Having sampled some amazing modern tapas restaurants in Spain, Japan and Singapore over the years, I confess that I am rather partial to this genre. Tapas is a celebration of life with its cacophony of colours and tastes – all enjoyed in a casual and energetic setting. BAM! on Tras Street met all these key benchmarks and then some. With such an explosive name, my expectations were, ahem, loaded.
Noma represents the pinnacle of Nordic culinary expression. The love child of René Redzepi and Claus Meyer, the restaurant has transformed into a creative hub of Nordic food exploration and creativity – attracting international attention and fame. We quickly entered the two Michelin star restaurant to escape the snow, and we were greeted by a hearty chorus of ‘welcome’ from a group of young international chefs.
Singapore’s hardest working chef, Ryan Clift, has moved his ultra-chic bar-cum-fine-diner into 3 shophouses in the heart of Chinatown. With the move, he has also reprogrammed his offers. While the old space offered 42 seats around a “C” shaped counter, the new Tippling Club has separated the drinking area from the dining. The bar, located at the restaurant’s entrance, seats 32 people while the dining room seats just 22. Gone also is the all-counter seat dining configuration for diners. You now have a choice to sit at proper tables or at one of eight bar seats that face the pass (i.e. the area from which food is inspected before being sent out into the dining room) and the main kitchen.
Dining at Iggy’s – Singapore’s award-winning restaurant that is on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants – is always a luxurious pleasure. Especially more so when I have followed the growth of the restaurant from its beginning. Recently, I had the privilege of savouring four sumptuous seafood creations. The oyster in Gilardo red cabbage with Cabernet Sauvignon soup was really impressive in its creativity, presentation and taste balance. Could have easily consumed a dozen… but the C.F.O. – that is my wife -reminded me of our sizeable mortgage repayments.
One of the first blogs that really got me hooked onto reading about food, and inspired me to write about food, was Orangette. When I read Molly’s writing, I feel like I’m sitting right in her living room, sitting cross-legged on her sofa, listening to her stories. I fell in love with her heartfelt words, her honest photographs, and mostly, her delicious, never-fail recipes. Whenever I find myself in need of gastronomic inspiration, I browse her recipe index and pick whichever I’m in the mood for that day. She always has just the thing for me. Take this prosciutto pasta for instance.
“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.
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.
I first met chef Nicolas Joanny during a quietly remarkable dinner at his eponymous restaurant earlier this year. His wasn’t the ‘best’ meal I’ve had in Singapore, but it was certainly one of the most earnest – more than anything, I remember chef Nicolas hunched over a counter at his open kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the evening’s courses before personally bringing them to our table. Here was a chef who wasn’t afraid to be in the thick of the action, a chef whose cuisine I wanted to explore.
I might actually be among the last foodies, and food bloggers, in town to try Tippling Club. While I’ve known about this ultra-modern gastrobar since it opened a year ago, my darling wife S and I had not, until recently, been inspired to visit this somewhat controversial restaurant. I say “controversial” because any time that it came up in conversation among foodie friends, spirited debates would inevitably ensue. Some friends argued that the food was self-indulgent, far too expensive for what it was, and that the structure in which the restaurant is housed is little more than an air conditioned lean-to. Other friends said that Chef Ryan Clift, formerly of Melbourne’s Vue du Monde, was one of the most talented chefs working in Singapore today. They held fast that while the food had its highs and lows, the highs were higher than those of any other chef in town.
The one thing that all of my friends did agree on was that the combined food and cocktail menu was a little too expensive and not really necessary. Yes, we all appreciate the hard work and skill put in by award-winning mixologist Matthew Bax, the other luminary sharing centre stage with Chef Ryan. And I, especially, love a fabulously well-made cocktail as an apertif or digestif, i.e. before or after my meal. But we all agreed that we’d like to eat our food paired with nothing more than a nice bottle of wine or two — and not with a different cocktail paired with each and every course.