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?

YY Cafe (Kopitiam), Singapore

Besides all the indie cafes that have sprouted out island-wide over the last few years, some or rather more, in the far-flung reaches of our tiny little red dot, there are also those traditional gems that we should never forget. These are the old-style coffee shops, or kopitiam, as they are called in Hokkien. I have heard of some of these but have not visited them because most of these aren’t located in town, and as far as locations of cafes are concerned, I am too pampered to always be revolving around those in town. It isn’t that the ones in town aren’t good but they tend to lack a little of that character, or maybe the very fact that they are in town means they have to adhere to some kind of unspoken rule, in terms of decor and the likes. The more interesting ones that have always been blogged about are generally in the suburban areas.

But there are exceptions once in a while, one of which is YY Kafei dian (the hanyu pinyin of coffee shop in Chinese, aka kopitiam), located at 37 Beach Road, just a stone’s throw away from Raffles Hotel. Even if this is not considered the heart of town like Orchard Road, it is not very likely you will find something like this in the glitzy upmarket parts of town. It is one of those traditional shops that has a main drinks stall much like how many coffee shops are these days, with a few or several other stalls selling a variety of foods. This one boasts just a couple I think, besides the coffee stall that sells food, there is a stall that sells chicken rice (or perhaps it’s the chicken/roast meat stall) and another or perhaps the same, that sells zi-char.

To get to the point of this post, I’ll let some of the pictures do the talking.20140622-195326-71606823.jpg

Coffee and tea in the morning is just not complete with soft-boiled eggs. This was how Ya Kun came about too I suppose? And YY’s take on the kaya bun really is an eye-opener for me, who is used to the typical thinly-sliced and well-toasted Yakun kaya toast. 20140622-195326-71606964.jpg

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The good thing about it is that there isn’t a slab of butter in between the 2 slices, like what I usually see in Yakun toast, or even those from Killiney. But this is just kaya bun and not kaya butter so I guess it also explains the absence of that butter slab. Anyway the coconut taste of the kaya is pretty palpable, in a nice way, although maybe non-lovers of coconut might want to take note of it.

And we also ordered some extras. A cupcake and another kueh, that we feel should contain coconut (besides the obvious sesame) and ginger or some other citrus stuff. It has a sticky, gooey kind of texture, a little like the mua-chee covered with the mixture of coconut and etc., then fried. I love the buttery taste of the cupcake, and because it’s so tiny that it can easily fit into one mouthful or two, it goes perfectly well as a little snack.  20140622-195326-71606915.jpg

We were there at about 10am on a Sunday morning, fortunate because it was not too crowded so we had the luxury of choosing our seats within the warm interior of the coffee shop. Just a short while later, as we were busy enjoying our breakfast, we noticed that the place had began to fill up and some patrons even had to stand around to wait for others to leave. Perhaps due to its fame (try googling it and you will find many reviews of it online) or its location, the patronage ranged from older folks who probably visit this place on a pretty regular basis, and even younger working adults as well as camera-toting tourists.

Oh, and for all this, we paid S$5.90. This is the reason why they are not in Orchard Road. It just wouldn’t have been economically-sustainable for a coffee shop of its size and price range. Value-for-money index is definitely high here!

Sift Patisserie, Hong Kong

This is the second time I’ve visited Sift, and the only one I’d ever been to even though they have outlets elsewhere in Hong Kong that are probably more convenient. But it is a convenient stop along the way as I make my way from the top levels of Horizon Plaza downwards. Usually that is how I proceed, take the lift up to the highest floor and start my way downwards on the stairs, until I reach perhaps level 18 or 17 and then take the lift either all the way down to the ground level or stop on level 5 where the IT outlet is. Again on this trip, I didn’t buy anything. I don’t know why I still visit Horizon Plaza despite that I never seem to be able to get anything even though everyone seems to love that place and emerge with great buys. I think I am a scrooge, so that even at discounted prices, the designer togs, shoes and accessories still seem pricey to me. Oh, and for most of them I can’t find my size either. I’ve actually bought stuff at the SPACE outlet that is a short distance away from Horizon Plaza but on the last trip I skipped it because there wasn’t enough time.

Sift serves really nice cupcakes in sizes that are too sinful, especially when it is shared. This is probably red velvet, and the best thing about it is that the top is most likely frosted cream cheese, like those used on carrot cakes and not sweet icing sugar. Whether it is less sinful or not I don’t know but it definitely tastes nicer.

20140107-230135.jpgThis would go very well with a cup of coffee.

My vacation in December was so short that I didn’t really feel like I had any proper break. Right now, I’m still missing the idea of holidaying and part of me is already missing the prospect of travel. These days, I’d wonder if I’d made a wrong choice and if there will be any room for regrets. Much as I try hard to keep the positivity and optimism high, it is definitely an effort to do so as I struggle to stay afloat and combat the stress of uncertainty and not knowing. Sigh.

Too many random thoughts darting about in the realm of my mind. I guess this is going to be another sleepless night. When will I ever get a sound night of slumber.

black!

On a quiet and peaceful Sunday morning, I woke up at the usual time that I would on weekdays (yes I can imagine all the drop-jaw expressions on your faces) and headed for yoga class. Unsurprisingly, the class at 8am was not empty. It wasn’t packed to the brim like weekday peak hour classes but I would estimate attendance to be more than 50 percent, and that is a conservative estimate. Yogis, or I would think exercise/fitness enthusiasts, can be people who don’t mind foregoing some sleep for an early rush of endorphines.

I had another reason that morning though. That 8am class wasn’t the usual class I went for, but I needed to be there early and leave early, as I had to then shuttle to the airport. My sis-in-law was jetting off for 3 months with my little baby nephew, to visit her sister and as well as to take a break abroad perhaps. I could only wish that I could also take a long break somewhere, but I guess it will happen if I want it to. I just need to stop thinking so much.

It started to pour really heavily while we were at the airport. And it felt a little strange, being there and not being the traveller. My usual routine of stepping into the airport terminal would be to head to the check-in counter, then immediately proceed to the departure gates straight into the passport control area. I don’t hang around outside because there was never a need to and I’d much rather be checking out DFS.

After her check-in was done, the family went to have breakfast/brunch at Toast Box, and this was what I ordered:

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Kopi-O with a cupcake (or also known as 鸡蛋糕). I had wanted to try Kopi-O for the longest time and see if there is any difference between this and black coffee (western-style). I know there shouldn’t be too much differences yet there should be because of the types of beans used and how the beans are prepared. I don’t know too much about the mechanics of bean-roasting in Asian/Chinese-style versus Western-style, but the coffee does taste a little different. The next time I try Kopi-O I will try to remember how it is like, but will request for siew-dai (less sugar) or maybe kosong (no sugar) to really be able to decipher the taste of the coffee. I was worried it’ll be too bitter and acidic so I had just ordered a normal Kopi-O. Even my dad drinks Kopi-O and not kosong. Haha.

But well it was drinkable and in fact not as acidic as I’d imagined! In fact, I’ve had much more black coffee or Americanos elsewhere that turned out to be way more acidic than this. Or maybe the sugar made the difference, because on the other occasions I hadn’t added much sugar, or used brown sugar instead.

On the other hand, the 鸡蛋糕 that I ordered wasn’t that great. It was on Instagram that I saw someone posting a picture of the soft fluffy traditional cupcake that she bought from a confectionery, and she mentioned that Crystal Jade’s cupcakes are good. So when I saw it at Toast Box I decided to order it and it wasn’t fantastic. It’s just like a normal sponge cake that was pretty spongey/airy and it lacked the fragrance that I generally associated with these cupcakes that I also used to enjoy when I was a kid.   20130917-092322.jpg

The good thing about it though, was that it was not really sweet and it went well with the coffee. I think I will drop by Crystal Jade one of these days to buy one of their 鸡蛋糕 to try!

Robert Timms, Orchard Shopping Centre

Back from the week-long enforced break and I think I have been gorging on CNY snacks this time round. I don’t recall eating so much of these “goodies” over the last years because I was not in town much, so probably the way to cut down and cut back on eating them is to go on holiday during this time! 

Ok, so one week basically just flew by really quickly, and it was indeed a really great one week break I had. This new year, I skipped the visiting even though I was around because I just didn’t feel like it so I spent most of the time doing what I wanted to do.

Met up with friends when I could and on one of the CNY days, we went to Robert Timms for an afternoon coffee. I can’t remember where I read it from or heard it from, but is it true you have to specifically request for latte art (other than the norm of the heart-shaped ones we have here), the likes of the bear or otherwise? The coffee at Robert Timms is pretty good based on all the times I have visited so far, but mostly I have dropped in at the outlet in Orchard Shopping Centre and only once at the Wheelock branch, because the latter seems to be busier. Have never tried their proper meals since each time I visit, it is for a mid-day coffee and normally, the thing that will go best with coffee would be pastries and cakes, or so I think.      20130218-100928.jpg

And this time, we ordered a Red Velvet cupcake! Actually we had planned to order a slice of cake, and we thought something that we saw in the cake display upfront was Red Velvet, but maybe that is just the normal carrot cake, and when we placed our order for Red Velvet, the cupcake turned up instead. Have not had enough red velvet to know what is nice or not, but this was generally moist and not too sweet, though the cream and icing probably wasn’t such a great idea for me because they elevated the sweetness index.

Good times are always too short but that’s why they are good because this is what sets them apart from bad times, no? Passage of time is a relativity concept, and in this case hours spent with friends catching up just flit by so fast, as are the hours spent enjoying my CNY break here in Singapore.