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.

The Clueless Goat, Novena

It had been a while since I discovered The Clueless Goat in the Novena area, one day while I was traipsing towards United Square from Novena Square / Velocity. It is located in the row of shop-houses next to the exit from the tunnel that leads from Novena MRT station, or rather behind it. The official address is 189, Thomson Road, but to me, Thomson sounds like somewhere far away, or maybe it’s just an impression.

Nevertheless, it is really within walking distance of Novena station! It is a fairly small and cosy cafe, probably seats 20-odd to 30 persons max, with a few small tables and one large communal table that can take about 8. I finally got myself to pop in one late Saturday morning for brunch, but I think it isn’t the best time to visit. It was quite packed with the brunch crowd, although I managed to find a seat, at a corner of the communal table no less. However, turnover was also brisk as some of the brunch crowd were really there for brunch and after eating, they promptly cleared off, mostly Caucasians living in the vicinity I suspect. With these brunch peeps, it also means families and young kids or toddlers. I actually do not have an issue with kids, even though I am not exactly fond of them. But if they are adorable and quiet, ok, as long as they are quiet, I don’t have a problem with them. But these kids were all screaming and crying, and that got me really annoyed as I was looking for a place where I could comfortably have brunch while reading a book or something. That was not to be, unfortunately, so I didn’t stay long too.

Anyway, this was what I ordered. The Granola (S$6) – Honey Nut Almond Granola with vanilla infused yogurt & fresh berries, and an add-on of Toast (S$1.50). If you would like to have some spreads, you could order Toast with Butter and Jam (S$4) but of course, for that you could choose Sourdough or Multi-grain bread although I am not sure if it’s also just a slice of toast cut in half like this. I don’t use spreads much so I opted for just plain Toast, and as it could get a little dry, I just plopped some yogurt on top. 🙂

The cashier suggested that the Granola was a rather small portion that wouldn’t be sufficient when I asked about its size, which was also why I ordered the add-on. Looking at its price, I also considered that which was why I asked in the first place. But I think it would have been enough for a small brunch, and for someone like me who feels peckish all the time, it might have been better for me to just order the Granola and have something else later on for tea-break!

Recently, I have been into ordering Yogurts with granola or muesli when I visit cafes, because I really like eating these, and I would like to think that they are a healthy option to have as compared to my usual muffin or cake. But granola or muesli are supposedly sugar-laden too, so I’m really a little unsure. I guess as long as we enjoy what we eat, that should be good enough, after all life is too short to worry so much! The fresh berries were actually one strawberry and perhaps 5 blueberries, haha.
Their coffee is supposed to be good, and I would say that it fits the criteria of gourmet coffee, from its acidity that is reminiscent of all the places that serve good coffee. Again, I would say that I have cheap taste buds because such good coffee to me is bitter, without any sugar or milk. It leaves a really bitter, sour after-taste at the back of my throat, so sometimes I don’t enjoy it as much. I probably have to really make myself go attend some coffee appreciation workshop to learn how to savour good coffee!  And the book that I was trying to read, recommended by a friend recently. I think I would roughly know the gist of the book from its synopsis, but I wonder if there’s any plot twists in it. Let’s find out as I read on when I make some spare time by detaching or disconnecting myself from the digital devices!

The Clueless Goat has quite an alright menu in terms of variety, but many of their brunch items feature eggs, though I suppose if you don’t fancy eggs you could always order their sandwiches, which actually look pretty good when I eyed what other customers were having. I’ll be back next time, but probably at a different timing so that I can have some respite in the cafe and stay a little longer. But take note that they are closed on Mondays and on Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays they open only until 6pm.

Thank You, to the one who made Singapore possible

I’m sure there are plenty of tributes all over the blogosphere, dedicated to the man who is also known as the Founding Father of modern Singapore. Most of us are deeply saddened at his passing, despite that he had lived a great and fulfilling life. I guess we feel a big sense of loss because knowing all that he had done for us, devoting much of his life to building Singapore, there can never be a second person who would come close, at least not in our opinion, for many years to come.

It is also with him leaving us that many of us get to know him better, his accomplishments and achievements, and learn that he is pretty much a misunderstood politician. I am never a keen follower of politics, and ashamed as I am to say that I do not really know a lot of the who’s who in our local government, it is just a personal preference to not take an interest in it. The only times I was ever involved were just in recent times when I had to take part in one presidential election, and the most recent General Election where the constituency I have lived in my whole life was being contested. So you can imagine how apathetic I am politically. Throughout the week which was called the National Mourning week… regular TV programmes were disrupted and in their place, features of Mr Lee were aired, showing snippets of speeches that he made, interviews that he gave and chronicles of his life. I learned a great deal about him that I never knew, and even though right after his funeral was over, on Monday morning, I started griping about the train delays again, I am still thankful to him and grateful for what we have here in Singapore that I call home.When I think back, all that we have now culminated from the policies of this one man, who became the first Prime Minister of Singapore at an age that is even younger than what I am now. How does someone have such lofty aspirations to want to build a better Singapore, when at this stage of my life, I am still drifting aimlessly in life, grousing about trivial things daily. I suppose that is the mark of distinction of people who are destined for big things.

Housing, bilingualism, clean potable water from taps, an armed forces, a generally well-connected and efficient transportation system, world-renowned airline, airport, etc. There are so many things, if not everything, that he had dabbled in to bring forth. Even without having the experience of living overseas, business trips that had led me to various parts of the world outside of the usual holiday destinations make me appreciate the convenience and safety of Singapore.

I missed the opportunity to head down to the Parliament House on a couple of occasions and was feeling extremely disappointed and uneasy. On Saturday, I made up my mind to go early in the morning to pay my last respects to this great man but was dismayed when I awoke to know that the queue had been suspended from Friday night. I headed down instead to Tanjong Pagar Community Centre to write a tribute to him, joined a file of people and bowed to his portrait.

After a yoga class, while I was having coffee, I read that the queue had re-opened at 615am, just right after I went to the TPCC. My heart was undecided but finally I went ahead with my heart’s desire, finished my coffee and muffin in a jiffy, and hopped on down to City Hall. It was a balmy and humid afternoon, with rain clouds threatening above. As I joined the steady stream of people all headed in the same direction, I overtook many as I brisk-walked along the route that took me from the exit of City Hall MRT opposite the former Capitol Building, along the street across from Raffles City to the Padang to the Esplanade, past it, all the way to the floating platform where we looped back along the Esplanade. I came to a half somewhere after emerging from beneath the Esplanade bridge (or whatever that was called). By that time, sweat was trickling down my temple and sides of my neck. For someone who doesn’t perspire that easily these days, I could only imagine the speed at which I had been trudging along. The queue inched slowly forward, but all through the route from the Padang, lots of volunteers lined the way distributing sustenance of food and beverages. Some even went as far as cheering us on, while we struggled to catch some fresh air to prevent ourselves from fainting.

The queue was unbearable despite that there wasn’t much of the scorching sun for most parts of it that day, not like what some others went through. There was some drizzle when I reached the Asian Civilisations Museum, but compared to the downpour that drenched those on Sunday, the drizzle was really a walk in the park.

Finally, after what felt like forever but was just about 2 hours, I arrived outside the Parliament House.

From that point, everything happened in lightning speed. In 2 files, we made a procession past where Lee Kuan Yew laid. I was in a daze, that as I passed I slowed a little but missed to stop and bow. I really regretted not doing that but at that point I only thought about moving on so that others could also come in to pay their last respects. As I exited the solemn hall, it hit me what I didn’t do. But I could no longer head back in.

It’s just like that with life, sometimes when we pass over something that we had considered doing but ended up not doing, there is no turning back. That is why there are always people telling us about the importance of seizing the moment and living in the here and now.

It was a sad week for many of us, and indeed I felt down but I didn’t go as far as shedding tears, even if I consider myself to be somewhat emotional these days. Perhaps it is a different kind of loss that I am mourning, thinking about what would lie ahead for us now that we have lost someone so vital to the development of Singapore, even if not all his policies and decisions were right. It was different as compared to earlier this year when my grandmother passed away; even if we weren’t as close as compared to the relationship I had with my maternal grandmother, it was heart-breaking when I saw her for the last time, lying in the coffin with her eyes closed for the last time, with pale pallid skin replete with wrinkles, a far cry from how I remembered her to be. Then, it was a 3-day wake that I attended and during the funeral as we trailed behind her cortege, I couldn’t help but break down as I thought about how we are now separated by life and death.

Anyway, Mr Lee’s passing caused me to reflect on a lot of things. I don’t know if these reflections will amount to any tangible actions but I hope it will make me more appreciative of things, be thankful of the things that I have, and learn how to live a better life.

Singapore will always be my home, whether or not I complain about its everything. I don’t believe in leaving and migrating because somewhere else is better off than here. We aren’t necessarily the best but because this is where we were born and grew up in, it’s where we belong and should work to make it better for ourselves.

Starbucks Christmas delights part 6

As we near the end of Christmas, I promise that my postings on Starbucks Christmas delights will also be nearing their end. I have tried almost everything that I wanted to from the local Christmas menu so there also isn’t much else to go on about. Just bear with me for a little while more!

This year, I noticed that they introduced a couple of savoury scones. I’m not sure if there were similar items in the past years but if there were, I did not give them a try. I decided to go ahead and check them out this time round, since savoury scones are not something that I would expect; they are meant to be buttery and sweet, but I guess there is no stopping the introduction of a savoury taste. Besides, there are also savoury muffins and waffles, which I have yet to try because I think those would be weird. But then again, we never know, they could be just as, if not more, delicious./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1024.jpgOne of them was the Green & Red Pepper Scone with Cream Cheese. It actually was nice and didn’t feel weird at all, because the peppery flavour lent by the green & red peppers were not overpoweringly strong so they gave a different dimension of taste to the buttery item. The cream cheese used also made a difference, because it didn’t taste like the regular ‘creamy’ cream cheese, rather it was a slightly milder form I think, so the tastes were complementary instead of contrasting. The colours here are a little too vivid to see the scone and cream cheese properly but its wedged into the middle of the scone like a burger and for me, at just the right amount though I would think cream cheese fans would feel it’s too little.

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The other savoury scone on their menu was the Turkey Bacon scone. I was a little iffy about this because somehow this sounds more ‘savoury’ than the peppers but decided to give it a go anyhow. Those are bacon bits used even if from the picture they resembled more like dried cranberries./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1025.jpg

Similar to the pepper scone, this was surprisingly good. In fact it wasn’t as savoury as I thought it to be, because it was only the bacon bits that were used and other than that, the scone remained true to its buttery origin. It felt more like a normal scone than the peppery scone without the differences in tastes other than what the bacon bits added, and could come across as a little dry as it started crumbling when I put the knife to it. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_1026.jpgSo there you go! It almost wraps up all of my Starbucks Christmas posts. Almost. Because there is just one last item to go. Soon. 🙂

Zion Road Food Centre, Singapore

I love hawker food. Yes I really do. It is just that I have to control my desire to tuck into them because as you know, most of these scrumptious fare that tempt me are not exactly the healthiest choices of food to have. But once in a while, we do give in to temptation. Life is too short to deprive ourselves entirely, so it is ok to indulge, sometimes.

Headed to Zion Road food center one evening and we had these:

Black and white pan-fried carrot cake, the best combination for people who enjoy both and can’t make up their minds which to have. This was really good and fragrant even if their texture were fairly similar. Usually I would have preferred for the black version to be a little smaller in terms of pieces so that it catches more of the dark soya sauce, and for the white it has to have a lot of ‘chye por’. Either ways, I always want to have lots of egg because it adds to the aroma of the dish. But no pork lard please./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_0779.jpg

Barbecued chicken wings. These were a little sticky I feel, as the skin seems to just stick to my fingers and makes eating it messy. But even as it is oily, it didn’t feel as greasy as battered deep-fried wings. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_0780.jpg

And who can forget char kway teow! I don’t enjoy having this fried kway teow with cockles but that is supposed to be a highlight of this dish, of course with a fair amount of egg and cured sausage (i.e. lap cheong). However, this is one dish where even if I liked it I find a whole plate of it overwhelming. I don’t have problems wolfing down fried carrot cake on my own but fried kway teow is a bit too much.  /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_0781.jpg

 

Artisan Boulangerie Company, Singapore

Throw-back. Finally visited the ABC after passing by it umpteen times. I know it seems a bit much for one, too much sweet stuff, but I just couldn’t resist ordering the crumble and the financier. I thought the crumble slice wouldn’t be sufficient and besides I am always tending to suffer from sugary cravings. Not a good thing, and I should really do something about it. Anyway, the coffee is not bad, I guess. Strong by my standards, which is fairly low. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_0782.jpg

I found the tray to be interesting the way it was customised but it can get a tad difficult to carry if you are going to have heavy plates on it./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/452/2193806/files/2014/12/img_0783.jpgThe crumble and financier were both good from my hazy memory. Perhaps the crumble may be too sweet for some, after all it contains berries/fruits so the tendency is that such pastries are sweeter. I would like to try the savoury stuff the next time I visit, if I could steer myself away from these sweet temptations.

Starbucks Christmas delights part 5

I believe these are called Christmas delights but for some reasons I have named all my previous four posts as Christmas moments. Anyway, I am too lazy to change them so I will leave them be. Have been fairly busy and also lazy of late to update so posts are really intermittent, especially now that this blog has evolved into a pin-up of the food that I eat sometimes.

Was aggrieved by Starbucks recently due to some problems with reloading of my stored value card and the issuance of reward points. Sigh. I realise that it doesn’t really pay to be honest sometimes because I end up short-changing myself. This had kind of marred my impression of the coffee chain, when I had considered myself as a sort of Starbucks fan, preferring it over Coffee Bean or Spinelli. Perhaps this will lead me to cut down on my frequency of visits and eventually I will just stop being a member of their rewards programme. Oh well, let’s see what happens.

So one of the other items I had from the Christmas line-up was the Christmas Turkey Pie. IMG_0532.JPGAs with most of their pies, with the exception of the brusselsprouts quiche, this is fairly huge and would make for a good meal on its own. For me at least, and I believe I am speaking for most people. When it comes to pastries, I think I have a healthy appetite, but not so much for other things maybe, like proper meals. I like this pie, almost as much as I did the Devil’s Curry Pie, other than the latter being more spicy and giving it that extra oomph. I am not sure if the turkey pie contains much turkey, but I did remember seeing and eating small chunks of turkey sausage, along with mashed up potatoes for the filling with a nice peppery flavour.

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Goes well with a long black, as usual. You don’t need a cappuccino or latte to fill you up further, a good black coffee would be the perfect accompaniment for this.IMG_0534.JPGMaybe this will be the last item for me, unless I decide to try the savoury scones that they have. I don’t think I have tried any savoury scones before, so let’s see. Not too keen on the chocolate mint cheesecake, unless I can find someone to share it with. But the blip with the rewards card, and also the other coffee chains’ offerings are incentivising me to move on!