Monday, January 31, 2011

Jamie's Italian at Canary Wharf

I like using Jamie Oliver's recipe (see here and here and here) and watching his cooking programmes on TV. So when I found out that there is a Jamie's restaurant near where I worked in London, I found my way to the restaurant for dinner.

This particular restaurant chain of his is a laid-back one that serves wholesome Italian food, Jamie's style, at reasonable prices.

The food is really pretty good at this restaurant. I found the menu homely, yet very interesting - homemade bread, cockles linguine, rabbit ragu pappardelle (which I didn't have), wild truffle tagliatelli, just to name a few. I especially liked the homemade pastas which you can order in full size or half size, if you are looking to leave room for desserts.

I also enjoyed the desserts a lot. I have not ordered brownies in any restaurant for a long time now, because I always feel it is such a simple dessert I can make it at home myself. But the Ultimate Chocolate Raspberry and Amertto brownie that came with a bourbon vanilla ice-cream was really something special! I would love to have it over and over again!

There are a number of Jamie's Italian all around the UK, with a few in rather central London. For more details on the locations and menu, see here.

 Fried calamari - simple but with extra oomph from the chopped chilli

Sweet cockles with linguine, garlic, chilli and lemon juice tossed with fresh parsley

Truffle, butter and pasta makes a killer combination

My favourite brownie

Pannacotta - creamy and smooth

Jamie's Italian, Canary Wharf
Add: Unit 17, 2 Churchill Place
Canary Wharf, London E14 5RB
Tel: +44-(0)20-3002-5252

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A bad ankle and the A380

I am finally back!

It's great to be back home although I must say I most certainly didn't arrive home in style this time around. Nope. I hopped my way out of the plane, bought some duty-free, collected my luggage and hopped out to meet the Husband.

I had twisted my ankle coming out of the service apartment in London, just before I got on to the car that was waiting to pick me to the airport. I had missed a step just outside of the apartment and my right foot twisted, sending me tumbling like a drunk with my 30kg luggage.

Miraculously, I was able to limp around in Heathrow Airport, collecting VAT, checking-in my luggage and then buying some perfume and duty free my colleagues asked me to before slumping into a sofa at the SQ lounge.

I had been really looking forward to this flight back because it was on the A380 plane. The plane was so huge that they had 2 different doors - one for the upper deck and one for the lower deck. I was on the upper deck and whilst the seats for the business class weren't any different from that of the Boeing 777, the plane seemed to be a lot more spacious in certain areas.

Unfortunately, the cabin pressure on the flight affected my ankle so badly that even standing on my left leg, with minimal pressure on my right leg was really difficult. Mid-way through the flight, I asked if I could have something hot to apply for my legs. The steward came up with a creative solution of 2 tied rubber gloves with hot water put into a cloth bag. That really helped quite a bit to relief the pain but I was barely able to walk out when the plane arrived in Singapore.

This left me limping badly whenever I wanted to go to the rather spacious bathroom. Unfortunately, it also meant I wasn't able to roam around the huge A380 aircraft.

A380 or not, the service level of SQ business class left a big impression on me. All the stewards and stewardesses were pretty nice and treated this limping passenger really well.

The food on SQ business class is really quite good!

Whilst the Ee fu noodles taste distinctly like plane food, the lobster tasted surprisingly fresh. 
My favourite is the green peas though - sweet and crunchy!

Breakfast was good too - fresh fruits with yogurt

 Pancakes with clotted cream

 My innovative pack of heat treatment

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's cold in London

I'm in London for this week and next for a business trip.

The preparation for this trip and the many back-to-back meetings I'm having explains the lack of any posts recently.

I've been too busy to even take any pictures.. but will surely do that in the weekend.

P/S: The nicest thing about blogging is knowing friends through blogging who would message you to ask if things are okay when you don't blog. Thanks Petunia!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fabulous Eel Rice

I've blogged about this restaurant in Taipei before - see this post for more.

I guessed the eel rice here left such an impression for me that I had to go back this trip with The Husband.

With the 2 of us, we were able to try out more stuff than I did the last time. The eel rice is what this shop is famous for. Be sure not to leave without trying this. The sauce is especially good - it is slightly sweet and goes well with the grilled eel and rice.

The yakitori range of grilled meat on sticks are all very good. The restaurant serves a wider range of yakitori during lunch, for some reason. If you are interested in eel kidney - you should visit during lunch. We had the grilled pork and grilled squid and both were very good.

Egg rolls - plain or with grilled eels are very famous in this restaurant as well. These were perfectly cooked so that the egg is still soft and slightly wobbly.

The sashimi is also very very fresh and popular with guests.

The overall quality of the food here is really good and the food is very reasonably priced. No wonder the long queues then. Go just before their opening time to avoid queueing.

Note though that the restaurant can be really packed, so it might not be an ideal place to go for a nice, long meal. This is a place you go for good food and then hurry off so other people can come in for a good meal as well.

See the long queue outside the restaurant? 
Good thing this was the queue as we were leaving the place..

Address: 台北市中山北路一段121巷3号
Opening Hours: 11:30~14:00 17:30~21:30

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Quick and Yummy Wraps

The Husband had a friend in town that he went out for dinner with last night.

This meant I had to sort out my own dinner.

This is my 5 minute dinner - I put together several things I had at home and bought at the mall for these 2 tortilla wraps.

Delicious and quick. I'd be doing this again soon! For those of you in Singapore, you can buy ready cooked meat or seafood at most supermarkets and snack stalls like Old Chang Kee for such wraps. All I really needed to do was put together everything and dinner was ready.

Prawn wrap - Deep fried prawns with avocado, cranberries and salad leaves with a dallop of plain yogurt on a piece of toasted tortilla.

Meat roll wrap - meat roll (ngoh hiang) with avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, crispy fried onions on a bed of salad leaves.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Taroko National Park - Swallow Grotto

Some trails at Taroko can be dangerous because of falling rocks - visitors have been injured and killed even by falling slabs of marble.. Hence, there are lots of signs along more "dangerous" sections of the gorge. A particular section was closed to the general public when we were there, as work is being done to clear off loose rocks from the cliffs above the walking trails.

The Swallow Grotto, however, is a safe and pleasant, slightly downhill walking trail. If you ever go to Taroko and have time for only 1 trail, I would recommend this one.

This part of Taroko Gorge is composed of marble cliff faces covered with small holes, the result of long-term erosion by river and ground water. Swallows used to nest here, giving the place its name.

There are lots of interesting rock formations to see along the way, the accompanying music of the trickling stream at times and the louder sound of gushing water at various points of the river makes the 40 mins trail even more pleasant.

Come walk with me along the path!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Taroko National Park

I did do more things than just eat in Taiwan - we went out of Taipei to Yilan and Hualien. My favourite part of Hualien was visiting the Taroko National Park.

Taroko National park is named after the Taroko Gorge, a marble gorge which is the landmark gorge of the park. Taroko Gorge and its surrounding area are well known for their abundant supply of marble and it is also home to the Taroko tribe.

There are many well-known attractions at Taroko National Park and there are lots of pleasant walking trails you can go on. As we visited the place during winter, the cool weather made walking really easy.. and relaxing.

I've heard that because of the altitude and location of the park, walking along most of the trails should be pretty pleasant, even in summer. The water levels in the gorge is pretty low and there is less rainfall during winter. The water levels and entire landscape would look rather different during the summer months..

Apart from rocks and more rocks, there are also all kinds of interesting trees and flowers in the park.

And here is a picture of me under a fabulous tree. This is the first picture of myself on this blog!

Taipei Flower Expo - Trivia

Some interesting trivia about the Flower Expo:

Trivia #1
The expo revolves around 3 main concepts related to gardening.. so it is more than just "flowers".. I suppose Gardening Expo doesn't sound as nice..

Concept I: Convey the essence of gardening, science and environment protection technology
Concept II: Reach the goals of reduce, reuse and recycle
Concept III: Combine culture and art as parts of eco-friendly living

Trivia #2
The flowers at the expo are not the same throughout the entire period. Flowers for display are selected based on the seasons or appropriateness. For example, when I was there around Christmas, there were a lot of Poinsetias that my friend didn't see the week before.

It is said that that the flowers are replaced as frequently as every 3 days.. Now that, is very frequent! It also means that you'd have a slightly different experience each time you go to the expo!

If you are booking tickets to Taiwan for the expo, check out this link for the various flower themes that will be on display. You'd also want to check out this 3D film for an intro to the exposition area.

Trivia #3
It is said that to finish all the exhibits "properly", you will need about 3 days. The reason being the queues for the exhibits can be pretty long.

For some exhibits, you'd actually need to draw for tickets.. so if you are really unlucky on busy days... 3 days may not be sufficient!

Trivia #4
Just some statistics on the numbers at the 91+ hectares site - 14 pavilions and more than 800 varieties of orchids, 329 million stems of locally developed plant varieties, and award-winning landscape and gardening designs from 22 countries and 26 cities.

I wonder how many visitors visit the expo on a daily basis... because.. there were lots of people when I was there on a Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Melange Cafe - Amazing Waffles

For the most amazing waffles, visit Melange Cafe.

The strawberry waffles are crispy on the the outside, fluffy yet substantially chewy on the inside. The waffles are served with yummy custard, strawberry ice-cream, topped off with fresh, sweet strawberries and a light yet delectable strawberry sauce.

The waffles go very well with the variety of specially blended coffee.. but be forewarned, the serving is huge so it is best for 2 persons to share 1 serving of waffles.

This cafe is tucked away in a quiet street off a fairly busy shopping area in Taipei. The location is pretty convenient, about 5 minutes from the subway station. Yet the street is quiet and charming and I liked the design of the cafe the moment I saw it.

I think you will agree with me from the pictures below.

P/S: We had a lovely seat by the windows in the restaurant - the weather was pretty cold and yet we had the warmth from the bright sun that day. Unfortunately, that meant that my food photos had somewhat odd lighting.. so the strawberries waffles doesn't look as good here.

Melange Cafe 米朗琪咖啡館
Address: 台北市中山區中山北路二段16巷23號
Tel: +866(02)2567-3787