April 27, 2010

World's 50 Best Restaurants and My Trip to Jaan par André

I was really excited to be invited to the San Pelligrino's World's Best 50 Restaurants Awards tonight (am still buzzing from the high!), imagine being in the same room as all those amazing chefs and restaurateurs! The evening began with cocktails and canapes, after which we were ushered into the main gallery at Guildhall for the awards. I spotted a few chefs that I recognised but obviously didn't have the guts to go up and ask for a picture. I did snap a hazy shot of Heston though :)

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The awards started with the Breakthrough Restaurant, which is basically a restaurant that the judges think will break into the top 50 within the next few years. This was won by Marque Restaurant in Sydney. Thereafter, it was a descending countdown of the Top 50. The presenter did it pretty quickly, announcing the position, followed by the restaurant and the corresponding introduction. If the chef was around, they'd come up and collect the award. The top 10 restaurants are as follows (the full list can be found here):

#10 - Per Se (US)
# 9 - Arzak (Spain)
# 8 - Daniel (US)
# 7 - Alinea (US)
# 6 - Osteria Francescana (Italy)
# 5 - Mugaritz (Spain)
# 4 - El Cella de Can Roca (Spain)
# 3 - The Fat Duck (UK)
# 2 - El Bulli (Spain)
# 1 - Noma (Denmark)

I think the big upset this year was that El Bulli and Fat Duck have been surpassed by Noma. I had first heard about Noma during my Copenhagen trip last month. Everyone was raving about how amazing the food was, and how hard it was to get a table. Now I know why :) and this will be a place that I've gotta somehow make a pilgrimage to in the time I'm here.

I'm really proud that 2 Singaporean restaurants made it into the top 50 list this year. Iggy's of course had broke into the top 50 last year and this year, climbed 17 places up #28! This year also saw Jaan par André make a debut at #39, which is a great achievement for a relatively new (2 or 3 yr old?) restaurant! I ate there back in February and I instinctively knew that it was better than some of the Michelin-starred restaurants I had eaten at and it deserved to be recognised and given Michelin accolades when they roll into town (one day, hopefully soon). I'm so happy that Chef André Chiang's talent has been affirmed. In honour of the award, I'm finally posting up my pics of my meal at Jaan par André as I've been a lazy arse and faffing about since February.

We had the set lunch, which was a prix fixe menu where you get to pick a starter, main and dessert from a few choices. It was only S$58++ (which is like £25??) and great value for money in my opinion.

10 Evan's Bday

The food was amazing, I'd dare say the best meal I've had in Singapore and even better than some of the Michelin starred restaurants here in Europe. We were served these thin sticks of bread, as well as oven-dry roasted chicken skin (yummmm) before our meal began. I had the Gelée de Foie Gras Chaude à la Forestiere, which was a foie gras jelly topped with wild mushrooms and truffle coulis for my starter. The flavours were so intense and powerful, it left you wanting more as I ate up that small portion hungrily. And what can go wrong with foie gras and truffles right? My friend had the Panache of Fruits de Mer, which was a beautifully crafted dish that looked almost too pretty to eat!

Next I had the 36-hour roast short rib, served with truffled polenta and onion. Absolutely melt-in-your-mouth as you would expect from a slow-cooked cut of meat. Perfect texture and great flavour again. My friend had the sea bass, which was rolled up for an interesting presentation and was also perfectly cooked. For dessert, I went for the Snickers bar reconstructed, which was a ball of caramel and chocolate mousse, coated in chocolate and served with peanut sand and root beer jelly (if I don't remember wrongly!). It was a fun and creative interpretation of a classic candy bar, not to mention delicious. My friend had the lemon tart, served mini churros and grapefruit granite, which was more refreshing than mine. I think the Chef André's strengths is in his ability to bring out the natural flavours of his ingredients and to combine them in a way that enhances it manifold.

It was a great experience and I remember thinking I need to go back again some time to try the dinner menu. Since it's my birthday next week and my friends had been asking where I'd like to celebrate it, I think I have the answer! It was awesome meeting Iggy and Chef André tonight, as well as the great Daniel Boulud who's opening a new restaurant Bar Boulud here in London, and a Daniel in Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. By the end of the year, there'd be so many more new restaurants to try in Singapore. Plus Chef André will be starting his own new restaurant, can't wait! Iggy's will also be relocating to Hilton. Will have somehow get myself on a trip back in order to check out these new place!

Anyway, congrats also to Gunther's (#84) and Les Amis (#78), well done!! 4 Singaporean restaurants in  Top 100, with 2 in Top 50 (which is the same as Japan and Australia!) is not too shabby at all!

April 21, 2010

Memories of Turkey and Greece

I've been really lazy lately about posting and a busy work schedule isn't helping. I've taken to tweeting short updates but guess that's quite different from a full post. The long awaited pictures from the Turkey and Greece holiday are finally here.

I love love love Santorini! It's an amazingly gorgeous place with pastel coloured houses perched on the cliff of a caldera. Maybe because we went during off-peak season, so it wasn't chock-a-block with tourists overcrowding every single spot. It felt really peaceful and if I had more time, I'd have gladly spent it there lazing around, reading and just taking it slow. We stayed in Firastefani, the neighbouring village to the main town of Fira, which was just a short 10-15 scenic walk away. It afforded us better views and away from the hustle and bustle of Fira. Other than the main sights of blue-domed churches, pastel coloured cliff houses, the caldera and volcanic island, there are also black and red sand beaches and quaint villages dotted around the island. Oia, the village at the northern tip of the caldera was especially pretty and supposedly has the most spectacular sunsets. I say supposedly because it was pretty cloudy the day we went and while we did see the sunset, there were way too many clouds.

Another highlight of our trip was the Good Friday celebrations in the town of Pyrgos. Situated at one of the highest points on the island, the church is perched right at the top and every Easter, they re-enact the events around Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. A funeral service is held, where people from all over the island come to pay their 'respects' and subsequently, the icon symbolising Jesus is carried out of the church and brought around the village. As that takes place, the village youths set fire to cans that line the spiraling periphery of the village pathways, creating an amazing sight. The pictures below don't really do justice to the magnificent fire display.

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Let me leave you with a picture essay as a picture paints a thousand words. These are a selection of the squillion photos I took. Enjoy!

Istanbul Sights and Sounds
10 Istanbul 2010
Istanbul Details
10 Istanbul 20101

Amazing nature in Ephesus
10 Ephesus 20101

Ancient town of Ephesus & other ruins
10 Ephesus 2010

Athens Sights and Pantheon
10 Athens 2010

The amazing natural scenery in Santorini - volcano, caldera,  sunsets, blue seas and skies!
10 Santorini 20105

Cliff houses in Santorini
10 Santorini 20104

Santorini details and miscellaneous shots
10 Santorini 20103

The classic blue domed churches of Santorini
10 Santorini 20102

Cats and dogs in Greece and Turkey
10 Santorini 20101

Doors of Santorini
10 Santorini 2010
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