Weekends are made of these – Artisan Boulangerie Co.

Who doesn’t love it when the weekend approaches? I bet that most people, by the time Thursday comes by, are already anticipating the end of the work week, that’s why there is always that oft-used “TGIF” and somehow, the mood just takes on a more relaxed tone even on Friday mornings.

These are also the times when I have the luxury of spending moments at cafes, enjoying the food and coffee without having to think of needing to return to the office post-lunch. The amount of time spent there could be the same but the feeling is just different.

Artisan Boulangerie Co., or ABC for short, is one such place I like to go to. I have posted a couple of entries on it before, but this is a short summary of the things I like from them that I found from the photo album of my phone, which I have not downloaded into some storage device but are taking up precious memory space.

Just recently, I went to ABC again, which I’m happy to (despite that a meal there is typically a little pricier as compared to the other cafes like Starbucks or Coffee Bean) especially now that I have easier access to one of their outlets than before. So this time, I had wanted to order my favourite item from their breakfast menu but was told that they ran out of it, so I decided to get a sandwich instead, which you can’t go too wrong with. Not with them anyway, and especially if it’s something that I have tried before – the roast chicken baguette. At S$11.30 (pre-GST), it isn’t the cheapest sandwich around but it’s all for good measure – just check out how generous they are with it.The baguette is easier the length of a fork and it’s of pretty decent quality, though extremely hard. I wouldn’t recommend this for people who don’t like the bite and chewiness in their breads, because even cutting into it takes a bit of effort after sometime (when the bread has cooled) that I felt as though I was working my arms just eating this thing!
The chicken filling was literally spilling out of the sandwich, and it has a nice peppery taste for some spiciness. How I usually eat my sandwiches is by deconstruction – meaning, I literally take the entire sandwich apart, eating the bread separate from the filling. I would slice/cut up the bread into bite-size chunks, the same with the filling, and eat them together like mini open-faced sandwiches. I feel that it’s easier this way and less messy when eating, though the plate becomes messy because as I cut through the bread, types like croissant or baguette crumble and flake all over the place.

On a past visit, I had tried some other sandwiches. One that I had always wanted to try and did, was the Goat Cheese & Capsicum on focaccia. I can’t remember if I had posted about this before, but I love goat cheese and this was definitely one of those items I had wanted to try. I thought somehow the cheese reminded me of brie, and again it was so generous that I had to spread the cheese onto the bread so I wouldn’t recommend this for people who feel iffy about the taste of goat dairy, or for that matter, anyone who doesn’t fancy strong-tasting cheese.Yummy… this on the whole was good, but again strong-tasting, because of the goat cheese and the rockets. But goes perfectly with a cup of their Long Black.
Still another time, I decided to order something off the menu that wasn’t in the display case – turkey, avocado and brie. Although this was not bad in itself, the bread felt a little too soft for my liking. It’s toasted to a certain extent but it I don’t know if it’s because it’s white, it is too soft without the crunch and chewiness that I like to have for breads. If I recalled correctly, and from the picture it is turkey ham used in the sandwich instead of turkey meat, so it isn’t preferred. I probably wouldn’t order this again given a choice; would try something else or order something that I’ve tried and tested to be ok!
Tried the Chicken Caesar salad too and on the whole it’s pretty great, portion size was ok though not excessive but they supplement it with a serving of bread that you could indulge in with (semi-salted) butter or jam that’s freely available from their condiments counter. The salad isn’t dressing-rich, which is great and chicken portions are pretty sufficient. Only downside for me is the use of Parmesan cheese which is not my favourite type of cheese. But I think this is a typical ingredient of Caesar salads, so I could either ask for its omission in future or just make do with it. But butter croutons – amazing!
Of course, this brings me to my favourite item from their menu, which is from their brunch items – Homemade / Artisan Almond Granola, which is a mixture of organic rolled oats, toasted almonds, sesame & sunflower seeds, served with plain yogurt and freshly-cut fruits. At $12 each, this is pretty pricey but I feel worth every single dime (ok maybe not) because the fruits used are really fresh and of good quality and I just cannot resist this combination of fruits, granola and yogurt!Their other brunch items are also good, though the only other item I’ve tried is the Avocado Egg Open Face, which aside from bacon that I don’t take, everything else was just darn great!

Latteria Mozzarella, Duxton Hill Singapore

Restaurant week just ended not too long ago, and as much as I have heard about it and read about it, seen pictures on friends’ blogs and instagrams of the posh-nosh food that they enjoyed during this time of each year (actually now it happens twice a year), I have never once partook in it. I just got to know that the concept originated from New York, where this initiative was birthed to let more people access the high-end restaurants through a more affordable menu. It is of course hoped that despite the competitive pricing, they don’t compromise on other aspects, such as quality. I can’t really comment on that since in the first place I seldom visit high-end restaurants. Either you can say that I don’t have expensive taste-buds, I don’t know how to enjoy the good food or I simply just am a eat-to-live person. Anyhow, this year marks my virgin experience at Singapore Restaurant Week and I checked out Latteria Mozzarella at Duxton Hill. I love working in the Tanjong Pagar area because besides the availability of many of such apparently well-known restaurants, there is also a good mix of other eateries and F&B outlets, cafes, etc. There are even hawker stalls, several of whom are definitely worth their salt!

So this was the menu that was presented for Restaurant Week for a lunch set.IMG_0318.JPGThe choice comes in the main, where you have 3 options of either crab, lamb or fish. Of the 4 of us, two of us chose the fish and the other two the lamb shank. I wonder why no one picked the crab but since I am no crab or lamb fan, it was an easy, or rather, no option for me.

The appetizers were served up, bocconcini in carrozza, arrabbiata sauce, which is like a fried mozzarella ball.

IMG_0319.JPGThis is a closer look at a cut-up piece. It’s actually pretty tasty, with its exterior thinly coated with I guess flour and then fried, while the inside still retained the fairly soft texture of mozzarella cheese.

IMG_0320.JPGMy main of the sea bass filet, chick peas, pesto & cherry tomatoes. The filet portion was just nice for me, so I figure it could be too little for bigger eaters. But the sauce, which I think is most likely blended chick peas, helps to give you a bit more satiety, and the pesto gave a little contrast to the flavour of the fish and chick peas. But sea bass isn’t my most preferred choice of fish though as it feels a bit tough especially the parts near the skin.

IMG_0321.JPGThis was a picture of the lamb shank with mushroom orzotto which the other two had. I didn’t ask them how it tasted but they cleaned their plates so I am guessing it should be good, otherwise it just meant that they were really hungry. It could be either actually, considering that they are both guys but the orzotto should have provided a good amount of carbs for them.

IMG_0322.JPGAnd it’s dessert time! As with all good Italian restaurants… presenting the Tiramisu! This was served with espresso cream. I was really taking my time with the cake, slowly savouring every little morsel of it and enjoying it with the espresso cream. It’s quite nice, not too soft and mushy but some others I have tried, and I find the taste and flavour to be just nice, not too strong but still having that distinct tiramisu signature taste.

IMG_0323.JPGOf course, this was then ended off with a coffee, which I neglected to take any pictures because it was just black coffee, and because the rest of the table just aren’t into this habit of snapping pictures of their food. They already accommodated me by offering me the chance to snap the lamb shank! For a nett price of S$25, it isn’t what you would typically pay for lunch (heck, it can be my entire week’s worth of lunch budget!), and I don’t know what is the usual pricing at Latteria Mozzarella, but I think it should be considered quite worth it for the 3-course meal and I thought taste-wise it was pretty good! Again, as I have never been there before I wouldn’t have been able to provide any comparison. 🙂

reason for waking up

Sometimes I feel a tad embarrassed to tell my friends the reason for me being an early riser. I used to belong to the usual demographic of teenagers who would sleep till the sun had risen high up in the sky, or maybe even later. My mum used to nag at me about it too but I’m not sure if it’s due to age or simply a shift of perspectives, I am almost completely a changed person where waking up is concerned.

On all days of the week, Saturdays and Sundays not excluded, I am up before 8am. Well, I can even say that I am already up by 7am every day of the week and everyone seems to balk at that thought. They can’t imagine why anyone would want to wake up early when it’s the weekend and opportune time to sleep in, or laze in bed, something which is not possible on the working weekdays. To be honest, waking up on weekdays to get ready for work is not something I look forward to yet I can easily make myself be up because there is something else I look forward to, albeit lasting for a fairly short time. Yes, you will know it already… breakfast. It’s embarrassing to admit that food is my fuel for waking up but it is that easy. I love breakfast and it is what wakes me up each day, anticipating my favourite breakfast food each and every day, even if what I eat each day is exactly the same!

Just last week I was in Germany for work, and I found out after these couple of years of travel and interaction with colleagues that their usual breakfast includes bread, cheese and ham. The Europeans, at least the ones I work with, tend toward this type of breakfast, not the kind we normally get in hotels with all the hot stuff like scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, pancakes, etc. I don’t generally take hot food at breakfast too because my preference lie with the combination of yogurt, grains/nuts, fruits and bread. Many of my friends can’t sustain too long with such kinds of food because they feel it’s boring and bland. I once too had hearty breakfasts that saw the likes of roti prata, fried bee hoon, etc., but somehow these are far beyond my radar of food these days, whether stemming from my obsession with losing weight or health-consciousness, you take your pick.

I had to miss the hotel’s breakfast on my last day of the trip because I had to leave at an unearthly hour to catch the first train out on a long trip to the airport, so along the way at one of the stations, whilst waiting to transit to another train, I bought this for 2.20 Euros.  

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It’s pretty costly if you think of it as a simple cheese sandwich; just a sunflower seed bun with a couple slices of cheese, tomatoes and lettuce. But I enjoyed it a lot and as I was munching on it during the wait, or when I finished the rest of it on the train, I actually felt a weird sense of peace and contentment. Ok, I think the cheese overdid a little on the sodium levels because I thought I had that feeling lingering in my mouth when something is too salty, but overall everything put together offered a good balance of chewiness and satiety. We don’t have as many choices as Europe for sure, when we talk about breads and cheeses, evident from the usual supermarkets that I visit. Even our bakeries are so different, if you look at their bakeries and our likes of Bread Talk and etc., yet I think we are also gradually evolving as more foreign businesses and habits, lifestyles, make their way onto our shores. I can only be happy with the choices. I can survive overseas, where food is concerned, but maybe not on other fronts.

in the mood to share

My friend once mentioned about her unease in sharing things online. That was about the time when I started blogging. I tried several portals but eventually came to WordPress where I’ve been for a while. It’s not the best but since it is free and I’m not willing yet to pay and tweak with the codes, I can make do for now.

It led me to think if by blogging do I share too much of myself which I’m not sure whose eyes are reading. There is a reason why I don’t usually post pictures of myself on the blog, and don’t go into the details of the work even if I rant a lot about how I feel about it in general. When I decided to do away with the privacy settings of the blog this was how I thought I can maintain a little semblance of safeguard for myself in terms of unwanted eyes reading what they should not know about.

But I don’t mind sharing photos that I’d taken of places I’d been and things I’d done. It’s a way of documenting my memories too, which if this isn’t sucked into the black hole of cyberspace, I can always return to reminisce or simply to just jolt my memory when it starts to fail.

Remember what I said yesterday about scratching the diet plan? This thing below will have you ditching any thought of losing weight because it’s so yummy. Cheese fondue, made from a seasonal French cheese, baked and melted to creamy perfection; good for having with bread or even on its own. 

But no, last night I stuck to the original plans and went for yoga class; I didn’t regret giving up the beer for yoga because it felt good to just stretch and still sweat a bit, although I sort of got bored after a while. Perhaps two days in a row of classes by the same yoga master wasn’t such a good idea because things started to get repetitive even if the classes were supposed to be different. Or maybe not. Hatha flow yoga as compared to hatha beginners yoga, not too big a difference, except that on Tuesday night the class was a little more challenging and I even attempted once more to do the headstand. But of course I didn’t succeed, I only managed to go into sort of a half headstand with the tips of toes still touching the ground.

It’s Formula One weekend this week and the road closures have just about disrupted the commute patterns of the City Hall and Shenton Way office workers. Congestions were reported in the news, along with people being late for work. F1 came to Singapore in 2008, and even though I left a company I was working for in the City Hall area towards the end of July 2008, the entire area was already abuzz with activity in preparation for the inaugural night race. I was glad to not be caught up in all the congestion even if I was trapped in a cab for more than an hour when I was supposed to be travelling to One Fullerton for a dinner during the period of road closure.

I always don’t get around to doing it although I’ve thought about getting a room with a view for the F1. It would probably cost an astronomical sum for something like this:

I think we have a pretty swell city view at night, don’t you think? I love city lights, there’s no denying that. So sometimes when I go to places where the night is dead and dark I get really bored of the place. It is good once in a while to be away from the city and revel in the tranquility of island life such as the various beach resorts around but you can’t ever take the city out of me. It shows in the places that I always return to for vacations; I don’t mind if these cities are frequently crowded and everyone is in a perpetual rush as long as I am not a part of it.

And how exciting it is that after the F1 (which doesn’t actually excite me that much anymore now), next week is C’s wedding! Ok, this picture below was from my bro’s wedding about three years ago but it’s the only wedding-related photo I have with me right now. 

The weather seems to have taken a change into something gloomier and wetter. I’m all for the cooler temperatures but I don’t fancy getting my feet and shoes wet from the rain especially when working days mean I have to be walking in the rain (even with a brolly) for at least a good ten minutes to get to the office. Which was why this morning, I decided to cab to work. It’s extravagant I know, but there are just some mornings you don’t feel like taking the bus, especially mornings like these when I wished I was still in bed sleeping. And it’s really not that expensive if I were to compare this to learning how to drive and getting a car, together with the associated costs… I took a cab to office and even with the 35% peak hour surcharge, I still got a decent amount of change back from $10!

life is about indulging

So the weekend is gone once again. I don’t used to be a fan of cheese, and I still like to think I am not a big fan of it, but recently I have been having cheese pretty often, meaning more than once a month. Haha. Ok. For someone who used to take cheese only as part of burgers and stuff, eating cheese on its own is a major step forward. Well, technically it is eaten on its own, but not alone. That’s why it’s referred to as wine and cheese. We had a nice german riesling that night that was unlike the usual whites that I have had; it wasn’t too dry and in fact tasted quite sweet. Frankly, I think a bottle between 2 persons is just good but then again how many times have we actually known when to stop at 1? Since it was still early after that, it was off to the singing room! Spent about 3 hours doing damage to my already deteriorating vocal chords, if they were any good in the first place, before trudging home to slumberland in the wee hours of the morning. I think I had just about less than 6 hours of shut-eye before I hauled myself out of bed to run some errands.

quepasa

Went for the Da Vinci exhibition at the Science Centre all the way in Jurong, since it was already the last weekend of the exhibit, and if it wasn’t the Da Vinci exhibition, I would not have made that trip. Jurong is just too far on my radar to even consider going to these days somehow. The place was brimming with visitors all wanting to catch the travelling exhibition before it leaves, and we spent about an hour to queue for the tickets and then for admission to the hall. As much as there were rave reviews about the exhibition, I was honestly a trifle disappointed. I would think it was a rather comprehensive showing of Da Vinci as a painter and more, although really, I held a much stronger interest in his works as a painter rather than anything else. I don’t profess to know much about him but from the shards of memory left over from 6 years ago, I recall that another Da Vinci exhibition I visited at the Lourve in Paris was better. It provided a more genuine museum feel to it, which was probably why I did not enjoy this one as much, since it was at the Science Centre and the purpose was to showcase his ideas in a tangible form that visitors could see and for certain displays, touch and feel. That said, I was quite impressed by the depth of coverage of the secrets behind the famed Mona Lisa. The original painting that hangs in the Lourve was much smaller than what many expected it to be, yet at this exhibit, there were many digitally reproduced versions of the painting blown up to show what it would or should look like when Leonardo painted it about 500 years ago, without the damages that were inflicted on it over these years. There was some introspect made to the Last Supper as well, and the famous Vitruvian man sketch, digitally-reproduced too of course; the original is too fragile and precious to even be exhibited so all versions of that found these days are all replicas.

After spending half the afternoon in the western part of the island, we were starved for food, and headed purposefully for dinner at Seah Street Deli. It has been years since I last stepped into this place, and I think my favourite fish & chips has since changed too; the portion is now more manageable than before, and it comes coated with cheese (again!) on top, but it is still crispy and savoury perhaps because the batter is breaded, although beer batter goes well with me too!

seahstreetdeli

What used to be called the V Tea Room at the Esplanade had changed its name to The Cookie Museum, quite sometime ago, although this is my first visit after the change. It feels good for a change to sip on Lady Grey tea instead of the usual coffee that I would have ordered as a choice of beverage, but the Bounceberry tea my friend ordered was really aromatic and sweet-smelling! The moment the tea flowed out of the spout of the teapot, I could already catch strong whiffs of it even though the server was standing about half a metre away from me. However, it’s rather pricey for a small pot of tea. We spent approximately S$14 each for 1 pot. Gosh.

cookiemuseum

And lastly… I had a very nice bowl of mee sua that my mum cooked since it was supposed to be my birthday according to the lunar calendar. The fried shallots sprinkled on top of the egg were really crispy and tasty too!

meesua