Sunday, April 23, 2006

ok so I lied

*warning: bitchy post*

I just couldn't resist lah. When it comes to bad food, I just have to write about it. Plus right now, a bit of a lull at work, especially since they haven't decided on the order of the stories yet.

Anyway, the family was to go see that yawner of a musical called West Side Story. I have to admit being a WSS virgin, being only faintly acquainted with the storyline (loosely adapted from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet) and not having seen the movie before (which apparently won many Oscars).

But because of heavy traffic, leaving the house a bit later than we should've (as is usually the case in this family), we decided to fk it and eat at Via Mar, originally suggested by my mum but ardently argued against by me. Ichiban Boshi had a long queue and Via Mar looked like it wasn't as crowded so no choice really.

I have no idea what the prices of the dishes are but the tapas were about $12 to $16 each I think.

We ordered whitebait (fried to that brown muddy colour, when the cook should've known was overdone) which is served with an asian-influenced sweet/sour/spicy clear dip when it really should've been served with a creamy sauce or something tomato based, and with a lemon. The whitebait comes first. And it is only when we finish it that the next tapas dish comes. I kinda would prefer it if all the tapas came together.

Anyway, we then had potato skins with cheese and erm... wasn't quite paying attention here, but chorizo? You can't go wrong with potatoes and cheese, except that it took a while coming.

Next was a dish of french beans, which was supposed to have chorizo in it, but that seems to have been chopped up into such miniscule pieces, which probably made up just one slice of spanish sausage.

The last tapas was fried mushrooms, which brilliantly came with that same bland asian-based sauce. Whoopee.

We had ordered a tuna and pepper salad, which truly lived up to its name. It was almost a whole can of tuna. (yes canned tuna) and a load of sliced, grilled peppers. And several salad leaves on the side. I'd say about 8 leaves of salad, mostly iceberg. They should consider naming it "tuna and pepper", and get rid of the word "salad".

The restaurant served the worst for last.

As we were sharing the meal - we had thought tapas would be the fastest way to chow down, since the show was at eight and restaurants in Sg aren't known for their efficiency - we had ordered a pasta to share. I know it's a pseudo-Spanish restaurant but that seemed like the best stomach-filler option. (I don't paella, which in any case would take a while to cook) So it was a prawn pasta we ordered.

And in this case, the title of the dish needed an extra word. The oily prawn pasta.

The strands of spaghetti were drowning in oil. I could've drained the oil into a pan and used that to deepfry tofu. Ok so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit there, but I definitely could've cooked another dish with that pool of oil left at the bottom of the plate. The last couple of forkfuls of spaghetti were just soaked, covered, in oil.

While my family is made up of small eaters, that amount of food ordered definitely wasn't going to make us full. But I wasn't prepared to order more food from that place, so I apologise to the man seated next to me in the theatre if the rumbling from my stomach disrupted your appreciation of the musical. Then again, the musical's kinda mediocre I'm not sure if there's anything to appreciate. However, that all-white interpretative-dance-flashback at the start of the second half was something to remember - and laugh about. Yes, WSS does have the songs Tonight and Somewhere. And that 'I feel pretty' song, which I always think sounds better when sung on Will & Grace. Having seen this, I kinda wonder why it's been around for that long.

Via Mar
8 Raffles Avenue
#01-10/12 Esplanade Mall
Tel: 6423-0900

Friday, April 21, 2006

Check back soon

I don't think I'll be updating this blog for a while. Plenty is going on at work, with the elections coming. Six-day weeks are likely. Probably won't be doing any good eating either after spending the moolah in Hawaii and Binta - yeah this is like beach vacation month for me. Instead, I seem to be getting more exercise, like finding myself on a tennis court at 9am on a hot Tuesday after nearly two years of the racket lying in disuse by the side of my table and gathering dust. And trying not to spend so much money means eating in more ie cooking more, which I always enjoy doing anyway. I really am such a homebody.

Sometimes I wish I could see into the future, to find out if the decisions I make now are worthwhile. But sometimes it's the journey that matters, isn't it.

Hasta luego.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

have your cake and eat it too

When in Hawaii, you just can't not eat at Roy's it seems. Owner Roy Yamaguchi, Hawaiian-born, presents Euro-Asian fusion food in several branches on the different islands, and even on the mainland. He's even got his own TV show that's showing on the Asian Food Channel.

And that was where the wedding dinner was held - three tables in a private room at the Honolulu branch.

The menu

Roy's Dim Sum Style Appetiser Plate of Furikake Ahi Tataki; Pan seared Hudson Valley Duck Breast; Wood-grilled Szechuan Spiced Baby Back Pork Rib; Hot Iron Seared Shrimp Stick with wasabi cocktail sauce

Mongolian Grilled Chinese Chicken Breast Salad with Sesame Soy Vinaigrette

Surfer Special of Roy's Classic Macadamia Nut Crusted Shutome with Maine Lobster Sauce and Reggiano Morney Topped Mahimahi with Orange Cayenne Beurre Blanc

Coconut Haupia Turnover with Tropical Coulis

A riesling and pinot noir, and of course champagne, were offered as well.

And the wedding cake - which I forgot to take a picture of - was totally edible, and pretty yummy. The top tier was macadamia, the bottom devil's food. And of course, plenty of frosting.

Needless to say, I was Stuffed.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

pictures don't always tell the whole story

Learning that it is not easy to find food at Taipei's airport, where we had four hours to kill before the flight to Honolulu. This btw, was not taken in the wee hours of the morning, this was in the afternoon. It was that empty.

Watching this young couple get married by the beach. What this photo doesn't tell you is how windy and cold it was at the beach, and how we had waited for more than 45 minutes for the couple, as the limo driver managed to not only be late, but also lose his way.

Visting the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor, which sits directly over the sunken ship.

The deceptively beautiful Waikiki beach, taken from the hotel balcony. Deceptive as it is packed with people, the stretch is very touristy, and there had been a recent sewage spill.

Snorkelling at the sunken volcanic crater at Molokini, and watching sea turtles.

The unforgettable sunrise at Haleakala, one that Mark Twain called the "sublimest spectacle" he'd ever seen. I'll never forget this, being picked up at 220am, the moonlit drive down the coastal road and up the summit of the volcano, which means House Of The Sun in Hawaiian, at about 10,000 feet. And then the chill of the biting winds as they whip and whirl, leaving my hands and feet numb, even as I huddle under the blanket stolen from the hotel room. But it is spectacular. The colour show begins with that little hint of light and bleeds and blends into a spread of dark velvety blues, soft orange pinks and then that stark yellow when the sun finally breaks free from the clouds creeping over the caldera. Magical.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Good, not great

"Perhaps it was not a dream," the technician said, reviewing my responses, with a graveyard humor that was also chilly and serious. Working nights will do it to you.

Hmm I doubt working nights has given me graveyard humour. I suppose it's more of an innate thing.

Do people naturally gravitate towards working odd hours? I realise that for most of my working life I've been at the office at odd hours. It was only about 1 1/2 years that I did a slightly more ordinary shift of 10-7 or 930-8 (although it was more like 930-9/10/11 so maybe that doesn't count). Now I work 4-1230 or thereabouts, and from 230-1130 on Fridays. And people have commented that I'm looking rather cheery these days. Ok so that might be more of a reflection on the previous role that didnt seem to have a regular cutoff hour. But I do feel more relaxed, I feel like I'm still on holiday.

Working nights though, does mean that I am going to miss out on many on the film fest shows this month. Plus I'll be away for a week or so starting Thursday.

And going away for 9 days means packing, picking out what clothes/shoes/accessories/toiletries etc. And what books to bring!

A beach holiday calls for something not too taxing on the mind although of course I don't think I'm going to veer into chick lit as I'm trying to start on the books on my shelves.

Oh decisions decisions! Hahaha!

Shit I'm so looking forward to getting out of here.

But first, a lunch at My Dining Room.

It was a sweatingly hot afternoon. Too hot to be walking around town trying to get to lunch. But I'm trying to save money and not take cabs so I sweated it out. Braving the Raffles Place crowds, and mostly ignoring them by plugging into Snow Patrol's new album Eyes Open, I finally made it to Club Street and climbed the narrow wooden stairs into the bright, airy, industrial-looking My Dining Room.

I was a bit taken aback by the number of people in the restaurant. There were a few tables of two and a larger table of six. Decent business for a Tuesday lunch in this sleepy corner. I clattered across the room and slid into that lovely aubergine-coloured high backed chair for lunch with DSD who had only just arrived back from Beijing that morning. (And as usual, had arrived at the restaurant before me... heh)

(You could tell that some thought went into the design and decor of the place. One wall was left with its original red brick exposed and the rest were left concrete. The colours used for the chairs, lights and gauzy curtains (which could be used to separate off the room) were all well coordinated, simple, classy. That scored some points.)

DSD brought me up to speed - telling me that she had overheard various complaints about service from other tables. And yes, the food did take its time to arrive - not helpful if you are having a business lunch. But we weren't. So it didn't matter so much.

However, it was a bit pricey for a starter, pasta, dessert, coffee/tea. $32.
If you choose a main course, its $39.

We went with the cheaper version. I had the asparagus starter - a couple of nice chunky spears, wrapped in bacon and grilled. Accompanied with a slice of goat's cheese (mm love goat's cheese and that intense smoky flavour) and a herb salad. The highlight was the herb salad, which was dressed, I believe, with a basil oil. Very light, very fragrant, very delicious. Wish there could've been more.

DSD went for the tuna tartarte nicoise salad. The dressing was something of Chinese/Japanese origin that we both just couldn't put our tastebuds on. I hate when that happens. When that flavour is just so familiar, something you know you've had before but you just can't figure out what it is. Her tuna tartarte was topped with some beans, potato slices, a quail's egg, some strange flattened ikan bilis.

For the pasta, I had the cannelloni. Simply done, it was filled with beef bolognaise and topped with cheese. Nothing extraordinary. Had been considering the mushroom pasta but it sounded rather rich and creamy and the type that would leave one with gout symptoms. Besides, there was dessert to come.

DSD's tuna/prawn pasta had an unwelcome ingredient in it - a strand of hair. She called the waiter over. He took one look at it and muttered, "oh my god", apologised and took away the plate. And replaced it with a fresh dish of course.

Dessert - I had the coffee bavarois, which was essentially a coffee-flavoured mousse served in an espresso cup. Not bad, but it didn't make me go 'mmm'. I kept trying to uncover the hidden kick to it - say some bits of dark chocolate or maybe a nice base. But nope. It was nice. It wasn't great.

The apple mille-feuille DSD chose was strangely made with uncooked slices of apples that were sandwiched with some custard between layers of crisped puff pastry. Not too bad though.

At the end of it all, we were charged only one set lunch, in apology for that something extra.

My Dining Room
81B Club Street.
Tel: 6327 4990