End of the week nibbles

New and noted (as reported by S)

For the longest time, cooking for a dinner party here in Singapore usually meant that one of us would have to spend at least half a day picking up the various ingredients we’d need. It often meant going to Tekka, then Culina and Swiss Butchery, as well as Market Place or Meidiya in addition to the occasional stop at Supernature or Hediard. We’re pleased to note that over the last couple of weeks, things have changed a little with the launch of Culina at Dempsey and Jones the Grocer Dempsey Hill.

We’ve been shopping at Culina since it opened its retail outlets years ago and it has always been one of the best places for hard-to-find gourmet items such as Echire butter, squid ink sachets (for harried folk who don’t harvest their own), ratte potatoes and Tetsuya’s truffle salsa. Apart from the wider selection (including more fresh produce, foie gras, caviar and oysters) and a prettier interior at Dempsey, the new Culina also boasts a chic café called Culina Enoteca. Earlier this week, we grabbed a quick bite there. CH had a steak sandwich and I had a salmon one. Both tasted light, fresh and lovingly put together. The café also serves 27 wines by-the-glass, all which can also be purchased at the store as well. This means that customers can actually taste a couple of wines (with a plate of charcuterie perhaps) in a relaxed, comfortable spot before buying a couple of bottles to add to their stash. We’re thrilled that this is now open.

The other opening that I have been eagerly awaiting is that of Aussie food emporium, Jones the Grocer. I fell in love with the Woollahra store years ago and couldn’t tear myself away from its cheese room! We had the opportunity to tour the premises before it opened officially this week and were inspired by the great range of products Jones stocks. Many of the items are from small batch, artisanal producers who often create products especially for Jones. It’s great to see retailers choosing to showcase producers that they truly believe in. We bought a bunch of ice creams as well as a butterscotch sauce to taste. I also stocked up on my favourite Persian fairy floss. Oh, and we tasted a pairing of blue cheese with truffle honey that was to-die-for. I can’t wait to stock up for our next dinner party! Jones also serves food throughout the day. The menu is small but pretty tasty. Be warned though. Even though it’s only been opened for just a couple of days, it is already packed. And since all the tables are communal, you may need to be a little assertive when asking someone who is hogging 4 or 5 chairs for just one friend and herself to be a little more thoughtful of the needs of other customers.

Culina at Dempsey
Block 8 Dempsey Road #01-13
Tel: 6474-7338

Jones the Grocer Dempsey Hill
Block 9 Dempsey Road #01-12

Travel Much?

Regular readers know that because of my work, I travel a lot. I’m on the road an average of 10 days a month, bouncing around the region and occasionally further afield. Because I work for myself and also try to save my clients as much money as possible, I tend to fly in the back of the bus most of the time. Which, in my mind at least, pretty much qualifies me as someone who knows his way around booking an inexpensive flight.

I usually book flights one of a couple of ways, either via my preferred travel agency or via the Internet. The former is magically efficient and able to do meet almost any crazy request I throw at them, but they aren’t the greatest at sussing out dirt-cheap rates. Which inevitably means that for some trips, I’ll spend some time trawling various websites hunting for special deals, promotions and attractive prices. Sometimes, you can find these directly on an airline’s website. But pretty often, the best place to hunt for great rates is on ZUJI.

I’m not sure how many readers already use the site, but I just thought I’d let slip that they’re having a pretty nifty travel sale right now. Until 23 September, airlines are offering special fares via ZUJI, some as low as S$105; hotels are offering room nights as low as S$30; and there are a whole host of ridiculously well-priced packages to boot.

Plus, VISA Cardholders can get up to S$20 off all airline tickets, S$60 off all “Great Buy” hotel offers, and S$100 off any packages that you create yourself. In addition, a variety of airlines (Thai Airways, United Airlines, Northwest, Japan Airlines, Etihad Airways, Emirates and China Airlines) have all released some super-special fares in conjunction with the current NATAS fair.

There are limited booking periods to the fares, packages and hotels on promotion, so hurry up. I know that I’ve been having a blast the past couple of days combing through all of ZUJI‘s offers, trying to decide where in the world to take S on our next vacation. The only tough thing is actually choosing which trip to go on. There are some amazing packages to Japan. But I know S would also like to go back to Paris. On the other hand, I’ve been meaning to check out the Croatian coast… sigh… too many places to see, too little time.

Buy this magazine

A few months ago, a photographer-buddy of mine, whom I’d worked with years ago, emailed me to ask if I’d be interested in writing some stories on Singapore. Food and Travel, one of the UK’s best gourmet magazines, had hired him to shoot the photographs for a supplement on my native land. He, in turn, suggested me as the possible author for said supplement (which was pretty darned cool of him). Because of the size of the supplement, there was no way I could handle it, within the time frame that the magazine needed the articles, by myself. So, I enlisted aid from S and another young friend. Together, we put together stories on Singapore’s street food, restaurants, nightlife, and other areas of interest to visitors. The issue of Food and Travel that contains the supplement is now on sale in Europe. It should hit the States and Asia soon. I hope that you find it both interesting and useful.

And… if you need one more reason to buy this issue, the amazing Melissa of Traveler’s Lunchbox wrote the story on eating in Belgium. I know that I’m a huge fan of her writing and I’m pretty sure many of you are as well.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!