Month: January 2010

An old-fashioned feast at True Blue Cuisine

Last weekend, my darling wife S and I enjoyed a fantastic meal at True Blue Cuisine. True Blue is one of my favourite restaurants and easily one of the best Peranakan restaurants in Singapore. It’s a place that S and I like to bring visiting friends to, as well as to go by ourselves for date nights during which we feast on Chef Benjamin Seck’s expertly prepared and always mouth-watering dishes.

Last weekend, we went to True Blue because they were serving a very special set menu. In partnership with The White Card, a membership program that I helped set up that offers special priviliges at some of the city’s best restaurants, and that also organizes regular events, Benjamin had created a menu featuring “long-lost and forgotten” Peranakan dishes. As a glutton that likes to pretend that I’m somewhat intellectual, this was one meal I knew I could not miss.

Julia Child’s braised goose with chestnut and sausage stuffing

On Christmas Eve last year, as we were picking up a prime rib at Huber’s for the lunch we were hosting the following day, I espied a goose in the poultry section. For some inexplicable reason, I decided that I had to have it and that at some point between Christmas and New Year’s, I would prepare a menu with goose as its centerpiece. Mind you, up to that point, I’d never cooked goose. I didn’t even have a recipe in mind. CH looked at me as if I was insane and must have put it down to jetlag. Nonetheless, accommodating as he usually is when it comes to matters of the belly, he made no objection as I hauled the just-under-5kilogram bird into our shopping basket.

Cooking the goose turned out to be an enterprise of epic proportions, but it was a delightful indulgence spread over a number of days which was well worth the effort. It is by no means a dish to be prepared on a whim (despite the fact that I acquired said bird on a whim). You need to have the luxury of time–especially if you plan on serving other dishes with it. I’d liken the process to reading War and Peace. Fortunately, I actually take great pleasure in wading through epic novels.

10 Best Meals of 2009

photos courtesy of Spice Temple

As we start the new year, I’ve been looking back at 2009. It was a crazy year, one filled with tough challenges, new opportunities, lots of travel, and, of course, many exceptional meals. Which makes it hard to pick my ten favourite dining experiences of the year. Some fabulous meals, I should say, were had at home (yes, my darling wife S is that good a cook) and at the homes of friends. But for this post, I have decided to limit myself to restaurant experiences. So, what makes a great, truly memorable meal? Well, the food, naturally. But as I reflected back over the last 12 months, many of the meals that really stood out were because of the company at the table. Eating with good friends that also love food surely enhances any gustatory experience. Similarly, decor and good design goes a long way to enhancing the dining experience. And lastly, the uniqueness of the meal definitely played a part — some of my best meals of 2009 were great not just because of the food or the friends dining with us or the restaurant’s interiors, but because they were so different or novel or just plain fun.

So here are the ten best meals I had in 2009.

Risotto with Treviso radicchio

I don’t know about you, but after I come back from a place in which I’ve eaten really well, I’m often still craving the foods from that city or country for the following few weeks (if not longer). It doesn’t matter that I most likely overindulged (and that’s putting it mildly) while travelling. I just want to keep enjoying all the yummy local, seasonal dishes from those great places for as long as I can.

I know, on the flipside, some travellers experience food fatigue when overseas for too long. I remember, as a child, being dragged into Chinese restaurants in Europe by my own mother. “Enough!” She’d exclaim after going without Asian flavours for too long. A proper meal, in her mind, meant a meal centered around steamed white rice and a variety of savoury dishes. Cream sauces and big plates of one kind of meat just didn’t make sense to her.

My darling wife S and I, however, have the opposite problem. Inevitably, whenever we come back from a trip to Japan, we’ll spend the next 2-3 weeks recreating dishes and flavours, using both ingredients we’ve carted back as well as sourcing stuff locally. Similarly, since coming home from our pre-Christmas trip to Venice, we’ve been dipping into our various regional Italian cookbooks and been whipping up an endless parade of Venetian dishes, for ourselves and for friends.

One of the dishes we’ve really been enjoying is a simple risotto made with Treviso radicchio.