Saturday, December 11, 2010

Valentino Retrospective In Singapore






When I think of Valentino, I think of a beautiful breathtaking red gown. I never had the chance to meet Mr Garavani in person when I was working for the label in Singapore many years ago. However, I did meet Naomi Campbell when she was in Singapore to grace the opening of the then Paragon boutique in 2003. What was unforgettable was not just meeting Naomi (for the record, she was not a diva and was obliging), but I remembered being given the chance to touch and feel the beautiful vintage gowns that were brought in for a mini retrospective exhibition. I was trained as a fashion designer in London and it meant a lot to me to be able to see the masterpieces by Valentino up close.


Publicity photo for the exhibition in Rome, 2007.


The exhibition at Museum of the Ara Pacis, 2007.

In 2007, Valentino created an amazing retrospective exhibition in Rome to celebrate his 45 years as a couturier. Approximately 360 costumes and rare, archived materials were displayed through a spectacular display at the Museum of the Ara Pacis.

For those (that's me for one) who didn't get the chance to visit Rome during that time, will be able to see some of the rare pieces in Singapore very soon. From 22nd December 2010 to 13th February 2011, 100 exquisite haute couture pieces from the renowned Italian Maison Valentino will be displayed in a curated exhibition at Singapore’s first integrated resort, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).


The inaugural Asian exhibition “Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future” featuring 100 haute couture looks from founder Valentino Garavani’s early designs to present-day creations by current Creative Directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli (who worked alongside Mr Garavani for a decade before their appointment), is developed by Les Arts D√©coratifs of Paris and produced by Olga Iserlis, with assistance from the House of Valentino.

Sophisticated designs on display include those worn by Hollywood celebrities and members of high society around the world, such as Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor. Pieces in the exhibition highlight Valentino's intricate techniques and trademark themes of embellishments.


Julia Roberts wearing a vintage Valentino gown at the 2001 Oscars. This dress will on display at the exhibition.





The exhibition will open to the public on 22nd December, daily from 11am to 8pm (Sundays to Thursdays) and 11am to 11pm (Fridays, Saturdays, eve of public holidays and public holidays). The exhibition will also be open for extended hours 11am to 11pm (2 to 3 February 2011). Tickets are priced at S$6 for children and S$12 for adults and are available at all SISTIC outlets and RWS.

Official Sites:
www.rwsentosa.com
www.sistic.com.sg

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Best Burger Is In Town. All Hail Daniel Boulud!





I am not a fan of Marina Bay Sands (MBS). River Dance performance was disappointing, crippled with embarrassing technical breakdown halfway through the performance. Parking sucks at MBS in the evenings, and worse when there's an event taking place. The pathetic gondolas on the water channel are something I won't be caught dead in. However, the only salvation for MBS has to be the stellar line-up of restaurants. I have raved about Guy Savoy and Waku Ghin, and today marks the day that I am a burger convert and a big db fan.

All foodies rejoice. db bistro moderne by the highly acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud has opened its door to the public today. Fate has it that I was there today to dine with a fellow foodie friend of mine. To set the record straight, I pay for my own meals. I don't get invited as a media guest to do food sampling. I dined at the restaurant as someone who will pay top dollars for the food I love. That means I have the liberty to write about restaurants that I truly like.

To cut to the chase, here are the pics of the immaculate meal I had. For those who want to know more about Chef Boulud and his restos, you can easily read about it online. I shan't bore you with the details and will let the food pics do the talking.


Many great chefs such as Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay will say the key to success is to keep things simple. db bistro does it well with a simple menu offering unpretentious dishes in an easy to read format.


The devil is in the details. As a perfectionist, I appreciate subtle perfections... such as the initials on the napkin. Also on the paper of the bread bowl.


The most basic items usually are the hardest to get right. Even the simple bread here tasted good.


Amuse Bouche was goat's cheese wrapped with zucchini slice on a bed of pumpkin puree. I can eat a dozen of these but it won't be wise, considering the amount of good food that followed.


The Chop Chop Salad. I usually won't order salads as appetisers but this is a signature dish and came recommended by the wait staff. It is the dressing that maketh the salad in this case. This is will something I will order every time I dine at db bistro from now on. Yes mum, I am eating my greens.


Even though I am not a burger fan, I had to order the Original db Burger to try. If burger is a religion, I am a follower now. This is THE burger that converted me. The frites have to be the supermodel of all french fries... perfectly shaped and fried to a golden yellow. Once you tried the fries db bistro, you won't want to go near fast food fries again (those junk food are called "junk" for a reason).


Sirloin steak with frites. What you see is what you get. What you taste is what will bring you back.


As stuffed as we were, we struggled and decided that we have to try at least one dessert. With much prudence, I decided on the profiteroles. I can safely proclaim these as the best I had so far. It is definitely not your usual frozen mass produced profiteroles. This is the king of profiteroles with the hot chocolate sauce drenched over three crisp profiteroles filled with ice cream and hazelnuts (for the added crunchy contrasting texture).

It was a perfect meal. Amazing food, stylish decor, excellent service. I like the food so much that I called the resto when I got home from dinner and made a reservation for dinner again for Monday, 13th December.

me : Hi, I would like to make a reservation for Monday the 13th.
db staff : Madam, did you dine with us earlier?
me : Yes. I love it so much I can't wait to be back.
db staff : Wow. This is the first time in my career that I have a guest called up after dinner on the same day to make another reservation.
me : Thanks for remembering and appreciating the fact that I dined at your restaurant earlier.


Official Sites:
danielboulud.com (db bistro moderne Singapore is not updated on the site yet)
www.marinabaysands.com/Restaurants/DB_Bistro_Moderne.aspx (it still says "Opening Soon" on the MBS site)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Xiao Long Bao Paradise




Last night, I had dinner with my two gal pals at Paradise Dynasty at ION Orchard. Opened on 15 September 2010, Paradise Dynasty is a new casual dining concept by Paradise Group that dishes up an affordable selection of northern and southern Chinese cuisine. I was a little skeptical at first when my gal pal suggested Paradise Dynasty, as I was not impressed by its sister restaurant Taste Paradise. However, I think I might have found the best xiao long bao in Singapore.

I like the modern take on traditional Chinese decor. The restaurant offers an intimate ambience by giving you a sense of space, and not having tables placed too near one another. You know how Chinese restaurants are always noisy, but the noise level here is kept under control. Perhaps the interior designer did a great job with the sound proofing.




So, let's talk about the xiao long bao. They have 8 varieties and you have to order by half a dozen per selection. We chose foie gras and black truffles. I can safely proclaim they are the best in Singapore. Forget Ding Tai Fung or Imperial Treasure, this is much better.


Original ($6.80 / 6 pcs OR $9.80 / 10 pcs)

*original

Ginseng ($12.80 / 6 pcs OR $19.80 / 10 pcs)
*green

Foie Gras ($12.80 / 6 pcs OR $19.80 / 10 pcs)
*brown

Black Truffle ($12.80 / 6 pcs OR $19.80 / 10 pcs)
*black

Cheese ($8.80 / 6 pcs OR $13.80 / 10 pcs)

*yellow

Crab Roe ($12.80 / 6 pcs OR $19.80 / 10 pcs)

*orange

Garlic ($8.80 / 6 pcs OR $13.80 / 10 pcs)
*grey

Szechuan ($8.80 / 6 pcs OR $13.80 / 10 pcs)
*pink



Here are some of the other dishes we had...


Pork dumplings with chilli oil - must try!


Sichuan hot and sour soup


Yangzhou meatball soup


Sauteed French beans with minced pork


Souffle egg white balls stuffed with red bean and banana


Chilled aloe vera with osmanthus jelly
*The best guilt-free dessert!


Out of all the dishes we ordered, most were delicious except for the fried cod fish and stir-fry noodles that were a little tasteless. This restaurant will be my favourite joint for xiao long bao from now on. To avoid the long queues, go during off peak hours between 2.30-6.30pm.

Official Site: www.paradisegroup.com.sg

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Perfect 10 Waku Ghin



I finally found the time to check out the much talked about Waku Ghin. Chef Tetsuya Wakuda's first establishment outside of Australia opened to much acclaim in August this year, with an almost perfect ten review by local food critic Wong Ah Yoke.

Located on the "celebrity chefs" level at the Marina Bay Sands Shoppes, this exclusive restaurant that only serves 25 pax per dinner seating only has opened to mixed reviews. Most friends like it but some friends don't. So I decided to judge it for myself. Here's a pictorial entry of our amazing 10-course degustation dinner. Do note that the menu changes according to seasonal produce and fresh ingredients available, so what you might end up having may be different from what I experienced.



1st Course - Pacific Oyster from Coffin Bay, Australia

Oysters are oysters usually. Nothing special except for the size and freshness level. What made this first dish special was the rice vinegar and the chopped chives. Refreshing way to tantalise the palate.


If you do not take oysters, the chef will be able to prepare an alternative for you. My fiance was served a terrine with fresh fig.



2nd Course - Uni with Botan Shrimps, Egg Yolk and Caviar

Many would say this is the star dish and I couldn't agree more. Top marks for presentation and kudos to the chef for thinking up this combination. It looked heavy in taste with the richness of the respective ingredients, but the taste was well orchestrated, making this dish unforgettable.


3rd Course - Tachio (Belt Fish) with Endive and Nori

This dish may look less impressive, but do not be fooled but its plain presentation as it is comparable in taste with the others. The fish meat was sweet and left me wanting for more, though I can't say the same for the endive. Bits of Japanese nori (seaweed) added a nice touch in balancing the saltiness of the fish.


4th Course - Alaskan King Crab (alternative dish to replace abalone)

Raw legs of Alaskan King Crab were presented to us before chef cooked it on the teppan.


Guest chef Akira Mogi was in town to helm the teppan for 2 months and we were lucky to have him cook for us on his last day at Waku Ghin. He is the teppan general chef "maestro" from Ukai-Tei Group in Japan. I was wondering why he put a pile of sea salt on the teppan...

Then I realised he was going to steam the crab legs on top of it. It was a cooking method that I have not seen before in a teppanyaki restaurant.


The result was the most succulent crab meat I ever tasted. It was so tender that the texture is similar to imitation crab sticks.


5th Course - Canadian Lobster



The most delish lobster bisque. Fresh lobster meat cooked a la minute and a bisque made with shrimp heads/lobster heads stock.


6th Course - Cape Grim Tasmanian Beef Tenderloin

Mouth-watering tender beef with salad of watercress and mitsuna (a type of Japanese veg).


7th Course - Wagyu Beef with Fresh Wasabi, Ponzu Sauce and English Mustard

Chef Mogi started grating fresh wasabi on a grater made with shark's skin surface. Amazing, ain't it?


Don't worry, you will get double serving of this... but the men might need more than 4 morsels to feel satisfied.


We were also served grilled asparagus as a side dish to the Wagyu beef. A simple dish well done!


8th Course - Fugu Fish Soup

I will die (not literally) for this dish again. It's my first time eating Fugu fish soup. Usually, I only get to eat Fugu mirin boshi. This is the tastiest fish soup I ever had.


We then end the savoury aspect of our meal with a special tea ceremony where Chef Mogi prepared Gyokuro tea of us. Gyokuro is a special prized green tea from Kyoto and is made using the young tea leaves. For this tea, luke warm water (around 40-60 °C) is used instead of boiling water.


As a tea lover, I could really appreciate the refined taste of this Gyokuro tea. We were served only a small precious cup to taste. Very memorable.



9th Course - Beetroot Sorbet with Blood Orange Wafer

I never thought beetroot sorbet will taste so good. I mean, I never thought beetroot could be a good ingredient for making sorbet to begin with.


10th Course - Waku Ghin's Signature Lemon Cheesecake

Most of us know that Japanese cheese cakes are well known for their delicate and light tastes. This signature dessert from Waku Ghin will end your meal with a sweet ending.


Overall, Waku Ghin is a perfect ten gastronomic experience. Excellent service too! I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in search of a dining experience. I am planning to visit Waku Ghin in the next few weeks as I simply couldn't get enough of it.


Official Site: http://www.marinabaysands.com/Restaurants/Waku_Ghin.aspx

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Meeting Mr Wright





I met Mr Wright. No, not Mr Right. Wright, Ian Wright. The funny globe trekker from Discovery Channel. He is in Singapore today to promote his new show "Invite Mr Wright" that will premiere on 14th December, Tuesday at 9pm on TLC.

It takes a lot for me to wanna head out to events these days. Am perhaps a little jaded from attending launches where guests gather in a confined space, trying to stay cool despite the heat, and waiting an eternity to get a drink. The days of "to see and be seen" are clearly history for me. For the month of November, I only got my butt out for events by Tiffany, Chanel and Gucci... and to meet Ian Wright at Fullerton Hotel today.


With Canon as the sponsor, guests got to take home a photo each as a souvenir. The brand clearly lived up to its promise of "Delighting You Always" as guests were delighted.


Dressed in a maroon shirt, jeans and suspenders, Ian is larger than life. Small in size but big in humour. This Englishman can really make the crowd burst out in laughter with the way he talks. I like that fact that he is down to earth, despite his huge fame as a travel presenter.



So, what's the new show all about? Ian gave a quick run through of what we could expect from his new travel series. In short, "Invite Mr Wright" is about Ian spending a weekend experiencing a country through the eyes of his host, their family and friends. From bunking in with a Bollywood film star in India to rubbing shoulders with a radio celebrity (Venetta Lopez) in Singapore, learning the tricks from a drag queen in Malaysia to understanding the life of geishas in Japan, Ian also hanged out with a famous rock band in Sri Lanka, as well as a flamenco family and a matador in Spain.


Ian said he really enjoyed filming this series because he had more freedom to go with the flow, as he could take an off-beat and humourous look at what each city has to offer, while learning what life is really like for the locals who actually live, work and play there. I leave you now with a priceless picture of Ian in drag, taken from my crappy Blackberry camera. This is a pic that you will not find it in the press release for sure!

Remember to tune in to TLC to catch his new show!


This is Ian like you have never seen before... as a drag queen. Priceless! :)


Official Site: http://press.discovery.com/asia-pacific/tlc/programs/invite-mr-wright/