A short break (from food) to talk about color management

sypder1.jpg

About a month and a half ago, I got an email that can only be described as serendipitous. I had just flown back into Singapore the day before. Because I needed something to kill time with on the flight, I had bought a digital photography magazine at the airport (something I honestly rarely do — I usually get my news and reviews from www.dpreview.com). One article that I found really interesting was on color management and monitor calibration. Mid-last year, I had made the switch from Mac to PC (I still have the Mac, I just use the PC as my primary machine). And while I was very happy to make the change, one thing I noticed and that really disturbed me was that my photographs looked completely different on my two computers. No amount of tweaking of the PC’s Adobe Gamma settings satisfied me and I found myself, for months, checking to see how pictures looked on both computers before posting them. What I found was that on many occasions, pictures that I thought looked fine on my PC — and, I should say, this is after editing them in Photoshop — looked screwed up when I loaded them onto my Mac… and vice-versa. Sometimes the pictures would be fine on one machine and then look over-saturated on the other. Or green or too yellow or something. Basically, I found myself unable to decide which one was more accurate and instead of really trying to fix the problem, opened both laptops side by side one day and manually tweaked their screen settings until the colors on both were as close as possible (which meant they could have both been entirely off-base). Of course, while I was satisfied with the screen results, when I tried printing images, they weren’t what I expected. They were good, but they just weren’t what I had seen on screen.

I should add that I spent 10 years in the magazine world, so I should have known better. After all, in that industry, our designers’ monitors were regularly callibrated by our printers in order to ensure that what we saw on screen was really what was printed. In fact, as I think about it, I suspect that I considered monitor and color calibration something you needed to bring an expert in to do for you; I never really thought about doing it myself. Until I read that article. The article recommended two products, the Spyder2 system made by Colorvision and the Huey made by Pantone. I had decided that when I had some time I would do some research and try one of the two systems.

selector_1.jpg That’s when Cathay Photo emailed me. Cathay Photo, as any Singapore-resident knows, is one of the oldest, best and most reliable camera and camera equipment retailers in town. My grandfather — who collected Nikons and Leicas — shopped with them for most of his adult life and it is one of the two stores in town I trust. One of their staff had seen my blog and in a rather out of the box move had decided to contact me. She wanted to know if I might be interested in testing the Spyder2 color management system and if I thought it was something useful, would I mind blogging about it? (Like I said, serendipitous.) Of course, despite wanting to type, “yes yes yes!” right there and then, I told them I’d think about it and suggested a meeting (can’t seem too eager, right?). To make a long story short, I made what I think is a reasonable deal with Cathay. I would try out the Spyder 2 system. If (and only if) I found it useful and it worked, we’d sit down again and hammer out some ways for me to help them publicize the system.

Getting the system set up is a breeze. Install the software off of the included CD, plug the patented Datacolor Colorimeter (which I’ll call “the device” in the rest of this post; “patented Datacolor Colorimeter” is just too much of a mouthful) into your computer’s USB port. Launch the software and follow the instructions, which in a nutshell tell you to rest the device on your monitor. Once the device is in place, the software flashes a series of colors on your screen, which when exposed to the device, helps your computer create the most accurate color profile possible. What I discovered is that the callibration seems to work best in total darkness. I ran the software three times (in different lighting conditions) before I was completely satisfied with the color profile proposed. I also tried calibrating my wife’s laptop in different lighting conditions, with the same results.

sypder2.jpg

The differences between what I had been working with previous to calibration and what the Spyder2 system created for me were astounding. To show you just how different the colors were, I have taken photographs that I had edited to what I thought were pretty good results pre-calibration and then edited them post-calibration. On my laptop, the “after” photos are perfect. The colors are, well, very real. They also reproduce beautifully and accurately in print. The “before” shots, however, are kind of wonky. In the first photo series (cashew chicken), the “before” shot has too much green and yellow. The “before” shot below of my gorgeous friend J drinking soup is too yellow. The “before” shot of the Moroccan chicken is also too green and the “before” shot of the chicken curry is slightly green and way too yellow. Now, the strange thing is that some of you are going to be saying, “Wait, on my screen, the ‘before’ shots look better.” (I know this because I just checked the pictures out on a friend’s laptop and some of the “befores” do look better on hers.) BUT… and this is a big “but” … they only look good because your monitors may be a tad inaccurate. If you were to try printing the images, you’d be shocked to discover that what you see on screen is not what you’ll see on paper (you may already have this problem). Proper color management and monitor calibration is extremely important for anyone who works with photos (and/or any other colored media) on their computers and intends to share those pictures with others.

I’ve been totally thrilled with the results of the Spyder2 system. (I was so happy in fact that I convinced Cathay that they simply HAD to advertise on my site; amazingly, they agreed!) The system reminds you to recalibrate your monitor every few weeks, which is useful and recommended.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it out for yourself. Honestly, not only will you be looking at your own photos and prints in a new light, so will everyone else.

Special wine offer

winelot1.jpg

I’m a big wine lover. That said, I don’t often post on wine, mostly because there are so many great wine blogs and bloggers out there who are already doing a fantastic job, and doing it much better than I ever could. I’ve been lucky, over the years, to have had the chance to taste some excellent wines and more recently to get to know some great winemakers, retailers and distributors. A recent chance-meeting at a dinner party has given me the opportunity to work on something really exciting with a team of really passionate wine distributors based in Singapore.

In partnership with my new friends, I’ve helped put together two mixed lots of wine that are available for purchase. The first is a “starter kit”, i.e. a really (really) affordable collection of six fantastic wines. They’re perfect for buying and drinking right away. They are also perfect if you are just getting into wine. The second lot is more serious. It’s a “collector’s case” of twelve amazing wines from tiny, boutique vineyards in France. These are all special wines which you can buy, store and then open for those special occasions.

For info on how to purchase these, please click over to my Shop page. There you will find info on whom to contact, plus the prices for the two kits. Below is some detailed info on the various wines that we have selected for each of the two kits. Happy drinking!

Chubby Hubby Starter Kit
6 bottles, 3 bottles of red wine and 3 bottles of white wine.

These are the reds:
2003 Chateau Haut Barreyre (Bordeaux)
This wine comes from an estate that has been producing fine Bordeaux wines since the 18th Century. This sauvignon/Semillon grapes is a yummy wine which drinks well now but also ages well, increasing in depth and richness. It is well balanced with cherry-chocolate fruits and a fine acidity.
2003 Chianti Classico, domaine Castello di Rampella (Tuscany, Italy)
This yummy Italian is 85% San Giovese and 15% Cabernet Francs. It is a full bodied style with blackcurrants and spices and is very well balanced. It is a fantastic wine to pair with any meat course.
2001 La Chapelle de Bebian (Languedoc)
Prieure Saint Jean de Bebian has been leading the push to produce incredible wine in Languedoc since the late 1970s. The Grenache, Carignan and Syrah blend has a nose marked by leather and spices. The wine itself is soft and fresh with a taste of stewed fruits.

Here are the whites:
2003 Bourgogne Blanc, Dominique Laurent (Burgundy)
Another stunner from this crazy garagiste. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. It has a ripe and floral nose and is round and fresh on the palate.
2003 Ch. Barreyre (Bordeaux)
This estate has been producing fine Bordeaux wines since the 18th century. This Sauvignon-Semillon blend is perfect to start your meal with.
2004, Muscadet Expression d’Orthogneiss, Domaine de L’Ecu (Loire Valley)
Owner Guy Bossard is one of the pioneers of Bio Dynamic viticulture in France. He has also helped raised Muscadet wines to an astounding level of quality. This wine is very ripe and fresh.

Chubby Hubby’s “Collector’s Case”
12 bottles, 8 reds and 4 whites.

The reds:
2003 Beaune 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes, Dominique Laurent (Burgundy)
From one of Burgundy’s top garagistes, this wine is made only from “old vines” (which means they are pre-phylloxera vines, unlike those planted and used by most vineyards in France). This 100% Pinot Noir wine is bursting with flavour and has a nice finish.
2003 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Vaucrains, Dominique Laurent (Burgundy)
Another stunner from Laurent. This 100% old vines Pinot Noir comes from one of the best parcels of land in Burgandy. The wine has a lovely texture and a character marked by blueberries, blackberries and strawberies.
1989 Chateau Du Puy (Bordeaux)
This estate, farmed by the Amoreau family for 400 years, is located in the Cotes de Francs appellation next to Saint Emilion. Bio dynamic viticulture and careful vinifications bring us a wine with great length, complexity and elegance.
2000 Chateau La Negly, L’Ancely (Languedoc)
A new expression of Languedoc wines made from Mourvedre and Grenache grabes. This is a powerful wine that has been aged in new oak for 24 months which helps concentrate the fruit and gives the wine a nice ripeness. The tannins are robust and give the wine a muscular structure.
1998 Prieure Saint Jean de Bebian (Languedoc)
This Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend is one of the most elegant wines made in the Languedoc region. It has a superb ripeness and notes of black fruits, cinnamon and black pepper on the nose.
2003 Le Clos des Fees, Domaine du Clos des Fees (Roussillon)
From one of the most promising estates of Southern France, this Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre blend is vinified in large and small French oak barrels. This very concentrated wine impresses with its silky texture, very fine tannins and its phenomenal length, revealing intense black fruits and aromatic herbal notes.
1995 Mas de Daumas Gassac (Languedoc)
Since the 1970s, Damas Gassac has been behind a push for better and better wines from Languedoc. An unusual blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, this wine is a striking demonstration of the relevance of planting Cabernet outside the usual Bordeaux area. The wine displays Southern France’s wild side yet remains elegant.
2003 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes, Tardieu-Laurent (Rhone)
Michel Tardieu is one of the most talented winemakers in the Rhone Valley. In partnership with Burgundian Dominique Laurent, he produces gorgeous wines. This Chateauneuf, made of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre grown on “old vines”, is very rich and possesses a superb texture and fruit purity.

The Whites:
2004 Pouilly Fume Pur Sang, Didier Dagueneau (Loire Valley)
After 20 years of farming and vinifications, Didier Dagueneau is now reaching a cult status among white wine lovers around the world. Made of 100% Sauvignon grapes, these wines display an amazing blend of fruits, mineral and spices. They are truly in a league of their own.
2004 Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes blanc, Tardieu-Laurent (Rhone)
Made of Grenache blanc and Roussanne, this wine displays very fresh notes of fruit, spices, fenel and dill, without the heaviness sometimes found in white Chateauneufs. Great ageing potential.
2004 Anjou Vignes Francaises, La Sansonniere (Loire Valley)
Mark Angeli is one of the most important producers in the Loire Valley. For the past 15 years, he has questioned bad viticultural habits and has been promoting a return to more natural and sensible farming methods. This wine, made form 100% Chenin French vines not grafted on US rootstocks displays a pure blend of ripe white and yellow fruits underlined by spices. On the palate the wine is full and round with an amazing lightness.
2003 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Dominique Laurent (Burgundy)
Celebrated for his great red wines, Laurent is also a very talented white producer. Grown in one of the few Grand Cru vineyards of Burgundy, this 100% Chardonnay Corton Charlemagne possesses superlative density and ripeness. The hallmark minerality of Corton Charlemagne is for the moment hiding behind the fruits, but a few years in bottle will bring the wine to a balanced glory.

Menu for Hope winners announced

Are you a big winner? If you made a donation to this year’s Menu for Hope and purchased a chance to win some amazing prizes, you should head on over to Pim’s blog immediately to see if you have won. To get there, please click here. Congrats to edwf, cookingismypassion, Spike, keaton, Sui Mai and Dave Boggs for winning the prizes that I sourced. Please email me so I can get the prizes and/or vouchers to you. I am very excited that I myself won a prize, a 10 course dinner for 2 with wines at Becasse in Sydney, generously sourced by Helen from Grab Your Fork. I am so planning my Sydney trip as soon as possible!

Knocked out!

Ironically, Chubby Hubby is down with gastroenteritis. Posting will resume as soon as the room stops spinning.

P.S. I just wanted to thank everyone who took part in Menu for Hope III. This year, we raised US$60,925.12, which is quite an amazing and impressive sum.

Menu for Hope III

During this festive season, one of the very best things any of us can do is give to those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. Please join me and almost every other food blogger in the world in raising money for the United Nations World Food Programme. Menu for Hope is an annual web-based initiative founded by celeb flogger Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim. Through this awesome campaign, over the past two years, food bloggers have raised funds for the American Red Cross (aid for Tsunami victims) and UNICEF. This year, in a very fitting move, we’re raising money to feed the less fortunate.

Here’s how the campaign works. Floggers around the world have either donated or have sourced amazing prizes that anyone from anywhere in the world can buy (virtual) raffle tickets for. The money that is collected will be donated, as said, to the United Nations World Food Programme. Pim will be hosting a round-up of all of the donated prizes. To see the global round-up, please click here. In addition, each region has its own host, who will probably post more details on the prizes donated in her/his region. The Asia-Pacific round-up is hosted by Helen over at Grab Your Fork. The fundraising and funds distribution is being managed by professional fundraising company First Giving. To go to the Menu for Hope III donations page, please click here. Every US$10 that you donate qualifies you for one chance at any of the prizes of your choice.

I’m extremely happy to announce that I’ve managed to talk 6 friends into donating 6 amazing prizes for Menu for Hope III. (Please note that the vouchers/dinners must be claimed in 2007.)They are as follows:

1. Dinner for four with wines at Iggy’s in Singapore (prize code AP01)

Every reader knows that I’m a huge, huge fan of Iggy’s. Restaurant Magazine rated this tiny Modern European restaurant the 4th best restaurant in Asia. The late, great Johnny Apple and the very-cultured Kevin Gould have both raved about Iggy’s amazing menus and wine lists. Dinner here is truly a treat. The value for this meal is approximately US$750.

2. Dinner for two with wines at Tetsuya’s in Sydney, Australia (prize code AP02)

Who hasn’t heard of the great Japanese-Aussie chef Tetsuya Wakuda? His restaurant is clearly one of the very best on the planet and his unique blend of Western and Japanese cuisines has made him a living legend. Dinner at Tetsuya’s is a must for any foodie. Win this and treat yourself and a loved one. Tetsuya promises that he’ll prepare a very special meal for the winner.

3. Dinner for two at Felix at The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong (prize code AP03)

Felix is a Hong Kong landmark. Designed by Philippe Starck, it’s as famous for its killer interiors and views as it is for its food. Felix’s new chef, American Jason Oakley, has a stunning pedigree. Formerly from the French Laundry and Alex at Wynn’s Las Vegas, Oakley’s own very contemporary cuisine is putting Felix back on the culinary map.

4. Two amazing Japanese chef’s knives (prize code AP04)

Japanese knife specialist Razorsharp has kindly donated two gorgeous and exceptionally well-made Japanese chef’s knives, a Kasumi 20cm chef’s knife and a Hattori HD 17cm Santoku knife. You could not ask for two better tools for your kitchen.

5. A set of 7 cookbooks and travel books donated by Editions Didier Millet (prize code AP05)

This is a great collection of cookbooks and travel books. I’m also personally excited by this collection because I helped write two of the books in this set.

Hot Chefs Hip Cuisine
This book features original recipes from 34 of the world’s most daring chefs, including Charlie Trotter, Ferran Adria, Michel Troisgros, Gordon Ramsay, Tetsuya Wakuda, and more, who have, in their own ways, changed the way the world eats. Proceeds from sales of this book are donated to UNICEF.

New Chinese Cuisine
This book chronicles how the chefs at the respected Tung Lok Restaurant group are revamping classic dishes from Sichuan, Hunan, Beijing and Canton in order to create a new Modern Chinese cuisine.

The Six Senses Cookbook
Founded in 1995 by husband-and-wife team Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, the Six Senses brands have become synonymous with luxurious living and cutting-edge concepts. With resorts and spas located in the Maldives, Thailand and Vietnam, Six Senses properties feature the very best in resort accommodation and spa experiences, accompanied by a keen sense of environmental awareness. The restaurants at the group’s Soneva Resorts, Evason Hideaways and Evason Resorts (under which Ana Mandara is branded) have also been serving up innovative fusion cuisine to a rising tide of international acclaim.

Four books from the Chic series: Shanghai Chic; Singapore Chic; India Chic; and South Africa Chic. Each of these books offers great narratives covering both history and culture, as well as reviews and listings of each destination’s coolest hotels, restaurants, spas, shops and bars.

6. A suite for a weekend at the New Majestic Hotel, plus a voucher for dinner at the Majestic Restaurant, Singapore (prize code AP06)

The New Majestic Hotel is Singapore’s sexiest and most chic boutique hotel property. Similarly, its resident restaurant, the Majestic, serves some of the country’s best, most well-prepared and modern Chinese food. Stay for a weekend in one of the hotel’s uniquely appointed suites and dine in-house. The dining voucher is worth S$80.

As said, to make a donation and buy a chance for one of these or other prizes, go to the donation page at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhopeIII. Each US$10 will give you one raffle ticket towards a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize or prizes you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. Do state how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize codes; for example, for a donation of US$50, you could buy 2 raffle tickets for AP01 and 3 for AP02. (For US donors, if your company has agreed to match your charity donation, please remember to check the box and fill in the information so we may claim the corporate match.) Please also check the box that allows First Giving to see your email address so that they can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone. Donations are accepted from today until 22 December 2006, so please act quickly. Finally, if you do take part, please check out Chez Pim on 15 January 2007 to see all the results of the raffle.

Don’t forget to check out all the regional hosts to see details on all the various prizes. Here’s a list of them all:

US West Coast: Becks and Posh
US East Coast: The Amateur Gourmet
US (the rest): Kalyn’s Kitchen
Canada: Cardamom Addict
Europe: Davidlebovitz.com
Latin America: The Cooking Diva
Asia Pacific: Grab Your Fork
Special wine bloggers’ host: Vinography

Thank you so much for reading. Please tell your friends about this and please, please, please donate and take part in Menu for Hope III. Good luck!

Weekend bites

Three birds in one

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve always wanted to eat a turducken. The idea of a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey just sounds too amusing not to one day try. The idea of making one though looks a little daunting. From what I’ve read, it’s a pretty involved process and one that’s a too time-consuming and messy for me to try this holiday season. If, however, you have a few days to spare and want to give this rather unique dish a whack, you can try out Chef Paul Prudhomme’s recipe. Click here to check it out. Fortunately for lazy old me, I’ve just discovered a supplier right here in Singapore. Melvyn Tan, an ex-Michelangelo’s chef, now runs a small private dining and catering business simply called 289. This year, Melvyn is making and selling turduckens. Each one comes with gravy and a cranberry dipping sauce and runs around S$200 (5.5 kg – 6.5 kg). Each of these triple-fowled feasts can feed 10 to 12 persons. One of these, I’m thinking, would make a rather interesting centerpiece for anyone’s Christmas dinner. In addition to turduckens, Melvyn also offers full holiday menus that can be “taken away” or served in his private dining space. Contact Melvyn Tan at melandaddie@gmail.com.

OCBC Holiday dining

While you are planning all your meals this holiday season, if you are an OCBC credit cardmember, be sure to keep in mind all the various dining promotions available to you. Click here for a full list.

Some of the more interesting ones to consider include the following:

The Regent Singapore, Something To Go, Tel 6720 8000
15% off Festive Takeout with a minimum spend of S$50. Offer is valid from 1 Dec 2006 to 2 Jan 2007. Discount will not be extended for any purchases that are to be collected on 24, 25, 31 Dec 2006 and 1 Jan 2007. To order, pls call 6720 8000 at least 3 days in advance and quote “OCBC Festive Redemption Programme”.

The Oriental, Singapore, MELT – The World Café, Level 4, The Oriental Singapore, Tel 6885 3080
15% off Christmas Goodies. Offer is valid from 1 to 26 Dec 2006. Please order 3 days in advance.

Wasabi Bistro, 4/F The Oriental Singpaore, Marina Square, Tel 6885 3091
10% off Weekend Champagne Brunch. Offer is valid till 31 Oct 2007.

Jaan, 70/F Equinox Complex, Swissotel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Rd Tel: 6837 3322
Platinum & Titanium Exclusive: 15% off food bill on a la carte menu for lunch from Mon to Thu. Offer is valid till 31 Dec 2006.

Calling all food bloggers!

I don’t know how many of you remember or took part in Menu for Hope II, the super-duper, web-based, food bloggers campaign, started by the always energetic Chez Pim, that raised money for UNICEF last year. Either way, I hope you will take part in Menu for Hope III, which launches internationally and all across the Web on 11 December 2006. This year, we are raising money for the United Nations World Food Programme. I can’t imagine anything that’s more fitting for the festive season than the world’s food bloggers raising money to feed the hungry. It’s simply perfect.

Here’s how the campaign works. If you are a blogger, you’ll need to either come up with a cool gift/prize to donate or source one from a generous sponsor. Then inform your regional “host”, i.e. the blogger in your region who is consolidating all the various donations from your region. He or she will post what everyone is donating on the 11th. At the same time, you should also post about your donation on the same day.

Here’s a list of this year’s hosts:
US West Coast: Sam of Becks and Posh
US East Coast: Adam the Amateur Gourmet
US (the rest): Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen
Canada: Jasmine of Cardamom Addict
Europe: David Lebovitz of Davidlebovitz.com
Latin America: Melissa de Leon of the Cooking Diva
Asia Pacific: Helen of Grab Your Fork

Readers are asked to donate funds in order to get virtual raffle tickets for these prizes; they also get to choose which prizes they want to be in competition for.

This year, by the way, I hear that the prizes are going to be awesome. Rumour has it that a certain Thomas Keller is sponsoring something. (I am so totally bidding on that!)

For more info on how to take part, please go to Pim’s blog by clicking here. To steal a famous phrase, help us feed the world this Christmas!

The other man in my wife’s life


photo courtesy of the Les Amis Group

Married guys out there will understand my predicament. It wasn’t all that long ago that I could get my wife’s pulse racing. Sure, I may have gained the equivalent of a Golden Retriever in extra pounds, but that’s partly her fault. She’s the one who has been feeding me so well. I remember a time when she’d be breathlessly captivated by me, hanging unto my words, eyes twinkling with excitement. These days, however, I’m lucky if, even when I try my hardest, I can capture her attention, usually followed by a response of, “okay, sweetie… that’s nice.”

Which is why I used to really hate Pang Kok Keong. After first meeting the suave, spiky-haired chef, he was all my darling S could talk about. “Chef Pang has done this. Chef Pang has done that. Chef Pang’s created this. Chef Pang is so cool.” It was so very aggravating. I felt emasculated, wounded, cuckolded… and well, jealous. I thought I was the Big Dog in her life. But instead of wanting to talk about me, she wanted to talk about another man.

As soon as I tasted Chef Pang’s desserts though, any feelings of ill will I had for him disappeared. As the Executive Pastry Chef for the very well-known Les Amis Group and the creative force behind Canelé Patisserie Chocolaterie, the awesome pastry shop in Robertson Walk, Chef Pang is consistently and constantly producing new, exquisite sweet things for hungry hubbies like myself to feast upon. I won’t bother transcribing Chef Pang’s impressive CV. If you want to read it, please click here. I will say though that Chef Pang is easily one of the most talented dessert chefs working in Singapore today. I really like his caramel-sel macarons, his ice creams and many of his cakes.

He also happens to be one of the nicest chefs in town. Over the past year or so, S and Chef Pang have become good friends (and yeah, I still do feel a small tinge of jealousy when she talks non-stop about him, but as long as she feeds me his desserts, I keep my mouth shut). One of the things that S and Chef Pang have talked about a lot is the idea of creating a multi-course dessert degustation dinner. While some restaurants, most famously Espai Sucre in Barcelona and ChikaLicious in New York specialize in serving such sweet meals, there aren’t any places in town that do. Taking advantage of my recent partnership with OCBC Bank, that allows me to create special promotions with (and only with) chefs and restaurants that I like, I recently approached Chef Pang and suggested that he do exactly what he’s been talking about for as long as S has known him, i.e. create a super-sweet degustation dinner for a group of 14 greedy gourmands. OCBC has generously agreed to cover the costs of this very special dinner and is allowing me to give away 10 seats to my readers (as you should expect, only OCBC cardmembers can apply).

First, let me whet your appetite with Chef Pang’s menu. Here it is:

Pan-fried Duck Breast – Orange Chocolate Jam – Roasted Hazelnut
Tuna Tataki – Mustard Vinegrette – Crab Tuile – Seaweed Marshmallow
Roasted Pepper Tagliatelle – Olive Oil Cake – Spiced Pine Nut
“Tako” – Potato Jelly – Paprika “Cloud” – Aioli
Frozen Asparagus & White Truffle Lollipop
Pina Colada
Apple Ravioli – Apricot Coulis – Tomato Marmalade
Hot Chocolate Espuma – Frozen Kalamansi Chibouste – Exotic Fruit Compote
Raspberry Foam – Chocolate Tea Cream – Cocoa Bean Tuile
Flambe Banana – Milk Chocolate Yoghurt – Lemon Cloud
“Pain Perdu” – Spiced Fig Compote – Cinnamon Ice Cream
Rose “Bombe”
Orange Tea Savarin
Chocolat – Chocolat – Chocolat
Selected Petit Fours

That’s 15 courses of sweet, sweet fun. The dinner (valued at S$180 a person) will be held on 6 December 2006 at Canelé. We are offering two seats each to 5 lucky couples. To win an invitation for 2 to this unique meal, you will need to email me no more than 300 words on the subject, “My Sweetest Experience”. I’m totally leaving it to you to decide how to define the subject. Of course, only OCBC cardmembers are eligible to apply (and yes, this is a very transparent way of encouraging you to sign up for a card if you don’t have one yet). When you email me, you will need to give me your full name and IC number. Email to aun@chubbyhubby.net no later than 28 November. The winners will be announced on 30 November.

I’m really looking forward to this dinner. And I’m really grateful that Chef Pang has made time to make this meal. He’s currently otherwise swamped with work; he’s opening a brand new branch of Canelé Patisserie Chocolaterie on Orchard Road this coming December. Good luck and hope to see you at dinner.

Canelé Patisserie Chocolaterie
11 Unity Street
#01-09, Robertson Walk
Singapore
Tel: +65 6738 8145

More free stuff

{NOTE: AS OF 1014AM ON WEDNESDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 2006, THE TICKETS HAVE ALL BEEN SNAPPED UP. CONGRATS TO PING LAN, DAVID, VENISHA, AMANDA AND JACLYN! Please do not send me any more entries. Thank you.}

Regular readers will know that from time to time I’ve been giving away free tickets to performances by Singapore Lyric Opera. I’m a fan of this under-appreciated and often under-funded performing arts group. In exchange for an ad space for each of their concerts, SLO gives me several pairs of tickets, which I in turn pass onto you.

This December, SLO is putting on “All That Jazz”, a concert featuring popular pieces that straddle the line between jazz and opera. A great example might be music from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin and Richard Rodney Bennet, which they have on their programme.

I have 5 pairs of tickets for the evening (8pm) performance on 8 December 2006 to give away. The seats are excellent. The concert is being held at the UCC Hall at the National University of Singapore.

To win a pair of tickets, just email me (at aun@chubbyhubby.net) the correct answers to the following questions:

1. What was the real name of the jazz musician nicknamed Bird?
2. What famous Chicago-based chef is a huge jazz fan and compares his cooking with jazz improvisation (hint: he has a jazz band playing on his TV show)?
3. In which town in which country is the opera Porgy and Bess set?

Tickets will be awarded to the first 5 persons with correct answers. Please note that this is only open to Singaporean or Malaysian residents.

Brunch deals


french toast with apples and fig & honey
ice cream from Marmalade Pantry

I’m a big breakfast person. Whenever I travel, one of the things I enjoy most is sussing out a city’s coolest and best places for my morning meal. On my recent trip to Perth, I was thrilled to discover a cool cafe in Murray Mews called Tiger Tiger. They serve fantastic coffee, make gorgeous cappuccinos with deliciously velvety foam, and good, simple but hearty breakfast food. Here in Singapore, I have several favourite places to go when feeling a little peckish in the morning. As I’ve written before, I’m not a fan of hotel buffet brunches. In fact, I really can’t stand them. I’d much rather spend my time and money in more relaxed venues that offer a variety of well-made and affordable options.


Willin’s scrambled eggs on toast

One of my favourite brunch venues in town is Wild Rocket. Readers of this blog will already know that I’m a regular there and a big fan of chef-owner Willin Low. So when the kind folks at OCBC and I discussed the idea of profiling some of the best brunch places in town, I knew that I had to include Willin’s fabulous little restaurant. I was even more excited when, after calling the chef, he immediately agreed to create a special menu for OCBC cardmembers.


a delicious burger from Wild Rocket

Very embarrassingly, Willin wants to call it the Chubby Hubby Brunch menu. That said, I’m not at all embarrassed to say that the menu is terrific. The meal starts with a pineapple cosmopolitan martini, a nice boozy and refreshing way to start your meal. Then you get a plate of scrambled eggs on toast. I like mine runny, but you can order yours slightly more cooked if you prefer. For your main course, you get a choice of the always good Wild Rocket burger with sun-dried tomato salsa or Willoughby bangers & mash. The meal is then capped with a fresh pandan panna cotta with gula melaka. The menu runs S$33+++ which I think is a pretty good deal. And if you get thirsty and you are part of a party of at least 4 persons who order this menu, you are eligible to order a bottle of Prosecco that normally goes for S$75 for just $60.


Graze’s cast iron pan brunch

Another place I like to go for breakfast is Graze. I know that some people have had mixed experiences there, as have I. That said, I’ve recently had some really great morning meals there. I’ve written previously about their breakfast menu and that I’m a fan of Graze’s cast iron pan and their baked omelettes. OCBC cardmembers can now get a 10% discount on all brunch items, plus free cupcakes (one per customer though, so don’t get greedy).


Marmalade Pantry’s eggs benedict

Another place that I like to go to on weekend mornings is Marmalade Pantry. Popular with the trendy and the chi-chi set, this cool cafe in the basement of Palais Renaissance serves some pretty tasty comfort food. My wife S and I have a lot of favourite dishes on Pantry’s “all day Sunday brunch” menu. I’m a sucker for classic egg dishes, so I tend to order things like the always well-executed eggs benedict or corned beef hash with tomato coulis and fried egg. I always love Pantry’s chicken pot pie, a relatively light but delicious version of this classic dish, and their burgers. Sometimes though, when I want something sweet, I’ll order the French toast with caramelised apples, served with fig & honey ice cream. This dish is delicious and it’s especially ideal when you want a sweet plate of carb after a big night out. OCBC Platinum and Titanium cardmembers can now enjoy some free drinks when brunching or dining in both the older Marmalade Pantry and the new branch in Hitachi Tower. At the original branch, cardmembers will receive a complimentary Lychee Bellini during Sunday brunch. At the Hitachi Tower branch, when dining, cardmembers will receive a complimentary glass of wine with the order of a main course.

I hope you find these brekkie options useful. I enjoy going to them on lazy weekend mornings. Just make sure you make reservations. All three are already pretty popular and usually can’t find space for walk-in customers. I know because I’ve stupidly tried just turning up at all of them at least once (some more than once) and have been (politely) turned away on most occasions.

Wild Rocket
Hangout@Mt Emily
10A Upper Wilkie Road
Tel: 63399448
Promotion: OCBC cardmembers can order the Chubby Hubby Brunch at S$33+++. Includes a pineapple cosmopolitan martini; scrambled eggs on toast; a Wild Rocket Burger of Willoughby bangers & mash; and fresh pandan panna cotta with gula melaka. If 4 or more people order the Brunch, enjoy a bottle of prosecco for just S$60 (normally S$75).

GRAZE
No 4 Rochester Park, Singapore 139215
Tel: 6775 9000
Promotion: OCBC cardmembers enjoy 10% off all brunch items, plus a free cupcake.

Marmalade Pantry
Unit B1-08/11 Palais Reniassance
Tel: 6734 2700
Promotion: OCBC Platinum and Titanium cardmembers enjoy a free Lychee Bellini with their brunch.

Marmalade Pantry
Unit 01-04, Hitachi Tower
16 Collyer Quay
Tel: 6438 5015
Promotion: OCBC Platinum and Titanium cardmembers enjoy a free glass of wine with the order of any main course at dinner.

All offers are valid until 4 May 07

Promotion is subject to Service Charge, prevailing Government Taxes and GST. General Terms & Conditions for all Dining Privileges apply. These promotions are valid every day except eve of and on public holidays. For more details, visit www.ocbc.com.

lost and FOUND!

It’s a little after 10pm on Monday and I’m very, very happy to report that Alix has been found, picked up, showered and is happily snoozing away.

I’d like to send out huge thanks to all the people who posted very kind and sympathetic comments, who emailed me during the day, and all the bloggers who put up notices on their own sites. Your support was amazing and it really touched both S and me.

Even bigger thanks go to Andy, the ultimate kind samaritan. This very nice guy saw our crazy little gal trying to cross Siglap Road last night. He rescued her and gave her a safe place to spend the night. Andy, thank you so very much!