6-course Early Anniversary Dinner for 4pax at Home on 28May2015

flamed octopus in spinach sauce

#3 flamed squid in spinach sauce

wanted to do an anniversary dinner for my wife & children. the logistics was such that it would be easier to do it earlier & then have dinner out with my wife on the actual day. hence 28.5.2015.

during our recent cornwall travels, we had great lunch at porthminster at st ives on 14.5.2015. we had a superb mussels & a charming roasted pineapples dessert.

also i saw the wonderful photos of a flamed squid in spinach sauce and a curry monkfish. so those were the dishes i had initially planned to do. i experimented on some dishes prior to 28.5.2015. 🙂

my mussels though did not turned up so great(blame it on the cheap local mussels from sheng shiong..haha!), so i decided on a carrot soup.

i tried a thai yellow curry for the first time, planning to replace monkfish with cod. & though the curry turned up beautifully (both looks & taste), my wife & i felt that cod was such a nice fish we should not overpower it with strong curry. so i decided to do a steamed cod instead.

calamari & oyster fritters

#1 calamari & oyster fritters

#1 calamari & oyster fritters

as i was doing carrot soup, i decided to pair it with some oyster fritters, and since i am already at it (oil for deep fry, cornflower, egg & breadcrumb), might as well throw in some calamari.^^

i rolled the lightly seasoned oysters & calamari (squid) in corn flour, then egg, then breadcrumb. then placed them (just 4 or 5 pieces) in about 5cm hot oil a small sauce pan (to use less oil).

calamari & oyster fritters

#1 calamari & oyster fritters

the oyster fritters were excellent, i must say, and first time i made them this way. i liked the calamari too, just cooked right nice texture, not rubbery & tough.

cream of carrot soup

#2 cream of carrot soup

#2 cream of carrot soup

i have done-

this was the very first time i did cream of carrot soup.

& it was excellent!^^ it was silky smooth & tasty, among the best soup i made.

cream of carrot soup

#2 cream of carrot soup

i added a lot of sliced/cut vegetables – 1 onion, 1 stalk leek, 1 red pepper, 2 carrots (plus some leftover stems from spinach). i fried them in butter till soft, added 2 cups of chicken stock & boiled for further 20mins. then i used a blender to blend & added salt & pepper to taste.

when about to serve, i added 3 tablespoon thick cream, and i have some chopped basil from my garden.

flamed octopus in spinach sauce

#3 flamed squid in spinach sauce

#3 flamed squid in spinach sauce

this was the best dish of the evening, quite exquisite if i may say so, maybe alongside the soup.

the squid was done just right, excellent texture & taste, and with the bbq flamed flavours. & the sauce was  exquisite. ^^

st ives porthminster chef michael smith's flamed squid

st ives porthminster chef michael smith’s flamed squid

i only saw the photos in the cookbook at porthminster. when i tried to google, there was nothing to be found, perhaps porthminster’s australian chef michael smith is not so famous. haha!

so i invented the recipe myself. practice made perfect though, so i had 1 practice some days before.

flamed octopus in spinach sauce

flamed octopus in spinach sauce

i cross cut (very closely) a large squid into 4 pieces (about 9cmx6cm), placed them on a pan & torched. i knew that’s was not enough to cook the squid, so fried them in butter afterwards.

#3 spinach sauce

#3 spinach sauce

for the sauce, again i used lots of vegetable to make it so tasty. i fried in butter 1/2 onion, 1/2 stalk leek, 1 green pepper & a bunch of spinach leafs. then i placed them in a blender & added 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil & salt & pepper to taste. such a wonderful sauce complementing the flamed squid.

steamed cod with olive oil & soy sauce + wood fungus

#4 steamed cod with olive oil & soy sauce + wood fungus

#4 steamed cod with olive oil &soy sauce + wood fungus

there was not much to do regards the cod. i had done this once before & i know the simple olive oil with light soy sauce with chicken stock made a terrific stock base for the steamed cod.

steamed cod with olive oil & soy sauce + wood fungus

#4 steamed cod with olive oil & soy sauce + wood fungus

the cod was really wonderful. wife & children liked it very much.

steamed cod with olive oil & soy sauce + wood fungus

#4 steamed cod with olive oil & soy sauce + wood fungus

for me & for my youngest daughter though, we still like the equally tasty teriyaki cod better.

steamed cod with olive oil & soy sauce + wood fungus

#4 steamed cod with olive oil & soy sauce + wood fungus

one mistake i made was with the wood fungus. first time i was doing this. apparently this was the wrong fungus. it was the crunchy type & not suitable. if i had looked more thoroughly i would have found the small ones in the shelves.

pan-grilled lobster

#5 pan-grilled lobster

#5 pan-grilled lobster

this was an easy dish to make. however i did not do it right this time & the lobster was overcooked & just slightly tough. wife & daughters said lobster was very tasty & flavourful but i knew meat being just right & being tough made a whole  world of difference.

cold storage 2x375g frozen canadian cooked lobster=S$26.95

#5 cold storage 2x375g frozen canadian cooked lobster=S$26.95

i bought 2x375g frozen canadian cooked lobster=S$26.95 at cold storage.

cold storage 2x375g frozen canadian cooked lobster=S$26.95

#5 cold storage 2x375g frozen canadian cooked lobster=S$26.95

i cut the lobster in halves & shelled the pincers & legs. i put a lobe of butter in the pan & when it was very hot, i placed the lobster flat on the pan. then i added 2 tablespoon of brandy & flamed. the method was right, but i just did it a bit too long.

roasted pineapples

#6 roasted pineapples

#6 roasted pineapples

i tried to reproduce the roasted pineapples. this i didn’t practice, just use my imagination. unfortunately it was nothing like what we had at porthminster. haha!

roasted pineapples

#6 roasted pineapples

i torched the thick sliced pineapples. then i stewed them in lychee syrup.

roasted pineapples

#6 roasted pineapples

i served it with surprising coconut from daily scoop & lychees, and wife roasted some coconut flakes.

i guess it was immensely edible. anyway we were just eating fruit & ice cream so didn’t quite know what it was about.

roasted pineapples

st ives porthminster chef michael smith’s roasted pineapples

nothing like the experience of the real thing – st ives porthminster chef michael smith’s roasted pineapples.^^

c.h.e.f andy

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Affordable “Nouveau?” Lunch Sets @ Nuvo on 8Sep2014

spiced carrot soup

spiced carrot soup

a friend recommended nuvo. the ongoing S$15pax set lunches looked ok (even though it had a lot of supplements for dish selections) so 6 of us went for lunch on 8.9.2014. chef mark richards hailed from keystone (which i went several times when it was accepting palate privileges – 50% discount for 2pax ala carte. i viewed keystone as the standard of saint pierre & slightly less expensive), and excelled in sous vide techniques. 🙂

the restaurant was located at the food edition at marina square at the corner facing citylink mall & suntec convention centre. it was nice, bright & airy & had a attached bar that was directly overlooking raffles link & raffles boulevard. we all commented this a place to be to watch the F1 (though i always prefer the couch at home..haha..not to mention it cost S$500 to come here & watch the cars turn round a corner!).

we were debating the name. i googled afterwards but there was no special meaning associated with the word so likely nuvo was just short for nouveau. 🙂

i was late, arriving at 12.15pm. the restaurant soon filled up & i would say perhaps >60% occupied during lunch hour on a monday.

a practice that did not find favour with me was NOT serving tap water.  we ordered 1 still & 1 sparkling for 6pax. they cost S$4.50each for a 500ml bottle. for me, i looked at the overall price vs the food & experience so paying S$9 for bottled water for 6pax (which also meant we have to drink less water) was not a big issue.

olive focaccia

olive focaccia

olive focaccia with herb butter

olive focaccia with herb butter

the olive focaccia bread with herb butter was pretty good, ok. 🙂

cha smoked salmon

cha smoked salmon

there were 3 choices of starters & main courses & 2 choices of dessert.

i thought my spiced carrot soup (top photo) with mascarpone, croutons & honey was really good & of fine dining standard. it was creamy, smooth in texture & flavourful, looked wonderful as well! 🙂

the smoked salmon with wasabi cream, furikake & baby spinach came with S$3 supplement. it looked great & appetising. the thick square cuts looked more like ceviche, cured or sashimi. my friends all liked the dish. 🙂 i asked 1 friend afterwards. he said the combination of flavours with the baby spinach was great. 🙂

tempura soft shell crab

tempura soft shell crab

the tempura soft shell crab had S$4 supplement. soft shell crab not my favourite dish but this looked fine & no complaints on the taste. 🙂

grilled pork collar

grilled pork collar

grilled pork collar

grilled pork collar

3 of us took the grilled pork collar on our friend’s recommendations. 2 took the risotto & 1 took the pesto cold soba.

the pork collar had good consistent texture of sous vide. the chef is famous for his sous vide cuisine. the friend who took cold soba & i both commented that the pork collar was kind of lean. i personally would prefer it the usual fatty collar. the 2 other friends preferred it lean. 🙂 fries were good. mash/cold slaw? were good too. i didn’t take much of either.

kabayaki squid risotto

kabayaki squid risotto

the squid risotto looked a bit skimpy to me. 5 or 6 pieces of squid on risotto. maybe it was the minimalist philosophy (just kidding…lol). i asked 1 friend afterwards. he agreed it was kind of plain.

pesto cold soba

pesto cold soba

the friend who took soba said it was too salty & maybe the set lunch was not that great for the price. i said a zaru soba could cost S$12 to S$15 so everything depended on how good the taste.

panna cotta with honeycomb

panna cotta with honeycomb

panna cotta with honeycomb

panna cotta with honeycomb

green tea kochi with melon

green tea mochi with melon

i hardly ever ordered panna cotta in singapore. so i started with the green tea mochi. when the dessert were served, i thought the panna cotta with honeycomb looked quite good so i asked to change the dessert (S$4 supplement).  i had excellent panna cotta at pizzeria balognett at tremezzo, i thought i would give the singapore version a try since it looked quite good. it was pretty good – light, smooth texture – but nothing amazing. the green tea mochi also looked competent. 🙂

overall including S$1.50pax for the mineral water, my share came to S$25++ (S$30nett). to me it was pretty ok & something i would not mind doing again. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Very Good Dinner @ Zazas Amsterdam on 14Apr2014

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amuse bouche

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focaccia bread

had a good dinner at zazas on my second night in amsterdam on 14.4.2014. 🙂 like beulings, we planned & booked the restaurant before the trip.

could not recall the amuse bouche but it was good tasting.

the focaccia was good, the usual.

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carpaccio – euro10.50

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smoked duck mille feuille euro 10.50

we ordered 5 appetisers including the oysters & soup. 🙂

#1 the beef carpaccio was good, sweet & came with foie gras terrine.

#2 the smoked duck mille feuille was good too. smoked duck was good & the pastry too, overall a good dish. taste wise it was not as exciting as it looked. the duck & pastry were competent, good, not special.

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cheese ravioli 1/2 portion euro 8.80

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carrot soup 1/2portion euro2.80

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3 de claire oysters euro 7.50

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creamy & sweet de claire oyster

#3 the ravioli was good. couldn’t remember what was in it, I imagine cheese? but this was better than the green pea risotto we had at the movies restaurant the next day. 🙂

#4 the carrot soup (we had 3 servings of 1/2 portion) had some cream at the bottom & was again very good, and also better than the one at the movies restaurant.

#5 the oysters were excellent, very creamy and sweet. we ordered a second helping of 3 oysters. 🙂

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black cod euro20.50

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guinea fowl euro 20.50

we ordered 2 mains to share.

#6 the cod was competent, but somehow the meat were firmer (& less oily??) than the texture i generally liked, as in my own nobu miso cod or teriyaki cod.

#7 the guinea fowl i guess was competent, just was not a dish that we particularly liked, and by comparison, the duck confit at the movies restaurant was much more enjoyable.

the service was very good – professional & friendly. there was 2 taiwanese ladies on our next table. 1 ordered a lamb but didn’t like it. she was requested to order a different main from the menu. the server took back the lamb & later explained politely & cheerfully that the chef tasted the lamb & it was fine however they would replace it with another main anyway. the lady said sorry when paying the bill & the server said they were sorry that she did not like it. all very nice & pleasant. 🙂

overall the dinner came to euro104 including 2 coffees & a glass of wine, quite good price. it was not really much more expensive than the movies restaurant. the appetisers were great but the mains were not as enjoyable for us c/w the movies restaurant.  i would come back again when in amsterdam.

c.h.e.f andy

 

Far Surpassing Expectations @ The Movies Restaurant Amsterdam on 15Apr2014

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venison with herb cream & beetroots

my very good dutch friend, hugo, knowing that we were in amsterdam, took a train from rotterdam where he was living to have dinner with the 3 of us on 15.4.2014. 🙂

he met us at our haarlemmerdijke apartment and took us across the street, about 30m, to the movies restuarant. that suited us fine as we were taking the first flight the next day to milan on way to lake como at leaving at 6am.

we had walked past the movie theatre several times to go to haarlemmerplein to take the trams and did not notice from across the road that it had a restaurant.

it had a pub like pleasant cosy atmosphere & we could be forgiven to think the food would be like average. how pleasantly wrong we were! 🙂 i realised that it was quite a place to go to for art house movies afterwards.

the service was also excellent, very warm, friendly & helpful! not sure they could smell the baron-ness in my aristocratic looking friend. lol. 🙂

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green pea risotto

we ordered 4 appetisers & 3 mains.

#1 we did not try hugo’s venison (top photo) but it sure looked good!

#2 the green pea risotto was competent, the risotto done just right, al dente. nothing much to criticise, taste-wise i guess it was good (as could be good for a plain no ingredient risotto), nothing exceptional.

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carrot soup with croutons

#3 my carrot soup was good, well above average. it was though not as good as the carrot & coconut soup we had at a cafeteria  during  a cycle stop earlier in the day (that soup was truly excellent & i intend to try out myself at home).

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tuna rillette salad

#4 the tuna rillette was quite ok.salad was good.

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duck confit & slow braised belly port

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duck confit & slow braised belly port

#5 the duck confit & the slow braised belly pork were excellent, flavourful, moist (not dry & very sinewy like some were) and tender. duck confit not my favourite but this was 1 duck confit i would be quite happy to have, though the helping was too large & i would still prefer to share than to have one all by myself.

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EXCELLENT slow braised lamb loin

#6 hugo’s slow braised lamb turned out to be the best dish, superbly tender & without the very strong gamey taste (the “hiang”=reason many could not take lamb) despite retaining lots of fat. there were 2 large pieces. once hugo started sharing, we ate so fast & polished off 1 of his 2 pieces in a blink! 🙂 i am working on how i can reproduce this dish or with variation, likely using miso marinade or vegetable ratatouille. 🙂

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grilled skate wings

#7 the skate wing my wife had was probably the poorer of the dishes. i guess it was still an ok dish, but this method of preparation would probably render a bland tasteless fish, unlike singapore’s intense chilli bbq preparation which brings out the flavours of the fish with great texture lots of edible cartilage. even the very chinese style of frying with black beans would enhance the flavour a lot more.

overall, i guess this was not quite at the level of zazas though i would rate both mains as better than what we had at zazas. i guess that actually says a lot!

i did not know the total price, but the lamb i think was like euro 22 or euro24 & the duck was like euro18, so it was excellent value by comparison. this would be a very top comfort food restuarant i would be quite happy to return to in amsterdam if i am not specifically trying out other restaurants hoping to find another beulings.

c.h.e.f andy

Afternoon Tea @ Nassim Hill Bakery on 6Apr2014

corn beef hot reuben sandwich

corn beef hot reuben sandwich

daughter wanted to try nassim hill bakery for afternoon tea. we bought stamps at the tanglin post office next door a month back but did not try out this place.

all day breakfast, egg bens, burgers & sandwiches & hip cafes do not hold any particular attraction for me though i do agree that some are pretty ok & a good departure from the usual stuff i take, and i am quite able to enjoy them if good even if not my preferred. 🙂

the hot reuben was a favourite here. though for me it was more like what else was there to order here? i could just see perhaps a grilled chicken salad or grilled chicken sandwich…pizzas not our favourite, & pasta sorry to think this way but i probably do them better myself. in any case probably wouldn’t order these items in a cafe unless some close friends really vouched for them.

corn beef hot reuben sandwich

carrot soup

carrot soup

nassim hill bakery

nassim hill bakery

turned out that the hot reuben sandwich was really quite good, and quite a good helping for S$18. corn beef (which i always associate with luncheon meat, a favourite to steam on top of the cooked rice in a rice cooker when i was studying abroad 30++years ago) was good & the sauerkraut was not sour & went well with the meat & bread. not something i could finish by myself. we shared among 4pax. 🙂

good thing here was that when you ordered a main, you could order a soup (usual S$6), coffee/tea (usual S$5/S$6) or soft drink (we were not interested) for S$3. so we added a flat white, a mint tea & a soup (carrot soup, above photo) for S$3 for each item.

the ambience was great! parking was limited but we were able to park right outside the cafe on a sunday afternoon. 🙂

apple crumble with vanilla ice cream

apple crumble with vanilla ice cream

flat white

flat white

we added an apple crumble (carrot cake was a favourite here but we look at the cake tray & it did not excite us). this was good – crumb was good, apple was not too sweet, the cake layer was a bit large. reminded me of my jam crumb cake, a recipe i picked up recently rather successfully. 🙂

coffee/flat white was ok, kind of average. the ones we had recently at costa were quite a bit better.

service was a bit sloppy – forgot our soup order completely, and after waited long after we finished the hot reuben & coffee, took another inordinately long time to make right & service recovery, and did not make effort to offer a smile or friendly apology though overall the staff were quite polite but NOT attentive! after soup was finally served, took another long time to serve the apple crumble saying they thought we had canceled the cake (why make such assumptions on behalf of customer? if not, why use it as an excuse? better to just say sorry & make good). i guess it was quite ok, average, could be worse in some places.

the orders for 4pax was S$38nett so it was pretty ok though we ordered not so many items.

maybe once in a while, i might do this with some one who like the ambience & share the pretty ok food. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy