High-tea at The Marmalade Pantry, Ion

After hearing several raves about the Afternoon Tea set at the Marmalade Pantry, I finally got to try it one day. All this while I have not really had the chance because afternoon teas tend to be too much for two persons and it’s typically geared towards more sweet than savoury items. Despite that I generally have a sweet tooth, there needs to be a balance, usually.

Priced at S$38 for a set that is supposed to serve 2, it’s really quite value-for-money because as compared to some other places, this works out to be about S$22 per person after applicable taxes.

The afternoon tea offerings are served in a three-tier rack, with the top tier holding the condiments, which includes strawberry preserve, marmalade (of course they can’t not have this) and clotted cream. The middle tier displays the scones, a mixture of mini buttermilk scones and mini cranberry scones, a whopping total of 10 pieces! Of course, these are about half the size or less of a usual scone, but I think there is still too much of it. 10 pieces! Gosh, how can anyone finish that much, which was why I guess most comments I read about this set would be that it probably would serve three better instead.The lowest tier serves an assortment of mini sandwiches, which includes 2 open-faced ones. These are supposedly egg and cress, beef and horseradish and green land shrimp. These finger sandwiches make up the only savoury part of the set, and we both agreed that we would rather have swapped out some of the scones for more of the sandwiches because the bread is really nice! The fillings are great as well but I like the toasted and crusty texture of the bread. Perhaps one of these days I could order the sandwiches there just to have the bread. :)A closer look at the overwhelming number of scones. They aren’t too bad, but from what I could recall of them and what I had before, they aren’t the best scones around. The size is great of course, because we all know how dense scones can be and just one normal-sized scone could count for a meal/snack, e.g. breakfast. Another point to note is that the clotted cream also isn’t fabulous. Clotted cream is of course better than whipped cream, anytime, but the clotted cream at Marmalade Pantry still feels a little light and not as decadent as how we would usually want clotted cream to be!
Besides these, the set also comes with a cupcake each of your choice. We picked the Limonata (tart lemon glazed cake) and the Granny’s Apple (spiced apple and cinnamon cake with cream cheese). The latter, with the dollop of apple on top, was a much better option, because the Limonata’s topping somehow just tastes too sweet and artificial, even its base. I would have expected something more zesty but it just felt very sweet overall.
Not too bad an experience, but there are so many other afternoon/high tea sets around to check out to do a repeat, unless it’s really worth it or good, such as that at Fosters! It costs just $11.50 for 2 scones, a slice of tea cake and a finger sandwich. From what I remembered of it, the scones and clotted cream they have are pretty awesome.

Oh and Marmalade Pantry’s set also comes with a pot of Gryphon tea each of your choice. I would have preferred if they offered coffee too, but then it would probably have resulted in me overdosing on coffee, and what’s Afternoon ‘Tea’ without tea?

Closed. Spinelli, Wheelock Place

Besides the Marmalade Toast that I realised had closed its doors for good, it was probably on the same day that I came to know that Spinelli at the Wheelock Place had shuttered. :(

Despite the apparent crowds that have driven me away countless times during the weekends, I think the turnover and business at the rather sprawling outlet on basement one of Wheelock Place wasn’t that great. Due to the availability of armchairs and the low number of seats arranged in the cafe, it couldn’t accommodate that many people at any one time. And due to the armchairs it also means that typically the occupants would linger for much longer nursing a single cup of beverage.

Customers like myself who can stay for an hour taking up 2 seats would probably have contributed to its demise. I guess I wouldn’t have said no if someone had asked to share the seat, despite that we would face each other (sort of) over a small coffee table. In fact, there was an occasion where a girl had asked if anyone was occupying the seat opposite me and I said no. It felt a little strange but then again, both of us are separately involved with what we were busy with individually so it didn’t really matter at all.

Spinelli has no more surviving outlets in the Orchard belt. There used to be an outlet at Orchard Central but again, the layout and the low patronage led to it eventually closing. Oh well…

Closed. The Marmalade Toast

This afternoon, I had wanted to pop in somewhere for a quick dose of something sweet or savoury. Unfortunately, Friday afternoons are a bad time, especially when it’s Orchard we are talking about. Even though the haze situation was really bad just as of this morning, with the PSI reading hitting highs above 300 that were sustained through the night till this morning, the crowds were out in full force. Perhaps it “helped” that the authorities declared it a non-school day, and parents took the opportunity of that window of clearer skies and probably healthier air to get their kids out.

That was when I thought I might have some luck at Marmalade Toast, which is a nicely-hidden cosy cafe tucked away on the outside of Ngee Ann City, on the same level as its taxi stand. It used to be fairly crowded, but over the years with more and more cafes popping up all over, such as Paris Baguette in Wisma, Paul in Ngee Ann City, and whatever else around, it slowly perhaps became forgotten. Which may also be the reason for its permanent closure. Business seemed to have been quite slow as most times when I visit on weekends, I seldom have problems finding a place.

I’m quite sad that these cafes are all closing one by one. Places that I enjoyed going to. And in their places, there are some of those newer cafes such as that I mentioned above, which aren’t exactly where I would go on my own. I have been to Paul at Ngee Ann City once, and due to the bad service I didn’t want to make a revisit. Paris Baguette was really popular and packed when it just opened, these days the crowds still pour in during peak times I suppose, but it doesn’t appeal to me as a place to hang out.

So anyway, as of 20 September, Marmalade Toast has closed its doors for good. Goodbye, you will be missed.

A couple of past posts…

Toast at Ngee Ann City (2012).

Marmalade Toast (2012)

Baker & Cook, Opera Estate

This is only the second time I have visited Baker & Cook. I don’t recall how I came to know about this bakery, but then I had wanted to check them out and back then I only knew about the one at Hillcrest Road. I was meeting a friend for brunch and since we had a ride, I mooted this place for coffee and some breads! Obviously, I was the only one who was keen to indulge in the breads but anyway they serve up a pretty good brew too!

So that was sometime back, maybe a couple of years or even longer. My memory has grown hazy, along with the haze that is shrouding our little city state currently. Bad analogy. But well, I was visiting my friends at their new crib in the Eastern part of Singapore, and after lunch at Bedok Mall, or whatever it is, the mall connected to Bedok MRT station, I wanted to grab my caffeine fix and they suggested this bakery where they thought I’d love, rather than our original plan of Starbucks.

It was only when they drove me there that I knew it’s Baker & Cook and I was delighted! Well even though I already had lunch and was not likely to be ordering any breads, which is what I so love, it was tea-time and so I prodded my friends to order some sweets to share! I probably had the lion’s share of it but oh well, at least I didn’t clean off everything solely. Haha.

So, we ordered a something-tart and a slice of Lemon Drizzle cake. The tart was quite nicely done as I remembered it, while the cake was a little of a disappointment because I found it to be a tad too sweet and moist. It wasn’t that I like dry cakes, definitely not, but this was a bit too dense and wet, like it hadn’t been baked enough? Or maybe that was how it was meant to be but I just have differing preferences.

When I posted it on Instagram with my rant though, someone commented that at least it looked pretty enough to be Instagrammable. Heh.

A closer look at the tart, which should be either peach or apricot with almonds? That’s what it looks to me. It was just a few weeks ago but it has totally eluded my memory.

Anyway the coffee (that came with a small cube of awesome brownie) did make up for that, and the company that afternoon was also great, catching up for a few hours after what felt like forever since we actually met!  
As I tried to name the 2 sweets that we ordered, I was checking out their website and menu and I just feel like trying so many things on it! Obviously, the breads would be the main item drawing me to them, seeing as to how I am such a big lover and fan of breads, but their locations tend to be a bit forbidding for me, except for perhaps the outlet at Intercontinental Hotel. Then again, I don’t think that would be as nice as their other locations at Hillcrest and Swan Lake.

Affected too easily

As I reflect on my grouses, that tend to be pretty similar if not downright repetitive, I realise that most of the things that rile me up are exogenous. It is all too common that whenever I ride on the local subway or tube or whatever it is termed, i.e. we call it the MRT, an acronym for Mass Rapid Transit, I am bothered by people intruding into my virtual private space, or when they so much as brush against me when there is more than a silver of space separating us, making me wonder in disbelief why they would need to veer so close to me instead of keeping a wide berth, which I would definitely prefer and choose.

Even in the office, something as innocuous as someone making too much noise, as deemed by me, such as slamming stacks of papers on the desk, flipping papers loudly, sighing all the time audibly, throwing down stationery after using them so that they create a loud clacking sound on the table… I just don’t get it. Why can’t people just do things quietly? As they type on the keyboard, is there really a need to hit the keys so hard like they are afraid nobody can hear them typing?

It is all very personal, I suppose. Like how I prefer peace and quietness, and would rather do things gently and quietly, type quietly, flip and handle things with a controlled level of force so that things don’t get smashed around. It’s just that in our world where private space has become somewhat of a luxury, and more often than not we have to share breathing space with people, it is hard to not have to grow accustomed to or tune out from all these noises and distractions. We don’t exist in a vacuum and we certainly don’t live on an island where we are the sole inhabitant, so even if it drives me crazy when people do what they do, intentionally or not, I will have to learn to get over it and put it aside. Life is stressful enough as it is without us adding such unnecessary stress and pressures on our own lives. Yet how can I learn better to adapt, to tune out and to ignore?

Saint Marc Café, Japan

Back then when I first tried this in Tokyo many years ago, probably during my maiden visit in 2006, I knew this as “choco-cro”, which is what is printed on the sleeve that holds the croissant, as pictured below. I guess the original version of this yummy crispy snack is the chocolate croissant, which explains its name. But it actually is a product of St. Marc cafe, which I only knew of when it opened in Singapore a few years ago. Talk about being ignorant! That’s me!  To be very honest, I seldom ever pop into this cafe in Singapore, because somehow I never had any serious craving for it. There are many other nice croissants around, and I am not super big on them anyway. Besides, I have this nagging suspicion that they are overpriced here, like most things that are imported, even if I am paying for overpriced coffee in many other cafes around… but well, you get the drift. I remembered meeting a friend there once for coffee and was feeling hungry so I had wanted to order a sandwich. But then, what they offered as sandwiches were sad-looking square slices of bread, kind of like those commercially-manufactured loaves sold in supermarkets, with equally miserable-looking slices of ham and lettuce of sorts wedged in between. That wasn’t the reason why I decided against ordering those sandwiches, but instead the price tag that read … if I remember correctly, S$7.80, or something in that vicinity. Imagine my shock. So I ordered the croissant eventually.

But these photos are from my trip to Sapporo a couple of months back. We actually went to St. Marc cafe for breakfast twice, since there was a fairly large outlet near our hotel and it wasn’t really crowded on both occasions when we went.

On the first visit, I ordered the chocolate croissant and it still tastes good. I think the ones in Singapore aren’t too bad either, just that somehow it feels nicer having it in Japan. For some reason. Haha. Double standards, I know.
On our second visit, I decided to try something else, which was a ham and egg mayonnaise sandwich, which I really love because the bun used is somewhat like a cross between a brioche and croissant. Or basically croissants are generally buttery anyway so that explains why I feel as though it’s like a brioche.Yummy bliss.
My friend tried the french toast, which looks a little limp, but I think it still tasted ok overall. Most of their pastries are already prepared and displayed on an open shelf that you could just pick up and pay, and they won’t be re-heated again so I guess that explains the general “limp-ness” of how they look, as compared to freshly-baked/prepared items that tend to look more fluffed up. I cannot recall what the other item contained within, but it’s a different version of the croissant, i.e. different filling contained within. So far, I have tried the matcha-flavoured croissant and a strawberry daifuku version before, in addition to the original chocolate. They are all pretty nice, because the filling is typically not so sweet and complements the savoury buttery croissant well, which of course also goes perfectly with a cup of piping hot coffee, especially on cool chilly days.Ah.. how I miss Japan!

the rabbit with an X for a mouth 

One of my favourite characters since some time ago has been Miffy, the rabbit that hails from the Netherlands, created by Nick Bruna, with an “X” for a mouth. At least it has a mouth, not like Hello Kitty, the cat without a mouth. Haha.

I remembered that since young, I have liked characters like Snoopy, the beagle without a mouth and speaks with thought balloons. Then there was Garfield, the fat lazy cat. No trend detected there.

So anyhow, I seem to have a fondness of rabbits, whether it’s Miffy or rabbit-print stuff. The only thing that I’m not that keen on would be probably real rabbits. I am not an animal person, or for that matter, pets person. It isn’t that I dislike animals but I just don’t fancy taking care of them or want to have the commitment of looking after them when I don’t know if I can even take care of myself. It could be a poor excuse for being commitment-phobic but oh well. We all have our preferences.So I got a Miffy toy for my birthday this year! Somehow, it looks a bit sad? Like how I generally feel these days perhaps. Or maybe because it was sitting beside the huge-ass slice of Apple Crumble but yet can’t have it!

Thanks for the thought and the gift. With some people, things just always feel the same despite a long bout of absence. I suppose it isn’t the frequency of meeting up that makes the difference, but the fact that we make the effort when we can.