Monthly Archives: May 2012

11 Leonard Street
London EC2A 4AQ

So, our friend Chu informed us that there was a fantastic new coffee joint that opened in the London Shoreditch area not too long ago. I have never been much into coffee. In fact, if I were to describe my approach to it, I’d be a milk and sugar with an accent of cocoa type of guy, an abomination in the eyes of connoisseurs, I know. The weather was nice today and I was feeling adventurous so I took a gander down to Leonard Street to check the place out.

Nice, spacious premises. Lots of room to walk about.

Now you see it, the next you don’t.

I would have started my afternoon meal with more savoury things, but I didn’t realise there was a lunch menu until I had paid for the coffee and the cake. The latte was velvet on the tongue, with enough caffeinated pick-me-up goodness to kick me up a gear for the day. I’d gush a little more about it but I’m not terribly familiar with the right adjectives to describe a good cuppa currrently. Suffice to know that it was really quite good.

The cheesecake and the handwhipped cream was brilliant. There was a bit of blueberry in the middle of the cake, and together with the strawberry chunks they served as a reminder that summer was just around the corner.

Pork & fennel sausages w potato mash, spinach & brown onion gravyThe cafe also has a selection of egg and lunch dishes to complement your drinks. Just remember to ask for the menu!

The wholesale business downstairs

If your dream has always been to open up your own cafe, Ozone also does a wholesale supply downstairs. These guys are pretty serious about their coffee. Just look at that machine!

* A Photographer’s Note: Alright. Gastrographic is dedicated to a love of food and photography. We’ve done quite a bit on food already so here’s something on the photographic side! I found myself without my trusty Nikon DSLR today so all of the photographs were taken on my iPhone. I post-processed them using this funky iPhone app called Camera Awesome by Smugmug. It’s got a pretty awesome toolkit of free photoediting and sharing functions. If you aren’t already on Instagram, this application is worth playing with. The basic software is free, but you can choose to buy premium content like additional frames and filtering options.

East London, Hackney
London E8 4PH
Saturday 9am – 5pm

Broadway Market is possibly my favourite place to hang out on Saturdays in London right now. I was first introduced to the place by a friend of mine, Julia, whose husband Jason runs the Merito Coffee mobile stall at the market (check out the Timeout review here and pay them a visit!) The place has a very indie vibe to it, and you come away with the feeling that the people who frequent the market are not your typical tourist types. They certainly dressed well – another friend observed half-jokingly that Broadway Market was a ‘hipster market in a hipster part of town’. I think he might be right.

Lucky Chip Burgers
Netil Market, Westgate Street
London Fields
London E8 3RL

Lucky Chip is burger nirvana served out of a mobile truck/van at Netil Market, a small offshoot about a hundred yards away from Broadway itself. The burger pictured below is the Kelly Lebrock (£7.50),  succulent hand-minced beef and streaky bacon on a bed of spinach, cream cheese, caramelised red onion and sandwiched between two soft white buns. It is one of the messiest, juiciest burgers I have ever eaten.

47 Wilton Way
London E8 3ED

Violet comes highly recommended by Julia. It’s best known for their American style cupcakes. I didn’t manage to get any myself (I conveniently forgot to carry cash to a card-eschewing part of London, silly me) but I am inclined to believe a person who ordered her wedding cake from here. Plus, the cupcakes look gorgeous in the picture. In the artisan spirit of the market, all ingredients are organic and lovingly sourced. Violet has a stall in the market on Saturdays but also a permanent presence at Wilton Way.

“Even the people here are better looking.”

Broadway Market is quite close to where I live, so I’ll follow up with more pictures and food reports from time to time.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge
London SW1X 7LA

Some friends and I celebrated the end of finals with a celebratory dinner at Heston Blumenthal’s newest London outfit, Dinner, last week. The food is a walk-through of traditional pub food through the centuries, revived in typical Heston pizzazz –  liquid nitrogen, sous-vide et. al. Dinner is the place to go to if one is looking for an introduction to Heston’s unique dining experience, or if the Fat Duck is too out-of-the-way.

Meat Fruit (c.1500) – Mandarin, chicken liver parfait & grilled bread

The meat fruit has been much talked and blogged about. If you think about it, it really is just a chicken liver spread that has been prettily wrapped up in mandarin flavoured jelly. It wasn’t so much the chicken liver but the idea of combining it with the jelly that did it for me. 10 points for presentation and a pleasant starter all around.

Roast Marrowbone (c.1720) – Snails, parsley, anchovy & mace, pickled vegetables

 Deep-fried sweetbreads with asparagus

For the uninitiated, sweetbreads are spare parts of the calf or lamb that have been soaked in salt water, dipped in milk, breaded and deep-fried. These were incredibly smooth and rich, with a faint taste of iron that lingers at the back of your tongue (much like the taste of liver). I liked it a lot, but it might not appeal to everyone.

Powdered Duck Breast (c.1670)

This was duck breast prepared in the sous-vide method. It essentially involves vacuum wrapping a piece of meat and throwing it into a controlled low-heat (typically 55 degrees celcius) water bath to cook for a long period of time. The method is intended to ensure the meat is cooked evenly without overdoing the outside. If I had 24 hours to prepare my dinner I’d sous-vide everything too!

Black Foot Pork Chop (c.1860)

      Spiced Pigeon (c.1780) – in ale

I didn’t order this myself but I did filch a sliver off my friend Belinda’s plate. I liked the pigeon’s gamey taste and the slight acidity in the ale-infused gravy.

 Tipsy Cake (c. 1810) – with spit roasted pineapple

This was probably the highlight of the night. The spit-roasted pineapples were on display behind a glass panel separating the kitchen from the dining room. The juices had been lovingly teased out from within and the caramelised coating on the outside of the pineapple sliver provided the fruit with a pleasant crunch. The cake in its cast-iron pot was warm, soft and well-risen, more bread than cake. A perfect complement to the pineapple slice. We weren’t sure about the tipsy part of the dessert though. I was fairly certain there wasn’t any alcohol in it.

 Brown Bread Ice-Cream (c. 1830)- Salted butter caramel, pear & malted yeast syrup

This was a really nice and complex dessert- the ice cream was malty, salty, sweet and crunchy. Together with the tipsy cake it thoroughly completed the evening.

Quaking Pudding (c.1660) – Pear, perry, caramel & lime

I really liked this dessert. It reminded me of those adorable jelly cups I grew up with in childhood. It was mildly amusing watching it quake and quaver (as the name suggests) when the waiter brought it to the table. Aesthetics aside, the pudding was smooth and consistent, and the sauce that it was drenched in was mellow and not too sweet. I’ve always had a thing for stewed fruits as well, and I enjoyed the pears very much.

Liquid Nitrogen-Hand Crank Ice Cream Machine

We didn’t order this but the table next to us did. It involves pouring a flask of liquid nitrogen into a ice-cream machine whilst turning the hand crank to flash-freeze vanilla ice-cream. You have to order it by the table, £8 pax.

Dinner was an enjoyable night out – we were treated to good service, a pleasant dining experience and some delightfully whimsical food, as is Heston Blumenthal’s style. We were in rarefied company that night as well – Marcus Wareing, a two-star Michelin chef himself, was having dinner at the table next to us.

Strandgade 93, Copenhagen, 1401
Tel:+45 3296 3297
Nearest metro: Christianshavn

So, Noma restaurant in Copenhagen has been named the best restaurant for the third year running, and we thought this would be an appropriate time to share with you some of the pictures we took during our visit there. Glen’s brother Shaun managed to get a reservation after some reservations-hotline camping and we were immensely lucky to have gotten the booking when we did. Copenhagen was bright and sunny when we arrived, and the waterfront in Christianshavn where the restaurant is couldn’t have looked any cheerier. The food itself was an experience. Noma doesn’t really follow the traditional Michelin restaurant mould, which has always been partial towards the French-style dining and the hundred million cooking processes it subjects its food to. Contrarily, Noma subscribes to a forager’s philosophy, and head chef Rene Redzipi likes serving his food as fresh as it can get. The restaurant still has two Michelin stars, which is an ample testament of its service standards and quality.

Anyway, enough with words. We will let the pictures do the talking, with explanatory captions along the way just in case you don’t recognise certain things as being actually edible.

The meal started out with a series of about 7 or 8 appetisers, each of them more fantastical than the other, but all incredibly tasty. Noma pretty much is the cutting edge of fine dining today, and we think you’ll see why in a bit.

That’s my brother Shaun. The thing he’s putting in his mouth is an edible stem. There was a hummus dip that went together with it. Very fresh, very raw, somewhat refreshing.

We thought the leafy vase above was a tabletop decoration. The brown coloured “stem” nestled within the foliage is actually a bread stick. And it’s edible. Tasted wheaty in our opinion. Intriguing to look at nonetheless.

Remember our warning about how some things on the plate might not look edible at first sight? If the waiter hadn’t explained that the planting pot he had put on our table was raw radish in edible (avocado) soil, we would have been bewildered indeed.

Gloria eating the radish. We felt like herbivores, chomping down on raw leaves and organic dips. This is fine dining at its healthiest, not something you can say about Noma’s more traditional counterparts (Cream! Butter! Sugar!). The soil itself was a crunchy ground cookie, and it went really well with the avocado dip and the radish.

We’re not really sure what this was, but the waiter did mention something about ‘deer mold’. Can’t be certain if he was talking about what it was served on or the actual brown edible thing itself.

Like the preceding appetisers before it, it tasted organic and was neutral in flavour. The texture of the mold itself was quite nice though.

Small savoury tarts.

Pickled hawthorne served with pickled rose petals. Readers from Singapore might be familiar with those coin-sized hawthorne wafers that Chinatown grocery stores sell. This is exactly it. We didn’t think we’d find a childhood candy snack so far away from home!

Herbal tart with a deep fried chicken skin on top.

Smørrebrød, which is a danish open-faced sandwich. The ritual rugbrød base has been placed on top with chicken skin at the bottom and hay-smoked cheese blended with dill and lumpfish roe in between. It sounds as good as it tastes.

Smoked quails egg on a bed of hay. We recommend putting the entire thing in your mouth and chewing at it slowly. The scent of smoked hay has a lovely way of percolating through the nostrils and the back of the throat.

And that concludes the appetisers. You can imagine that by this time we were all well sated and waiting for the main courses to arrive.

Razor clam in parsley gel and dill sauce

The breakfast of Viking champions: Air-dried scallop and watercress, biodynamic cereals and beech nuts

Danish Beef Tartare and watercress leaves & pea puree

Juice pairings to go with the meal. This was a revelation, and really good for us because 3 of the 4 of us at the table that day don’t drink! (from left: Apple and Pin; Kiwi; and Lingonberry juice)

Langoustine Tail with purple Icelandic salt (söl) dust and mayo

This dish was creatively called the “Oyster in the Ocean”. It was served in a small cast iron pot with rocks and seashells, the point being to bring the scent of the ocean to you as you ate the oyster.

White asparagus smoked in pine leaves. As much as we would love to have tried what pine leaves taste like, we were politely advised against doing so. The asparagus was lovely though.

More juice (from the left: Celery and Hawthorne juice)

Onion done 3-ways – beer and honey, buttered, and blanched with tapioca pearls and cheese

Veal sweet meat in new shoots and peas.

Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs! Duck Eggs with herbs, put together at the table under the guidance of trained Noma staff. What could possibly go wrong?

Textured carrots and wild hawthorne parfait. As desserts go this was an innovative use of ingredients. We weren’t really expecting to see carrots and leaves in our ice cream at any point. However, we couldn’t really get ourselves fully behind this dis – it just tasted too raw to be a dessert.

Pine leaf ice cream and a rhubarb quencher –  a really refreshing palate cleanser. Now this was more like it!

Beetroot compote topped with air dried blackberries. This was so nice we were halfway through eating it before Glen realised he hadn’t taken a picture of it yet.

The meal ended off with the petit fours, including a caramelised gum served in the middle of a piece of bone. The chocolate cake and the wafer chip were nice ways to end off the meal as well.

Nice cup’o tea.

We hope you liked the pictures! Noma is a place we’d recommend to the discerning diner. It is not your typical fine dining establishment, in that some of the flavours and techniques used is not conventional to traditional cooking. Noma is an gastronomic experience, and it is possible that some people might not find it entirely to their fancy. Nevertheless, it is a place to go to explore your dining horizons and be treated to something truly special.

2 Teck Lim Road
Singapore 088380
Tel: 64383802

Situated in a preserved shophouse on a quiet street off Jalan Kreta Ayer, Bistro Soori radiates refinement, like an alabaster temple dedicated to the pursuit of culinary nirvana. The place was named after a beach in Bali after all, so a little bit of zen must have been part of the architectural inspiration. Upon entering, we were greeted by the sight of chefs working in chaotic harmony at the chef’s table. It’s always nice to watch professionals at work, and the food coming up to the pass looked promising.

Scallop, Pistachio Pesto, Arugula, Pear, Vinegar Gelee, Truffle Vinaigrette

For starters, we had the scallops and the foie gras. The scallops came highly recommended but judging from what we had from that night, it was hard to see why. The scallops themselves were undoubtedly fresh and large, but the pistachio pesto that it was served with was overpoweringly salty.  If the dish had been fiddled with less, the sheer quality of the ingredients would have done itself justice.

Foie Gras Duo, Poached Pear, Brioche Crouton, Pink Peppercorn, Gastrique

The foie gras duo was brilliant. The dish was a classic combination of salty and sweet, with the brioche and poached pear providing the perfect accompaniment. I thought hiding the pâté in the core of the poached pear was a rather elegant twist. Gloria didn’t really like poached pears very much, which was the result of eating too much of it whilst growing up. I didn’t have any such qualms so I happily finished up her share of the pear for her.

Uni, Scallop, Prawn,Risotto, Yuzu, Thai Basil

As for the mains, we had the seafood risotto and the lamb racks, both of which were well done. The risotto had a slight hint of tangerine infused into it, which went really well with the seafood.

Rack of Lamb, Plum Tomato, Black Olive, Green Olive, White Anchovy

The lamb was interesting. It was served with a shopping-list of some very rich savoury ingredients. The white anchovies were a really nice touch, its vinegar pickling helping to diffuse some of the lamb’s fatty richness. Who would have thought lamb and fish would ever go so well together?

Pandan Soufflé, Strawberry Compote

We had really high hopes for the dessert. Pandan in a soufflé sounded like a match made in heaven. What was served looked really promising -The soufflé had risen reasonably well (slightly lopsided), and the green tinge looked just about right. However, upon plunging our spoons into the centre of ramekin the pudding collapsed like a deflating balloon castle. Evidently it had been a shade or two undercooked. The resulting mulch was too sweet to eat.

Bistro Soori was not a triumph for us that night, but there were several bright points that showed off the pedigree of the restaurant and its staff. The service was genuine, and the waiter  was sincerely apologetic about the way the soufflé and scallops turned out for us when we gave our feedback. Hoping to return soon, and maybe the other dishes on the menu would surprise.

Hello! I’m here for a short post. Before I flew back to London, Gloria’s mum made a pot of mee siam for a gathering with both our families. The gravy had a fantastic spicey-tangy flavour to and a faint sweet aftertaste to it, probably from the generous amount of onions used in the stewing process. What a delicious plate of food that was.

For the uninitiated, mee siam is a thin rice noodle dish in a sour achar gravy (achar is a sort of Indian/Southeast Asian pickle), served with fried beancurd cubes. Prawns and beansprouts optional. Things always taste better when they are home-made!


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