Why do I have to go all the way to Jurong East to eat zi char, a friend asks me, referring to my recent review of an eatery there.
My job involves going all around Singapore looking for good food and snacks, but sometimes, the good stuff is just across the street.
And that is how I stumble on 51 Fiveone Degrees, a bakery right across from the office. A lunch run while working on a public holiday yielded something more interesting than chicken rice in a styrofoam box.
The place, which opened in mid-September, looks chic, and stands out from the kopitiam and sundries shops that line the bottom of that block.
I wasn't expecting much, truth be told, but was so taken by what I tried that I went back to get more.
The Orange Chiffon Cake ($10 for a 21cm cake) is light, with the right fluffy texture such cakes should have. If the orange flavour is intense, this is because Shatec-trained baker Karylan Lee, 22, whose shop
this is, uses fresh orange juice and lots of zest. Cubes of candied orange peel add to the appeal of this cake.
Among the cupcakes, the Chocolate Cream Cheese ($3.50 each) leaves an impression. The cake has a deep chocolate flavour that goes perfectly with the lightly salty cream cheese. The Salted Caramel ($3.50) is even better, with a tunnel of caramel in the core, a butter cream frosting and drizzles of salted caramel on top.
Two of the cupcakes use Earl Grey tea. Dark Grey ($3.50) is a dark chocolate cupcake with a ganache flavoured with the tea inside, and is topped with cocoa nibs. The tea is a bit lost in all of this but the nibs do help to enhance the chocolate flavour.
Lemon Grey ($3.50) has flecks of the tea leaves in the cake. Its lemon curd filling has just the right amount of tartness and is a light and lovely snack at tea time.
However, I might, instead, go with the Lemon Meringue Tart ($2.80), just because it is pretty much perfect.
I like the tartness of the curd filling, the velvety meringue that is not too sweet and best of all, a crisp, crumbly pastry shell that is not too thick.
A Chocolate version ($2.80, above right) has the requisite dark chocolate filling.
But the sunny lemon one is what I'll be back for.
51 Fiveone Degrees, Block 203, Toa Payoh North, 01-112, tel: 6526-9328, open: 11.45am to 8pm (Mondays to Fridays), closed Saturdays and Sundays
It's expensive fungi season and time to see what restaurants are doing with truffle, aside from shaving them onto plates of pasta and risotto.
One way is to incorporate it into desserts and I have enjoyed truffle ice cream at Les Amis and truffle sables from Bonta.
This year, Bonta is shaving the fungi into muffins. At $48 for four, it is expensive but not as expensive as a plate of pasta blanketed with truffle.
The flavour of the fungi wafts out when you bite into the fluffy muffin. Toast them, split and spread some butter on them before eating. It is an indulgent breakfast but go on, you deserve it.
Truffle Muffins, $48 for four, Bonta Italian Restaurant & Bar, 207 River Valley Road, 01-61 UE Square River Wing, tel: 6333-8875, open: noon to 2.30pm (daily except Saturdays) and 6.30 to 11pm (daily). Order muffins three working days in advance.
A friend of mine makes his own granola for breakfast, adding whole grains, dried fruit and even chunks of good, dark chocolate. He has this with fresh berries and soy milk, and that proper breakfast sets him up for the day, tiding him over until he can have his customary late lunch.
Making the cereal is not difficult at all, but I like to explore options sold in stores. The sugary ones I avoid, but how can I resist something called Mini Magoo's cereal?
Its Cornflakes has delicious, crispy flakes of corn but also jumbo oats, blueberries, dessicated coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds. The delicious mix is sweetened with raw agave syrup and malt extract.
What all this adds up to is a delicious breakfast. Some low fat milk softens the oats and the coconut, but if you eat it quickly enough, the nuts and seeds retain their crunch.
Mini Magoo's Organic Cereals - Cornflakes, $12.90 for a 350g packet, from Cut The Mustard, 1 Greendale Avenue, tel: 6466-9436, open: 10.30am to 7pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays), noon to 6pm (Sundays and public holidays), closed on Mondays
Marmite in a biscuit
What is it about a sticky black yeast extract that makes it so irresistible?
Marmite, spread on toast, stirred into congee, added to meat marinade, immediately gives a dish umami and depth of flavour.
Recently, while holidaying in London, I found myself buying far too many bottles of the aged version (Marmite XO) and Marmite Gold, which has gold flecks in it.
Back home, I was thrilled to find Fudges Marmite Biscuits.
The British brand makes good biscuits and these deeply savoury ones are so good.
The yeast extract has a gentler kick but it still makes its presence felt in the biscuits, shaped like jars of Marmite.
Just top each one with cheese for a quick and delicious snack.
Fudges Marmite Biscuits, $6.95 for a 150g box, from Meidi-Ya Supermarket, B1, Liang Court, tel: 6339-1111, open: 10am to 10pm daily