29 October 2006

El Patio, Wala Wala and Cornetto

Holland Road is one of my favourite places to hang out, not just because it has two great bead shops (one for cheap beads and one for quirky charms), but also because it is a great foodie place. Chip Bee Gardens (just opposite Holland Village) hides some big names like Michaelangelos, Da Paolo, Au Petit Salut, Shermay's and even Phoon Huat (even though their target market is a little different).

But not so hidden from roving eyes would be those eateries within Holland Village itself. Particularly of interest to me would be the more exotic restaurants serving lebanese, middle eastern or mexican food. So when two of my very, very sweet friends decided to give me a treat to anywhere in Holland Village, I jumped on the opportunity to dine at El Patio.

Being situated just beside NYDC, they are simply furnished with dark, woody furniture and psychedelic woven tablecloths. Ravenous, I ordered a Chicken and Beef Fajita (Fa-hee-ta) and thanked the heavens for the free flow of nachos and salsa dip. Each of our chicken/beef filling came served on a hot plate, with some sour cream and guacamole (goo-a-ka-moh-leh) on the side, and three thin flour tortillas. They were yummy and deceptively filling.

But while we enjoyed the food very much, all three of us took more pleasure in the service. They were extremely welcoming, friendly without being intrusive, attentive and chirpy. The small things made all the difference. Perhaps it is because the level of service in Singapore is extremely appalling that anything just above average is so refreshing. Their assistant manager, Jagan, will definitely be expecting me again soon!

YS went over to Coffee Bean, on the pretext of making a phone call outside, to get two slices of chocolate cake for me! Where there is chocolate cake, rest assured that there will be Daffy! I insisted that they sing a birthday song for me before I blew out the candles, but once they started singing I immediately regretted and couldn't wait to put out them out!

We then hopped over to Wala Wala for a night of non-alcoholic drinks and good music. Their friday night band, EIC, was phenomenal and psyched me up so much, making me much more determined to put in greater effort into my own. EIC had really made my night as I left the place with a little groove in my steps.

As part of my break from work, I was determined to spend a little more time with my Dad. I usually don't get much opportunity to do so since he would usually be out of the house before I wake up and into bed shortly after I get home. So off to the driving range it was the following afternoon, together with my brother, while my Mom was sadly at work and unable to join us.

At the petrol station on the way to the club, my Dad had returned to the car with a bag of 3 Cornetto ice cream cones. Immediately, I felt like I was a five year old again in the back seat of the car excitedly licking my ice cream that my Daddy bought for me. As both my brother and I have stopped getting allowances from our parents since many years ago, when our parents buy us anything it's a rarity to be treasured. But a treat in the form of ice cream? The scene of us eating our ice creams in the car was quite a sight as well. My Dad really, really enjoys his ice cream. And I felt very much like Daddy's little girl.

El Patio Mexican Restaurant and Wine Bar
34 Lorong Mambong
Holland Village
Singapore 277691
Tel: 64681520

28 October 2006


I contemplated not blogging about Miss Heng's farewell. This is afterall, supposed to be a food blog. But there are only a few things I take more interest in than food, and my alma mater is one of them.

Once an SC girl, always an SC girl.

A wave of nostalgia swept over me as I stepped into the school compound. Other than a few upgrades, SC is still the same. The same tesselated tiles, the same dance studio, the same atmosphere, the same canteen vendors and the same sea of blue.

Check out the really beautiful collage put together by the girls.

All the old girls gathered in the Atrium, that I remember thinking was a swimming pool without the water in it and kept hoping that one day it would be filled. An ex-headprefect handed out lyrics for two songs we were to sing to Miss Heng, accompanied by two guitarists. The most hilarious part was when we were rehearsing how to shout 'SURPRISE' in unison. Again, and again. 'Miss Heng! SURPRISE!'

The whole plan was delayed a little as Miss Heng had left for her farewell lunch (in her spanking new Mini Cooper) a little late. Since I had an appointment to rush off to, I made sure I was first in line (like a kiasu auntie) to give her a hug, a little card, have a few words with her, teary eyed (both of us), and then a final goodbye hug. I was sad to have to miss her cake cutting and the huge photo opportunity.

Here's one Addy sent to me of Miss Heng and a few others from our batch. We were among the oldest around there that day!

Only those who have had the fortune of being in her presence will understand why her retirement is such a big issue. She really is everything I expect of a good principal. She will be sorely missed.

24 October 2006

The Man Who Ate Everything

Such mixed emotions - the guilt of having done absolutely nothing today (not even the trip to the gym; I'm using my uncharged Ipod Mini as an excuse) and the joy of having done absolutely nothing today.

Not even my kitchen tempts me, though that could be partly explained its disorganised state that is very off-putting. But that's not to say that I have lost any interest in food or cooking for that matter. On the contrary, I'm getting more interested in the Science of cooking. Google Harold McGee, Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria for an idea of what all that entails.

Meanwhile, I'm starting with a more accessible and entertaining book temptingly called 'The Man Who Ate Everything'- Jeffry Steingarten. So far, so good. It went into lengths explaining what goes behind simple mashed potatoes and how to create the perfect mash. It explored the 'French Paradox' and the efforts one has to go to make bread from scratch (and I mean from scratch - creating his own active yeast).

But I've built up a long list of other (food-related)

The Calm After The Storm

So I have a little time to myself, finally and thanks to the public holiday. After slightly more than two straight weeks of work without a day's break, I find myself on the verge of buckling into the depths of some serious muck. In fact, those people I've chosen to confide in might declare that I had in fact sunk into the pits but managed to climb out of it with a little divine intervention.

But what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.

I'm going to be spending the next few off-days (in lieu) cleaning out my home, 'remodelling' my kitchen with proper equipment, cutlery and tableware, and working off those extra pounds I put on since I started work proper. Working 12-9pm everyday means little time to exercise. And even if those cast iron pots I carry everyday help me get some good arm toning, they are not very back and knee friendly.

I can't wait to do an evening run and get my energy back into me, and that sparkle back into my eyes.

Little Announcement For All SC/Ex-SC Girls: As Miss Heng is retiring after yonks as our dear principle, there will be a surprise farewell party for her at 1pm. Please arrive by 1230 by public transport so as not to crowd the driveway and give away the surprise. Meet at Atrium/ Spice Room at 1230!

23 October 2006


UPDATE: Alix is SAFE AND SOUND thanks to ANDY! :)

Please help keep a lookout for little Alix, who went missing in the Eastern area of Singapore sometime last evening.

From CH:
'Alix is a 3 year old Golden Retriever. She's very small (much smaller than normal) with a short coat. She doesn't bark (ever) and is overly friendly. She's wearing a yellow collar with an AVA tag on it. S and I are very willing to give a small reward to anyone who helps us find her.

Please email me at aun@chubbyhubby.net if you have seen her or have found her.'

For more info, please click here.

21 October 2006

Too cute not to post

I received one of the cutest little shirts a few days ago and I'm loving it! Thank you! :) In fact, I'm wearing it as I type.

Meanwhile, I'm learning to cope with the hectic schedule and getting on top of everything I have to do. I still have long lists of things to do, but these get trashed soon after. And being able to crush a piece of to-do list is possibly one of the best feelings in the world.

That, and perhaps savouring a truffle and foie gras terrine from Saint Pierre.

Or that piece of succulent chicken from Sin Kee Chicken Rice.

Or maybe seeing the faces of your loved ones light up as they bite into your freshly baked canele.

Over and out!

10 October 2006

Public (Service) Announcement

While the haze seems to have settled down quite a fair bit since late last week, I think it is still prudent to avoid food prepared outdoors. This is especially since a friend of mine reported a fresh layer of dust on his cardboard boxes in his shop each day during the hazy period, despite being indoors. Now extrapolate this situation to the hawker centres and you'll get the idea.

Also, I'm going to be taking a short hiatus from flogging because my life has just been so packed with appointments and lists of things to do. Every. Single. Minute. is without rest, oh except the one-hour-a-day-break perhaps. And even that ends too quickly.

Have you ever felt so up to your neck in work that sleep really feels like a waste of time? That at every moment, your mind is running through your many mental lists of things to do that seem to surpass the horizon. That life seems so compartmentalised yet messy at the same time. That you wish you could just stop all the clocks in the world, sort out your life, then carry on with everyone else's.

I'm sure everyone has felt this way at some point in their life. Some me-time is definitely long overdue.

07 October 2006

Easy peasy lunch

I had planned for a girlfriend to come over to my place for a good, long talk for old time's sake. She was a senior of mine at Warwick and we used to have chats that would run into the wee hours of the morning about everything from life to God to us. Lunch was to be at my place and, having just laid hands on a lovely Indigo coloured 20cm Staub Cocotte, I chose to prepare a quick chicken dish that would be a cinch to prepare with the cocotte.

Marinated with the same One Thousand and One Nights spice blend (Tarragon, Bear's Garlic, Rose petals, Cloves, Cumin, Peppercorns, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Fenugreek, Star Anise, Ginger, Cardamom, Coriander, Onion, Garlic, Bay leaf, Celery and Salt) I used before, with just a little bit of olive oil, it was seared to a healthy shade of brown then left with the self-basting cover on for just 15 minutes. It came out perfectly juicy and flavourful, while the remnant sauce in the pot was wiped clean by my girlfriend with a slice of bread. JM Thiercelin definitely does this spice blend temptingly well.

To accompany it, I chose a truffle-oil based sauce to dress the salad (mixed greens and red, carrots and walnuts).

White Truffle Salad Dressing
Serves 2-3


150 g mixed salad
a handful of baby carrots
a handful of Californian walnuts
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbspn white truffle oil
1 tbspn olive oil
½ tsp truffle vinegar
a pinch of vanilla salt
½ - 1 tbspn water

Whisk mustard, truffle oil, olive oil, truffle vinegar and salt together.
Add up to 1 tbspn water to achieve the right consistency then toss green salad in dressing.
Top with carrots and walnuts then serve.

As we shared sob stories about our healthily painful lives (we all need a little dose of pain occasionally, so we figured), I couldn't help but cradle Moka for some comfort as well as show him off at the same time. This warm and fuzzy bundle makes me feel like a kitchen-crazy proud mama now. But no, he's never going to end up on my stove, ever.

03 October 2006

Calming Down

Perhaps it has something to do with having an inexperienced palate, or simply having a sweet tooth, but I've never drunk tea (happily) without sugar. I had never been able to understand how some friends (Stella, you especially) love their tea sans sugar so much. To me, tea without any sweetener like honey or sugar, is tasteless. It may emit the most heavenliest of aromas but would taste just like water to me. However, a friend (and a tea purist) once told me that great tea needs no sugar.

I took that statement with much skepticism since I had never enjoyed any sugar-less tea before. But after trying a little cup of Mariage Freres tea one day, with a sugar bowl on standby nonetheless, I can say with all conviction now that I agree - Great Tea Needs No Sugar. I didn't need to know that Mariage Freres tea has been around for more than 300 years to decide that it was great. It was the fact that besides the perfume from the deliciously golden tea, it had little tannic taste to it and had a perceptible fruitiness to it (it was afterall a fruit-spiked tea). To say it was anything like water would be doing tremendous injustice to it.

Sipping a cup of Mariage Freres tea while browsing through cook(or ice cream)books makes for a perfect afternoon.

But of course when one has no access to any Mariage Freres, a date with Moka is no less.