Thursday, July 31, 2008

La Strada and their Carbonara

La Strada
#02-10 Shaw Centre

1 Scotts Road
Tel: 6737-2622

La Strada and their carbonara. Or maybe it is just me and the a few weeks of a slight manic obsession with la strada carbonara. I’m an eggy person. I usually can’t resist not ordering any dish off a menu that reads “… with a poached egg”. And whilst gleaning through the usual blog roll I came across a picture of La Strada’s Carbonara and I was sold. I love pasta. I love ham and the truffles were a bonus. But it was that precariously perched poached egg on the mount of tangled noodles that really what caught my attention.

But it was not meant to be. For two weeks in a row I’ve gone to La Strada but in vain. Out of sheer determination, I’ve been suggesting La Strada as the dinner location to friends for dinners but alas, I haven’t ordered the carbonara.

Just last week I suffered a bout of sickness that is a little gross to describe so let’s just call it a bout of sickness. Sick I was but I had a dinner appointment with people whom I really wanted to meet so I still went out to dinner with strict instructions from the doctor, for the next few days you cannot have any chilli, dairy and eggs and porridge is the best form of food. To which I replied, “NO EGGS?! I love eggs.” After which the nurse just laughed at me. Oh well. So to La Strada but no eggs and no dairy, hmm… ok no carbonara for me.

As for this week, I am well and healthy and consuming a healthy amount of an egg a day but ivn ordered it for his pasta dish … so for variety sake I ordered the hand-cut pasta with mud crab that is sautéed in olive oil, garlic, fresh chillies and white wine, a worthy substitute.

I, however my second visit, have finally tasted this pasta that I have been coveting. I had two generous forkful twirls of the pasta that had a smooth mouth feel and truffle scent that then easily glided down my throat.

Ok, that was worth the wait and a return.

* credit to ivn for the photos.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cheng Li Yuan & Mao's Spicy Pork

Cheng Li Yuan
72 Tanjong Pagar Road

Tel: 6227-2551

We had Sunday lunch along Tanjong Pagar today and comparatively to any regular weekday or night, the street almost feels dead. The car park was one quarter filled, the streets were empty and we were the only ones in the restaurant today.

We walked in to Cheng Li Yuan for lunch. It was a quiet day and we were the only ones present. We were seated and the menus and tea was presented shortly. For the culinary daredevils there is marinated duck tongue that we debated if we should order, the consensus was yes but somehow it got forgotten when we did the actual ordering, so that’s a review for another time.

There is really nothing about the ambience to talk about. It is a Chinese restaurant with tables and chairs and nothing fancy in it really. The service was a one woman show but we were well attended to and she was gentle and nice.

I didn’t have my camera with me so there aren’t going to be any pictures with this post. Photos are an easy way for me to recall a meal but since I don’t have those I’ll share with you the clearest memory I have from lunch. After our orders had been scribbled down and shuttled to the kitchen, I could hear them fire up the wok. We literally heard them cook our lunch and from the sound of the intensity of the fire it sounded like lunch was going to be wok delicious.

One of the house specialties, Mao’s spicy pork, is a great way to eat pork. Plate piled high with chilli, there really is more chilli, a mix of fresh and fiery hot dried ones, than pork on the plate but the slivers of pork belly are shiny coated with flavoursome oil and full of flavour. Mao likes, I like too.

The braised lamb was tender and well spiced is great and pile on to your rice stir around and eat but skip the tofu on the side it was cold and I just didn’t get what it was doing on the plate.

Amongst the other dishes, I liked their version of egg white with fish and dried scallop. Piping hot and smooth bound golden ribbon of yolk and vinegar that gave it some edge, it was quickly consumed.

The menu is large, four pages long that would cater to many different taste and budgets. So I’m guessing the lack of a crowd today was due more to it being a Sunday rather than testimony to its food. I’ll check back the next time I’m on the street.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Pinotxo - An Epicurean Pilgrimage

I spent five days in Barcelona. I visited some of Gaudi’s works, headed down to the port and spent hours wandered around the city under the warm sunshine because KD and I decided that we were ‘walkers’ that we weren’t going to hop on the tourist bus but walk everywhere. We walked everywhere. We might even developed stronger legs. The truth about our walking route is that although it was spontaneous, it was guided by mainly by the lust of shopping and the desire to eat, that being said, we did literally walk into a few sights and monuments.

Fresh seafood, cutting edge molecular cuisine along side fervent advocates of traditions the Catalans know how to seduce you into their glorious world of food. We had a lot of eating on the agenda. Different city same story, too much to eat too little time.

The food here in the city is incredibly delicious. Of all my meals I had, the one table that I would board a plane just to eat at again is the crowded L-shaped counter of Pinotxo in arguably one best markets in the world, La Boqueria. Here, there is no menu. Needless to say, what is fresh is the menu.

We lucked in grabbing two seats at the corner after a short wait of five minutes where our espresso were served and we contemplated what we should eat.

“What would you like?”

“What is good?” asked the naïve me.

“Everything is good!”

“Ok, I want some fresh seafood, so…between the bamboo clams, the clams and the gambas..”

“For me, the gambas are the best, but that’s for me...”

“I’ll have the gambas,” the deciding factor being when in Barcelona, eat like the Catalans.

The gambas were possibly one of the best things I have eaten all year. Pristinely fresh, succulent and sweet all they needed was a little coaxing on the hot plate, a splash of olive oil and a dash of sea salt. After you gently nudge its head off allow its natural prawn essence to spill onto the plate to marry with the olive oil for a sauce that should be soaked up by a baguette slices. The food was so pure and it spoke so sincerely, I feel in love with Pinotxo instantly.

“How were the gambas?”

“The best I’ve ever had…” and that’s the only way I currently feel inspired to cook prawns at the moment.

They also encouraged us to try their chickpeas, another of our charming cook’s favourite, and that like the gambas was deceptively delicious - the best I've ever had. We also ordered their baby squid cooked with white beans, garlic and balsamic that we witnessed them cooking from start to finish and continued to stare jealously at the gorgeous plates that others ordered. The wonderful people at Pinotxo took a liking to us. Maybe it was our appetite and sense of adventure that endeared us to them as they generously fed us odd bits to sample. When we called for the bill, we assured them that we would be back tomorrow but tomorrow was a Sunday and the market it closed on Sunday, so Monday it had to be but there is no seafood on Monday.

We still returned on Monday and we had a repeat of their chickpeas, and ate from what I would term their ‘land menu’ – tripe, veal cheek, salted cod and such. It was still all magically good although I am biased towards the ‘sea menu’.

“Come back tomorrow?” they asked with a smile.

“I would love to but I have to fly off in the morning. Too bad, I’ll come back when I’m back in Barcelona.” If I could, I would board a plane today to eat there again.