Coffee Bean’s Lemon Meringue Tart

One of the other festive treats that I wanted to try from Coffee Bean was their Lemon Meringue Tart. I have a soft spot for lemon (curd) tarts, because of the expected tangy/zesty taste from the citrus fruit. However, there have been several disappointments because in some places, the curd turned out to be more sweet than tangy/sour. The only one I can remember of recent tries that I liked was from ABC.

I asked the staff before ordering, if this item was more sweet or sour and they told me it was sour. I took a leap of faith to believe their words and ordered it, even though I didn’t particularly fancy meringue, which thankfully was just a small strip adorning the top of the tart. I wouldn’t exactly say that this is a winner, for the simple reason that this, like many others, are mass-produced and the tart base has already been exposed for too long to make it a little ‘stale’? It doesn’t have the nice fragrance that we expect buttery tart bases to be, and because this is served up cold (I don’t think anyone would warm it up for me), there really wasn’t any ‘bursts’ of excitement from it. The curd filling, on its own, was actually sweet, as I felt. Because the tart isn’t fresh anymore, when you cut through it, it just falls apart into its individual parts, i.e. the tart base would separate from the curd nicely. And you could even just remove the strip of meringue on top. The strawberry, or whatever there was of it, was just dry and nothing more. Ok, what did I expect, right?

Anyway, when I tasted the curd, I immediately felt let down, because I had believed the staff and ordered it! But to be honest, when I paired it with the tart base, it actually did somehow take on a more tangy taste, which is quite weird because the base should be more sweet and the sour should be coming from the curd right? Or maybe it was just a figment of my own imagination.
Anyway, it isn’t a total let down, but nothing spectacular either, at S$5.80 per pop, which doesn’t fill up much of my stomach but makes for a decent sized tea/coffee-break item. It does look pretty though. Next up, if I am game enough to try more festive items, I think I would just go with the log-cakes, those should be hard to go wrong, unless of course if they skew more towards the high end of the sweet barometer.

Coffee Bean’s Almond Pistachio Danish… 

I’m quite stoked that Christmas is coming soon. Yet at the same time, I’m aware of the fleeting nature of this festive season. It doesn’t stay long enough, or as long as I would have liked it to be. Year after year, it’s the same anticipation, and hoping that it would not end, then the cycle repeats.

Following from my last post on Christmas food items at the cafes, there was also something from Coffee Bean’s festive menu that I had wanted to check out, one of which was the Pistachio Almond Danish. I do find Danish pastries a little on the sweet side usually, but this one looked fairly safe and fluffy, from its cross-section, so I ordered it one of those days when I popped in for breakfast (that I thought would be quite light). Well, it wasn’t that heavy to be very honest, even though it’s supposedly a brioche. And I think it wasn’t laced with too much sugar to make it sweet like I imagined too. However, the thing that made this item a “miss” was another taste that overwhelmed everything else. Maybe that was why I didn’t think it was too sweet or buttery. The Danish had an air of stale oil when I bit into it, especially the inside. It was like as if the item had been standing for too long and whatever oil used that was trapped within had turned a little rancid. I thought it was my imagination and actually ate about half of it, but each bite confirmed the taste. The outer crust did not have that offending taste/smell, probably because of the benefit of being exposed and not having the oil trapped inside, but it was overall a disappointing choice. Typically, where pastries are concerned, I don’t waste much of them, except for overly-generous creams and stuff that are piled on top of cakes, but I just couldn’t make myself finish the Danish somewhat.There are other Christmas items on Coffee Bean’s festive offerings, but I had already tried their fruit cake last year, which wasn’t too bad. There is also a Lemon Meringue tart, which looks rather interesting but I’m now worried that it might be too sweet, knowing as to how it’s a meringue. Probably I won’t go so wrong with the log-cakes or stollen, but then you never know.

Happy Plate Movement

I came across this cause sometime ago on Instagram, and thought it was a really apt movement, but something that is extremely challenging in a developed society like Singapore where food waste on a daily basis counts in enormous amounts. I think that most of all don’t (I hope) consciously want to waste food, because we all know how precious food is, especially in the context of famine happening in many parts of the world’s developing nations, but in a place like ours, it is something inevitable. It is probably not entirely unavoidable but to be able to not waste food would be a tumultuous journey. Nonetheless, I really applaud this initiative to raise awareness of food wastage and hopefully encourage people towards lessening food waste!

It may sound hypocritical, coming from me, who regularly scraps off stuff like cream from cakes, or excess fillings from toasts/sandwiches e.g. kaya or butter, but I have tried to make some adjustments where eating habits are concerned, by not ordering those cakes that come with too much cream unless it is a no-choice kind of situation where the cake is proffered as part of someone’s birthday celebration, not ordering kaya butter toast but opting instead for peanut butter toast that I would clean off every single crumb, and even asking for “no rice” when I order my favourite economical rice! There was a time when I ate salads almost on a daily basis during lunch time because it is one of those items that I would finish every single morsel of food in the salad box, but it just caused me to become so bloated thereafter that I had to stop.

So here is a picture of my empty plate! See how the plate is almost cleaned off of its original contents of a huge turkey sandwich with a portion of side salad. I love the sandwiches at Coffee Bean, and it’s no secret I love bread, especially the whole wheat bread that they serve, so ordering this item would ensure that I finish everything. Well, it does seem like a large sandwich but honestly, it is only just nice for me, and a few hours later, I am hungry or peckish again. Haha. I do have a ravenous appetite when it comes to breads! 

A week of April in Tokyo

Last year, I had not had the chance to visit Japan, or Tokyo, for that matter. For a few years running, I think I had the chance to make an “annual pilgrimage” to Tokyo, one of the cities that never fails to lighten up my heart when I think of visiting. I wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim as it “my home”, because my home rightly will always be Singapore, with its warts and all, good and bad. It is where I will feel most comfortable in and where my loved ones are. But Tokyo, as a place to visit and holiday in, remains at the top. Perhaps until such day when I have a chance to live and work there for a prolonged period of time that will either change this view for better or for worse…

I booked myself on an early morning flight to Haneda, and before getting onto the plane, since I don’t get complimentary access to the lounge anymore (sigh), I made a short pit-stop at Coffee Bean for a tea latte before boarding.

Coffee Bean’s tea lattes are my favourite drink from them, despite that they tend to be fairly sweet due to the vanilla/chocolate powder being used, but somehow I always find them to be quite enjoyable. Maybe it’s the sweet tooth in me speaking up.  While waiting to board the flight, and on this weekday morning to Haneda, it seemed that the flight would not be a full one, judging by the sparse crowd in the waiting area. Indeed, it wasn’t full and there was quite a bit of space available. But it’s an old plane that SQ is using, a 777-200, so the KRIS World system isn’t the new version and can be a bit wonky at times, with a tiny screen that provides a low quality of movies that you watch. Nevertheless, at least there is inflight entertainment to tide me through the 6-hour flight.

When I got to Haneda, I decided to take the Airport Limousine Bus, but which also meant I had a long wait for the bus to depart. I wandered around the airport, which was not much in terms of shops that I could mill around, and also because I was lazy to wheel my luggage around. Even with a 4-wheeler, it still requires some effort particularly because the airport has those metal studs to facilitate the visually-impaired in getting to the lights and escalators, which impeded the smooth movement of the wheels. Got these from 7-11, a small cup of mixed beans salad and a red bean-flavoured Kit Kat! I love the convenience stores of Japan (only Taiwan follows close behind) and what they have. If only we get these here too. The convenience stores in Singapore aren’t really that ‘convenient’ at all, and often times, the prices are just exhorbitant.   On the ride to the hotel, which is just a 45 or 50-minute ride from Haneda. That’s the good part about flying in/out through Haneda, which is located much closer to the city as compared to Narita. However, if you are going by Narita, the NEX makes the transit shorter, less than an hour, but for lazy people like me who want the convenience of the Airport Limousine in terms of porterage for your luggage, then Haneda makes a good choice.  I reached the hotel in the evening and had a relatively quick and smooth check-in to the hotel, Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku, my usual go-to hotel in Tokyo, which is located just opposite Takashimaya Shinjuku and boasts competitive pricing, especially if you are staying multiple nights and book early. The rooms are small but they are generally clean and well-maintained, and for the most part I find it to be sufficient for me. I have stayed in their double rooms before once, and other times, always booked the ‘Bright Single Room’. As you can see, there really isn’t much space for you to move around, especially if you have more than one piece of luggage, but with some maneuvering, it shouldn’t be too tough. I laid the luggage facing up on a rack the whole period when I was there and managed fine, but just needed to be a bit careful in not knocking into it in those middle-of-the-night bathroom visits.    That’s it for now, shall update more when I can. 🙂

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Christmas Treats

Not sure if I will be having anymore of Coffee Bean’s Christmas items since this seemed like the only interesting thing. The rest of the Christmas F&B, such as the stollen, logcakes and drinks (that sound like they will be extremely sweet) do not carry as much appeal. But when I eyed the Yuzu Fruit Cake, I made a mental note to try it, and finally I had a chance to do so.IMG_0495.JPG

As you can see from the picture, it looks just like an ordinary fruit cake that you can get from most confectioneries but who sell them in a slice wrapped in clear plastic usually. I don’t actually recall tasting any hint of yuzu while I ate it, probably because I was quite hungry and started devouring it without so much as trying to detect any traces of yuzu. Maybe it is in the glazed part at the top of the cake. Or maybe it is a subtle hint for me to go try it again. At S$4.90 for a slice, it is definitely priced lower than most of their cakes, such as the Carrot Cake which I really like but then again, this isn’t as special so maybe it costs less. IMG_0496.JPGHere’s a closer look of it. To be fair, it does contain quite a lot of stuff in it, i.e. the dried fruits and pieces of walnuts. If you like fruit cake, maybe this is something worth trying but you can probably get cheaper and just-as-nice fruit cake elsewhere. 🙂

Coffee Bean, Seoul

It’s probably considered as comfort food, but yet not, especially not in Seoul where cafes abound, leaving me often with the dilemma of which cafe to pop into and what cake or pastry to order. I love pastries, and yes I do suffer from this obsession because pastries are one of those unforgiving indulgences that can wreak havoc on the body. Not just in terms of physically appearance (think muffin tops) but also in terms of health, because of the ingredients that go into commercially-baked stuff (hello trans fat) and what-nots. Anyway, onward with my carrot cake craze. I was thinking of what to have for breakfast when I just decided to step into Coffee Bean because Starbucks didn’t have it. It’s kind of weird to be having cake for breakfast, but who cares when you are on vacation right?

Interestingly, Starbucks in Seoul actually sells carrot cake and I had really wanted to give it a try simply because they don’t have it in Singapore. But that particular outlet I walked into that morning didn’t have it, and subsequently, there were other cafes that were probably more worth checking out. So this is the shot of my breakfast that morning.20140704-074532-27932882.jpg

I wish I had more stomachs for all the cakes that I would like to try and of course more metabolism for burning all of these off! Let’s take a closer look at the cake and its wonderfully smooth and soft cream cheese frosting peppered with a small amount of crushed nuts at the edge.20140704-074532-27932962.jpg

As per most carrot cakes and how I think they should be, there are the usual carrot stips and nuts so yes, checked. I think the frosting was pretty decent, but the cake was just average. It isn’t too dry but yet not as moist as what I would have liked it to be. However, it’s considerably in-between in terms of its density or lightness, definitely better than the one I had at Rocky Master but still not the best that I have had. Come to think of it, I don’t know which is the best carrot cake that I have ever had. In comparison, the carrot cake in Singapore’s Coffee Bean is not too shabby, in fact it’s one of those that I think of fairly highly based on my limited knowledge and tastes of carrot cakes. I read a list of the 10 best carrot cakes in Singapore but have probably only tried at most a couple. One of them is the Carrot Walnut Cake by Cedele, which also ranks as one of my favourites, another that I’ve tried before would be Cake Spade’s Spiced Carrot Cake, which I also found to be really good.20140704-074533-27933006.jpg

Funnily, before I went to Seoul, I was actually not really that keen to head there for whatever reasons. But it wasn’t as bad as what I felt, because I guess holidays are really all enjoyable, and I did get some company in the end at some moments, and the cafes and snacks that I indulged in over those few days made it so much better. Let’s start planning for the next getaway!

my happy food

Contrary to popular belief, I have a fairly unhealthy diet. Perhaps it’s sweeping to term it as unhealthy, rather I should say I actually do have a “good” or fair balance of food, whether healthy or not. I do enjoy salads these days, and I wonder why in the past I am so resistant to them. And fruits make up a big part of my diet, wherever possible. There were times when I was still in a travelling job where fruits were a scarce commodity and I try to make up for it with vegetables but they are just different, and then when fruits are scarce usually vegetables also aren’t in abundance in those countries.

So then, on the other end of the spectrum, I am guilty of indulgences. I let myself indulge sometimes, or now I see it happening more often, in food that nutritionists, or people in general, will easily categorise as unhealthy. I love french fries, these deep fried oily carbohydrate bombs that adds nothing to the body other than fats and muffin tops. I cannot resist them, for some strange reason, that I used to think if I have an addiction to them.

Then, there are the other unhealthy carbo-laded stuff that rank high on my barometer of happy food. Breads, cakes, pastries, you name it. Is flour an addiction, or did they lace these things with some drug that causes people to get addicted?

Few days back, I was at Coffee Bean, and ordered a blueberry muffin, my first love. Yes, blueberry-anything used to be the order of the day but they have somewhat fallen from grace. These days, I explore more flavours when it comes to muffins or whatever else, but I thought I’d order it, for old times’ sake. It was kind of disappointing, not the taste, but the texture. This muffin, if not for the fact that it was contained in a paper cup, would have just fallen apart on its own. It was so crumbly that each forkful resulted in it crumbling into tiny bits. They should have given me a dessert spoon to eat it with rather than a fork.20140517-000315.jpgSpinelli shrank their muffins, which according to them, was due to ‘complains’ from customers that they were too big. I figure those customers must not be Singaporeans, given that we tend to only complain when food portions are too small. This new size is just bite-sized at best, and it definitely is not enough! I guess maybe those complainers might be people who are trying to be health-conscious and want their muffins to be smaller so that they don’t feel that guilty indulging in a normal, regular-sized muffin, after their 10-course dinner somewhere else or a huge rib-eye steak, who knows. So these days, I have to resort to ordering something else if I want a muffin, and yes spend extra, because the amount I save from the downsized muffin isn’t enough to pay for another item to not let me get hungry within an hour of eating it.

20140517-000326.jpgSo I had a mini sea salt caramel cheesecake. Where cakes are concerned, cheesecake in particular, I am not complaining though, about its size. The beautiful thing about these mini cakes at Spinelli’s is that they are available in a regular size if you want to just have a cake, or if you fancy it as just an additional to something else, you can get these tiny ones. They are offered individually or in 3s, so it makes for a great idea if you would like to try 3 different cakes in one sitting!

Some weeks ago, I read in the Sunday Times, under the Posh Nosh food recommendation section, about the Yuzu bread from Maison Kayser. For a long time now, I have only ever bought the walnut bread (Pain aux Noix) from them, because I have tried a couple others and not really enjoyed them as much as the walnut without raisins bread. After I read about the Campagne Yuzu, I thought I’d give it a try. At S$4.50 per loaf, it’s more costly than the Pain aux Noix, but it is also bigger.

20140517-000334.jpgIn terms of its texture, it is rougher and also harder. It takes more effort to tear and chew it, as I found out from the staff, this is due to it being made without butter or milk like in the Pain aux Noix. This made a light bulb go off in me when I thought that it would be an excellent alternative for my usual bread indulgence without the butter or milk that makes bread-eating not such a great idea, i.e. bread face anyone? Of course, bread is still bread but cut out some ingredients and hey it may just be ok to indulge in them a little more! And this also contains pistachios that would be an alternative to walnuts for me.

And then finally… something I bought from one of those stalls at Tanjong Pagar market that sell a wide variety of biscuits and snacks, packed in convenient S$2 (or thereabouts) bags. These fish-shaped biscuits are definitely not healthy, considering the strong aromatic buttery scent whenever I remove the lid of the container I use to hold them in. And again, they are so addictive. If I hadn’t done portion-control using these small containers I think I might be able to finish everything in one go, which is an extremely huge packet.

20140517-000340.jpgThey just grow on me, as I chew on them, they just get nicer and nicer. A perfect afternoon tea-time snack. 🙂