All of 2020 felt like winter to me. The uncertainty that hung over everything, the isolation.
But spring is here. Things are not back to normal yet and we cannot say the worst is behind us. But we can perhaps hope for better days.
A lovely dessert called Spring ($14), from Mad About Sucre in the Bukit Pasoh area, is a good antidote for the year we have just had, and provides fuel to tackle what is to come.
The rose wine jelly sings a sweet song of renewal and the pineapple conjures up freshness. A cashew base provides some gravitas. I cannot believe it is gluten-free, and vegan to boot.
How? It tastes excellent. I don't say that often about vegan food.
But siblings Eric and Lena Chan, who run the restaurant with another partner, always surprise me. Ms Chan creates the desserts and they are intricate and delicious.
Take Nana ($16), a striking, banana-shaped dessert that is also gluten-free.
I expect an actual banana under the coating but, instead, find light, creamy layers of coconut, banana and coffee. I cannot resist coffee in any form and the flavour stands out in this dessert.
Square Root ($14) is about the green shoots of spring poking out of the earth. Milk tea and lemongrass flavours infuse this gluten-free dessert and they are heady.
Bringing it all back down to earth is the flavour of warm, toasty hazelnuts. It is spring - the transition between winter and summer - in a forkful.
What will summer bring, I wonder.
Where: Mad About Sucre, 27 Teo Hong Road
Open: 12.30 to 5pm, 6.30 to 10pm (Wednesdays to Saturdays), 12.30 to 5pm (Sundays), closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Grilled to perfection
You know that time in the late afternoon? It's too early for dinner, too late for coffee. You're feeling peckish. A little thirsty.
That's me, running errands with my sister at Thomson Plaza.
We figure we'd have a glass of wine and some nibbles, and walk into Kingsman, an all-day bistro and bar.
The place, which opened in early March, seems to have been decorated by someone with multiple personalities.
On the tables are fake flowers and plastic animals. Near the bar, however, are large wine barrels.
Our glasses of wine take forever to arrive. I roll my eyes and write this place off. I should never be so hasty.
The wines - a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon - are pleasant and easy to like. But it is the food I will go back for.
The chef, Kelvin Yam, 51, also runs two zi char restaurants - Yam's Kitchen in Downtown East and House Of Yam in Heartland Mall - and knows what he is doing.
One bite of Fragrant Garlic Kurobuta Pork Jowl ($10.90, above) and I let out an involuntary "ooh".
The garlic and togarashi are barely there, but the pork is beautifully grilled and fire on meat results in a smoky flavour that recalls wok hei.
It is appetising. Just the thing for flagging spirits.
Rosewine Pork Belly ($11.90), marinated with red fermented beancurd, is similarly compelling. Less smoky, but it has umami in spades and a springy texture that makes eating a pleasure.
My sister attacks the Signature Salted Egg Fish Skin ($10.90) with wild abandon. Poor thing has been out of the country and has missed the salted egg revolution. I find it a tad greasy.
Then because it looks good on another table, we order Mixed Fruits Rojak With Red Jelly Fish ($13.90). Nestled among green mango, pineapple and jicama are thick pieces of said jelly fish. Everything is tossed in a piquant dressing with chunkily ground peanuts for supreme crunch.
Ooh. This time, it's voluntary.
Where: Kingsman Bistro & Bar, 01-116 Thomson Plaza, 301 Upper Thomson Road
Open: 11am to 10pm daily
While queueing to order roast meats at Sin Cuisine, located in an Ang Mo Kio coffee shop, I stare slackjawed at the long, uniform slabs of pork belly char siew hanging at the stall.
Occasionally, a drop of glaze drips onto the stainless steel rack below. I am mesmerised.
When it is my turn to order, I ask for a char siew and siew yoke combo ($15). I know I should have orderedthe $10 plate, but when I look at the roast meats, I am glad I got the larger portion.
The roast pork boasts atomically crispy and airy skin. The meat is well-seasoned too, so I don't even need the tangy chilli sauce I help myself to. Each piece is the perfect size - just thick and big enough for one satisfying mouthful.
Belly is the perfect cut for char siew because fat keeps it tender. I love how the glaze is more savoury than sweet and, above all, I live for those charred edges.
The guy who takes my order also gives me a saucer of char siew sauce. Thank you. I kick myself for not ordering rice because that sauce on rice, with a slice of char siew and a slice of cucumber, would be perfect.
The meats are charcoal-roasted and that is how they roast the chicken too. It looks unevenly brown, but I order a drumstick ($4) just to try.
The meat is tender and silky like chicken rice chicken and there isa hint of smoke in the skin.
Not bad. But trust me and just order the roast pork and char siew.
Where: Sin Cuisine, Block 531 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10
MRT: Ang Mo Kio
Open: 11am to 8pm daily
Info: Sin Cuisine's Facebook