Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Time out

Apologies, no publication this week, as I am travelling on work assignment shooting watches in Switzerland.

Will return next week on some amazing meals in Switzerland.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Have you cooked in a 1 star Michelin kitchen? Well I have...read on...

Bulow Palais...home away from home...I have perhaps stayed at this Relais & Chateaux hotel more than 20 times over the last 10 years...previously at the Residenz, as smaller, boutique hotel, and now at the larger Palais. The restaurant Carousel, previously helmed by Stefan Hermann, and now by the able Dirk Schroer, has earned and retained its Michelin star for many years....as long as I remember.

Anyway, after countless times experiencing the cusine here, this time, I returned to the kitchen...did I say kitchen? Yes, to prepare our own meal:

A "Drei Gang" three course, menu...complex French techniques...were we up to the task?

To relax my group...I lead a group of collectors to the Lange manufactory once every 2 years, we had some champagne at the bar...

Then, a breifing by the chef and sous chef

And we go!

Cutting potatos, Russian style. Note swiftness of Dmitry's handling of the sword...um...knife.

And me? Of course I was up to the task...Chef handed me two large black truffles...wow!

And how did I do...of course, well...

Unlike many other kitchen experiences, we were in the actual 1 Starred Michelin kitchen...not some instructional kitchen. And we actually prepared the food, including the more complicated and delicate processes like browning the beef:


No one was spared. Even Lange's CEO Wilhelm Schmidt did his time in the kitchen.

Interestingly, chef Schroer does not use open flames in the kitchen. Only induction heaters...cooler, he says...sous vide machines, and ovens.

When the cooking was done, it came time for tasting...but first the welcome by Wilhelm

And the meal:

An amuse bouche which we did not prepare...hmm, maybe he does not trust us with this...


We prepared and mashed the pumpkin, cooked it. Prepared the chicken. Taste? delicious...what else do you expect from a 1 star Michelin kitchen?

The main course, complicated recipe...but we did well...pat on our backs...

The puff pastry was perfect...light, crisp. The spinach wrap wonderful. And the meat, as you can see, seared nicely, but medium rare within. My gosh we were good! I asked the chef if he would give us jobs as sous chef...his response was this.

We still had dessert to go...tarte tartin with vanilla ice cream

Superb experience. Wonderful dinner.

Restaurant Carousel
Bulow Palais
Dresden, Germany

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Airline food: Singapore Airlines First Class

Some say PPS (Singapore Airlines' Priority Passenger) get treated like gods on board SQ flights. I am not so sure. I have been a TPP (Top Priority Passenger...their Solitaire class...currently the highest being offered by the program...one starts with Krisflyer Silver, then Gold, then PPS, then TPP. They used to offer LPP (Lifetime Priority Passenger) as a higher level than TPP, but withdrew that. LPPs do not have to re-qualify annually by spending S$25k on First and Business class flights...yes, no how much Economy flights you take on SQ, you will never go beyond KF Gold.) I find the treatment of TPPs varying at best. Sometimes, we get the recognition, sometimes, we are just treated like any other passenger.

One of the privellages of a TPP is access to the SQ First Class Lounges at Changi regardless of class of travel. In fact, they should rename this Solitare Lounge...as full fare paying First Class passengers get access to a special lounge within. But I digress.

Anyway, my work has allowed me enough flying to be TPP...and have been for 13 years. More than a million miles clocked on SQ tails. I never book on First Class, but travel on Business Class often enough to qualify. And seldom...in my 13 years, I can count on the number of times SQ has upgraded me to first. Once to Shanghai, once on return from Zurich. And just a few days ago, on my return flight from Frankfurt.

The seats on the 77W First Class is not too different in width from the Business Class seats. But a bit more pitch (airline lingo for length of the seat translating to legroom). There is no hump from the seat in front...but there are no overhead storage in First...so the bags stay under the seat.

Note new unisex toiletery kit (still Salvatore Ferragamo) right of the TV, and the new Givenchy pajamas (track suit) just left of my boots.

Krug is the champagne of choice in First, though, on request Dom Perignon is also available. I prefer Krug anyway...

And dinner? We started with a fairly large dollop of caviar with toast and accompaniments...nice. No pic of that, sorry.

And a very beautiful pork soup...nicely done...tasty, hot.

For mains, I selected the coconut chicken curry with rice

Rich...extremely rich coconut milk...perhaps cream...the spices are nicely balanced, though slightly overpowered by the richness of the cream. The rice was nicely done, long grained, fragrant. Overall, quite enjoyable...especially after 10 days of weisswurst, schweinshaxe and rich French meals (two of those will be featured in the next blog entries...both Michelin starred meals...and one with a twist).

And the dessert? White choc...

Needless to say, service was superb...um...first class! Attentive, always with a smile, always addressing me by name. Suberb.

SQ325 Frankfurt to Singapore
Seat 2A, Nov 12
First Class on Boeing 777.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Espresso Joints: Toby's Estate

Continuing on the series on Third Wave Espressos...we now come to Toby's Estate...an Australian concern, helmed by the efferverscent Suhaimi Sukardi, who started and manages the "I am a Barista in Singapore" Facebook page...where I am a member.

The place is rather hidden, tucked in a new residential building in Rodyk...by the river. Nicely located, but not the best for visitors who drive...as there is no parking in the building. Gotta park at Robertson Quay area.

Anyway, the cafe is large, airy. Nice. Pride of place is a huge, and I really mean huge roaster...

Definitely the largest amongst the 3W gang...some 15kg per roast.

The work bench and barista area is occupied by the large Mazzers and Speedster.

The coffees?

I had the espresso doppio:

A little dark, slightly forboding. But good mouth feel...rich, thick, heavy. A bit bitter. Crema is light and dissipates quickly.

The latte featured a nice, well defined art...

Nice smooth feel in the mouth. Rich...milky, creamy. A tinge of the espresso offers some bite.

Overall, a worthy place to hang out for 3rd Wave customers...nexct time I will try the food..

Toby's Estate
8 Rodyk st. #01-03/04. Singapore 238216 +65 66367629

Monday, November 7, 2011

Szechuan in Beijing

As this post goes online, I will be having a very busy week in Munich and Dresden...so just a short one today...one pic, one para...

Szechuan cuisine...hot, spicy...this is a typical mixed platter...you order the level of heat, and the ingredients...we had at mutton, chicken and at least 6 different vegs going on in here...medium heat. With the "ma la" peppercorns...its quite lethal...even with my chilli padi seasoned tongue...

Not sure where in Beijing...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Appetite for China: Muslim cuisine in Beijing: Donglaisun

Muslim cuisine is rather well developed in Beijing...interesting, considering that Muslims make a small minority. But their cuisine featuring lamb is very popular, and have established a long tradition.

I remember eating at a shuayangrou restaurant the first time I visited Beijing in 1994. This was a hot pot, where you cook the lamb yourself. The lamb itself is sliced thinly, each slice the serving portion, and rolled up, frozen. I relish the taste...and have been looking for something like this kind of food ever since. So when I saw one Muslim restaurant right at Wang Fu Jing, and a well known one at that...Dong Lai Shun is an old restaurant, serving up good food for nearly a century.

We returned to the restaurant twice...because the first two times, it was full, and won't take us. On a nice Wednesday morning, we went at opening time...11am, and were rewarded with a table.

We ordered the premium lamb cut...the lamb rib...each portion is RMB78. And another cut which the menu calls Gold Medal cut...also RMB78. Both are for 200g.

The ribs were darker, and well marbled.

And the gold cut was rich pink in hue, and less fat

We also ordered some Chinese cabbage, and noodles

A soup base was ordered, and left to boil in a charcoal hot pot.

The fire went furiously, and soon the soup was boiling...we threw in the ingredients...

when cooked, dip in the dipping sauce...based on sesame...each shuayangrou shop in town boasts of its own dipping sauce...made from secret ingredients...

Extremely delicious. The flavour of the two different cuts of meat was apparent. The ribs were somewhat sweeter, more flavourful. The gold cut was more sinewy. Both were very tender, and very nice. The resultant soup was superb to be drunk just like that.

Excellent meal. We loved it. We thought of going back for a second round, but was distracted by another shuayangrou place in APM Mall...not as good...but I will blog about that experience next week.

Donglaishun Muslim Restaurant (Wangfujing Branch)
Location: No.198, Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District