When in Germany, eat French? Well, that is exactly what I did. Berlin is not a big city like Paris. But it has a nice buzz and I always enjoy my visits there. The history of the city is overwhelming and increasingly, so is the arts, culture and dining scene.
My French family is full of ancestral tradition, and when I visit they always seem to pull out an old recipe that to them seems the epitome of simplicity, and to me seems exquisite and mysterious. The Broyé du Poitou – an old, old recipe for a buttery biscuit coming from the Poitou region of western France – is one such little treasure.
“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…
The first time I paid attention to the word ‘quiche’ was way back in the early eighties, and I did not even know how to pronounce it then. It was from the title of a book, countless copies of which were stacked on a table as I entered a Barnes & Noble store in Fox Hills Mall in Culver City, California.
My wife S and I, like so many in our generation, are passionate about wine. That doesn’t make us experts. In fact, I’d say we’re pretty far from being considered experts. But we’ve tasted enough to both know what we like as well as to appreciate something really special. Unfortunately, the kind of wine we both enjoy the most, and drink the most of, is Champagne… I say “unfortunately” because Champagne is far from cheap. Sometimes it feels like we’re constantly stocking up and running out of bubbly, while our other white and red wine supplies stay pretty much constant.
In all honesty, this post was prompted by the fact that I’ve finally found Meyer lemons in Singapore. For years, the Meyer lemon was one of those elusive culinary treasures that I’d read so much about but never tasted. And I never would’ve recognized the lemons as Meyers (given that they were only labeled with their country of origin, Australia) if I hadn’t happened to taste my first one just weeks before at the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival.
The first time I had ever heard of Diner en Blanc was when a friend forwarded me one of the many YouTube videos of the 2010 dinner held in the courtyard of the Louvre. Watching it, I was astounded. And I really badly wanted to have been there. It looked like such a fun event. And the concept? Combining great food and wine, sartorial splendor, and a flashmob? Genius. So, when it was announced earlier this year that Dîner en Blanc was coming to Singapore, I immediately signed up. I also (shamelessly) wrote to the organiser, Clemen Chiang, asking him if he could interview for this site. I was thrilled that he said yes.
One of the best meals my gorgeous, foodie wife S and I have ever had was at L’Osier, the now closed three Michelin-starred French restaurant in Tokyo, helmed at the time by Chef Bruno Ménard. The food was original and perfectly executed. The room was warm, clubbish, buzzing, and filled with the laughter of happy patrons. Service was impeccable and memorable; at the end of the meal, umbrella-toting staff walked us around the block and helped us find a taxi. While we are sad that L’Osier has closed its doors, I’m thrilled that Chef Ménard now calls Singapore his home. Last week, we dropped by his newly opened sandwich and burger shop, &MADE.