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. ūüė¶

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…

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getting a healthy start, I hope

In a follow-up to my post about how sad I was in knowing that I ought to cut down on my favourite foods because of that terrible thing called trans fat, the enemy of all of us, I decided to skip the cake order and went for a sandwich instead. Granted that sandwiches are made of bread, which is baked, and probably would also contain its share of trans fat, pardon me for not knowing the details or the truth about baked stuff but this is my general opinion and I haven’t done proper research on it, yet. But compared to a cake, I thought a sandwich might be healthier, so it was with a heavy heart that I pointed to the Chicken Club sandwich instead of a muffin, a cake or an apple crumble. Well, the Chicken Club looked fairly promising in the display, and when I popped in somehow the options were not as many as on other occasions when I was there and not ordering a sandwich. Sigh, isn’t life always like this? 20140524-213136.jpgThe Chicken Club that I ordered came with ciabatta because that was the only option. Typically, they have both ciabatta and another grained-type of bread. So I didn’t have to choose. The bread was toasted so the top of the sandwich got flattened, which surprised me because I thought it was puffy when I saw it in the display. And it came with a serving of chips, ah, so now that makes it a little better, but it was probably bad news for the healthy-eating bit because chips contain a lot of trans fat too. Besides, they aren’t the best thing for my current condition. Oh well, let’s eat them first and think later.

Here’s a close-up of the sandwich, that I moved the top layer aside to reveal what is on the inside, some purple lettuce and tomatoes, and you get a peek of some chicken, maybe with mayonnaise? I’m not so sure. But if you wondering where the chicken in the Chicken Club sandwich is, you’re quite right to wonder that.

20140524-213144.jpgI opened up the sandwich to eat it, as how I generally devour sandwiches, and gobbled up the vegetables. This was what’s left of it thereafter. ūüė¶

20140524-213151.jpgSpinelli, I’m so disappointed in your sandwiches. I thought they always look so huge and appetising in the display case, which was a reason I skipped them for the smaller, more manageable-sized muffins or cakes. But this is simply a little sad. Its taste was ok, acceptable, but it didn’t wow me, and I am not exactly a fan of bacon, those brown stuff you see in it are bacon bits. Even after I was done with the sandwich, somehow I didn’t feel like I had a proper full meal, or maybe I was just really hungry.

sweets to sweeten up days

I never really knew I had a sweet tooth until recently. Or I just did not realise the intensity of it. It could also be catalysed by lifestyle changes. There was a time I restricted these indulgences to the weekends and try as much as possible, to eat more healthily during the week. But more so, these days, there is a blurring of the timing. I eat cakes even on weekdays. And as I read Mind Your Body yesterday, I was suddenly arrested by a page that talks about how bad pastries and cakes are, as well as biscuits, which tend to be replete with transfat and all sorts of unhealthy stuff. It isn’t the calorie count that matters, but rather what goes into my body that will probably wreak havoc that I would suffer for in later years to come.

For me, it is hard to make the change to steer away from these (used-to-be) weekend treats but I guess we all have to start somewhere. Recently, I still had a slice of cake. Ok, I haven’t stopped, I just had cake on a couple of days this week too. ._.

20140522-133119.jpgI really like this carrot cake at Spinelli because it gives me a false sense of healthiness in eating it. As compared to other carrot cakes maybe it really fares better because they isn’t as much cake in comparison to carrot. For most commercially-available carrot cake, it is pretty much a cake with cream cheese frosting, sometimes topped with walnut bits, like the one at Cedele which I also love lots. But this one has so much carrot strips, just check it out in the picture below.

20140522-133127.jpgAnd it comes in a size that is rather friendly, because I finished it and didn’t feel like a bloated balloon fall of cake and oil. So probably I will still keep this on the list for the occasional treat.

Pastries and my unfathomable love of it. Yet these are again packed with too much bad stuff. Why oh why are nice things always bad? Ok maybe not all nice things, for instance, things like yogurt and fruits are generally healthy and I love them too!

20140522-133134.jpgI have a strong craving to indulge in these sweets now, especially that I have been sick for the past few days. It seems like a long time ago since I last fell ill, but each time it happens it will be something really major and serious. And the sucky thing is that because there are meetings every day, I can’t just go on medical leave, wonder if I call myself responsible or acting tough. I just cannot make myself call in sick and cancel all the meetings that I am supposed to attend, even if my throat is parched and each cough brings forth chest pains, my head throbs and feels like it’s on fire yet my body experiences chills even with layers of clothes piled on. I believe I will recover well as soon as possible!

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. ūüôā

HAPPY WEEKEND!

shrunk!

I love muffins, and that is a super understatement. Maybe I should just refine that sentence to “I worship flour”. Generally, I have an unfathomable weakness for breads, muffins, pastries and the likes. Granted that I don’t exactly adore every single thing made of flour, for instance I am not a big fan of say, ban mian, because I find it too “flour-y” if there is even such a word. But things like breads and muffins and loaf cakes, what-have-yous, such things can be the staple of my diet if only they aren’t so unforgiving and if only they can be healthier. We can’t just survive on bread alone even if I just eat multi-grained, gluten-free ones or whatever.

Anyway, pardon my verbal diarrhea. It has been a long while since my last post. I have been feeling out of sorts and out of it. Not that I wasn’t in the mood to write, but I just felt drained of energy and didn’t feel like spending time to craft a post on this blog.

Spinelli is one of my go-to places for muffins out of convenience. In town, Starbucks and Coffee Beans are always crowded. There are some times when the Spinelli outlet I pop by actually has empty seats. And I love their muffins, especially the Raisin Oat Bran muffin, although I think its quality has dropped over time, but the crushed nuts mixed with some raisins prove to be quite a winning formula for me, even when I started being enamoured with Starbucks’ Blueberry then Banana Walnut muffins, and CBTL’s Cranberry muffin. Well, tastes do change and like I said, their quality and standards aren’t always consistent.

Quite recently, I got a really weird-shaped muffin that was gigantic. You can’t see the comparison with what I am going to post but in the background there is a fork, so maybe you can try to imagine. Plus we always have this idea muffins are round; not this with its overflowing “muffin-top”.

20140410-220900.jpgJust a couple of weekends ago, as I went to Spinelli for my usual coffee-cake/muffin fix, I realised that they have downsized. I commented to one of the crew, who replied that customers complained that the original ones were too big that they couldn’t finish so they made them smaller. I was like, what? Who complained they are too big? It’s just a muffin, for goodness’ sake, unless they are alluding to it being too big and therefore containing too many calories no thanks to how these things are made, i.e. sugar and flour, etc… Otherwise, if someone can eat a McSpicy burger together with a pack of fries and cola, what is a muffin, seriously? Unless the muffin is their dessert after a sandwich and large latte, or something like that. Or the crew was just trying to pull a fast one on me.

20140410-220912.jpgThe muffin now looks cute and finally, it does resemble what a muffin is supposed to look like. But in terms of its size, it is just pathetic. With a muffin this size and a cup of coffee, I don’t know which part of my stomach it fills up if this is going to be my breakfast or lunch. Originally, one muffin costs S$3.60 I think, now at this size, I think it’s either S$2.30 or S$2.80. Either ways, I think the reduction in price is disproportionate with the decrease in size. Well I guess that is always how things work but maybe this will make me gravitate back to either Starbucks or CBTL with muffins that are slightly bigger and costs S$3+, but perhaps are more substantial for me to count as a meal.

Spinelli Honey Oat Bran Muffin

My unhealthy indulgence. And a boring one at that! I couldn’t resist not ordering this when I saw that they had it in Spinelli, which is really rare, because I cannot even remember when was the last time I had it. So let’s cheers to the calories to celebrate that the Honey Oat Bran muffin was available that day! 20131010-083258.jpg

However, perhaps my expectations¬†were raised too high that on that day as I had it, it didn’t feel as great as before. Or maybe the whole anticipation and imagination of it had me thinking¬†about it in all its grandeur that was much more than what it could have been. The pitfalls of expectations, even of¬†food! What I liked about this muffin was its texture because I love oats, and of course combined with the sugary rush that is a muffin, what is there not to enjoy about it? Besides, it¬†doesn’t feel as dense and moist as some other muffins, and yet it is also not¬†too dry, just the right amount of consistency in my opinion. But the one I had the other day felt a little¬†dry,¬†in that it crumbled more easily than what I could recall about¬†my last experience. It was still good but not as good as I would have imagined.¬†20131010-083322.jpg

So that was a craving satiated, and maybe the next time if I see it again, I may just fall into it, unless there are other cravings that will overwhelm this oat bran muffin craze in me.

Attack of the Muffins!

Or more rightly put, just one muffin here. But I haven’t relinquished my love of muffins. Sure, I think I have cut down on my consumption of this sinful item, particularly when this has probably been decried by health and fitness literature and proponents as one of the worst items you can eat if you are trying to control your weight, health, etc. But I just can’t resist them, somehow maybe the muffins have an addictive quality on me that I can’t break free of, but then again, it is probably not impossible. To be more specific, I love¬†the tops of muffins that are crunchy in its bite. I can live without the spongey part beneath although of course, I try not to be wasteful and finish the entire muffin when I order it, but my enjoyment lies in the baked crusty part on top.¬†20131001-094449.jpg

I’m quite glad to know that a friend of mine prefers the spongey part, so I know who I can share a muffin with in future. I should have tagged along with her and her husband on their current trip to the States because I think where food is concerned, we share quite similar enjoyments, pancakes, cheesecakes, breakfasts, etc. The only off-putting thing was the flight of course, because I just can’t imagine subjecting myself to being enclosed in the cabin for such¬†a long time to get to somewhere else. And also, I will be a megawatt lightbulb too. Back to muffins. I was hoping that Spinelli’s oat/raisin/whatever muffin would be available, because that is their one food item that I really love! The Yuzu tea-cake or the Apple Crumble ranks below the muffin, even if I think the muffin might be the unhealthiest of the lot, but it isn’t too soft and moist. Mostly it has just about the right balance between dryness and moisture, so that it doesn’t crumb too easily yet it doesn’t feel so dense and heavy. And the top is extremely crunchy as it is covered with oats and stuff.

That day when I was there, they didn’t have many choices, and as much as I do enjoy the Yuzu tea cake, I didn’t want to have it again. It’s one thing to be a creature of habit, and another to have the same cake week after week. Besides, there is a subtle difference between the taste afforded by the tea cake and that of a muffin, so the only choice I had that day, was this Blueberry muffin, which funnily looked like it had grown mouldy with the dusting of (icing sugar? I don’t know what it is actually)¬†on its top. This isn’t too bad, but still wouldn’t be good enough to replace my top-ranked food item from Spinelli!¬†

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