Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tao's Restaurant

It was The Husband's birthday last Sunday and on Saturday, a few of our friends suggested we have lunch together at Tao's restaurant.

The last time I visited this place was about 3 years ago and it was a coincidence that my friend should suggest this restaurant because Petunia just blogged about it a few days back.

Tao's restaurant serve only set meals - you can choose between a 6 course meal or a 7 course meal for lunch. For dinner, the only option is the 7 course meals.

6 or 7 course sounds like a lot of decisions to make. Fortunately, the menu is fairly simple and we found ourselves able to order our food in no time at all.

The Husband didn't think the food was spectacular but I thought I had a very decent meal.

I enjoyed most of the dishes I ordered.

The first course was fluffy buttered toast with a cheesy bacon and mushroom gratin. I liked the toast but did not fancy the gratin as it was a little too oily and cheesy for me.

The salad I had was a Japanese noodle salad and I felt this was just very average. The husband had a prawn roll with floss which he didn't really like.

The soup however, was good. I had the thick mushroom soup which I really enjoyed and The Husband liked his fish consommé.

For the main, I opted for the steak and I was most impressed with this. The beef was well flavoured and extremely tender. I wasn't given a steak knife for this and it wasn't required. The beef was that tender! The Husband had the pork ribs which was supposedly the house specialty. He thought it was fine but nothing to shout home about.

For dessert, I had a poached pear which I rather enjoyed. It wasn't mind blowing.. but it was presented in an interesting manner - with mint leaves stuck on top of a little pear, so it was a nice ending to the meal. The tiramisu The Husband had was also above average.

I enjoyed the drink that came with the meal very much. I had the summer peach tea and even though I was having a bit of a flu that day, I could really taste the fragrant tea..

Tao's Restaurant
1 Selegie Road
PoMo #B1-19
Tel: +65-6339-8858

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Things to do before September

After September, life will be really busy and probably different from now. Happy encouraged me to think of things that I want to do before September.

I've decided I'm going to have a check list of 10 simple items..

1. Bake a cake.
My last cake was... oh dear.. when was it.. Combing through my blog, I think it was September last year. Gulp, yes it been that long? The last cake The Husband baked was in December last year.

The Beast has been very lonely of late. I feel guilty now.

There is a green tea pound cake recipe I've been keen on trying.

Another cake I really want to bake is carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, from a recipe I saw from Rachel Allen.

2. Bake some bread
Again, my last one was so long ago, I can't even remember now. I should make and freeze a whole batch for breakfast..

3. Catch a movie in the theatre
It has been a while.. I've watched plenty of movies in planes and on the iPad. But it'd be nice to watch one in the cinema.. with a small bag of popcorn.

4. Go for high tea with friends
Not that I haven't been recently. My latest visit was to the one at 10 Scotts. But one can always do with my high teas.

Anyone keen? ;)

5. Go for a walk at the Botanic Gardens
It's been a while.

Some fresh air and exercise would be good.

6. Organise a party
It's been a while but I think a Barbeque with my family would be nice. I can make a nice Homemade Salsa to go with chips that my family can munch on whilst the fire starts. And I can marinate some really nice Ping Gai chicken for the barbeque.

7. Cook something with Mum
With my parents now retired, mum has been whipping up lots of wonderful food for us. I'd like to cook either some rice dumplings with her or some deep fried prawn crackers.

It'd be a nice time together and I get to learn something..

8. Meet up with some of my ex-colleagues for lunch
I have a whole list of ex-colleagues and ex-clients I want to meet for lunch. Should try to do lunch with at least one of them every week from now on.

9. Go for a massage
I've not gone for one since our Bali trip.. It'd be really nice to have a relaxing massage...

10. Go for a short trip somewhere
I've been to London, Bali and Switzerland already this year.. but another trip somewhere near would be nice - like Malacca or Port Dickson. I really do want to go to Hong Kong, but I don't think we have time for that.

Even Malacca or Port Dickson may not be very possible - My weekends seem pretty packed already!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chey Sua Carrot Cake at Toa Payoh

Taken with iPhone

Fried carrot cake has to be one of my favourite breakfast. Now, fried carrot cake has got nothing to do with baked carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. The carrot cake we are talking here are the steamed types, not unlike steamed yam cake but generally softer. The steamed carrot cake is cut into pieces and fried with some chai-poh pieces (these are "salted turnips" - deliciously salted and yet sweet tasting) and egg. Some people add sweet dark soya sauce to the fried carrot cake and that is commonly called the "black version" of fried carrot cake. Others add only seasoning like salt and pepper and this is commonly called the "white version" of fried carrot cake. In both versions, chilli sauce is an option.

Chey Sua Carrot Cake at the Toa Payoh Lorong 1 Food Centre sells one of the best "white version" of carrot cake I've eaten. The carrot cake came looking like rosti. It was crispy on the outside and also looked like someone was lightly brushed it with a thin layer of chilli sauce.

When you bite into it, the contrast of the soft carrot cake and the crispy egg layer makes this a winning dish. The chilli sauce and "chai-poh" pieces adds to the flavour of the dish.

Apparently this store closes promptly at 1pm daily (except Monday when the store doesn't open at all). The owners looked rather fierce (they were telling off a customer before me that he had waited for 45 mins as they informed him and not the 1 hr he insisted he had waited) and yes, the wait is a little unbearable (I was told the wait was 45 mins as well. I waited for 40 mins).

But it is a very good fried carrot cake and one that I'd probably be willing to wait for 45 mins at some point in the future again.

Chey Sua Carrot Cake
Block 127 Toa Payoh Lorong 1
Open Tues-Sun from 6am to 1pm (Closed on Mon)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Luxemburgerli from Sprüngli

Forget the French patisseries and Japanese bakeries.

Sprüngli (pronounce it like spru-li), a confiserie in Switzerland sells the BEST macaroons ever.

According to me anyway.

These mini macaroons are airy and not as dense as most macaroons I've eaten. They are also surprisingly not as sweet, which the main problem (for me) for most macaroons. I'm not sure why they don't taste as sweet, but I think it's probably due to the way the filling in the middle is balances the sweetness of the shell. For example, the chocolate macaroon has a slightly more bitter filling and the raspberry one a slightly more sour filling. Together with the airy shell, they taste just perfect.

They call these mini macaroons Luxemburgerli.

And I bought quite a few to eat whilst I was in Switzerland and  alsobrought home a box of them all for myself. (Yes, I told The Husband explicitly that all the macaroons were for me and me only. Hahahaha.)

They come in great variety of flavours ranging from chocolate, pistachio, raspberry to Bourbon vanilla and Champagne Gold. They also seem to have weekly specials. I had a rhubarb one which I thought was pretty good. Another one I tasted was extremely delightful - it was a raspberry and chocolate mini macaroon with a very tart raspberry jam in the middle.

I'm salivating now at the thought of the macaroons and wish they would set up a store here in Singapore.

Apart from these irresistibly macaroons, Sprüngli also sells amazing Swiss chocolates. Their Truffles Du Jour are very good - they are made from chocolate ganache (chocolate, fresh cream and butter) every day and sold within 24 hours of production. Yum.

They also sell a wide variety of pastries and I ended up gaping at all the different products in each store I went into.. so much so I did not take a single photo of any of the stores.

Well, I'd leave you with the Sprüngli website to marvel at the pictures there. (There aren't too many pictures on their website though.. Nothing like the shops..)

I'm truly sorry that my photos do not do any justice to these amazing mini macaroons

 I only remembered to take a picture of the front of the counter at the airport. 
Once I ventured near, I forgot all about photos..

Notes: A bit of background on the word Luxemburgerli I've found over the internet. Luxemburgerli is a registered trademark by Sprüngli. Similar to the French macaroon, the Luxemburgerli is smaller in size and is lighter and more airy in consistency. It was invented in 1957 by confectioner Camille Studer. The term "Luxemburgerli" was derived from her nickname a colleague gave her based on her country of origin.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Food and Drinks in Switzerland - Part 2

We came across a few really cool drinks in Switzerland.

But first let me say that I think drinks in Swiss restaurants and cafes are amongst the most expensive in the world. In a normal restaurant or cafe, a bottle of coke would go for about 4 to 4.50CHF. I tend to opt for Coke Zero (very cutely called Co-ka Zero by the locals) and that would cost about 5 to 5.50 CHF. Even sparkling water would cost about 4CHF per person.

Ouch for stingy me.

Since The Husband and I were both not drinking alcohol or coffee, we ended up trying a variety of drinks - milk shakes, different soft drinks, different brands of sparkling water (which I must say - most of the water we had were great, thanks to the bountiful supply of spring water in that region).

These are the few special drinks from Switzerland that I like:

1) Rivella.
Apparently, this is a very Swiss drink. When my Swiss colleagues heard I've tried Rivella, most of them ask which colour I prefer. There is red Rivella, blue Rivella and green Rivella. The red one is the original flavour. Blue is a diet version (I think) and it seemed to taste lightly as well. Green seems to be a new flavour, with some green tea in it. My favourite is the blue one.

2) Schorle.
Schorle is a German beverage made from diluting juice or wine with carbonated water. The most common variety is Apfelschorle, i.e. apple juice with sparkling water.

Ramseier seemed to be the most popular brand and have 2 kinds of sparkling apple juice - one that comes in a green bottle (RAMSEIER Süessmost) and one in a clear/ red bottle (RAMSEIER Schorle). The one in a green bottle is the classic version and the other is a lighter version. I liked the RAMSEIER Schorle - I thought it was extremely thirst quenching and refreshing. Good after a long walk on a warm afternoon.

3) Caotina and Ovomaltine
For warm drinks, I like Caotina (a brand for hot chocolate) and Ovomaltine (yes, you guessed it right, Ovaltine!).

These come usually with steamed milk and they weren't overly sweet. In one of the cafe we went to, The Husband ordered Ovomaltine and they gave him a cup of steamed milk and a packet of Ovamltine. He complained jokingly that for 5CHF, they should at least make the Ovaltine for him. I thought it was hilarious and took a picture of the drink.

I brought home a box of Caotina Noir from the supermarket. It's a dark chocolate drink powder made with real Swiss chocolate. It is made with 45% cocoa and can be drank with hot or cold milk. I really like this a lot because most hot chocolate drink powder is too sweet for me. This is just nice, I think - not too bitter and definitely not too sweet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Food and Drinks in Switzerland - Part 1

Food is always a big part of travelling for me.

The Husband and I like to seek out good food whenever we travel.

My expectations of Swiss food wasn't particularly high (sorry to my Swiss friends for saying this), so I didn't really plan to visit any particular restaurants during this trip to Switzerland.

Hence, it was a quite a pleasant surprise whenever we managed to have some really good food.

One particular restaurant we visited during the trip stood out. The  restaurant's name is Echo and it is located at the Zurich Marriott Hotel  (Neumuehlequai 42). It was the first meal The Husband and I had together in Zurich and so, we chose a restaurant that specialises in Swiss food to kick off our vacation.

The bread that came with herb butter and sun-dried tomato paste was really good. I could have easily wolfed down the entire loaf if I had a better appetite that day. The Husband enjoyed his order of veal in cream sauce with rosti. Since I had my share of Swiss food during the training session the week before, I opted for a vegetarian pasta which was also pretty good, although not spectacular. The "trio dessert" came with 3 parts - a very interesting Rivella sorbet, a creme brulee and a fried chocolate dessert which was so good I wanted more!

In general, I thought the food at a lot of the Italian restaurants were good, even though we were visiting the "German part" of Switzerland. There was a random restaurant in Lucerne where we had our dinner - and the salmon linguine was so good we talked about it for the rest of the trip.

This salmon linguine was so simple, yet sooo delicious!

I also liked this fettuccine with tuna and olives. 
I thought there were too much tuna and too many olives though..

I also liked all the wood fired pizzas we had during this trip. I don't think I've ate so much pizza in a week before.

This calzone we had was pretty good - with spinach, mushrooms and cheese inside. 
Look at the size of this thing though!

Most of the salads that we had were also fresh and good. Many of the salads we had came with fresh flowers as decoration, which I really liked.

A pretty mixed vegetable salad with a cheery flower on top

One of my favourite salads during this trip - 
paper-thin tomato slices with mozzarella cheese, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Most of the meals we had were alright - they didn't blow us away but there wasn't too much to complain about. Eating out is generally expensive in Switzerland. A normal meal without wine usually comes up to about at least 50 CHF for two. For fancier restaurants or 3 course meals with wine, the bill can easily come up to about 150 CHF for two.

I don't mind the cost of food in Switzerland as much as I mind the cost of drinks in restaurants... but I'd leave that to my next post.

Sweet Potatoes and Gingko Nuts

My mum likes to make this dessert.

Usually, she uses 2 kinds of sweet potatoes and this comes in the form of a "sweet soup" (糖水).

Today, she added pumpkin as well. She cut up chunks of sweet potatoes, pumpkin and boils them with gingko nuts and rock sugar.

However, I don't usually like the sugary water, so for me, she'd fish out the starchy chunks and gingko nuts and I'd eat them this way, without the soup.

A variety of this dessert is just tapioca with sweet potato, stewed with sugar until the starch is soft and sugar caramelizes. Yum.

I'm home today because I haven't fully recovered from my flu. It was a mistake trying to push it and go in to work yesterday, though I did feel better in the morning. By the time I got in to work, I was feeling all clammy and tired. And then it all went downhill from there...

So today, I'm being good.. staying at home and resting. I'm looking forward to be able to taste food properly again.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Pretty Breakfast

Nowadays, I leave for work slightly later than I used to.

This means I have some time in morning to drink a cup of milk or have breakfast in leisure.

Since I haven't been feeling so well, I wanted a pretty looking breakfast to brighten up my day.

This didn't turn out as pretty as I wanted to (should have used a smaller glass) but still, it did the trick.

Have a lovely Monday and a great week ahead.

It took me about 3 minutes to make this breakfast 
- just layers of blueberries, yogurt and granola.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I have been down with a cough for the last few days.

I hate it when I get a bad cough.

For me, it usually starts with a sore throat. And then as the sorethroat gets better, the coughing starts. And I'd be coughing so hard, that the sorethroat comes back and I get a bad headache. The coughing gets especially bad at night. Sometimes, I get a congested nose as well.

Then after a few days, the cough gets better.. and the sorethroat gets better as well.

I think I'm at the stage where the cough and sorethroat is getting better but with Monday coming up quickly, I do wish I'm feeling a lot better than I feel now.

It sucks to be sick. I've been pretty much sleeping my weekend away and food doesn't taste much to me.

I do need to remember to always drink loads of water, have lots of fresh Vitamin C and exercise more. Especially water. Somehow, it always takes a cold or cough to remind me not to be a camel..

I'm steering clear of cold drinks for now, but this kiwi drink - blended 
using 2 kiwis, a bottle of yakult and some ice cubes is a great source of Vitamin C! 
I also added in a few leaves of my mint plant to make the drink more refreshing

Monday, May 14, 2012

Itinerary for Switzerland Trip

I'm back!!

Or rather, I'm back at blogging!

Because I have been back to Singapore for a while now.. For slightly over a week now.

At first, I was just too tired from the jet lag.. and then too lazy to sort out the thousand over photos we have.

But I ran out of excuses... so here I am again, back in action... :)

The Husband and I had a great trip. It was really nice to be back in Europe again together. Our last trip to Europe was to France for our honeymoon... and that was really quite some time back!

I have lots to post about for this trip.

Let me just start here with my itinerary.

We travelled to quite a number of cities in Switzerland.

We started out from Zurich, then spent a day in Lucerne, walking around the city and going on a boat ride around part of the lake. We stopped at a place called Weggis (Pronounced like Vegas) for lunch and had a nice relaxing day at Lucerne.

Lucerne was a beautiful city.. and very popular with tourists. 
It was the most crowded city we visited in Switzerland.

Then we spent 2 days at Interlaken. A lot of my Swiss friends and colleagues told me that there isn't very much at Interlaken, but I was very glad we ended up 2 days there because bad weather prevented us from going up to Jungfrajoch (Sounds like Yong-fra-yog) on Day 1, but we managed to go up to the highest train station in Europe on Day 2. In the end, we ended up touring the lake around the city of Thun on Day 1, so we had a lovely 2 days around the Interlaken area anyway.

Even the travelling part in Switzerland is pretty nice - you see lots of 
beautiful, postcard-like landscape rushing past you in the train..

From Interlaken, we travelled about 2 over hours away to stay for a night in a city called Montreux. This part of Switzerland feels very much like France. Announcements were made in French and the city looked and felt French. We went there primarily to see a castle called Chateau de Chillon, which was right by Lake Geneva. It was the closest we went to Geneva, because we decided to head south the next day to a car-free town called Zermatt.

Zermatt was where we had the most fun, I think. The town was located in the mountains, so it was chilly when we were there. The weather started out pretty reasonable in the day, so we went up by cable car to the highest peak called the Matterhorn. Lots of people went up there that day to ski. Since I couldn't do that now, The Husband and I just had fun playing with the snow and visiting an ice cave. Here, I also checked off an item in my "10 Things to do before I die" list, which was to see a glacier.

After Zermatt, we spent our last 2 days in Switzerland staying in the capital of the country - Berne. Berne is a beautiful city and we spent our first day roaming around the old city, sipping tea in the evening in a garden where we could take in the beautiful view.

On the second day, went out of Berne all the way north to visit the Rheinfalls, the largest waterfall in Europe. We managed to find enough time that day to visit Schaffhausen, the city where IWC, the famous watch company is based. We got to visit the IWC museum and of course, that ended the trip on a high note for The Husband.

 The very impressive Rheinfalls

The next day, we left for Singapore and I told myself I'd be back again to Switzerland.

Next trip, I'd visit the western part of the country and the Italian part.

We saw lots of beautiful mountains and lakes this trip. 
Very much inline with what I thought about Switzerland.. just a lot more beautiful!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mid Trip

I have been a lousy blogger of late. Very few posts... Even fewer on food, cooking and baking..

I have a thousand and one excuses, of course, but I shouldn't bore any of you with them.

Right now, The Husband and I are at the mid way point of our trip in Switzerland. I'm writing this post from a modern B&B in Montreaux, with a view of the mountains and Lake Geneva just where the lovely lounge chair is.

So far, we have had a very good and relaxing, though slightly tiring trip.

I will definitely blog more when I return.