Roaming in Rome

So we had a pretty rough start to Rome. But we got through our first day and pushed through our travel fatigue, dragging ourselves out of bed at 6am the next day.

Why?

To join in this queue… on a cold wet day… zzzz…

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I’ve no idea when these people starting queuing!

Yes, it was a day trip to the Vatican City (which is really, as I see it, just an extension of Rome!). 

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The queue to get into the Vatican Museum

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Spotted the Swiss Guards while queuing

We knew that it was going to be a long drawn-out day heading to this country but I was personally stoked; I have been looking forward to this pitstop since we planned this trip.

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After queuing for 2hrs, we finally made it in!

It wasn’t so much of the religious significance of the place (as I’m a Protestant Christian). But believe it or not, I’ve been reading on Italian Renaissance Art since I was a child.

Nono, I’m not some arty-farty prodigal kid; that book just happened to be lying in my toybox and I picked it up to read.

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Lots of artwork inside the Vatican Museum…

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…lots of people too

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Round and round we go…

That book was entitled ‘Great Artists’ (haha can’t believe I can still source it online!). And as a child, I was fascinated by the lives and artwork of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael chronicled in this children’s book.

And little did I know that 20+ years later, I would see these artworks in the flesh in Italy (some of them I saw in the Uffizi Gallery, like the first angel that Leonardo painted and Raphael’s self-portrait).

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A reallyyyy long walk to see the Sistine Chapel

Of course the highlight was the Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo. I read about it in books and watched documentaries on it but still, nothing could beat the actual sight of it.

There were elements on the ceiling that I didn’t find biblically accurate (as according to the Bible I read) and I cannot say that it is a true representation of the Bible. So I just took it in as a magnificent artwork; the artistry of it was exquisite and I cannot imagine how much work went into it.

Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the ceiling but I might have sneaked in a shot for memories’ keepsake. (I posted it on my Instagram).

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Taking a break in the gardens outside the musuem

It was quite a tiring affair walking in all the way to view the Sistine Chapel. But there was more to see in Vatican City!

So we did a quick lunch and pressed on.

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The crowd gathering to hear the Pope give an address.. Couldn’t really see him or understand what he was saying but pretty sure he mentioned the word ‘Singapore’ hurhur

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The inside of St. Peter’s Basilica… Yes, it was another long queue to get in.

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Finally got to see the Pieta, another famous sculpture by Michelangelo

And you would think that after viewing all these artwork, it would be the end of our day at the Vatican City. But noooo…

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Yes, call us crazy but we decided to climb some stairs! This is the view from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica

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320 steps later, we are finally at the top!

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Ahhh the reward at the top

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The iconic view of Vatican City

After climbing that crazy amount of steps, we finally left Vatican City.

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The statues of the Apostles looking on

And off we went for a final whirlwind tour around Rome, to take in as many sights as possible before the day’s end.

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Doing a 5minute stop at Piazza Del Popolo

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Checking out Piazza di Spagna. You’ve no idea how hard it was to get this shot without any photobombers!

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Spanish Steps. Sigh I had romantic notions of this place since watching Roman Holiday but all notions were wiped out as soon as we experienced the crowd haha.

And that was our Rome experience in a nutshell: crazily unnerving, crazily tiring, crazily packed… just crazy. Haha.

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Finally having a little breather at the top of the Steps, above the crowds, as we watched the sun set on Rome 1 last time…

So that’s how it was, roaming those crazy streets of Rome, taking in all those ancient sights (sites? haha) and making it out in one piece. Ah Rome, you definitely gave us a trip to remember by!

HK Hotspots in SG

HongKong cuisine may not be as spicy or have such diverse dishes as other Asian cuisines. But you have to admit, there are some things that simply stand out in the world of HK food. After all, where else can you find a good yum cha meal, tang yuan dessert or a cup of milk tea?

Well, it’s a good thing that Singapore’s restaurant scene is getting more globalised. With that, a 4hr flight to HK can be condensed to a 30min travel to any part of our island-country for a decent HK food fix!

Here are 3 HK hotspots I’ve found in Singapore so far…

Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant
191 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208882

Swee Choon has been around for quite some time and is an established name for HK yum cha in Singapore. I only got to know about this place last year but yes, that first experience was impressive.

Our epic meal at Swee Choon

As you can tell, we ordered quite a few dishes so I think that gave us a well-rounded experience at Swee Choon. I liked how the dishes were not overly oily or salty. I was a particular fan of the carrot cake and egg tarts. Xiaolongbao is also a signature dish at Swee Choon – not exactly a HK dish but who cares if it’s done well!

From memory, that meal didn’t break our wallets and we were all quite happy with a good-quality meal at a reasonable price. With it being opened to the wee hours of the night, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this place for a supper spot too!

Ah Chew Desserts
1 Liang Seah Street, #01-10/11, Singapore 189032

Ah Chew is another well-known name for Chinese/HK desserts. The first time I tried to go with my friends, it was a weekday night after dinner and that place was packed. So we had to settle for some other dessert place :(

The next time I went with Ms CC, it was a weekday afternoon and we managed to snag a table during this off-peak hour. The menu is extensive but because we weren’t that hungry, we decided to share 1 dessert only.

Zhi Ma Hu with Peanut & Black Sesame tangyuan

Zhi Ma Hu with Peanut & Black Sesame tangyuan

It’s a simple dessert but we were happy with the quality. Now, I’m not an expert on what makes good zhi ma hu (black sesame paste) but I’ve had ones that were gluggy or diluted. Ah Chew’s wasn’t like that at all – that bowl of zhi ma hu we had was smooth and of good thick consistency.

The skins of the tangyuan were also smooth and I liked how we could combine both peanut and black sesame tangyuans – I can never decide which filling I prefer!

So going by the popularity of the place and the quality of dessert we had that day, I reckon this is a pretty reliable place for a good HK dessert!

Legendary Hong Kong
#03-80, Jurong Point 2 Shopping Center, Singapore 64833

Now, this place is about the closest dining experience you’ll get to the real thing. Why? Just check out where this place is located…

Are we in HK? No, it's just Little HK inside Jurong Point Shopping Centre!

Are we in HK? No, it’s just Little HK inside Jurong Point Shopping Centre!

Haha you just have to give our country props for always being able to recreate the outside world within our humble borders.

Step inside for a culinary trip to HK

Step inside for a culinary trip to HK

The layout of the restaurant is also like a typical 茶餐厅 in Hong Kong. When my family and I stepped in, we felt like we were transported to Hong Kong!

Iced & Hot Milk Teas

Iced & Hot Milk Teas

I actually liked how the hot milk tea came sugarless. The tea was thick enough and the fact that it was unsweetened allowed me to better appreciate the taste of the tea.

And in true HK-style, the food came out pretty fast

And in true HK-style, the food came out pretty fast

My brother and dad had the noodles dishes. As simple as they look, they both commented that the noodles had a good texture (i.e. not clumpy) and they enjoyed them very much.

As for me and my mum, this is what we went for…

Roast duck rice, the HK way

Roast duck rice, the HK way

My friends, this is the real deal. Haha my mum kept going on about how this roast duck was soooo much better than the one we had in London (and at the famous Four Seasons too! Will blog about that experience sometime). She was definitely much happier with this plate that we had!

I personally found the meat a little leaner than the ones that I had in Melbourne (maybe the ducks in Australia are fatter?). But I cannot fault the skin of the roast duck – tasty and crisp with the right amount of fat. It went downright well with the chilli provided!

I saw the tables around us enjoying baskets of tim sum and I asked if we could order 1 too. My family agreed – yay!

What dimsum did we order?

What dimsum did we order?

Liu sha bao!!

None other than Liu sha bao!!

How can you say no to Liu Sha Bao (Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun)?? Haha so glad my family agreed to order this!

I didn’t find the custard as smooth – it was a little coarse at the sides. But hey, the buns came out piping hot, the custard had adequate ‘ooze’ factor when we broke them open and we could taste the rich yolky flavour. That was enough to end our meal satisfactorily!

So there – 3 HK Hotspots in Singapore. Whether you’re thinking of a good yum cha, Chinese dessert or cha can ting (茶餐厅) meal, you really don’t have to look far to feed that craving!

When in Rome

….Do as the Romans do, so the saying goes. We are not quite sure what the Romans would have done in our shoes, but we did our best, given the circumstances thrown at us.

It wasn’t the most delightful of beginnings. We got into Rome, tired from our train ride from Florence. And upon our first step into the metro, we nearly got pickpocketed.

Prior to that, we already heard many pickpocketing stories in Rome and were on alert. That is why Dad could spot them and yelled at them, before they escaped through the closing doors of the metro tube. But allora, we didn’t expect it to happen so soon!

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Roaming the (cobbled) streets of Rome

We then walked a fair distance to our accommodation from the metro station. We were expecting the distance, but we didn’t account for our travel fatigue, or the whole stretch of cobbled streets which placed our luggage wheels at risk.

But we made it all in one piece, by God’s grace.

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Making it to our cosy abode

And upon settling down and rushing down to the Colosseum 1hour before closing time, it poured after we finished touring.

That called for a dash through the rain back to our accommodation from the metro stop, along the streets of Rome.

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Making it into the Colosseum, despite the long queue! Yay!

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Museum inside the Colosseum. It was out in the open and the strong winds made it really cold touring the place.

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Roman ruins that we spied from the Colosseum

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We planned to walk around these ruins after the Colosseum, but then the rain came…

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Just before the rain came pouring

So that how it was like when we first came to Rome – a little unnerving by the attempted pickpocketing, cold and wet.

The natural inclination was to stay in our accommodation, safe from the outside world. But our hunger directed us otherwise. So we braved the streets of Rome again, in search for the recommended dining spots by our AirBnB hosts.

And I guess, that’s when things started to pick up a little in Rome.

Al Forno della Soffitta
62/64 Via Piave, 00187 Rome, Italy

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Arrabiata with pretty unique looking pasta

Given such a dampening start (pun intended) to Rome and disappointing meals in our previous spots in Italy, we were not expecting much. Just a quick meal and an early night were all we wanted.

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Gnocchi with asparagus, bacon and mushrooms in a cream-based sauce

But I guess Rome wanted to give us a little treat to end a full-on day…

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Risotto with truffle, parmesan and chestnut

While the other pasta dishes were good (i.e. pasta done al-dente, sauce not gluggy, simple but good ingredient combination), that risotto, my friends, was the show-stealer.

The risotto was cooked perfectly, and my brother and I loved how the intense taste of the truffle and parmesan was made lighter by the chestnut, which lent a delicate nutty taste. Every bite was so appetising!

The restaurant had a wood-fired oven as well and the pizzas looked really good. But we had sandwiches for lunch that day so we didn’t feel like having more bread.

Anyway, the pasta dishes satisfied us sufficiently and the best part was, each dish was about 10euros. What a difference to the overpriced and low-quality food we had previously!

Seeing how promising our hosts’ recommendations were, we decided to try another recommended gelato place, despite the cold weather.

Gelateria La Romana
Via XX Settembre, 60, 00184 Roma, Italy

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Sooo many flavours to choose from!

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Do not disturb. Gelato lab experiments in progress.

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What we finally chose – Ricotta & Fig and Stracciatella

YES – we finally got a good gelato in Italy! The flavours all sounded really interesting and worth a go. We were quite happy with our scoops – the Ricotta & Fig had a caramelly taste going with some creamy cheesiness, and the Stracciatella didn’t disappoint.

And can you believe this cone only cost 2euros? Whoop!

So that was our first taste of Rome. Did we experience the best of what Rome could offer us?

I guess we missed out on quite a few things but at least, we ended our first night in Rome on a good note. With full tummies and contented hearts, we were just thankful that we survived all these as a family, with God in control.

And that I guess, gave us some travelling memories to tell of, of the time when we were in Rome.


 

Having ended our night with good spirits, that gave us enough energy to wake up the next day at 6am. Why did we bother crawling out of bed while the sky was still dark? That would be another post to share… stay tuned!

Cicheti – A Slice of Italy in Singapore

It really is a sign of how globalised a world we live in when you find a slice of Italy in your home country, in the least expected way.

So the story goes that I was a little disappointed by the underwhelming pizza and pasta we had at the touristy areas in Venice and Florence last December. However, 4 months later, after returning to Singapore, I found myself craving for Italian food again.

So I suggested that to Ade who promptly suggested Cicheti, which she cites as her ‘favourite Italian restaurant in Singapore.’ 

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much because I couldn’t imagine how authentic Italian food can be here, 6000 miles away from Italy. And to hear that this restaurant is located in Arab Street, a place more well-known for the Malay-Indian cuisine? That didn’t quite set the tone for an Italian night out for me!

However, my friend here is quite well-travelled and so I decided to trust her opinion on this.

And, we managed to score the last table for 2 at the restaurant, which is an indication of how popular it is…

Cicheti
52 Kandahar Street
Singapore 198901

We had to settle for al-fresco dining

We had to settle for al-fresco dining

And looking through the menu, everything looked really interesting. We had a hard time narrowing down, but we finally did…

Cicheti Burratina - Burratina cheese, parma ham, rocket, grilled peaches

Cicheti Burratina – Burratina cheese, parma ham, rocket, grilled peaches, buttered bread

So we started off with this antipasta, and WOW, that was a real surprise for the night.

Stack 'em up & you get an explosion of flavours with each bite!

Stack ’em up & you get an explosion of flavours with each bite!

I love how all the flavours are combined here, so subtly and all in harmony. The burratina was of course, the star of the dish, with its creamy cheesiness inside. The rocket was not as bitter and peppery as expected so that was a good balance. And of course, the parma ham lent the saltiness and grilled peaches, that caramelised sweetness.

We loved how everything tasted so fresh on this platter – was definitely a good starter for the night!

Our 2nd starter - Polpette Di Carne Grana

Our 2nd starter – Polpette Di Carne Grana

Ade was a fan of the homemade meatballs. This was comfort food indeed, warm and wholesome. Mmmm.

Now, the table next to us had a pasta dish that looked really delectable. But for the mains, we decided to go with pizza instead because of this:

With a wood-fired oven like this, you get a sense of how authentic their pizzas are

With a wood-fired oven in-house, you get a sense of how authentic their pizzas are

So it looks like wood-fired pizzas are a specialty of Cicheti and Ade said she was a fan of the pizzas.

So at the expense of having a bread overload for the night, that settled our choice!

Finally we moved on to the mains - Margherita Pizza

Our main for the night – Margherita Pizza

Digging into the pizza, I can understand what Ade was raving about. Besides the simple but fresh toppings, the pizza crust was outstanding. The crust had a nice chewy texture with a crisp edge, not overly dough or crispy, but just right.

Yes, to my surprise, this pizza tasted a lot more authentic than the ones I had in Italy! (No thanks to those touristy restaurants… humph!)

Dessert - Salted Chocolate

Dessert – Salted Chocolate

We chose this as I thought it was interesting to have chocolate lava cake with the salty dimension. Well, in the end, it was still quite sweet overall, especially with the ice cream and caramel sauce drizzled over. It was a decent dessert but inside, the chocolate wasn’t as gooey – would have loved more of that chocolate sauce oozing out!

Anyway, I thought overall, the food at Cicheti embodied the spirit of Italian cuisine – homely, comforting, simple but done well with fresh ingredients.

And you can guess that that definitely satisfied my Italian food craving. All thanks to our fast globalizing world that is able to bring a slice of Italy to our plates here in Singapore!

The Art of Discovering Florence

During our summer in Europe last year, we met an Italian guy and told him we were enroute to Cinque Terre.

He then spoke about his home country and said, You must visit Florence. Florence is an open gallery itself – beautiful! he exclaimed, in the usual excited Italian manner.

I got what that person meant when I stepped foot into Florence.

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What is to be discovered in Florence…

Florence is the centre of the Italian Renaissance and the city is still steeped in its history, with traces of that period trailing all over the place.

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What we saw when we turned round the corner from our accommodation… I must say, this first glimpse of the Duomo did stop us in our tracks momentarily.

So pardon my pun, but really, the art of discovering Florence is to appreciate the city itself as an artwork.

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Piazza della Signoria

And here’s how you can get the most out of Florence…

Be prepared to walk. To fully appreciate the beauty of Florence, you will have to walk through the city, and climb up the hill!

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Yes, after walking around the city, we may have walked to the bridge, crossed it, and climbed up THAT hill…

But take your time. Even when the sun sets early in winter, Florence is still as beautiful.

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But we were rewarded with this view at the top of the hill

Be ready for the crowds. Even during the off-peak season of winter, Florence is still teeming with tourists. So be prepared to jostle with the crowds, whether you are walking through the streets, queuing up for the famous Uffizi Gallery, admiring the view atop Piazzale Michelangelo or taking a day trip to Pisa. And remember that you’re in Italy – so be watchful for pickpockets!

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Christmas lights along the streets. See the crowd below?

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Managed to get a good shot of the family in the crowded streets

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Piazzale Michelangelo. We actually saw someone attempting to pickpocket here.

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Inside Uffizi Gallery, after queuing for an hour.

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The famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, which is a 30-40minute bus ride away from Florence. See the hordes of people below the Tower?

Be careful of tourist traps. There are lots of restaurants/cafes/gelato shops in the touristy areas but be warned, the prices are usually jacked up. Unfortunately, we fell victim to those traps – exorbitant prices for low quality food. So do your research if you want a good Italian meal!

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Gelato that we had, which was unfortunately, overpriced and forgettable. Quite unlike the gelati I had in Milan and Cinque Terre!

Be like a local. I like rooming with AirBnB because that usually gives you a sense on how the locals live. And Florence was no exception. We got to live in a local’s apartment and while our trip was quite packed, we took the time to find the local supermarket and stock up for breakfast the next day. So we took some time to relax in the apartment the next morning and munch on those local delicacies for breakfast. That turned out to be a simple but memorable meal for us.

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Peach juice, fresh fruit, wholemeal bread, salami, belgian waffles, coffee (Italian, of course) and that. hazelnut. yogurt. Can’t seem to find that yogurt outside Italy!

Be an art lover. Like what I said before, you have to look at Florence as a work of art itself. So even if you don’t consider yourself an enthusiast of the arts, just be one for a day in Florence. Just soak in the Renaissance atmosphere, and you will find yourself walking in history for moment.

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Think 1 ‘David’ is enough in Florence?..

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..Think again!

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Don’t mind us, we’re just hanging out with a bunch of Renaissance statues

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My bro showing his appreciation for the arts. Hurhur

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View of Florence at dusk from the Uffizi Gallery. Guess the artwork is not just confined to the paintings and statues

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And the Duomo from the top of the Uffizi Gallery, with the sun setting for the day

And that, would be the art of uncovering the beauty of Florence. And along the way, if you haven’t realise it before, you are bound to discover the inner art-lover in you as well.

Waffling Around in SG

Wonder where to get a good waffle in Singapore?

Well, ever since I’ve returned, I’ve been introduced to 3 waffles places so it seems that waffles are the ‘in’ thing. The competition is hot like a waffle iron indeed! (hurhur)

So let’s not waffle around and get down to these 3 places that I’ve checked out!

Seriously Ice Cream
Blk 4 Everton Park #01-44, Singapore

How I got to this place was by accident. I was actually having coffee with 3 other friends at Nylon Coffee Roasters

It all started out with coffee...

It all started out with coffee at Nylon…

…when we stumbled upon Seriously Ice Cream. It looked interesting so we decided to give it a go for dessert!

Mmm the smell of fresh waffles cooking was so good!

Plus, they were having a special of half-priced waffles so why not?

As you can see, we added 2 scoops of ice cream to our waffle. To our delight, we were allowed to have free samples before choosing. Seriously Ice Cream has some really unique local flavours and at that time, there were pineapple tart, pulut hitam and even a mystery flavour!

We were told that if we could figure out the ingredients of the mystery flavour, we would get that scoop free. We were given 3 tries but alas, we couldn’t guess the last ingredient. It had a pleasant cheesy taste and we got that with our waffle!

Although I found the waffle a little too crunchy, it was a decent waffle and we all enjoyed it. And with 2 scoops of ice cream, it was definitely a good idea to share the dish between the 4 of us!

Everton Park is a bustling area of cafes and has become a go-to place to hang out with friends. So if you are in the area looking for something sweet after a caffeine boost, you can give Seriously Ice Cream a go!

Sunday Folks
Chip Bee Gardens #01-52
44 Jalan Merah Saga, Singapore

This was a place that got on my radar even when I was still in Melbourne, thanks to their Instagrammable waffles.

Photo credit: Ms JQ

Photo credit: Ms JQ

So upon my return, this was high on my go-to places!

And did it disappoint?

Single slice waffle with Earl Grey Lavender Ice Cream, and Nama Green Tea toppings

Single slice waffle with Earl Grey Lavender ice cream, & Nama Green Tea toppings

Well, aesthetically, it certainly didn’t! (Although I must say that the ice cream swirls look alot nicer for the double slice waffles, as shown on the Instagram shot).

Taste-wise, the waffle was good – sweet, crisp but still having some doughiness. There was also an oreo-like biscuit under the ice cream which was quite sweet.

But I thought the star of the dish was the Earl Grey Lavender Ice Cream – true to its name, I could taste the earl grey with subtle bitter notes and very delicate floral notes (which is good because if the lavender taste was any stronger, it might taste like soap! ala our N2 Extreme Gelato experience).

I added the Nama Green Tea toppings as an afterthought and I was glad I did. Basically they are cubes of matcha powder that melt in your mouth. The bitterness of the matcha certainly balanced out the sweetness of the dish!

And yes, I may have liked this place enough to come back a 2nd time… hehe.

Single slice waffle with Pistachio ice cream

Single slice waffle with Pistachio ice cream

The Pistachio ice cream was good but I was more impressed by the Earl Grey Lavender – I found that flavour more unique.

It is a small touch but I appreciated the scattering of fresh fruit round the plate. It not only added to the vibrancy of colours but also that fresh edge to an otherwise rich dessert.

I guess the only thing that didn’t win me over was the drizzling of honey around the plate. I thought the dish was sweet enough and the honey might be an overkill for some who don’t have a big sweet tooth.

So be warned, the ice cream waffles will get you on a sugar high so I highly recommend sharing. This place is also really popular so be prepared to wait!

Revelry
21 Lorong Kilat, Singapore

Revelry‘ was a buzzword on a few of my friends’ lips so finally, I managed to settle on a dinner date with a couple of them at this place.

The decor was impressive from the outlook; come to think of it, I’ve not come across a cafe with a circus theme before!

Love how the circus theme extends to the coffee art!

Love how the circus theme extends to the coffee art!

I didn’t order one myself but stole a sip of the coffees. I found the Flat White smooth and robust, decidedly one of the better coffees I’ve had in Singapore. The company I was with found the coffee comparable to Melbourne’s so that says something about the coffee quality!

Before arriving, I read up some reviews on Revelry and found their Chicken & Waffles dish was pretty popular so we ordered just that.

Chicken & Waffles, with lettuce n some maple syrup to drizzle over

Chicken & Waffles, with some fresh veggies n some maple syrup to drizzle over

Wow, those reviews got it right. The balance of flavours and textures were all there – the fried chicken had a good crisp and was tender on the inside, while the saltiness of the chicken went perfectly with the sweet maple syrup, with the fresh salad to finish off.

And. the. waffle. I have to admit that out of the 3 places, Revelry served up the best waffles. While the waffles at the other 2 places tended to be on the sweet side, Revelry’s waffles were really buttery, making them more savoury-like which suited me just fine. The waffles also had a wonderful fluffy texture inside with a crunchy edge. Mmm.

OK Waffle Pizza – Otah & chopped kailan greens covered in melted mozzarella

We got this as it was the next most popular savoury item on the menu. Overall, the OK waffle was okay (hurhur) but I wasn’t sure if I was a big fan of the combination. I found it a little too adventurous to pair up such Asian ingredients with waffles and cheese. I guess to my subconscious, Asian sides should always go with rice!

However, my friends enjoyed the uniqueness of this dish so no harm giving this a go. I just know which savoury waffle dish I prefer!

Now, you may think that I found Revelry’s waffles different because I got savoury items instead of sweets (as I’ve ordered at the previous 2 places). So let’s see the true result of the waffle tasting with this dessert…

Monkey King - with chunks of banana bread, banana, walnuts & the side of maple syrup

Monkey King – with chunks of banana bread, caramelised banana, walnuts, side of maple syrup & a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Well, I’m pleased to say that even as a dessert, that buttery taste and fluffiness of the waffles were not lost. So yes, Revelry’s waffles trumps it for me!

As for the dessert itself, one of my friends commented that it tasted like the Post Cereal Banana Nut Crunch and it certainly seemed like it!

Overall, I thought the dessert was fine but a little too sweet. The maple syrup didn’t seem necessary to me. It might have been better to drizzle some chocolate sauce because… Bananas. Chocolate. They simply go hand in hand. And the bitterness of chocolate could help counter the sweetness of the dish.

If only there could be the pairing of Revelry’s waffles with Sunday Folks’ ice cream… that would be the perfect dessert!

Now you know when is a good time to check out Revelry!

Now you know when is a good time to check out Revelry!

***

And that settles the 3 waffles places I’ve visited so far. All 3 have given reason as to why the waffle competition in Singapore is so hot. But you can probably figure out by now where I thought housed the better savoury and sweet waffles…

…So if you’re craving for waffles and are still thinking of where to go, waffle around no more and check these places out! ;)

Of Cherry Picking & Afternoon Tea

Cherry picking. Afternoon tea. What comes to mind when you think of these words?

A perfect summer’s day in Melbourne, perhaps? ;)

Summer's the season for cherries!

Summer’s the season for cherries!

Ms Gan and I seem to have done a lot of summer activities in 2014, with us traipsing around Europe in July…

Throwback to our European Summer Adventure (Barcelona, July '14)

Throwback to our European Summer Adventure (Barcelona, July ’14)

It just so happened that it was the beginning of summer as I was preparing to leave Melbourne. So I guess to add 1 more for the memories, Ms Gan decided to take me out on 1 last day trip.

There is a number of cherry farms in Victoria but we managed to find one in Seville, which was not too far away from central Melbourne.

At that time, UPick Cherries was also having a special of waiving the admission fee so that settled our pick!

So with the perfect weather, convenient location and free admission, we were all set for some cherry-picking!

Basically, you pick a box (priced according to its size) and fill it up to your heart's content!

Basically, you pick a box (priced according to its size) and fill it up to your heart’s content

Ms Gan was having a huge craving for cherries and initially wanted to go for the 2kg box ($16). But looking at the size of it, I figured it would take awhile to fill that up so I dissuaded her and told her to go for the 1kg ($8) box instead.

Aiming to pick the good ones

Aiming to pick the good ones

Wow it was a good thing we went for the smaller box. We didn’t realise how big the farm was and with the sun high up in the sky, cherry-picking turned out to be hard work!

Finally getting our fill of cherries!

Finally getting our boxes filled

Believe it or not, we sweated it out for 45minutes eeps. Cherry-picking is fun but it can be pretty tedious, especially if you want to pick the good ones!

Anyway, after getting our dose of cherry-picking, we went to our next stop, the Piggery Cafe – which I was pretty excited about!

The Piggery Cafe, which was just a 15min drive away from UPick Cherries

The Piggery Cafe, which is just a 15min drive away from UPick Cherries

I guess it’s a girl thing but I’ve always relished the idea of an afternoon tea with the company of good friends. But afternoon teas are usually pricey and it’s hard to find time in the day to do one.

But this time round, with both of us having the afternoon free and to spend some time before my pending departure, I guess the occasion was pretty justified!

Also, check out the price tag…

That’s right. For $25, you get savoury and sweet treats, scones and a hot drink – how’s that for value??

And to top it off, this cafe is opened by Shannon Bennett, head chef of Vue de Monde, so expectations of the food quality are naturally running high!

Ms Gan doesn't take coffee/tea so she was allowed to get hot choc instead - brownie points for flexibility!

Ms Gan doesn’t take coffee/tea and she was allowed to get hot choc instead – brownie points for flexibility!

Now you get my excitement??

How good do those platters look??

How good do those platters look?? And love the rustic ambience

Naturally, we started with the savoury…

L-R (from memory): Pâté sandwiches, smoked chicken sandwiches, potato croquettes, jamon & smoked salmon sandwiches

L-R (from memory): Pâté sandwiches, smoked chicken sandwiches, potato croquettes, jamon & smoked salmon sandwiches

Isn’t it exciting that we get to sample so many types of sandwiches?? I personally liked the smoked salmon ones :)

To be honest, we were getting full by the time we reached the end of the savoury platter. And we were hungry to start off with! That goes to show how filling the platter is.

But we had to make room for the sweets…

There were bites of dark choc tart, lemon tart, choc-caramel slice, lemon meringue & sticky date pudding.. with scones at the end of the platter!

There were bites of dark choc tart, lemon tart, choc-caramel slice, lemon meringue & sticky date pudding.. AND scones at the end of the platter!

My personal favourite was the chocolate-caramel slice. I adored the contrast between the bittersweet dark chocolate and sweet caramel, finished off by the buttery tart. Mmm.

However, as delectable as they were, we actually struggled to finish the sweets – oops. They were getting abit too rich for us towards the end.

So my advice? For the ladies, perhaps skip lunch for this! It’s totally worth it!!

For the lovely cafe setting, good selection of treats and affordable pricing, I highly recommend The Piggery Cafe‘s afternoon tea (and yes, it has made it to my Top Picks).It is a bit of a drive out from the city but if you’re looking to do a day trip out, I would suggest making a stop there!

Piggery Cafe on Urbanspoon

And that concludes 1 of my last summer afternoons in Melbourne. With it being spent with a close sister-in-Christ and having a heartfelt talk over afternoon tea, that certainly added to the good summer memories of 2014 :)

Venice, the City of…

I was thinking of how I should describe Venice as a single term – Venice, the City of...

So I did a Google search. And there emerged these terms – Venice, the City of Love, City of Canals, City of Waters, City of Masks, City of Bridges, The Floating City

Wow, so many names. And I thought, why can’t people seem to agree on a single term for Venice?

And then looking through my photos again, I understood why.

Echoing my mum’s thoughts, this city just seems unreal. A place that doesn’t fit into our concept of a city, especially if you live in an urban jungle.

So how should I describe Venice in my own terms? Perhaps, I shall let my photos do the talking first…

First glimpses…

Still air-borne as we approached Venice. This was 1 of the mountain ranges in Europe.

Still air-borne as we approached Venice. This was 1 of the mountain ranges in Europe.

Despite the overnight flight n time difference, the family was still in high spirits as we boarded the water taxi

Despite the overnight flight n time difference, the family was still in high spirits as we boarded the water taxi

First glimpse of the City of Waters

First glimpse of the City of Waters

Docking at our stop, surrounded by waters of course

Docking at our stop, surrounded by waters of course

Gondolas just outside our accom. Unlike the touristy gondolas, these are gondolas that the locals use to get across the waters.

Gondolas just outside our accom. Unlike the touristy gondolas, these are gondolas that the locals use to get across the waters.

Our Airbnb host leading us to our accom

Our Airbnb host leading us to our accom

Our cosy abode

Our cosy and tastefully decorated abode

Small but well-equipped kitchen where we whipped up a meal from goods bought from the local supermarket (yes, Venice has supermarkets!).

Small but well-equipped kitchen where we whipped up a meal from goods bought from the local supermarket (yes, Venice has supermarkets!).

The alleys…

Seeing Venice as the City of Canals as soon as we walked out of our accom

Seeing Venice as the City of Canals as soon as we walked out of our accom

Discovering the many art shops in the alleys

Discovering the many art shops in the alleys

Venice the City of Masks

Venice the City of Masks

Our 1st meal in Italy. Unfortunately, it was nothing to shout about. We had our best Italian meal in Rome - hold up for that!

Our 1st meal in Italy. Unfortunately, it was nothing to shout about. We found our best Italian meal in Rome – hold up for that!

Walking through the alleys again

Mum looking thoughtful

Stopping by the marketplace to get a pair of gloves. It was freezing!

Stopping by the marketplace to get a pair of gloves. It was freezing!

The architecture…

St Mark's Square. Don't they look cute here? Heh

St Mark’s Square. Managing bright smiles despite fatigue and jetlag.

Doge Palace

Doge Palace

St Mark's Basilica

St Mark’s Basilica

Now you can see why Venice is also the City of Love? Awww...

Now you can see why Venice is also the City of Love? Awww…

Don't forget sibling love too!

Don’t forget sibling love too!

..Or parent-child love..

..Or parent-child love..

..Or just family love :)

..Or just family love :)

Final glimpses

The City of Bridges

The City of Bridges

Arrivederci Venezia

Arrivederci Venezia

So how could you possibly narrow down Venice to a single name? Of waters, bridges, canals, love and masks, I find Venice is all of these and more.

Because Venice has so much character that a single name just cannot fully describe it.

So if I have to really to use my own terms, Venice is the city of the surreal for me – with land being scarce to waters, gondolas gliding through the canals and under the bridges, and with classical architecture lining the waterfront, Venice is like a city in its own world.

And then perhaps, I should describe Venice as simply, the City of… Venice, because there is no other city like it.

Finding My Next Meal

Hello hello! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

I have been leaving you all hanging for awhile so I guess it’s time for some updates… i.e. where I’ve been finding my meals since my last post and where I’m going to find my next meal! 

Since Dec 2014, I bade farewell to my home for the last 9 years, Melbourne…

1 of my last brunches in Melb, where I had a delish quiche at Aviv Cakes & Bakery

1 of my last brunches in Melb, where I had a delish quiche at Aviv Cakes & Bakery

Had a lovely afternoon tea at The Piggery Cafe just before I left - hope to blog about it sometime!

Also had a lovely afternoon tea at The Piggery Cafe just before I left – hope to blog about it sometime!

…and made my move back to my first home, Singapore.

Shortly after my shift to Singapore, I jetted off to Europe with my family!

Misty & mysterious Venice

Artsy Florence

Artsy Florence

Historical Rome

Historical Rome

Cosmopolitan London

Cosmopolitan London

Charming & delicious Paris which was my fave city (mainly cos' I love French cuisine!)

Romantic & delicious Paris which was my fave city (mainly cos’ I love French cuisine!)

Frankfurt where we had a day layover before our flight back

Modern yet charming Frankfurt where we explored for a day before our flight back

So we were on the other side of the world spending Christmas and New Year together. Wasn’t such a bad way to end 2014 and starting the new year!

With the first quarter of 2015 flying by us, I guess you can say I’ve finally settled into a routine back in Singapore. As for this blog, this means I’ll be doing up more reviews on the Singapore food scene which is slightly different but just as exciting as Melbourne’s!

From the local cuisine...

From the local cuisine…

...to hipster cafes...

…to hipster cafes…

...to sweet treats... Singapore has it all!

…to sweet treats… Singapore has it all!

So wow, I do have some backlog to clear eh? It’s going to be quite a challenge as I still try to fit in this blogging routine in with my new schedule so please bear with me!

Nevertheless, I hope this post is enough to whet your appetite for my upcoming posts – I’m excited to share with you all about my recent adventures so do watch this space!

Brother Baba Budan vs. Market Lane Coffee

Where’s your favourite coffee haunt in the city? Well, as far as I know, when I ask people to name the best coffee place in the city, these 2 names tend to pop up in the conversation.

So Brother Baba Budan or Market Lane Coffee – which one would be my choice of poison in the city? Let’s find out!

Brother Baba Budan

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This cafe lies in the heart of the CBD area which makes it a central place for coffee pick-ups for the working crowd and tourists.

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You can’t really miss it with its characteristic chairs hanging from the ceiling, giving off a really artistic feel. I guess this helps to add to the hippie vibe.

When Andrew and I got there, it was absolutely packed. So we decided to order takeaway coffees.

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Blends of the day

We waited for about 10minutes for our coffees and by that time, the crowd inside the cafe has cleared a little. So we decided to have a sit down to properly enjoy our coffees.

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Latte – $4. Would have preferred some coffee art but oh well! 

Verdict? Well, the coffee was all right and had a slight nuttiness, but there was a sourish aftertaste that I wasn’t a fan of. I’ve tried the Seven Seeds blend before but so far, I’ve yet to warm up to it.

But I know of others who like the blend so I guess it’s just my personal preference. Anyway, the popularity of this cafe is undeniable so it’s best to get in early or be prepared to get takeaway!

Brother Baba Budan on Urbanspoon

Market Lane Coffee

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This cafe is situated in Queen Victoria Market, making it a good perk-me-up for those who make it down to the market for some grocery-shopping!

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The setting of the cafe is minimal and sleek, making it quite a contrast to the cluttered feel at Brother Baba Budan.

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I’ve been to this cafe a few times now and the busyness of the cafe can vary – it can be really crowded during the market hours but when I got there once at 9am, it was pretty empty. Overall, the feel here is a lot more relaxed as opposed to the more upbeat momentum in the CBD area.

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Latte – $4. Love it that they do coffee art even for takeaways!

Okay, more importantly, how was the coffee? The blends at Market Lane change quite frequently so that makes it quite an interesting place to check out. I do prefer some blends more than others but overall, I would say that you are almost guaranteed a good cup every time you are there – full-bodied and smooth.

Market Lane Cafe on Urbanspoon

So I guess Market Lane would be my favourite of the 2 as I much prefer the blends at this cafe and the texture is usually smooth. However, both places do take their coffee-making seriously and I reckon you wouldn’t lose out checking out either one of them anyway, whether you are wandering in the heart of the city or doing your grocery shopping at the market!