Monday, October 31, 2011

Earl Grey Latte

I have some French Earl Grey tea leaves from TWG at home. TWG Tea Company is a Singapore company selling premium tea leaves. The first time I came across ther shop, I was very surprised to learn that it is a Singapore company and not a British company.

I really love this tea because it's not only very fragrant, the leaves look pretty too! This fragrant variation of the classic Earl Grey tea has been infused with citrus fruits and has French blue cornflowers in it.

Pretty, isn't it?

I decided to make myself a cup of earl grey latte today. It's really easy to make - very similar to how I made Matcha Latte.

This would be a really nice drink to go with Earl Grey Tea bread, or a simple, quick-mix banana cake. Except it was a really hot day today so I made half a glass of this and added lots of ice to it for Iced Earl Grey Latte!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Beer Can Chicken

The specialties from the restaurant at Tempat Senang in Batam are "Beer Can Chicken" and "Nasi Campur". I told The Husband I wanted Nasi Campur, since we were in Indonesia after all..

But the name "Beer Can Chicken" intrigued me. A simple search on google answered my questions. "Beer can chicken" or also called "Beer in the Butt Chicken", is basically chicken grilled with half a can of beef stuck in its butt. Now the chicken may look ridiculous over the grill or in the oven this way, but this method of cooking the chicken produces a really superbly tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken with crispy skin.

This is because whilst the chicken is dry roasted on the outside, the inside of the chicken is cooked, broiled almost with steamy beer. The fat of the chicken from the skin also drips off easily with the chicken cooked in a standing position. The yeast and malt in the beer also reacts with the chicken, making it extra tender and soft.

- 1 large chicken (about 1.2 - 1.5kg), washed and pat dry
- Half a can of beer
(Be sure to drink the other half whilst it's still cold)
- Seasoning - anything you like
(Fresh herbs, salt, pepper, etc. I used a spicy Indonesia BBQ mix this time around)
- A bit of softened butter
(I used the left over bit of my homemade sundried tomato butter)

What I did
1. Trim away excessively fat bits of the skin
2. Make small incisions in parts of the skin at the breast, back, thighs and slot in the softened butter. This little bit of butter helps to really crisp up the skin during the roasting process
3. Rub the seasoning in. Get it all over the chicken - outside and inside and under the skin where you can as well.
4. Let the marinate do the magic for at least a few hours, overnight if possible
5. Preheat oven at 225 deg C
6. Insert the chicken over the half can of beer and place in a baking tray
7. Turn the heat down to 180 deg C and place chicken on the lowest rack in the oven
8. Roast chicken for about 90 minutes, basting it with the drippings about halfway through the roasting process
9. If the top of the chicken gets a little too dark during the roasting process, cover it lightly with a small piece of aluminum foil

The chicken looks a bit ridiculous, with a can in its butt

Putting the tray on the lowest rack of the oven is necessary because 
the chicken is quite tall, since it's in a standing position

After 90 minutes of roasting..  
Oh my pictures don't do the chicken justice...

Another view of the chicken

Once the chicken is done, be careful as you are removing it from the oven as the beer is quite hot. You can eat the chicken by carving it whilst it's still standing.. but it's probably better (and safer) to lift it off the beer can into a separate tray.

This is one of the most tender roasted chicken I've ever cooked. Do give it a try and let me know how it turns out. If you don't want to use beer, Sprite works just fine too.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hunt for the perfect Ayam Penyet

Ayam Penyet is an Indonesian dish of fried chicken - heavily seasoned, lightly battered and then lightly smashed flat. "Ayam" means chicken and "penyet" translates to smashed - so Ayam Penyet means Smashed Chicken. Many also translates this dish to Fried Smashed Chicken.

It is usually served with fried tempeh (fermented soy product), fried tofu, a slice or two of cucumber and fiery chilli.

I've been craving for good Ayam Penyet recently.

During our trip to Batam, I was delighted to see Ayam Penyet Ria at Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre. Ayam Penyet Ria is a popular shop for Ayam Penyet in Singapore that I've never managed to visit.

But.. the Ayam Penyet was disappointing. The marinate wasn't tasty enough, it wasn't crispy enough.. the portion was terribly small and overall, it just wasn't enough to satisfy my cravings. Based on the reviews I've read on the restaurant, I'm not sure it's the same chain, actually.. So maybe I should go and try the real Ayam Penyet Ria in Singapore.

Disappointing Ayam Penyet in Batam

There are, however, a couple good Ayam Penyet places that I know about.

One is all the way across the other side of the island at Choa Chu Kang's Lot 1, highly recommended by Petunia. I seldom like food in shopping mall food courts, because I think that they are usually cooked without "heart". They may look alright but there is no real depth in flavour because they are mostly run in a franchise or chain-store manner.

But the Ayam Penyet at this store in Foodfare is pretty good - crispy, flavourful fried chicken, albeit a tad too dry and wonderful, fiery chilli paste. The best part is the furry-looking stuff on top - some say they are fried shredded lemongrass and others say fried shredded coconut. Whatever they are, they are bursting with the flavour of spices and go very well with rice.

The furry stuff on top of the chicken is what I like most about this Ayam Penyet at Lot 1

Another place with great Ayam Penyat is Dju Dju Indonesian Food, at 304 Serangoon Avenue 2, #01-14. This is a stall in a local coffeeshop run by a whole group of aunties. They have also recently opened a store in Food Junction at the Nex shopping mall. The chicken is well seasoned and well fried, also a tad dry but the skin is so flavourful I tend to overlook this one small flaw. The chilli is extremely spicy yet oh-so-fragrant, with a hint of freshly squeezed lime. Apart from the Ayam Penyat, I also like the Mee Rebus and Otah in this store.

Ayam Penyet from Dju Dju

I'm still on the hunt for the #1 place for it in Singapore. Where is your favourite Ayam Penyet store located?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spaghetti Goemon at Citylink

Spaghetti Goemon, or Yomenya Goemon is now one of my favourite spaghetti place in town.

The pastas came in really generous servings.. and are all cooked perfectly al dente.

The Mediterranean Tomato Cream Soup Spaghetti is one of their best seller. And it is easy to see why. It was delicious - the soup is slightly tangy, not too creamy and the little dallop of Japanese mayonnaise worked like a charm to make the taste pop. The soup was so good I finished every last drop.

 My favourite part of the noodles is that little dallop of Japanese mayonnaise

I've also tried the Fresh Nori, Shrimp and Clams spaghetti that is a soy-sauce and garlic based spaghetti. The Mentaiko, Shrimp and Japanese Herb Ao-Shiso spaghetti is also uniquely Japanese-styled and delicious.

I also love the radish salad - it was fresh, crisp and cold. I think it's a really simple Japanese-flavoured salad.. although I would very much prefer it without the bacon bits.

Apart from the radish salad and spaghetti, I never found space for desserts, so I don't know.. but they looked pretty good too.

If you have the chance to have lunch or dinner at Citylink Mall, or Marina Bay Link Mall, or the other places that Spaghetti Goemon seems to be all opening at, do give these noodles a try. I highly recommend the Mediterranean Tomato Cream Soup Spaghetti.

Spaghetti Goemon
1 Raffles Link
Citylink Mall

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What to do in Batam

Whilst researching on what to do in Batam, I came across various blogs and travel forums with recommendations of what to do in Batam.

Here is a short summary for anyone who (like me) have not been to Batam before, summarised from various blogs and websites.

Note that shopping malls in Batam are not huge and they don't (according to me, anyway) contain many exciting shops. The 2 biggest malls are Nagoya Hill Shopping Centre (biggest mall in Batam, near many hotels and popular resorts) and Batam Mega Mall (opposite Batam Centre Ferry Terminal)

Things to do in Batam
- Eat A&W. This fastfood chain has closed down a while ago in Singapore. I especially like their root beer floats, curly fries and oh-so-yummy buttery waffles with ice-cream. Their fried chicken is pretty good too! A&W is still very popular in Indonesia and can be found at both Nagoya Hill and Mega Mall

My 3 favourite items from A&W are... root beer float...

Waffles with ice-cream and chocolate sauce..

And curly fries!

- Eat seafood. Seafood in Batam is apparently very cheap, if you don't fall into a tourist trap. Golden Prawn Seafood Restaurant (5 mins by taxi from Batam Center Ferry Terminal) and Harbour Bay Seafood Restaurant (15mins by taxi from Nagoya Hill) are popular places for seafood in Batam. I didn't try them this time around though

- Enjoy a massage. I tried massages at Tempat Senang and Isabella (At Nagoya Hills) and I found both really good. A 3 hour spa session at Tempat Senang is about 75SGD and a 3 hour session at Isabella costs about less than half of that. However, whilst I had a really good masseur at Isabella, The Husband didn't enjoy his at all

- Enjoy a cream bath. "Cream bath" is a traditional Indonesian hair treatment. The cream is applied over your entire hair and scalp with a gentle head massage. This is followed by either wrapping your head with a warm towel or placing the top of your head in a steamer, all to encourage blood circulation whilst allowing the cream to "soften" your hair. During this time, your neck, shoulders and upper arms are treated to a tension releasing and stress reducing massage. Christopher and Johnny Andrean are popular places for cream bath in Batam and both can be found at Nagoya Hills and Batam Mega Mall

- Buy JCo donuts. These popular donuts are a lot cheaper than Singapore and many Singaporeans pick up some on their way home after a trip in Batam

A cup of drink at JCo comes with a sugar coated donut. 
The donuts are good!

- Buy something from the supermarkets. I love visiting supermarkets in any place I visit to buy some of their local snacks. Batam's supermarkets are good for kerupuk (crackers) and Indomie Mi Goreng (Indomie is a brand of instant noodles by Indofood. Mi Goreng just means fried noodles)

There are many kinds of kerupuk.. my favourite are these slightly 
bitter ones called Emping Kerupuk

- Buy Mandi Lulur. This is a kind of traditional Indonesian scrub - supposedly used as a pre-wedding ritual for Javanese brides. You can get them for about 2SGD a bottle from supermarkets or pharmacists at both Nagoya Hill and Batam Mega Mall. I bought a bottle home and will update again after I try it out

- Eat Indonesian food. I didn't have very fantastic ones outside of Tempat Senang, but I supposed there should be some really yummy ones out there. The food at Tempat Senang was great, albeit really quite pricey.

The mi goreng (fried noodles) is good - there is a very unique taste about these noodles. 
I wonder if it's the taste of MSG... Hmph..

- Try an avocado drink. I think they blend it with sugar and add chocolate sauce.. Not exactly super yummy.. but pretty unique, this drink is available everywhere in Batam.

Of course, you can also do what I spent most of my time in Batam doing - relax and watch time tick by..

What I did in Batam

Here are pictures of what I did in Batam..

Had lots of massages..

Played pool..

Watched the clouds go by..

Lazed by the pool..

Took long walks..

Ate lots of Indonesian food..

 Mee Goreng - very delicious.. with lots of MSG, I suppose..

Nasi goreng - fried rice

Fried beehoon

A HUGE tray of nasi campur - with a lot of stuff I like, esp the gado gado

The beef rendang wasn't as good.. but everything else was delicious!

Sipped coffee whilst reading..

And took long naps..

I've always dreamed about sleeping in a four-poster bed..

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Relaxing Stay at Tempat Senang

The Husband and I just returned from a 3 days 2 night stay at Batam.

Now, I've never really been on a leisure trip to Batam. My last trip (also my first visit) was as a volunteer to help build a house for a family as part of the Habitat for Humanity program.

Batam is a small island belonging to Indonesia, about an hour by ferry from Singapore. Although very near Singapore, this island never struck me as a place to visit for leisure. Say Batam and I think of a place where dirty old men go in search of cheap sex. Not exactly the kind of place I would like to visit.

But I have been feeling down of late and seeing that I have a few days off, The Husband suggested we go somewhere nearby for a short break. After considering various options, I decided to give Tempat Senang, a boutique resort in the middle of nowhere in Batam a try.

 View of Tempat Senang from the golf club next door

Tempat Senang is situated pretty much in the middle of nowehere, 30 minutes by car from the largest shopping mall in Batam, Nagoya Hills. It is located next to a golf course and apart from that, I don't think there is very much else nearby.
The golf course was very pretty.. and very quiet.. 
maybe because it was a Tuesday when we were there..

The resort is built in a Balinese style - with stone paths and pools separating the various houses. The resort has 7 rooms - each with a different theme. We stayed in the Indonesia room, which I really liked.

View of the plunge pool

Everything about the resort is very Balinese

The room we stayed in - I love the lights!

The other rooms looked pretty good too!

We took their weekday promotion package for a 3 days 2 nights stay. At 580SGD, the package included a 3 hour spa for each of us, daily breakfast, transfers from the ferry terminal and a nice, spacious room. This place is rather expensive by Batam standards, and I didn't think the resort was that luxurious to have commanded a 5-star hotel price.. It was a beautiful place and had a really homely feel about it.. but I complained to The Husband about how pricey it was.

I loved the pathways all around the resort..

And the fishes..

And many plants and flowers..

The place is even more charming at night

But.... but......

It was a really nice place to relax in, away from all the city noises. We spent our 3 days watching a few DVDs... lying by the small plunge pool reading a book under the sun.. watching the clouds (and insects) drift by.. enjoying massages and herbal compresses.. playing pool.. listening to all kinds of insect noises... eating a lot.. and sleeping a lot.

I enjoyed my massage session at the spa a lot

I left Batam feeling refreshed.

So maybe... just maybe... I will return again someday.

 View of the sky whilst I lazed by the pool

Tempat Senang
Indah Puri Sekupang
Batam, Indonesia

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When the going gets tough..

I haven't been blogging much lately simply because I haven't been in the right kind of mood.

I've been feeling thoroughly depressed.

It's not work - although work has been frustrating somewhat of late.

Someone in The Family is going through a heartbreakingly difficult time and it upsets me to see him and the rest of my family distressed.

This quote is dedicated to that Someone:

Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit
makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.
William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Words that hit home

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, someone said "Man".

"Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

The Dalai Lama said these words and I believe in a different God then him but these words hit home.

The trouble is - how to live every day as if it were my last?

If today is my last day,

I'd have a chat with all my childhood friends - to hear how they are, talk about our childhood dreams and laugh over our mistakes growing up.

I'd call up all my beloved colleagues, ask for their forgiveness for my impatience at work, encourage them to spend more time with their loved ones and share whatever I can with them.

I'd meet my dearest friends for tea, muse over our past experiences and tell them what I appreciate most about them.

I'd spend the most time with all my beloved ones, making sure they know how much I love them, and asking for their forgiveness on all the times I act like I don't.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Baked Portobello Mushrooms

I've found another use, apart from using it on toasts and in roasted chicken, for my homemade sundried tomatoes butter - baked mushrooms!

I saw some beautiful mini portobello mushrooms at the supermarket yesterday, and couldn't resist buying a pack home.

These baked mushrooms are really easy to make. I chopped up 2 cloves of garlic, a bunch of coriander and mixed them with some of the sundried tomatoes butter. Then, I laid the mushrooms out on a ceramic baking tray, seasoned them generously with some sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Each mushroom gets a dollop of the garlic, coriander and butter.

The mushrooms are baked at 180 deg C for about 15 mins. When eating, be careful of the juices when you pick the mushrooms out. The juices from the mushroom, mixed with the spices are heavenly. Don't waste a single drop!

Baked mushrooms are really juicy.. slurp!