Foodie Family Fun @ Five and Dime Eatery, Singapore

I have always loved these dining outings with my family, especially now when I the time I spend with Mama and Lil’ Bro is rather limited. It provides an opportunity to explore and experience new things together as well as share our stories, thoughts and amateur food critiques ;)!  The photo below only reinforces to me the joys that my family brings me every day.

To say that Singapore’s cafe scene has grown over the past few years would still be an understatement.

At present, there is no shortage of cafes to choose from when Western dishes or hearty breakfast fare is being craved; a far cry from a time where I remember McDonald’s being the only place we would visit to appease Lil’ Bro’s desire for ‘non-hawker’ food.  Singapore has what appears to be an infinite list of cafes making their mark across the island city in unique locations, however there are certainly a few which have stood out.

An animation to whet the appetite….

Five and Dime Eatery is another one of the consistently trending cafe/restaurants, which I had been meaning to try since its existence first surfaced on Instagram.  Unlike the typical brunch/lunch fare, Five and Dime adds a Japanese nuance to its menu.

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A Boy to Man: Basic Military Training Graduation

For the last six months I have been travelling between Sydney and Singapore, visiting my Lil’ Bro who has undergone quite a dramatic life-change; moving to Singapore (post-HSC) for National Service.  Although there was initial worry for him, in terms of adapting to such change, Lil’ Bro took the challenge with a determined and positive attitude and recently graduated from his Basic Military Training.

The final challenge of this component of his service was a 24km route march from the Training Centre to the majestic location of the Floating Platform at Marina Bay, which is surrounded by the beautiful icons of the city.  Following this gruelling but what Lil’ Bro describes as an emotional and breathtaking march, symbolic of their 10 week intensive training, the ‘recruits’ take part in their ‘Passing Out Parade’ (shortened to POP) where they are met by their family and friends.

This event was highly anticipated by my family, however my suspicions are that I was the most eager of all.  The night before the POP, I set numerous alarms to ensure that we would be able to secure front row seats for the best photo opportunities – I was out of my bed at 4.00am.  My parents and aunt were amused by my eagerness, especially when we ended up being the first to arrive at Marina Bay although I insisted that we were already arriving very late!

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Mornings with Ming: Oat Series 2014

The month of June was saturated in copious amounts of studying with specks of excitement as I made a last minute trip to Singapore to celebrate Mumma’s birthday with her and of course visit Lil’ Bro who has less than a week left before graduating from Basic Military Training!

While in Singapore there were many dinners and celebrations of which one was a wedding, thus one could infer that it was indeed a fortunate coincidence that my ‘study vacation’ was abnormally long due to the dear old exam timetabling system.

Fast forwarding through a whirlwind trip, I landed back in Sydney with the prospect of 3rd year exams looming and three weeks of study hibernation clawing me into a draining ordeal.  Only joking, it was not that dramatic but it was a tiring yet productive few weeks.

Over the past two years I have learnt the importance of fueling the brain with the right foods during this time.  Not only does it provide for a productive session but allows me to take a breath, albeit quick.  Time spent in the kitchen in the mornings before a day of study and during lunch hour somehow provides some form therapeutic relief from the technicalities of biochemistry and pharmacology.

Most mornings were filled with warming oats; eaten with pure class straight from the pot.  As they say ‘practice makes perfect’ and I found myself discovering delicious combinations and improving in the ‘art of oats’.   Given the wintery chill enveloping Sydney I would say that this breakfast staple was my survival aid and comfort.

Tips for Oat-Making Beginners

1. The amount of water you use will determine the texture that you achieve
For oats with more ‘chew’ use less liquid and for super creamy oats use more liquid
2. Cook on LOW heat i.e. cook with LOVE
Even if you use less liquid you can still achieve a creamy texture! In addition, you don’t want to burn your oats!
3. If you don’t have milk don’t stress
Using water will still produce a delicious bowl of goodness. In fact, I prefer to use water as my primary liquid and add my milk at the very end. I feel that this retains the fresh taste of the milk but of course it is all up to personal preference.
4. Add in your bananas/apples (fruit of choice) at the beginning and cook together with your oats
This allows your fruits to ‘stew’ and soften, releasing flavours into your oats. I always used to chop up my fruits as a topping, but realised how much flavour was infused via this method.
5. Toppings – anything goes!
I have always loved to add nut butters, but have recently discovered the beauty of Nutella. Lil’ Bro left many tubs behind when he headed off to Singapore so I have been trying to find easy ways of using this delicious treat (other than the obvious toast spread).
Fresh fruits are also great – save some from the fruit you cook with your oats!
Finally, to balance out the soft textures I like to add a sprinkle of granola. At the moment I am very much enjoying the new Woolworth’s Home Brand Orange Granola Clusters and Coconut Macadamia Toasted Granola.
6. Cinnamon and ginger
This warming and comforting combination of spices not only adds to the overall flavour but they also provide numerous health benefits! I always mix these in before I cook the oats.
7. Sweetness can be added in many forms
I love to use dates as a natural sweetener as they provide my digestive system with a good dose of fibre. If dates are not being craved I use honey or maple syrup. I have yet to try adding some good berry jam on top…but there’s another idea!

Favourite Combinations
1. Apple + Date + Peanut Butter
2. Banana + Honey + Nutella/Peanut Butter

Thus comes an end to Mornings with Ming and my 2014 Oat Series!  Hopefully I have not bored you all :)

I am now in the antithesis of Sydney winter and back in Singapore!  More posts to come :)

If you’re sick of looking at oats, I have provided a photo of toast hehe.

Ming xx

Winter ‘Chills': Devon Cafe

The end of semester arrived after what felt like an endless three weeks of study and exams.

Third year has definitely provided its challenges and pressure is most definitely mounting – as my Pharmacology lecturer expresses, “You guys are on the market next year”.  So, between study, more study and planning for 2015 (it seems early but as usual application deadlines and New Years will arrive with little warning!!), there has been little time for anything else!

Completing my final paper on the painfully timetabled final Saturday morning of exam period, I met one of my oldest food ‘partners-in-crime’, M for brunch on this chilly Monday.  Being my third visit to the increasingly famous Devon Cafe (Mama and I have have enjoyed both their brunch and lunch), I was eager to introduce M to this brunch haven.  We agreed that after a hectic semester, the feeling of being able to simply “chill” over winter break (excuse the pun) was more than welcome in a widespread embrace!

My insta-surveying had me eyeing the “Ultimate Toastie” special BUT to my the disappointment of my increasingly large winter appetite, I was told that this highly photographed dish is only served on Friday to Sunday!  No matter, this momentary sadness was salvaged by the prospect of trying the “Eggs Blini”; Buckwheat blini, cured king salmon, salmon caviar, broccolini, sauce Mikado and poached eggs.  Usually, ‘Benedict-type’ eggs are sometimes rather heavy, but thisdish was quite the opposite.  Eggs were poached to oozing perfection, blini was fluffy and slightly sweet and was complemented perfectly by a tangy sauce and delicious cured salmon.  Never having seen this on a cafe menu before, I thought it was rather unique and definitely something I would recommend for poached egg enthusiasts and those looking for a dish that is not the ‘run-of-the-mill’ brunch option.

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Quick Update: What I Miss Most

The first half of this semester at university has definitely taken upon itself to race full speed ahead and now I find myself embarking on my 7th week back with the prospect of Easter Break acting as my ‘pacemaker’. One more week before I can truly take a semi-break as I jet off to Singapore for a quick visit before my Lil’ Bro heads into the army!

It has been a busy start to the year, to put it simply and any food spotting or life sharing has been limited to the world of Instagram.  So…in a brief moment to breathe I thought I would make a quick visit to this space and share a little something which I always enjoy the most during my Singapore trip.

Although we eat out 99% of the time and I could rave about the Singaporean food scene for an infinite amount of time, it is the family gatherings composed of homecooked meals and sitting around a relative’s living room which I miss the most when I am back in Sydney.

On my past trip, which was longer than usual I was able to celebrate my twin Auntie and Uncle’s birthday.  My Si Yi (Auntie No. 4) is no amateur in the kitchen, preparing ‘Peng Cai’, a Chinese New Year delicacy full of culinary delights such as abalone, with each holding a significant meaning.  The birthday girl definitely deserved to be showered in affection after providing our stomachs with pure content.

Of course there was cake from our family favourite, ‘Bengawan Solo’ the makers of Nonya Kueh, what I have crowned one of the best desserts in the world…my tastebuds may be biased…
Blackforest Cake was featured as well as my newfound love, the Pandan Kaya Cake.

Until next time!

Ming xx

Traditional Local Vs. Modern Local – Chinese New Year in Singapore

Hello again from Sydney!!

The last few weeks of my stay in Singapore played out with much more haste than I had hoped for.  From Chinese New Year onwards, each day was filled to the brim with last minute but nevertheless important rendezvous, running up and down Orchard Road as I made (very) important retail decisions (hehe) and of course ensuring that I had fulfilled my cravings for the local fare. Hence the late post on my family’s Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner!

While Singapore is ever changing, there are traditional elements to it which I hope never change.  Coincidently, I had a foodie experience, which I felt to underscore this notion.

MODERN LOCAL: Pidgin Kitchen and Bar

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Rojak Round-Up

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!!  I have a celebratory post coming up soon but thought that a little local hawker fare needed to be injected into this space.

In the mean time, I hope you enjoy the post and that the Year of the Horse brings happiness, health, success and wealth in all aspects of life to you all!

Each trip to Singapore holds minimal ‘clean eats’ but maximal taste and enjoyment. Rojak is my attempt at incorporating a salad type meal into my day….but who am I kidding? It tastes too good to be true.

In regards to the ‘technicalities’ of this hawker dish, Singaporeans gravitate towards the ‘Chinese-style’ Fruit Rojak, which traditionally consists of:
• Cucumber
• Pineapple
• Bengkoang (turnip)
• Taupok (a puffy and deep-fried tofu)
• You Tiao (Asian dough-fritters)
• Chopped nuts
• Dressing – haeko (shrimp paste), sugar, chilli and lime juice

Some places like to include more unique additions:
• Raw mango
• Green apple
• Century Egg
• Cuttlefish
• Jellyfish

The typical Rojak-stall set up

All the ingredients are tossed together in the dressing, which is hopefully plentiful until the flavours of the dressing are absorbed into the more ‘neutral’ tasting dry components.
This trip, I have undertaken the tough task of deciding upon the (subjectively) Best Rojak in Singapore, so I visited three Rojak stalls which were either recommended to me or which I had discovered on previous trips.

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