Month: May 2010

Neil Perry’s Awesome Asian Dipping Sauce

When I was counting down my favourite meals of last year, I wrote that one of them was had at Neil Perry’s very sexy Chinese restaurant, Spice Temple. While I had originally gone in slightly skeptical, I left a believer. And while the food may not have been the most authentic, it certainly had flavour, and a lot of heart.

Since then, and because of that visit, my hot and hungry spouse S and I have been cooking more and more from Perry’s Chinese cookbook, Balance and Harmony: Asian Food. It was a book that we had originally purchased (before our meal at Spice Temple) because it was, well, pretty. As cookbook collectors, we occasionally buy texts not because we want to cook from them but because of the pictures, or the layout and design, or because we have all of the chef’s other books, or for any number of reasons. Neil’s recent books are beautiful. They’re a joy to look at, with clean design and gorgeous photos. And so, while we had poured over Balance and Harmony: Asian Food several times, we had never intended to actually use it as a real reference. When we wanted to cook Chinese, we usually turned to authorities like Barbara Tropp, Fuchsia Dunlop or Grace Young. But after that meal at Spice Temple, we decided to give Perry’s book a try. And we’ve been really happy we did.

Holy Crackamole

Okay, I have a new, local culinary addiction. And not just me. Most of my colleagues and I are currently obsessed with Chef Travis Masiero‘s newest venture. The wunderkind, baby-faced chef-owner of Spruce has taken over a small shack in an obscure corner of Phoenix Park (where Spruce is also located) and opened (from what I can tell) Singaore’s first Taqueria. As in taco stand. And a pretty damned awesome one to boot.

The new Spruce Taqueria is agonizingly open only from Monday to Friday and from 12pm to 3pm. It really is not much more than a tiny hut in which the chefs work and from which you place your order (everything here is self-service). There’s a tiny shaded area with some outdoor furniture and a few more tables along the side of the building. This is no-frills eating. That said, this is no-frills gourmet eating, as you would expect from a talented chef like Masiero.