Scenario: Friends and family members have spent the last year listening to Ming rattle on about what her brother has been up to in Singapore. She enthusiastically shows them photos from the milestones of his army training and is always at least one hour early for these aforementioned events. Additionally, she lugs around her oversized camera and uses up 8GB of storage space taking a ludicrous number of photographs and posting them all over instagram and Facebook with extended captions.
Diagnosis: a bad case of proud older sister syndrome.
From the build up to Christmas, to the interlude between Christmas and New Year and to the ushering in of the New Year, food and family festivities are without a doubt abundant. With Lil’ Bro flying in and out of Singapore, I enjoyed my first mother-daughter Christmas before my entire family was reunited in its full form to call in 2015.
I thought I would round up some of my festive season highlights before 2015 really takes off!
The latest addition to my family was the star of Christmas Day 2014 and we spent most of our lunch fawning over ‘baby-talk and -giggles’. I decided to undertake the role of dessert provider and spent the week prior to Christmas looking for ‘Eton Mess’ components. My original plan to make my own meringue was short-lived due to my baking essentials being left in Sydney and I was unable to find any pre-made crispy gems on my scavenger hunt. Luckily, Mum saved the day by deciding that we should ‘redesign’ the ‘Eton Mess’ with honeycomb crunch and cream cheese ice cream to substitute the meringue and usual mascarpone/cream component – it is just a ‘mess’ of deliciousness after all!
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!
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!
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
In an unassuming corner of an old-time ‘Kopitiam’ aka Singaporean Coffee Shop usually selling local fare, there is a glass counter, commercial oven and a young entrepreneur running the show. This is the physical extent of Nicher Bakery. The reason for the simplicity of the business is ingenious; the increasing amount of cafe/restaurant competition growing in Singapore but more crucially in Tiong Bahru. You can read about the story behind this business venture here.
What I found most interesting was how such a simple concept was still able to bring so much to the foodie community. I’m not entirely sure just how many Pound Cakes and Muffins are churned out everyday, but their freshness is maintained by glad-wrapping each loaf individually before boxing them.
We resisted the temptation of buying anything after our lunch at Flock Café and quick stop off for the sell-out Tau Suan dessert stall in the iconic market, but admired how successful and original a simple idea could involve into.
With a few upcoming Christmas parties, we thought that the Pound Cakes would make the perfect presents or contributions to pot-luck! Mumma rang up the bakery on December 23 hoping that they would be open for a pick up on Christmas Eve….alas they were and a large order was put in. One of the cakes we had wanted to order was originally unavailable, but Melvin, the brains and baker behind the venture very kindly offered to bake another batch for us which would be available at the end of his working day.
So Mumma may have been slightly enthusiastic in her Pound Cake ordering….