Two years ago, I bought a Belgian waffle iron purely on the strength of Molly’s post recommending two outstanding waffle recipes, Marion Cunningham’s yeast-raised one and the Food Network’s Waffles of Insane Greatness (WIG). Prior to reading Molly’s post, I had never considered making waffles at home. Waffles weren’t even high on my list of favourite breakfast (or dessert) dishes. Today, waffles are permanent fixtures on my breakfast repertoire.
“There is no such thing as the best (chef)”, writes Ferran Adrià, who knows a thing or two about good chefs, “but it is possible to point out something more important – the chef who is the most influential, the one who establishes the way forward.” During my gluttonous tour of restaurants in Singapore and New York (where I lived for close to four years) I’ve encountered very few chefs who can challenge for such a lofty title; but, when I do find such culinary mavens, I’ve noticed that each one of them seems to have a unique philosophy, a kitchen ethos that both defines them and challenges the boundaries of dining. Recently, I had the unmitigated pleasure of speaking to one such chef – Singapore-based Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre, who, to me, is one of the most inventive, innovative restaurant personalities in the world.
Ask any foreigner what the best place to visit in France is, and you’ll get a long and varied list peppered with sighs and “oh, but it’s impossible to choose”. Ask a French person what the best place to visit in France is, and you’ll only get one answer – the region that they are from. We are proud, chauvinistic creatures…
I had the opportunity to meet with You Si in Shanghai, China at an art gallery event. I was talking in a group that kept expanding and suddenly I found myself talking to a lively Chinese man with an infectious smile and lots of stories to tell. We established early in the conversation that we both used to live in New York and then we bonded over shared memories of the “city that never sleeps.” As it turns out my new cocktail companion was You Si, a Chinese artist who had moved to New York and lived there for more than two decades but had in recent years moved back to China to live in Shanghai. When I asked, “is any of this work yours?”, he replied, “no, none of this is my work, I am a guest tonight just like you.”
Last week, I had the immense pleasure of dining in one of Singapore’s most beautiful new restaurants. Yoshiyuki, named after head chef Yoshiyuki Kashiwabara, is a gorgeous Asylum-designed Kaiseki restaurant. Hidden in a discrete corner of Basement One in The Forum shopping centre, this 20-seat restaurant is set to redefine the high-end Japanese dining experience in Singapore. And given the credentials of the team behind Yoshiyuki, I have no doubt it will be a success. Chef Yoshiyuki was previously the personal chef to the former Japanese Ambassador to Singapore. His partner is none other than Ignatius Chan, whose restaurant Iggy’s is ranked by several internationally respected authorities as Asia’s number one restaurant.
This is one of my favourite recipes for homemade pasta because it results in a perfectly al dente noodle. The key to the success of this recipe from The Harry’s Bar Cookbook is the addition of semolina (which is what you’ll find in most commercially prepared dried pastas).
I love carpaccio, the raw beef “salad” that has become one of the must-have dishes on all Italian restaurant menus today. It’s actually hard to believe that the dish is only 62 years old; which makes it a baby compared to most of Italy’s equally famous dishes, most of whose recipes have been passed down from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter for generations. Carpaccio, unlike most of Italy’s most famous dishes, was invented in a restaurant. In one of my favourite restaurants in the world in fact — Harry’s Bar in Venice.
Since a colleague introduced me to Kooka Café earlier this year, I’ve made the place my unofficial hideout, going at least once a week to clear my mind, unwind, and have a thoroughly pleasurable lunch. It isn’t a ‘sexy’ cafe by most definitions: the décor is simple, the menu is small, and the dishes are honest, unassuming even. What it does have is the one intangible ingredient that I think matters the most in any food establishment, the one thing that makes you want to return again and again – love.
When I was growing up in my tropical island home of Singapore, I believed that stews were eaten only by Europeans. This preconception probably came from reading western fairy tales and watching movies and television. It was only when I learnt to cook in my late teens that I realised stews are actually prepared around the world in various forms. Usually a cold-weather classic, stews can be savoured any time of year, anywhere. One of my favourite stews is lamb tagine, a staple in every Moroccan restaurant. Tagine, or tajine, is a North African dish named after the earthenware utensil in which it is cooked.
Australian wine – almost a market synonym for Shiraz from South Australia. Known for its strong flavour, overwhelming ripeness and full body texture, Shiraz appears to one of be the favourite varietals for most Singaporean drinkers. Grown on a small corner of South Western Australia, with terrain and climate akin to the highly prized and reputable Bordeaux region in France, Margaret River has been setting the stage on fire with its own class of style.