lovely but I felt that the strength of the peanut overwhelmed it a little.

This Coconut-Smoked Chiang Mai Sausage however, were one-bite bursts of sweet-savoury-meaty delight! So addictive… If they’d just given me a tub more.

I loved their presentation of this Tuna Tartare with Coconut Cream, Soy Sauce and Lemongrass in the lotus flower. It evokes within me this idea of the flower opening itself up to unveil to us the delicate nature of its centre. While it was beautifully served, the tuna was a little overshadowed by the richness of the coconut cream, which I felt was a bit of a pity.

Something lighter on the palate was this Egg Custard in Miso Broth. Its flavour was a lot more subdued from the previous amuse-bouches, but still rather tantalising in its subtleties. The custard was smooth as silk and wobbly, a close affiliate of the Japanese appetiser Chawanmushi I believe.

The last amuse-bouche that we were served was my favourite of the set. It’s called Miang Kum which translates to ‘One-bite wrap’. This was prepared before us by the server, who placed atop fresh betel leaves some fresh-sliced ginger, cut limes, crushed peanuts, dried shimp, chopped raw onions, crispy coconut flakes, cut chilli padi, all drizzled over by a tamarind palm sugar sauce. The only work we had to do was to roll it all up and eat it in one bite. That one bite erupted into an explosion of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, nutty, savoury herbaceousness in our mouths and I could only chew slowly in order to savour it as long as I could. OMG just thinking about it now… *Drool*

The starters arrived soon after we had digested our amuse-bouche. I won’t mention the dishes F was served on The Journey although I had a try of most of them. This post will turn into a novel otherwise!

Starter

My starter of perfectly cooked Hokkaido Scallops was topped with a sweet Tamarind Mango Lemongrass Sauce and served with smooth dollops of pumpkin and carrot puree, slices of tart mango to counter the sweetness of the dish, and crispy dried shrimp for that textural crunch. The scallops were treated with respect in the way they were cooked – lovingly seared on the outside while still being allowed to retain its bounciness within.

Main

I had the Steamed Cod Fish for my main. It arrived swimming in a light Green Curry and accompanied by a whole Salt-baked Beetroot (that was broken out of its amour of salt before my very eyes by the server), Sweet Beetroot puree and Beetroot Chips. The pop of colour from the beets really made the plate look so pretty. It was like having a bit of the sea and a bit of the earth with every bite. The salt-baked beetroot was especially delicious.

It’s amazing how manipulating the beetroot using different cooking methods really drew out different flavour profiles and textures from them. The salt-baked beetroot felt like a flavour bomb all in its own with its juices retained within and its sweetness concentrated. The puree was more subtle in flavour but no less stunning in its simplicity and creaminess. And the beetroot chips were fabulously crunchy, sweet and earthy. So good that if they sold these, I would have bought the lot home!

My Dad had a friend, the late Captain Chan, who used to always stress to us that we should always leave room for dessert. And heed his advice I did! Sra Bua didn’t fail to delight my palate with this sweet ending of Banana Cake served with Caramel Sauce (always a perfect marriage if you ask me!), fresh Dessicated Coconut, toasted Sugared Almond Flakes, Caramelised Milk and deliciously smooth Salted Coconut Milk Ice-Cream. It was a harmony of very Asian flavours that sang perfectly in a very untraditional way.

F and I were pretty much bursting by this time when we were treated to a small dish of Petit-Fours. We somehow managed to find a way to pack them into our tummies without our seams coming apart.

Petit-Fours

The Petit-Fours consisted of incredibly light Coconut Marshmallows, Salted Dark Chocolate which was divine I tell you, divine!; and Caramel Peanut Truffle that pretty much echoed the indulgently comforting flavours of a Snickers bar.
With the last bit of space in our bellies occupied, we could only smile lazily at each other while we tried to nurse ourselves back from the food coma haze we were in.

It was a perfect evening spent with F, dining on food cooked with love and served with pride. The staff at Sra Bua were knowledgeable, engaging and warm – a refreshing change from some establishments where servers are clinical and cold. Their food remains unpretentious in its refinement, even while incorporating some forms of molecular gastronomy and modern cooking techniques here and there. I definitely, definitely recommend Sra Bua to anyone looking for fine Mod-Thai dining in Bangkok, and cannot wait to bring my parents here one day soon!