Côte

one of the main things that fuels my wanderlust is the abundance of new exciting flavours. I like to think that I’m quite adventurous with my eating, and traveling is the perfect opportunity to exercise that curiosity. seeing as I’m stuck in Oxford (mostly coz of my own laziness and unjustified fear that I have work due even when I don’t which fills me if I ever entertain the thought of leaving) I have resorted to quenching my epicurean wanderlust through frequenting restaurants of different cuisines on date nights when it’s a tad more acceptable to splurge on food. what better way to start this little cuisine quest with the country from which the word cuisine originated from: France. (I actually chose French because it’s a safe bet and I’m trying to slowly ease my not-so-adventurous boyfriend into the whole thing.)

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

I’ve passed by Côte many a time, peered into the bustling brasserie and made a mental note to try it out sometime. Well these mental notes have finally piled up and overflowed and consequently I’ve finally gotten round to it.

It was a good thing we made a reservation because, as all good restaurants are on a saturday night, Côte was thronging with people. Stepping into the entrance lobby, we arrived into an assemblage of small, inter-connecting rooms and were led to our table for two. The atmospherically lit muted grey walls, flickering candles, open shelves of wine and plethora of mirrors really made me feel like I was in a Parisian bistro.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 preset

In terms of authenticity, Côte undeniably fulfils its aim to emulate the simple bistro cooking you would find in any number of restaurants across France. As we weren’t really feeling starters, though a few caught my eye, we decided to skip them to save room for dessert and go straight to the mains. After much umming and ahhing, I went for the roast sea bass and James went for the fish parmentier, which we coupled with a glass of LaGarde Blanc each. The sea bass was exquisite – there were two juicy fillets, with a few big chunks of braised fennel in a champagne beurre blanc with chives and chopped tomatoes. I’m usually a bit wary of cream sauces as some of them can be a bit too heavy, but this one had the perfect thickness and complemented the melt-in-your-mouth sea bass. James was jealous of my choice of main though he was still very happy with his fish parmentier which was basically a fancy French version of fish pie. I tried a bit and I could really tell that the seafood was fresh though I’m personally not a huge fan of pies.

polaroid 20
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

polaroid 23

Dessert choosing is always a pallava as I somehow have always managed to choose something that I end up being disappointed in. I decided to play it safe and stick with my classic childhood favourite, crème brulée and James chose the lemon tart. I really liked the contrast in texture between the crispy caramel top and the rich custard base but the custard was a tad too runny and not flavoursome enough for my liking. The lemon tart on the other hand was divine. I really liked the rich intense tangy flavour of the lemon custard filling and the pastry shell wasn’t too crumbly. I couldn’t resist sneaking in a few spoonfuls. Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

polaroid 21Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

All in all it was a lovely night and a lovely meal. The service was efficient and the ambience was delightful. I know I’ve used a lot of incredibly cheesy adjectives but I promise you they are well-deserved.

Côte 41-47 George Street, Oxford OX1 2BE

Advertisements

Monday Move-in Madness

This post has been put off for way too long and being stuck in bed sick has given me time for a breather from the insanity that is uni life so I will attempt a quick all-inclusive summary of the past few weeks during which I’ve been slightly MIA. Brace yourself for lots and lots of pictures because I’m lazy but I promise that I will be much more on top of it for future posts.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

After suffering from major FOMO instigated by the various housewarming parties I couldn’t go to, it was finally my turn to move in. One of the joys of being a second year at Balliol is getting kicked out of our college accommodation. This means that I won’t have to spend every last day of term lugging 10 boxes into the dark depths of the international storage room (yayyy!). Whilst I’m definitely going to miss hall food and the proximity of hall (everything about hall basically), I must say that I’m quite excited for this new year in our new house (christened Isaac after Isaac Newton). It’s so nice being back in this beautiful old city in a beautiful new home – the high levels of stress during house hunting period paid off.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

The happy reunion was slightly tainted by the 9 am wake up call (which was meant to be a 7 am one but was delayed by various bus fuckups) I inflicted upon my house mates. Best pals Gems and Mons came to meet me in the pouring rain which was so nice of them (love you guys).

Hectic freshers week despite not being freshers anymore and equally hectic two weeks following it – lots of meetings (for uni, for football and for our house), nights out (two nights in a row is enough to tire me out – not a fresh fresher anymore), essays on topics I am clueless about, general chores which just take up so much time and energy.

These energy draining activities were counteracted with much more pleasurable, poetic ones ie. catching up sipping on a skinny capp with my fave gal Fats at our fave café, waking up next to my boy with the late morning sun shining through the blinds, tea and biscuits with the gals in our pristine kitchen, cooking up some gourmet meals (not really) in said pristine kitchen, 3 course meals plus cocktails on date night, fruit heaven at Gloucester Green fruit market, late night post bop pizzas, all-you-can-eat free coffee and cupcakes at Turl Street Kitchen, “sunday roast” dinner with the house famalam, first football match which we smashed (13-3 to Balliol), cutest corner bookstores, morning runs and strolls on sunny weekends, so all in all had a good first few weeks.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

IMG_7992Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

10530845_10152597151848355_2037321396680501130_nProcessed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

My favourite part about moving in is turning the new space into my own – I never feel completely at ease until my room looks relatively lived in. Cue bunting, cacti, polaroids and other miscellaneous objects.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Soooo on another note, I have an extremely bad habit of buying things that I don’t actually need, and this becomes even more apparent when I’m shopping in sunny Singapore leading up to my return to England. Somehow, I always manage to delude myself that the sheer kimono I’m about to buy will indeed keep me warm and snug during the winter months. I have therefore resorted to online shopping and have recently come across Chicnova. Obediently staying in the winter sections of jackets, sweaters and coats, I picked out two pieces from their best sellers – a beige knit pullover and a baby pink mohair sweater.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

I don’t know what it is about packages that make me so happy but, alongside seeing all my friends (who I’ve missed an insane amount), receiving my first package at my new address was near the top of my list of the ingredients for my moving in high. Thanks to Chicnova, I will be embracing the sweater weather instead of shivering in my summer wear.

Both of the pieces were on sale (love me a good bargain) but even without the reduction, they were both very affordable. Plus shipping is free globally (I’ve had nightmare experiences with shipping fees one too many times). Click here for more about Chicnova and a full blown post about the pieces will be coming up on my blog very very soon.

lots of oxford love (lool?), Tiff

Melbourne Darling

Isn’t ‘darling’ such a fabulous word? And hearing it directed at me, in an Australian accent (which I have always loved and personally feel that it is best described as a mouthful of sunshine), just warms my heart and is a perfect antidote to the 5 degree 5 am arrival in Melbourne airport. Smelling coffee as I stepped into the arrival area, I immediately decided that I was going to like this city and 3 days after, it’s safe to say that I do (great food, great coffee, great people – what’s there not to like?) Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset First day was spent in an utter daze as we were functioning on 4 hours of sleep (couldn’t check in until after lunch). Tried the famous Market Lane coffee at Queen Victoria Market. I got a latte which only had one shot and so was a tad too milky for my liking. Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset Chanced upon a cute flower shop among other things. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset Ventured to St. Kilda’s which was perfect for lazy strolling. Had lunch at a cute cafe called Phamish which serves a fusion of Modern Australian food and Middle Eastern. I was spoilt for choices but decided to go with the Chicken Fatoush Salad with radish, cherry tomato, cucumber, mint, onion, mixed toasted seeds & oven baked Lebanese bread topped with sumac yoghurt. Eating it was a beautiful experience – so light yet so filling. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset The weather was lovely and sunny so I was incredibly snap happy. I had a camera rotation going – DSLR to SLR to polaroid camera to phone (good thing I had my dad as the official unused camera holder). IMG_7092 IMG_7089 Walked from Luna park, along the Marina boardwalk – saw some joggers, dog walkers and lots of skaters – all the way until Ormond Point. IMG_7094 IMG_7097 Had a lovely view of the Melbourne cityscape and it was definitely worth the walk. Dinner was seafood at a restaurant called Sharkfin in Chinatown. My favourite dish was the lobster – it tasted really fresh and the meat was sweet and not too chewy. I also really liked the beef slices (though I usually don’t like red meat) except for the fact that it was smothered in sweet sauce. Didn’t take that many pictures because Asian food in general is just not that photogenic (how sad but at least it tastes good) and anyways, my hands were too busy trying to get lobster meat out of the shell (gotta work for yo food). Second day’s weather was even more beautiful than the first. Sleepy start to the day at 10 am. Headed to Queen Victoria Market to pick up fresh fruit for breakfast but ended up having to take a punnet of strawberries with me and eat on the go as I was late to meet a friend (when am I ever on time). Caught up over coffee and brunch at Seven Seeds which was really nice. IMG_7096 Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset I had a house-smoked salmon served on crumpets with cream spinach puree, hollandaise and poached eggs. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset After breakfast, we went up onto the roof of his accommodation where we had a wonderful view. I love how peaceful Melbourne is, especially from above.  Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset IMG_7098Stopped off at Collingwood for some street art loving. The afternoon sun was perfect lighting for the beautiful array of colours on the brick wall canvas. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset  Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset
View from the apartment window

Sunday brunch dragged on for a little too long and cut our Great Ocean Road trip short. The food and atmosphere was amazing though – easily my favourite cafe. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetAl fresco dining in the Sunday sun. I felt like we were in somebody’s backyard – love the homey feel. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetKinda bummed we didn’t get to see the 12 Apostles but the coastal view was stunning all the way.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetMelbourne is one of the places that I wouldn’t mind going back to time and time again. 3 days definitely wasn’t enough. Next up: Sydney post.

Painting the Hunger Away

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset
There’s a saying that most people eat to live and that some live to eat. I am a proud, dedicated member of the latter group. So you can imagine how hard it was for me to Live Below the Line.Screen shot 2014-09-28 at PM 06.31.26

Living below the line was a fundraising campaign that I participated in last year where I had a £1 per day food budget – the equivalent of the extreme poverty line – for 5 days. All the money raised went to The Hunger Project. Click here to learn more about the campaign and the organisation I supported.

Now, when I say “hard” I mean first-world-problems-hard. As in I-didn’t-get-my-daily-salmon-avocado-and-skinny-cappucino-hard. I realized after the week, how good I have it and how lucky I am to never have to worry about having food on the table. It was such a good experience both in terms of working towards trying to understand the problem that affects a huge part of the population and trying to raise not only funds but awareness. However, it wasn’t until today, that it hit me that even though I’ve completed the Live Below the Line campaign, I can still do my part in the fight against hunger and extreme poverty.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

I was inspired by the clean water campaign supported by Food for Thought – a cafe that not only serves a mean iced latte, but is also very driven in raising awareness about extreme poverty.

While I was happily sipping on my third cup of free flow water after my contribution to the campaign, I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be great if they could do the same with food – if I could donate a set sum towards a cause to end world hunger and then get free flow food.” My gluttony aside, the more I thought about it, the more I found that it wasn’t such a bad idea.

My watercolour painting of a pineapple in my everything book entitled “painting my hunger away” came to mind – during the week of living below the line, I had spent a lot of my time trying to distract myself from my hunger pangs by painting. I got to thinking that maybe I could in some way not only paint my hunger away, but paint hunger away in general.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Though I know that’s impossible, I figured that a little goes a long way. I have no idea how this is going to turn out but you never know if you don’t try right?

So that’s the inception of my Painting the Hunger Away project. I’ll be painting food (the first food item being the oh so glorious pineapple) and my art pieces will be available for purchase here as art prints, canvas prints, pillows, t-shirts, clocks, phone cases – basically anything you can think of. All proceeds will go to The Hunger Project, committed to the sustainable end of world hunger.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at AM 08.16.34

I’m so excited about combining my two favourite things in the world to make a change – or attempting to anyways. Well that’s it for now, I’ll keep you guys updated about how it goes!

lots of pineapple love, Tiff

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Cafe Review: Drury Lane

In theory, the idea of brunch is a wonderful thing – merging two meals means you can eat more in one sitting and who doesn’t want that. But in the limbo that happens before and after said brunch, I find that I have no idea what to do with myself. See, I’m someone who structures their day around meals and when this routine is ruptured, everything goes to shit. This limbo also happens with late meals – waiting for anything, especially food is the bane of my life. The pandemonium caused by changed meal times was demonstrated today when I spent most of the morning leading up to a late lunch with friends trying to pass the time by wandering around my house to find a comfortable position to catch up on summer reading (barely read 30 pages), having 3 mid morning snacks (when is mid morning anyways) and when it finally came to the time for me to head over for the long awaited lunch, I fell down the stairs.

It was only 3 steps but it was traumatizing. Thankfully, my hunger, aches and bruises were soothed by friends and good food (mostly the food #foodoverfriends) that were awaiting me at 94 Tanjong Pagar Road (Drury Lane is not located, as one might assume, on Drury Lane). As I was delayed by my stairs incident, my friends ordered first which was fine by me because that meant that the food arrived as soon as I did, and as Ke$ha would say, the party don’t start till I walk in.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

I have total trust in my friends’ food choices and they did not disappoint:

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
Salmon baked eggs – smoked salmon, capers, spinach, homemade baked beans and cheese ($12)

I’m not a huge fan of baked beans or baked eggs but this was surprisingly good. The reason I don’t like baked beans is because they most of them taste like they’re straight from the tin but you could tell that these baked beans were homemade – the tomato sauce didn’t have that sickening sweetness characteristic of tinned beans and the beans themselves weren’t too mushy. And the reason I don’t like baked eggs is because they are often overcooked, but this egg was baked to runny yolk perfection. Not my favourite dish of the three but still good and quite filling as it comes with grilled toast.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
Chicken avocado sandwich – roasted chicken, avocado, yoghurt mint sauce ($8)

Standard sandwich, you can’t really go wrong with chicken and avocado. What made it for me was the yoghurt mint sauce which was flavourful and gave the sandwich a tangy twist (we tried guessing what the sauce was and came to the conclusion that it was a honey-orange sauce… close enough).

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
Croissant steak sandwich – spinach, mushrooms and truffle honey ($12)

This was one of the specials and rightly so – I’ve never eaten anything quite like this. Maybe it was the taking of my savoury croissant virginity, maybe it was the dreamy truffle aroma in the air, whatever it was, everything about this was heavenly (the picture doesn’t do it justice). The steak slices were nice and tender, the croissant a parcel of flaky goodness and the truffle honey gave it a gourmet finish. All of us could have easily eaten another one, it was that good.

All that food for $10 a person – impressive. Admittedly, it was hard splitting the dishes into three equal portions but we managed (somewhat) and it was definitely worth it.

We also got two free coffees thanks to the momentum campaign. wooo love me some free stuff!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

The iced latte came in a cute mason jar with an even cuter straw. The jar was only half full but it was free so I’m not complaining. Look at that glass-is-half-full attitude (sorry, I just had to).

Rounded up the meal with dessert:

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset
Candy bar pie – chocolate crumb base with salted caramel, peanut butter nougat and a chocolate glaze

The first bite was glorious. The second as well. But the third and subsequent bites, not so much. Extremely decadent and I’m glad we were sharing because I would not have been able to finish it on my own #teamwork

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
Carrot cake

I much preferred the carrot cake. It was lighter and not too sweet. The cake was moist and there was a perfect amount of cream cheese frosting with walnuts to top it off.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Creative coffee packet wall art
Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset
Window seat for optimum natural lighting ft. cardboard box seats

All in all, it was a lovely (and comparatively cheap) meal with lovely company – two of the very few people that put up with the photo taking ritual that precedes every meal (mostly because they partake in it themselves).

Drury Lane
Address: 94, Tanjong Pagar Road
Operating Hours: Mon: 9am – 10pm, Wed – Fri: 9am – 10pm, Sat – Sun: 10am – 6pm
Tel: 6222 6698

Paleo Perspective by Amni

Hello beautiful people! I don’t know about you, but I am really into keeping a healthy clean lifestyle (it’s a bit addictive actually). Eating fresh multi coloured foods and making creative and quick meals make me feel like a modern hippie . And the whole you are what you eat theory really comes through because paired with exercising, a great big beautiful cycle is created which results in you becoming a beautiful person inside and out.

Okay…that made me seem like a crazy hippy. I’m done. Despite all the health raving, this doesn’t mean that I don’t eat chocolate or that I never indulge. I do. I’ve gone into a grocery store intending to be healthy and almost been caught out at the counter Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetby some mini cupcake brownies (ask tiff!).

Quite recently I heard about an extension of clean eating called the Paleo diet. Here’s the breakdown:

What you can eat: Meat and Fish, Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts and seeds

What you avoid:  Processed foods, artificial ingredients, fast food, alcohol, dairy, carbonated drinks, junk food, grains, legumes

You’re right. The first list looks much smaller, and it is. But I actually didn’t have that much of a problem with scrounging up daily meals. Okay, I was a little bummed because even one of my favourite health go-to food, quinoa was on the blacklist. But other than that, my Paleo week was satisfying, I was eating tons of fruits and cashew nuts as well as exercising with more motivation and it was great.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Let me just say that being paleo in a non-paleo world is hard. Even eating clean in a world that doesn’t eat ‘clean’ is hard. During that week, I found only one paleo café place called Caveman Food in Singapore and it’s in this cute underground section in Novena surrounded by other gluten-free/ organic cafes. Their menu is minuscule… perfectly reflective of the paleo community in Singapore which is just as miniscule.

In terms of the sweet stuff, the Paleo diet allows dark chocolate, so that was a bonus. I did miss cakes though. Luckily, with every unhealthy food there is always a healthy / paleo alternative. This great website offers tons of recipes and tips on how to ‘paleolize’ your life. This website is also where I found an amazing flour-less recipe for cookie bars, and also the cauliflower crust pizza. Yeah its kind of amazing, whoever made it deserves a prize.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Don’t be deceived by how pizza-ish it looks: the crust is totally carb free!
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Delicious flourless cookie cake bars

However, by the end of the week I decided that I wasn’t going to continue on the paleo path, because there were a few things that I knew would hinder said path – my impending student university budget and lack of time to make flourless bread or cauliflower crust pizza. It may seem like an excuse BUT I even researched the benefits of a Paleo diet and found an article that debunked it (sorry Paleos out there). It kinda broke my heart as well because it was short stint, but I loved it.

I’ve made clean living a part of my life for about seven months now and I love it. Don’t get me wrong, for about two of those months I was at the low end of the healthy line. But it’s all about getting back on the health wagon when you’re down and never giving up. It’s not about doing it one month and then stopping another month, it’s a lifelong commitment! For those of you on the fence about clean eating, here’s a piece of advice, a clean and healthy lifestyle is tough to start and commit to, but it teaches you an important lesson on loving yourself from the inside and out.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

Here are a few paleo websites if you want to learn more about different people’s experience with paleo:

Well that’s it for my guest post darlings! I hope it’s given you some insight on clean eating, or the paleo diet if you any of you are interested in trying out the Paleo fad as well.

Stay beautiful!

Amni 🙂

p.s. for more on my clean lifestyle check out my instagram @asgfhj if you’re keen!

2014 Cafe Fest (the worst and the best)

Express cafe hopping – 12 homegrown cafés compressed into a weekend and a 50m stretch along waterfront promenade, what could possibly go wrong? A few things apparently.

Let’s start with the silver lining though. I love the concept Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetbehind cafe fest – I think the exploding cafe culture in Singapore is a wonderful thing and I’m behind anything that supports this growing culture. It was also so nice seeing how passionate the people involved were – not only the innovative pioneers behind the conception of this idea who have obviously put in so much love and effort into the event, but also the baristas and every single person manning the stalls. Smiles everywhere despite the
Singaporean sun and overwhelming queues, archetypical ofProcessed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Singaporean kiasu-ness (I overheard a woman asking her friend why people were queuing at the I am cafe booth and her friend responded with: “because other people are queuing”.) The coffee of course was on point – on the first day I got the iced latte from Maison Ikkoku for the festival price of $5 and on the second day, I got two bottles of OZ coffee’s house brand Cold Brew that came in a cute bottle deceptively similar to a beer bottle for the festival price of $4. The only food we got on the first Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetday was a Cookie butter cheesecake from Bloomsbury Bakers ($5) which, despite being really good, was kind of depressing (reasons for this lack of food below). Food quest on the second day was much more fruitful. Tried the Kouign Amann ($4) and the white chocolate & raspberry ice cream with mini croissant ($3) from Tiong Bahru Bakery. Really liked the Kouign Amann which was something I had never tried before. Got the satay burger from I am cafe and a chilli cheese hot dog from Cake Love, Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetneither of which were anything special. Finished off with a passion fruit cheese cake ($5) and apple crumble ($5) both from Bloomsbury Bakers. I really liked the citrus, tangy tones of the passion fruit cheesecake – perfectly refreshing for such a hot day. Plus we got free chocolate brownie samples which were also very good.

 

 

On to the cloud of disappointment within this admittedly quite thick silver lining. firstly, let’s talk about these festival prices – each stand sold their products at a regular price and a $1 reduced festival price. So why am I paying $25 for a ticket to an event with free admission just to get $1 off food and drinks? If you think about it, I would need to purchase about 50 things to break even (which is impossible even for a hardcore foodie like me). Now I’m all for supporting the cafe culture but if I hadn’t gotten the ticket and paid regular prices, I would be supporting them all the same. I think the solution to this problem would be to either make it a closed event so that the ticket buyers are actually getting their money’s worth or just making it free admission for all and everyone pays regular price.

Secondly, 人山人海 (one of the last remaining Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetidioms in the rusty compartment in my brain from my Standard Chinese IB days) – the first day was wayyy too crowded. Of course this is a good thing because that means lots and lots of excitement and ent husiasm about this project. but this amount of people also means queues. no matter how fast the baristas work, there will always be queues, it’s inevitable. Perhaps having bigger stalls manned by more people would solve this problem. Also, the seating area which was sandwiched between the two rows of stalls, created unnecessary congestion. If the benches had simply been next to the row instead of wedged in between, there would have been much more space to walk. Plus the people sitting wouldn’t have the constant fear of a passerby knocking the cupcake they were trying to take an Instagram worthy picture of, out of their hand. The second day was so much more enjoyable just because it was way less crowded and we actually got to buy food which was what we were there for in the first place.

Thirdly, what’s even worse than queues? Not getting anything out of queuing. By around 1 ish on the first day, stalls were already running out of food. For some of the stalls, they were getting fresh supplies in a while which meant waiting, but for most, they didn’t plan on restocking so their menus shrunk as the day went by. (This didn’t really happen on the second, again because there were less people).

These are all nitty gritty details but put together they turned what could have been an amazing event into somewhat of a letdown. I think one of the main reasons for this disappointment was because of the huge hype surrounding it – I mean it is the world’s first cafe hopping event. My fellow cafe obsessed friend and I were literally looking forward to this cafe filled weekend for months.

I’m sure lots of people enjoyed this event but it could be that though one of my main hobbies is cafe hopping, express cafe hopping just isn’t my thing. It could be that the event simply just wasn’t well organized which is understandable. It could also potentially be that what ruined the experience for me was the compressed nature of the whole thing. Increasing the accessibility and convenience meant taking away the hopping aspect of cafe hopping which is kind of the essence of the whole thing (hence the term cafe hopping). Maybe the idea of cafe fest belongs in this now generation, where everything is about the here and now. But I feel like cafe hopping, and the whole cafe culture belongs to a more relaxed, slow paced era where you can just sip your coffee, doodle in a journal and gaze dreamily out the window.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
At least the company was good

Healthy Summer Couscous

There’s nothing worse than simultaneously being sick and on your period – everything hurts and you just have so much angst. Luckily I got all that energy out by cooking rather than decapitating someone. Making food is such a therapeutic thing for me. Anywaysss, I was craving carbs but still wanted something light so I decided to make a couscous salad. Basically the easiest thing ever.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

For 1 person:

  • 1/2 cup of couscous
  • pine nuts
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • crumbled feta
  • mixed herbs

For the lemon vinaigrette:

  • lemon juice
  • virgin olive oil
  • mustard
  • pepper
  1. Cook the couscous – stir in half a cup of boiling water into a pot with the couscous, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork.
  2. Whisk the lemon vinaigrette ingredients until it gives a creamy consistency and then mix in with warm couscous.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until they’re a golden brown
  4. Slice the cherry tomatoes into quarters and dice the avocados
  5. Mix everything together yayyy! (or make some food art – it probably took me the same amount of time to arrange it nicely as it did to actually make the food)

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

There are endless possibilities with what you can add – walnuts, raisins, cucumbers, spinach, mozzarella, chicken, salmon – basically anything in your fridge. I’m probably going to be cooking this a lot next year in uni because it’s so simple, healthy plus it fills you up (rather this than biscuits and cake am I right). In fact, despite the title of this post, I’m probably going to eat this all year round.

On a side note – I once had to eat couscous for lunch and dinner for 5 days straight for this project called Live Below the Line where we had to live on £1 a day for food and drinks.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The experience itself was amazing and we raised lots of awareness and money, but needless to say after those 5 days looking at couscous made me feel so sick. Luckily my repulsion was short lived and I’m back to loving it.

Wheeler’s Yard

I have yet to understand my boyfriend’s obsession with cycling and to be perfectly honest I haven’t really made much of an effort to. I feel like my visit to a bicycle themed cafe is the first step (at least to ease myself into the mind set with food and coffee).Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

My mom was the one who suggested that we go to Wheeler’s Yard for some overdue mother-daughter bonding time. Despite the torrential rain, we made it to the cafe safe and sound, albeit totally drenched and freezing.The café takes up half of an industrial ware house and the other half is dedicated to a bicycle atelier. After glancing at the price tags of the bikes on show I got depressed and had to remind myself that I was here for the café, which had on offer things much more suited to my price range, ie. food and drinks.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIt was a shame that the weather was so bad because that meant that the only seating options were indoors where there was very little natural light. At least that meant we could appreciate the bicycle themed décor which was so cute and definitely got me excited about my choices for my bicycle purchase next year for uni (probably 4th hand and about a tenth of the price though).

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI had studied the menu online beforehand (I have a problem with indecision) and had already decided on the pan seared salmon ($22.90). My mom switched from nachos, to cheese panini and finally went with the grilled chicken ($17.90) – see if she had done what I did there would not have been that problem.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

 

 

 

 

I was very happy with the portion size of my salmon but it was a tad too overcooked and though the gravy that came with it went quite well with the side of creamy mash, it didn’t complement the salmon. I tried my mom’s chicken and I preferred it to mine. The chicken was tender plus it came with mushrooms. Maybe next time I should listen to the menu (the chicken was a chef’s recommendation).

Coffee was much more satisfying – I got a skinny cappuccino ($5) with less milk and they managed to get the ratio right (too much milk makes me sick, I’m such a weakling). I always admire the coffee art on my coffees and it almost makes me want to be a barista just to learn how to create those magical patterns.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

After about 5 minutes of standing in front of the dessert counter, weighing between the apple crumble, chocolate truffle or lemon meringue tart (there wasn’t a dessert section on the online menu) we chose the lemon meringue tart ($7.50). I popped off to the bathroom and when I came back turns out my mom had ordered the chocolate truffle cake ($6) as well because you can only pay with visa for payments above $20. Good excuse.Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

The meringue of the lemon meringue tart was a bit too creamy and not light enough for my liking though I did like the tanginess of the lemon filling. The pastry shell had an interesting texture (I think there was some sort of cereal baked into it).

The chocolate truffle cake had different layers of textures – cake, mousse and the crispy base (which is my favourite bit). The only thing was that it was milk chocolate and I much prefer dark chocolate when it comes to truffle cakes (but that might just be me). Anyways, I preferred it to the lemon meringue tart.

The food wasn’t anything special but I will definitely come back in the future just for the setting – it’s the perfect place to read or study because it’s so spacious and cozy (and it has free wifi wooo!) Plus good coffee to keep my brain going.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset
Yes, I did get the memo about the colour coordination

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wheeler’s Yard
Address: 28 Lor Ampas, Singapore, Singapore 328781
Tel: 6254 9128
Opening hours: Mon – Thurs: 11am – 7pm (closed on Tues) | Fri – Sun: 11am – 8pm