“What makes a great croque madame?” is a question that no one has asked me ever. If someone did, though, I wouldn’t be able to answer them, partly because I don’t think there’s a single answer, and partly because I’d be foaming at the mouth. For a perfectly representative specimen, though, I’d highly recommend the beauty of a sandwich being served by chef Frederick Colin at the second, and more casual, of his “Gavroche” restaurants.
Macarons – the gorgeous gorgeous little things. I’ve been a fan of these delicate yet intensely flavoured, colourful and dainty to behold sweeties for a while now. And actually, come to think of it, they’re not even toooo fattening, relatively speaking (no butter in macarons!). Whenever I was in Paris, I would invariably hand-carry back at least two or three boxes of the precious little biscuits from the better-known patisseries – Ladurée, La Maison du Chocolat and Pierre Hermé.
I first became aware of Jean-Georges Vongerichten when I was living in New York. I was in advertising, it was the early 1990s and expense accounts were fat (people in America not just yet ;); and I was just beginning to learn what it meant to eat really well. My first meal with JG, as he is known by foodies worldwide, was at JoJo in 1992.
Whenever I plan a meal, I will usually look at what happens to be available in my fridge or pantry, and cook up the meal from what’s already there. I rarely buy a truckload of ingredients to make that one dish. However, if I happen to chance upon an ingredient that I have been dying to try, I will make that effort. This time, I got my hands on a stinky French cheese, Reblochon* and I am certainly super excited about using it.
“Foie gras is boring,” were the epigrammatic words of Antonin Bonnet before my dinner at Le Sergent Recruteur in Paris. Or at least, that’s what I think he said; it’s hard to recall bits of conversation after being plied with bubbly and Riesling. But it would be completely in keeping with the chef’s cavalier demeanor, and with the feel of this lively new place, which served up some of the most playful cuisine of my weeklong stay in the city.
Classified is a chain of several European-style casual restaurants in Hong Kong that I visit regularly for lunch with friends or to happily while away a solitary hour or two with tea and a slice of their delicious carrot walnut cake. It’s part of the Press Room Group, which counts other popular restaurants including The Press Room and The Pawn in its portfolio.
I have a sweet tooth and Tokyo is a well-known dessert haven. When I was in Tokyo over the recent Christmas holidays, I could not resist the many sweet temptations abound in the city. I am a huge fan of anything made with sweet red beans, so not surprisingly, I had an overdose of delicious taiyaki, which is the waffle-like, fish-shaped snack filled with thick, gooey, mashed red beans. As if this was not enough, my wife and I, plus our two boys, decided to check out one of the Pierre Hermé dessert boutiques in Tokyo.
I am a cookbook junkie. I have an entire bookcase of cookbooks and food related non-fiction titles. And I have been trying to wean myself from this addiction. Unfortunately, in 2012 there were so many exciting new cookbooks introduced that I couldn’t resist. After reading about so many in my “go-to” food magazines, websites and blogs, I narrowed it down to the top six cookbooks of 2012. These were the most recommended, most blogged about, most inspiring cookbooks of 2012 – and I acquired them all. I simply couldn’t resist and I am glad I didn’t because now I am experimenting with all sorts of cuisines I love but had previously rarely made at home.
My girlfriend K has been a wonderful companion on my journey through the restaurant scene here in Singapore as well as in New York, where we lived for close to three years. Pescatarian by choice, she also lived in Paris for a year, and, as a result, never fails to remind me that when it comes to food, the French, quite simply, do it better. It isn’t just about the razor-sharp techniques of the chefs there, she explains, but also about their commitment to fresh and quality produce, which makes something as simple as a summer salad – or even a baguette from a nondescript boulangerie – taste brilliant.