Updates

We went to and came back from Italy in the last two weeks (which explains the lack of posts) and had a really buona vacanza. Lots of sun, sand, seafood, and such amazing pasta! All will be blogged about separately. This post is to announce that…
…Since the inception of my food blog (sometime last year I think), the total number of hits on that blog has overtaken the number of hits on this blog (started maybe 4 years ago?)!

It gets 50-100 hits a day from greedy people looking for food and has reached >11k hits and a whole lot of followers! I wish I were above this sort of thing but I am rather happy about it. This Friday my friend Fabio’s Italian restaurant is opening in Clover Avenue in Bishan and I am extremely happy to be covering that!


Here’s a picture of a daisy filled lawn in San Gimignano, in the heart of Tuscany just within the fort’s walls. Italy is full of high walled forts like this that you can either take an elevator/escalator up to. I imagine it must have taken a lot more effort to scale these forts in the time when they were built.

Also, Lz informed me of the closed fb group consisting of people who are going to live in our future HDB estate. We ordered a built-to-order flat, which means they are only just starting construction, but already the people in this fb group have banded together to meet their future neighbors and discuss things like contractors and air conditioning etc. It’s kinda cute and also kinda creepy. Like I don’t want to be walking around my HDB estate and have someone recognizing me by face and calling out my name randomly just because they checked out and remembered everyone in the fb group. On the other hand if I ever quit my job I suppose I could offer cooking/piano lessons on that portal.

Annunci

Busy busy busy

This have been really busy at work, hence I haven’t had time to transcribe Day 4 in Ithaca to this blog :P Day 4 was when everything happened at once, part of which will explain my current busyness in the evenings!

We printed a bunch of snaps from our trip yesterday at the Fujifilm in Ghim Moh at 30c per 4R photo. Most of them look really good, but some of our Seattle shots are little dark. They are going to go in a photo book I got from Prints a long time ago which has black pages as well as translucent sheets between the pages to protect the printed photographs.

This one I did of random black and white photos I took.


Like this of Arlington Cemetery.

Our evenings are spent having dinner with friends and family, booking farm stays in Tuscany (we’re going in May), and looking for a good venue for our wedding dinner. I’ve barely had time for anything else! Can’t wait for the weekend and for my current deliverable to be over. Still, I can’t complain. I’m not staying back late or anything – my project lead stayed till 9+pm yesterday (or at least she came in at night to check her email and stuff?!). I just don’t have as much free time at work hahah.

Hubbard is coming next week! Fun times. We are going to the River Safari, but a project review is scheduled for the same day we are planning to go :S so I’ll have to see how to reschedule it or something.

Picnic at the zoo


I brought Ms and F to the zoo on Saturday on the company’s corporate pass (it was F’s first time) and we had a great time. We planned to bring a picnic there (the only food available in the place is KFC -.- which is also overpriced because of its monopoly on zoo food. I remember when it used to be A&W (so much better!).

So on saturday morning I baked 4 quiches (bacon and onion), like the tart flambee we had at Chez Petit Salut.

Had some fresh dill lying about the kitchen – I think my mum cut some from her dill plants the night before so that went in.


In these little tins so they wouldn’t fall apart with all the walking (there wasn’t a whole lot) – turns out the quiches stuck firmly to the tins in the end despite my spraying them liberally with pam. I suspect it’s cause quite a bit of the egg custard mixture sopped out over the crusts, which I blind baked the night before.


Here’s the finished product. It was delicious, although I would have preferred more egg custard and less filling. Still, the onions and bacon were really nice.


I also made a little lemon loaf (Nigella Lawson’s recipe) with two Turkish lemons. It’s amazing what kind of flavour the grated zest of a lemon can impart – the loaf was amazingly lemony – and I’d thought I needed to add juice to the recipe to up the lemoniness in the past – Don’t. It ruins the recipe.


Don’t you like my flower arrangement in the background? It was only $8 from Cold Storage and the black vase is from my latest shopping trip to Ff.

Fabio made two pea frittatas – somewhat like my quiche but without cheese and replacing the bacon with peas. They were really fresh tasting – we almost finished both!

We also brought four cans of his beloved san pellegrino – NTUC had this chinotto flavour which was really intriguing – no fruit listed! Just citrus flavoured. It was weird. F really loves it though – apparently he grew up drinking that in Italy. Msee and I thought it was rather…medicinal.

Will post actual pictures of animals and stuff on a later date :P

Enoteca

This was one part of many things leading up to my current sore throat. Although I think the main thing that caused it was the cake I baked. But more on that in another post.

I took him to Enoteca L’Operetta on Monday for a birthday dinner (one of many) because he’s recently been craving really good pizza. And this place has its pizza verified by the Real Pizza agency in Italy (I don’t know what the agency’s real name is) so it can truthfully call their pizzas Vera Pizza Napolitana. It was pretty good!

We got the margherita con funghi. Fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, fresh mushrooms. The crust was really thin and chewy, baked for 90 seconds in their wood fired oven. The tomato sauce base was also pretty perfect. I don’t think the pizzas here are pricey either, this one was $22 or $18 or something like that (which was the same price as many of our starters). I think we’ll definitely be back for more. I want to try their risotto.

We started with some focaccia dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I still prefer the dipping pesto at Zaza’s Cucina. we’ve recently been growing basil plants in our balcony and there are hordes and hordes of leaves just waiting to be picked, that my mum has taken to adding them to everything, which I don’t like. It’s not like the basil is going to stop growing! I might harvest all of them someday and blend it up with some salt, pepper, grana padano, pine nuts, and really good olive oil, see if I can’t replicate Zaza’s pesto. Anyway their focaccia was definitely a lot better than mine. I haven’t really mastered focaccia baking, but my brioche is pretty good.


Their mushroom veloute also hit the spot. We can safely say it’s the best mushroom soup we’ve ever had. Heads and shoulders better than the Relish one.


The oven baked Hokkaido scallop is one of their signature appetizers. I liked it, but I thought the sauce could be better/have more umami. Like Kyushu’s Dynamite. Perhaps I am just missing Ithaca.


The asparagus crespelle was really good. Almost compares to the Diana’s asparagi di Bismarck in Bologna (see below). The main difference is that this is wrapped in a crepe, so you get to taste the burntness of the crepe, and it is filled with ricotta. The Bismarck has crunchy bits of parmigiano and also freshly shaved parmigiano. The egg is sunny side up, so only the yolk flows over the asparagus, whereas this is an egg sauce, with both yolk and white.

Asparagi di Bismarck (wow my white balance was really terrible in the past!)


Mussels in a white wine sauce. Could have used more wine. I’m not a fan of fishiness like in roe or bottarga or oysters. So, a no for me. But the mussels really were very soft. Perhaps even a tad undercooked.


One of my favourites, the veal stuffed agnolotti. I ordered in Italian, since I can, and since they seemed to have hired fake Italian waiters and I wanted to know if they were trained. Also, the menu is in Italian, with english descriptions, and it is too much effort to order in English. If you write the titles of your dishes in Italian, you should be prepared to accept orders in Italian. Obviously. Otherwise you’re just being pretentious and wasting everybody’s time. So I ordered the agnolotti, And for those who know italian, the ‘gn’ is a guttural g, which turns it into the ‘ny’ in Hungarian or the ‘ñ’ in Spanish. Not quite the same, but similar to that. The waiter thought I was ordering the Aglio olio. Sigh. The dish was pretty good though. Best sage and brown butter sauce I’ve ever had. That guy shld really go study the menu more.


The tiramisu looked just like the one in the Teresina in Bologna (compare to below), but was much worse. I don’t mean to say it was bad, per se. Just the zabaglione could have been much richer. If you have to buy tiramisu in Singapore though, I recommend the one at gastronomia more. Costs less and you get greater quantity AND quality.

We only had the one dessert, cause I was stuffed by then. And a tiny little macchiato.
Now my throat feels like someone stuck a toothpick through it. Ack.
Oh I went to the doctor and am on MC today! Being on MC is really fun. I baked a green tea/chocolate bundt (which didn’t fail) and also am going to go paint liangze’s door now.

ciao!

i never realised that ‘tiramisu’ could be parsed!
Literally, tirare– to pull/pick; mi– me; su– up.
Pick me up. Of course. If coffee and marsala wine won’t do that, you couldn’t be picked up anyway. It is an imperative, hence the adjoining of the object and the preposition (i’d never seen prepositions joined to the imperative but at the bullet pace at which they speak spaces/separations between words are of little consequence. Perhaps we should have cakes called

‘aspettami’
Flourless chocolate stuffed with jack daniels truffles for the cajoling of unyielding partners to bend to your will
‘ditemi’
Strawberry sponge with chantilly cream laced with the truth drug
‘divertiti’
Flambeed Christmas pudding filled with little silver toys to keep ornery children occupied for hours on end

l’ultimo giorno

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Out a-wandering last night after our dinner at wasabi. I love buildings whose lights line the edges of the architecture. It can make the plainest of buildings look really elegant. This is the piccolo teatro in milan, not sure what it screens but it certainly is no la scala.

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Cadorno station, where we wanted to leave our luggage this morning (after we checked out of our hotel at 10am but had about 6 hours to kill). One thing we found in various European train stations is that while they have signs that say “Deposito bagaglio” or its equivalent in any language, you can follow the sign all you want but you’ll never find the baggage deposit. Places with bag deposit in Milan are the Stazione Centrale and in Geneva, the Gare du Cornavin. Typically after 9/11 most bag deposits would have been cleared. Anyway we headed to the Triennale, got a pass to all their exhibits at only 10 euros apiece (believe me, it’s worth it. The triennale is like design museum) and left our bags there all day until we left for the Lampagnuno Bus Terminal which was on the same metro line.

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Lunch at this incredibly cheap pescheria, which unfortunately doesn’t have scallops or prawns, but has a lot of other shellfish and fish. The total came up to 26.20 euros, the coperto was only 60 cents each, and the set menu included a drink, a coffee, a primo, a secondo, and a contorno (side dish). So even though liangze got the tiny sea bream saltimbocca (first pic) and a bottle of water, his half of the meal was more expensive than my 10 euro set meal which included the spaghetti alle vongole and the zuppette del pescatore (the crock pot of shell fish in a tomato broth). I think the places here don’t put enough white wine in their vongole. I like mine to have lots of white wine so the clams won’t be overpowering. The mussels at this place didn’t seem too fresh, and we both agreed the best mussels to be had is still in singapore. My personal favourite (even after the Belgian sorozo in Budapest) is Fish & Co.’s mussels in lemon butter. I would give anything to eat a pot of those right now. Liangze’s favourite rendition is at Brussel Sprouts, which I’ve never been to.

The following pictures are of the clocks in the O’Clock exhibition at the Triennale before I got told by a security guard that pictures were not allowed. They should just put a sign up prohibiting cameras, how else am I to know? the security guard in the Design section of the museum didn’t stop anyone there from taking photos so I assumed photos were allowed everywhere.

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An olfactory clock. Each candle takes 10 minutes to burn I think, and has a different scent. At the end of its life, the candle lights the candle next to it and so there is a continuous measure of time.

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One of those clocks with 24 clock faces, each of which are programmed to place its hands to portray the time digitally. There were other very complicated non-digital digital clocks, one of which included a non stop 24 hour video of 4 men changing the digits of a digital clock every minute. The digits were long planks held up by a frame, and they had to run in every minute to move the planks around for 24 solid hours. I’m not sure if they had shifts. I hope whoever the artist hired were convinced of the purpose of this.

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A pong clock! It was awesome Every minute, the guy on the right scores so his score increases by 1, showing the time. Every hour, the guy on the left scores so the hour increases by one. Amazing programming.

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A life clock, showing what happens in the lives of a grandmother and a young girl at any given time.

Suffice to say the Triennale was cool, and Dave would have enjoyed the clock exhibition hugely.

we finally entered switzerland at 1.10am today. Our slated arrival time was 11pm by bus. Good thing i had the sense to email the hotel earlier to tell them we’d be arriving late, the receptionist gave us the code for the front door and told us to help ourselves to the key :P I like this hotel. It’s small but cozy, has parquet floors and everything smells clean and the taps work like clockwork – very silent. We have a shared bathroom and it is really an exorbitant price, but includes a public transport pass. Never again are we taking intercity buses! It was cheap but not worth it, I was surrounded by jerks on all sides. In front was a really perky ADHD girl who looked like a very old teenager and kept bouncing in her seat, which really interfered with our movie (One flew over the cuckoo’s nest) so once I kneed her seat in the back and she swivelled around to see what the problem was and I looked away. Would have told her off if not for the fact that my Italian is abysmal and if I rattled off in English it would be completely futile. About halfway into the journey I was ready to blow my nose into her coat (which was sticking out the back into my seat). The guy behind was a lot better, but whenever he talked on the cell he had the tendency to shake his legs. Which is fine and well only that it shook my seat as well. That’s it for my custom Eurolines wise, I’ll be much better off paying whatever rate TGV has to offer.

It’s 2.40am now and time to sleep so I can wake up tomorrow to get my quiche and crepes and cheese fondue :D I guess it’s pretty obvious I love Geneva.

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Went to the centrale stazione FS to try getting train tickets to geneva tomorrow and they were WAAAY overpriced. like 74 euros each, which is really not what i expected for what I thought was a short journey. So we headed to the lampagnuno bus station instead to find bus tickets to geneve, and those were half the price. The only downside is that the bus leaves at 16.45 and reaches at 23.00, which is a 6 hour journey, whereas the train only takes 4 hours. Liangze doesn’t want to drive (Italian drivers are crazy, as I mentioned about how the red light is twice the size of the green or amber lights) so we’re taking the bus. Anyway the central station had a christmas market and we, being all touristy, bought a tiramisu flavoured piece of soft nougat (torrone) that I wound up not really liking. The nougat shopowner had some hard nougat samples and they were pretty good, so we bought the tiramisu one. Lesson learnt: Always buy the flavour of the food on display. It was 30 euros for a kilo, and my estimation was off today so we wound up with 7 euros of nougat and no way of finishing it.

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Visited the navigli today (three canals in Milan that look very amsterdam-esque and take pretty mean photos at sundown. There were all sorts of pescherias and artsy shops along the canals and we went into one of the courtyards to take this apartment building.

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There was a funfair going on at one of the public gardens besides the natural history museum with an ice skating rink, churros!, cotton candy, pony rides, bumper cars, and a carousel with vespas and cars on it instead of horses lol (middle picture). We also found a fritella stand that had REALLY AWESOME fritelle. They are like donuts in the shape of langos, and taste like donuts right out of the fryer. The chinese kind of donuts coated in sugar but with a greater surface area to volume ratio = more sugar! They also sold fritelle with nutella for 3.50 but i don’t see why anyone would want to get anything other than the original.

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Lunch at primafila. We’ve been finding some pretty affordable restaurants (entrees for around ~10 euros) and keeping our bills less than 50 euros a meal including the drink and the cover (coperto). Travel protip: do not tip in italy (unless you get really really exceptional service and want to leave more). There is usually an entry on the receipt for “coperto” which is the tip, and it is standardised, not by percent, which is great. I never got why tips in america and service in singapore and so many other places are by percent. How does ordering a very expensive dish justify my paying the waiter a hefty tip? It’s not like HE cooked it. I didn’t like the carbonara at primafila, and we are going to try searching for a decent pescheria tomorrow. The italians are pretty serious about their seafood, and we already missed out on eating at Da Claudio (THE place for seafood in Milan which is unfortunately closed from the 25th to the 27th and we are leaving tomorrow).