Thursday, July 27, 2017

Light Years Cafe

There are some Sundays I wake up and sigh a bit, thinking about the upcoming working week and already lamenting that the weekend is ending.

But all you can do, is pop onto Instagram, see that Nat’s discovered a new cafe in Camberwell with an amazing looking menu and get excited that you’re gonna head over right there and then...or at least once you've put some pants on. 

Light Years Cafe is located on Camberwell Road, just a couple of minutes away from the busy Camberwell junction, underneath a new apartment development. The team (from what I can figure out) were behind Journeyman cafe, along with Simon Ward (ex-Hammer and Tong) who’s looking after the flavours in the kitchen. 

The cafe is simple, but elegant, with beautiful marble looking counters and simply polished concrete floors. I love the great big, sci-fi style halo lights as well, which make you feel like you’re in a spaceship. The cafe is plenty spacious - I noticed on the day I was there they had a table set up as a reservation, but not sure if that will be an ongoing thing. 

Coffee looks good (and when it’s from the people from Journeyman - you’d hope so!) and the chai is sublime. Sweet, spicy - but just too small (but that’s me drinking too quickly I suppose…)

I also got the matcha, which is supplied by Zen Wonders, whilst not quite as rich as some of my favourite matcha lattes in town, I was still impressed with the execution, good dark colour, creamy texture and the bitterness of the matcha definitely showing. 

The menu…is the biggest tease ever. I love a menu that balances comforting flavours, but new and interesting at the same time. Expect the usuals like porridge, and slow cooked beans, which Brad got with tomato sugo, Yarra Valley Persian feta and sourdough toast, which he added an egg on top of. It’s a seriously meaty serve (but funnily enough there isn’t any meat…) and perfectly warming on a wintery morning. I’m actually impressed with how deep the bowl is, you better be hungry before you tuck into this one! 

But along with the usual, are the less usual, and with a bit of an Asian slant - the vegetarian ramen reemerges (you may remember a similar dish at Hammer and Tong), and miso scrambled eggs include shiitake mushrooms and nori. There’s also a matcha waffle which looks awesome, but I just still can’t bring myself to order totally sweet flavours for breakfast…yet.

Instead, I go for the seasonal dish - the winter bowl of jerusalem artichokes with baby dutch potatoes, sweet potato, cauliflower puree, onion soubise, mushroom and chestnut soil, kale, sorrel and comte cheese - with a side of black chorizo pudding. 

Oh, I am definitely a winter girl. All of these vegetables and tubers make my tastebuds so happy with their rich earthy and generous flavours. The comte brings that comforting richness, the kale chips a bit of crisp - it’s a beautifully constructed dish that I devour far too quickly. 

We also get a side, on the recommendation of Nat, the quinoa and broccoli balls with unagi mayo. Oh my goodness, the kewpie, the benito makes it all taste like takoyaki to me and it makes me so happy, but a little confused because I expect to be eating seafood but I know in my head they’re vegetables. The exterior of the balls is so crispy and crunchy, and I just can’t get enough of these. 

I definitely want to come back for sweet potato waffle chips and Kentucky fried haloumi (!!!)…and just about everything else on the menu. Although I fear I might have to come back quick because i have no doubt this will quickly become Camberwell’s new hot spot very soon…

Light Years Cafe
132 Camberwell Road
Hawthorn East 3123

Light Years  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


How do you define breakfast? Or brunch for that matter? 

To keep it at it’s simplest, it’s the meal we eat in the morning - so what is that? 

Being in Melbourne, we are so blessed to have so many options available to us. Standard eggs and toast, if that’s all you want, pho if you feel like going Asian, and the ever growing cafe scene continues to push what we can eat at the beginning of our day. Glass cloches and scallops anyone? 

So why not tapas? 

Trust the - actually a Spaniard on the inside - Jesse Gerner (of Bomba, Andada and Green Park) to bring that idea to life, with Jesse McTavish (ex-The Kettle Black), Michael Burr, Greg McFarland and Shane Barrett. 

Housed in Hammer and Tong’s previous home, the team have teased in textures through the interiors, giving it a warm and homely feel. I particularly love the wooly throws over the back of the banquettes and the slate coloured slats on the counter, contrasted against the terracotta tile. 

The menu is broken up into price categories, with a $5, $9, $15 and $19 column - or a $35 per person chef’s menu if you just can’t decide what to put together. However, being the planner and control freak that I am, I have to DIY my menu as always. 

After a bit of consultation with the waitstaff, we opt for four $5 items, one $9 item and one $15 item, although there are so many other combinations you could easily do!

Coffees (and chais) first though! At Nomada they’re using Grounded Pleasures chai, which I had never had before. The star anise in this chai blend is intense. It’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I didn’t mind having something a little different. 

Food comes out pretty quickly after, and our table fills up with plates and colours, and I just love the visual spectacle of the whole affair. 

My cutlery (or maybe I just went at it with my fingers) quickly go to grab a Blue Eye croqueta with fennel emulsion. What else can you expect but just a beautiful creamy and rich mouthful, encased in a crispy golden crust? I’m so down for this being a breakfast item on a regular basis (but maybe not so much my hips).

The coal blistered tomatoes with sherry, herbs and manchego, finely grated over the top so it’s melting onto the hot tomatoes are sweet and juicy little mouthfuls. And so moreish. 

I’m crazy for the house cured sardines, with a nice little tang to them. Chorizo with chill powder are dense, and with a good little kick to them and playing Russian roulette with blistered Padron peppers is always good fun. We were told that this season they seemed to be particularly and more regularly hot - but Brad and I seemed to have lucked out and not been gotten a super hot one!

To round it all out - we got the cured ocean trout with fennel salad and beetroot, sweet, silky in texture and just gorgeously done. I was actually surprised as well with how generous the serving was and how full I was after all our food. 

One thing that had been on my mind when we were ordering, was how much this would all add up - or how much more we would need to spend compared to a usual brunch for the tapas experience. 

To my surprise, our bill only came to around $60, maybe $10 more than we might usually spend for a dish each and a coffee and I think for the quality and quantity of food, it’s pretty good value. 

I also have the great fortune of being invited to check out a range of their day and night offering. I’d say in the evening, it’s compulsory to get a glass (or three) of Casa Mariol, the Spanish vermouth that the Bomba/Anada team import from Spain, which is available as both a white and dark vermouth (both very good). 

I’m not sure why I didn’t order the clacked egg on burnt hay when I went for brunch with Brad, but my goodness - it’s delicious. Especially when there’s truffle involved. 

Although they do brunch really well, the guys really show they can work that dinner protein gorgeously, with pan seared quail with saltbush, market fish with prawn bisque, buttermilk and nettle and the most tender piece of lamb loin I’ve had. 

So, whether you feel like tapas for breakfast or dinner, in true Melbourne style, there’s an option for you, in the shape of Nomada. 

412 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy 3065

Nomada Cafe y Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fifteen Pounds

Anyone else been looking at property recently? Although Brad and I haven’t been completely immersed in it, we’ve been relatively active since the start of the year on the real estate websites checking out what’s around and educating ourselves on pricing.

Regardless if you or you haven’t, I’m sure we can all agree…property prices are kind of ridiculous. And Brad and I aren’t even looking at houses! We can only really afford an apartment at the moment…maybe….

In looking at property, we wound up in Fairfield one weekend, bringing mum out to look at an apartment we were relatively interested in, before trialling out the neighbourhood and grabbing brunch at a nearby cafe. 

Fifteen Pounds is somewhere I would be more than happy to end up most weekends. They were fully pumping inside, but the sun was out and we were comfortable out front. Good looking coffee, and deeply coloured and rich chai latte which I loved. 

But man, the food. The food I was surprisingly impressed by, more than I thought. It’s all the things I’m familiar with, but just bursting with flavour but also so comforting. 

Brad got the baked beans with poached eggs, which had the sweetness of the tomato but was also beautifully seasoned to have a lot of depth in flavour. Hearty, and not just one note flavour (as tomato based things can do). 

Mum and I got the mushrooms to share, with grilled, roasted, dehydrated and fresh mushrooms with pickled zucchini, poached eggs, dill, celeriac and truffle puree. 

Seriously. What magic was this? I loved the variety of mushrooms, and again, the unexpected complexity of flavour. The dehydrated mushroom was potent with umami, really raising the flavour of all the other mushrooms. It was just all so delightfully moreish. 

So we didn’t get the apartment this time around, but would it be wrong to start looking specifically for apartments around certain cafes…? 

Fifteen Pounds
21-23 Railway Place

Fifteen Pounds Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

An Easter in Singapore…and a most wonderful surprise

This is going to start sounding like an old record…but I know Easter was a while ago and I am terribly slack in getting this post up. But honestly, as much as my blog is for sharing my foodie adventures with you, it’s also a little diary and memoir for me and this particular Easter, was a pretty big deal - so I better remember it! 

It started much earlier in the year, when I was randomly brainstorming good locations for weekend trips with Brad, as I love fitting in as many trips in a year as I can. At first I hadn’t thought Singapore would be a good spot for Brad and I, because although I can eat and shop anywhere, there needs to be a little more for Brad - however, I later realised, and vocalised to Brad, that on our last Singaporean trip I had taken him to ZERO hawker centres…and I’m not sure why that happened.

So in February when I was, again, randomly looking at anniversary staycation options in April, and complaining that there wasn’t really anywhere within an hour or two drive that I wanted to go, Brad made the suggestion we go to Singapore. 

A couple of timely Scoot sale flights later…and the trip was in place! Little that I know he had other plans on his mind, but for me, I was hell bent on planning as much eating as we could possibly fit in. 

Cue our first meal - we landed at 6pm, got to our AirBnb in Tiong Bahru at roughly 7:30 (after hearing some horror stories from our Uber driver who had random guys run into his car then run away), slapped on some make up and a cute skirt (or at least I did, not so much Brad) and then caught another Uber to get to Burnt Ends for an 8:30pm booking. 

Literally the only time they could get us in as they were fully booked over Easter and closed on Friday - talk about making it work for a meal!

I’m one of those people who’s usually pretty uninterested in grill and meat oriented restaurants - but the hype around Burnt Ends is real and everyone needs to go and eat all the things. 

The restaurant, which is mostly just a seated bar facing the open kitchen, is intimate, and pretty hot - considering the grill and flaming things are right in front of you. It’s a delight watching the chefs work right in front of you, surprisingly cool and calm in the midst of all the heat and eyeballs boring into the top of their heads as they carefully balance a very generous teaspoon of caviar on top of a smoked quail egg. 

That first mouthful just awakens your senses. A delicately savoury mouthful, that is delightfully reminiscent of bacon. Yes.

Drink lots of their cocktails, we had smoked rosemary in ours - so fancy, and Brad drank ‘Fucking Hell’ - literally! 

They really don’t need to get your approval for the rump cap they’re going to grill for you, but it really is a nice lush hunk of eye candy that has you drooling over how good it’s going to be.

Jamaican chicken with lime creme is beautifully charred, decadently juicy and lively in spices and their off the menu take of beef tartare…with more caviar, and a little potato hash (or something of the sort) that’s been fried in beef fat is everything your tastebuds dream of. 

Even the vegetables are delicious - eggplant and miso is packing with umami, toast tomatoes and lard oozing with sweet juiciness, and leek with hazelnut only just poking out for air above the moat of brown butter it sits in. The last of the vegetable dishes is my favourite, with the earthiness and crunchiness of the hazelnuts really pulling the leek and the brown butter together. Lordy we need more brown butter in everything in life. 

Beef marmalade and pickles - it tasted as good as it sounds, someone should just jar the stuff. 

The belly chop with apple and raspberry was nothing I expected it to be, rather a line of pork dominoes (not quite tall enough to tip over) just lush with beautifully rendered fat. 

In writing this I’ve really just realised how much we actually ate that night. Goodness gracious what a bunch of pigs we are! Which isn’t made any better by this next item, the Burnt Ends’ Sanger, with pulled pork shoulder, cole slaw, chipotle aioli and brioche bun. Don’t order this one for your self folks, share like we did. Even in the quarter of a sanger that I had, it was almost a meal in itself really. A little bit of kick, a whole lot of pulled pork - if you’re ever dining in Singapore by yourself, this would be a really filling meal for $20.

No we’re not done yet, we’re just up to the star of the meal really. I nearly said to not bother ordering this, but how wrong could I be. Thankfully Rob and Glenn were there to point the way to seafood nirvana with the King crab in garlic brown butter. Seriously guys. We just don’t have enough brown butter in this world. I wanted to have all the forms of carbs to dunk in the sauce. This was one of my favourite dishes for the night, the king crab was lush and juicy, cut in to two inch long pieces so that they were perfect for quickly sucking out all that crabby meat goodness. 

Naturally, you need some bread to mop up the garlic brown butter. So you can order some sourdough to do that…or just a decadently oily bone marrow bun. Cause you know, our arteries weren’t crying rivers already. Garlic bread on crack yo.

Oh but where did that rump cap go? Don’t worry, it came back, but with burnt onion and more bone marrow. This meal was seriously so many of my dreams come true. Blushing pink, the rump was just gorgeous. 

Although all the meat dishes at Burnt Ends are just stupendous, the guys and gals there are also pretty handy when it comes to dessert. And after eating almost one of everything on the menu, we may as well try like 4 desserts right….right?

I love the bright flavours in the pineapple and rum sabayon (but how can you ever say no to rum in desserts?) and was unexpectedly surprised with how much I enjoyed the berry tart. The pastry was so short and crumbly, with a nice almond kind of flavour to it. 

The mint and chocolate is the perfect dessert if you really need something to freshen up the palate, the mint ice-cream is so cooling, and the chocolate on top of it actually has a bit of crunch to it, which I quite liked. 

I don’t do marshmallows often, but when I do, they better be blowtorched to high heaven like this, before a couple of petite four to actually finish our meal. Not actually sure how we fit out of the door after that. 

But yes. The hype is real, and Burnt Ends would definitely be one of my top recommendations for anyone looking to try the western style offering in Singapore. The vibe is relaxed, very Australian - there’s a lot of Aussie talent here so that’s no surprise. 

The next day, we were both up bright up and early - thanks to jet lag, so made sure we got the most out of our morning…by having breakfast over 3 hours or so. 

We started at 8am, around the corner from our AirBnb in Tiong Bahru, at Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice. We found out we were a bit too early for the famous Haianese curry rice, but were pretty darned happy to be starting our day anyway with some curry over stewed cabbage, pork (I think) and an Asian style fried egg (best way to do a fried egg) and some Singaporean style teh (tea) and coffee with condensed milk. 

We then strolled over to Tong Ah Eating House on Keong Saik Road, which is supposed to be renown for it’s crispy kaya (coconut jam) toast. 

In all honesty though, I was pretty unimpressed. The teh that I had was weak, and the crispy kaya toast, was very krispy which was great, but the kaya was really spread very thin and was a bit of a greyish colour. I’m a bit spoilt at home when mum decides to make kaya as it’s a really beautiful golden brown colour - which is what I’m looking for. 

Next stop was the Chinatown Complex Food Centre, and our first foray this trip into a hawker centre. Located on the second floor of 335 Smith Street, first floor is random clothes and trinkets, and basement is a wet market, I absolutely fell in love with this centre on my visit in December 2016. 

First the centre is huge. There’s so much food here, and there’s a delightful buzz of people, I love in particular watching seniors meet, chit chat and waste time together at the centre. 

On my last visit I had come across a coffee/tea store that I liked very much. They had a real system going on, and the lady who poured all the coffees and teas did it with such efficiency but also such grace at the same time. Called 1950s Coffee or Wu Shi Nina Dai in Chinese (the sign for the stand is all in Chinese characters), I didn’t realise it until this visit but their stall was actually recommended/endorsed by the Michelin Guide! 

And fair! My tea from them is always consistent, dark, rich, ever so slightly creamy from pulling the tea - it’s well balanced to have a strong tea flavour and not be overly sweet as well. And for $1, I can easily have 2 or 3 cups in one seating (my hips on the other hand tell me to cut back on the condensed milk….)

With our coffee and tea we also grabbed a serve of pie tee from another stand - one of my favourite snacks, but not very commonly found in Australia because it’s quite laborious to make the thin crispy shells that chopped jicama, carrots, beans etc sit in. 

By now, it’s about 10am…perfect timing to head down to Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle! 

Liao Fan’s was one of the two hawker stalls that was awarded a Michelin Star in Singapore - the actual store itself is in the Chinatown Complex Food Centre, but only opens at 10:30 and by then, there’s about a 30 plus deep line - the regulars are very loyal, keeping themselves busy in the line reading the newspaper. 

For those like me who aren’t so patient, Liao Fan has opened two more modern outlets, the first of which just opened across the road, and features air-conditioning and an automated ordering machine. But don’t worry, the prices are still ridiculously good value and the food absolutely delicious. 

I always get a sampler plate with both the juicy chicken and luscious char siu - but one of my favourite parts of the dish has to be the rich and dark soy sauce on top of the rice. So darned moreish! 

By 10:30am, I figure it’s about a good enough time to finish breakfast and do a little more traditional sight seeing to free up some space for lunch. 

We make our way over to the National Gallery of Singapore, which opened relatively recently. Home to the largest collection of Southeast Asian art, the gallery consists of two national monuments, the former Supreme Court and City Hall which are connected by a vast atrium. The buildings in themselves are beautiful, and I love how they’ve connected the two. 

But back to the fun stuff, it’s now 2pm and pouring rain. I’m getting pretty hungry. We quickly grab an Uber to Tekka Centre, which I had recently read up on, which is a hawker centre but where the Indian food is much more prominent.

Lesson learnt - go in the morning, or when it’s not pouring rain. The place was absolutely packed! But despite the crowds and the almost suffocating humidity, we managed to find a seat and got a ginormous serve of chicken biryani for around $5 from Aladdin’s Briyani Pte Ltd (said he was a Briyani specialist on his sign and he had a queue - good enough)  - with additional curry sauce - in the case it didn’t have enough flavour (what a laugh), a serve of dosa, a serve of roti (with more curry sauce) and a real good teh tarik. Look at those bubbles! 

The rest of the afternoon is spent on Orchard Road with a bit of shopping and too many Baked cheese tarts (better than Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts in Melbourne in my opinion) before I tell Brad I wouldn’t mind heading back to our apartment to rest before we head out for dinner. 

It’s now around 4:30, we’ve stumbled into our apartment (cause my legs are so darned tired) and popped on the air-con. I’m lying on a day bed and Brad comes up for a snuggle behind me and absent-mindedly strokes my hair. 

I’ve had this thing for a while, where I’ll just ask Brad what he’s thinking about - to which he usually responds “Nothing” and I’m left bemused because I don’t understand how you can’t ever be thinking of nothing. But this time, the question goes a little more like this.

Me - sleepily: “What are you thinking about?”

Brad: “…well, I’ve been thinking about this for a while…will you marry me?”

My eyes bulge out of my head briefly and I turn to look at him behind me “Wait, are you serious? Is this a joke?”

He smiles, and materialises a ring box out of his pocket (with a ring in it obviously). 

After reassuring me he’s serious, and that he accepts and loves everything about me, of course I say yes and then for the first time in our relationship, am rendered absolutely speechless. 

Upon returning home, people thought I knew, that I had an inkling. I really didn’t! In the lead up to the trip, as we had celebrated our 7 year anniversary the week before, people of course asked, and I responded saying I wasn’t expecting anything for at least 2 or 3 years! Little did I know he had been considering it since the end of last year and had actually thought even while we were planning the trip that it would be a good time to do it. 

He definitely got me there!

So instead of just having a belated dinner celebration for our anniversary, we got to celebrate our engagement at Cure that evening. 

Cure is located just down the road from Burnt Ends - really, all the trendy restaurants are on Keong Saik Rd or in close vicinity to it really, but what a contrast to Burnt Ends it is. Moody, slick and clean, Cure has a very soothing ambience to walk into, with views straight into the kitchen. 

To be totally honest, in all the excitement of the actual night and events that had transpired, I don’t have a totally clear memory of dinner that night (I think I was also a bit preoccupied with the fact that the very, very low cut dress I had opted to wear might’ve been a little too low…) but there were definitely highlights and memorable pops of flavour.

Smooth, creamy butter topped with bacon bits and served with sourdough is always a good way to start the night, followed by copious amounts of snacks obviously. Starting with a sweet corn mouthful with togarashi and saffron, which just bursts of sweetness into your mouth - the sweet corn favour is very vibrant! 

A cheesy mouthful came next, followed by chicken skin with oyster mayo dollops (I think). 

The scallop with Vietnamese dressing, coriander and yuzu made for the perfect first main dish. Served cool and refreshing, after the pops of flavours from the snacks it cleansed the palate for what was coming. 

Squid noodles with onion dashi and chicken wing, wasn’t the prettiest dish as it’s finished on your table, but the flavours were on point.

The foie gras brûlée with cinnamon and BBQ sweet corn had been one of the dishes I was most looking forward to it - and in all honesty, it surprised me with it’s flavour profile! It was far sweeter than I had expected, bruleed as promised with a caramelised top, but still smooth and luscious. The sweet corn heightened the sweetness, so vibrant and aromatic and on a whole, although it wasn’t what I expected, I enjoyed it nevertheless!

I always give Brad the heavier of the mains, because he usually ends up finishing all the savouries, while I clear space out to eat the majority of dessert. So when our menu split at the 4th course, I opted for the snapper with mussel and white asparagus, while Brad got the beef short rib, green asparagus and pomelo. 

I loved the snapper, gorgeously cooked and light, the short rib on the other hand was a stunning piece of meat, gorgeously fatty and oh so rich. 

So the little rhubarb mouthful…I don’t really remember…but the dessert following, of chocolate, pandan and coconut was more textural than I expected, and although I enjoyed the dollops of chocolate mousse and sweetness of the pandan smear…I would’ve liked more chocolate. Just quietly. 

To finish, the cutest ice-cream sandwiches, which I could’ve done with a couple more of, and little lemony, almond-y mouthfuls. 

With dinner finished at around 9pm, the night was just young - we still had celebrating to do yet! We made our way to Atlas, a new bar that had only been open for about a month when we visited, which I had read had a gin collection in the hundreds. 

Atlas Bar is located in Parkview Square, which is one of the most impressive buildings I’ve seen in Asia. Built by a Taiwanese tycoon with a love for design, despite having being built in 2002, the building is distinctly art deco in style, with many decorative flourishes and features, and not looking out of place if it was in Gotham in a Batman movie. 

And to compliment, on the inside in the lobby of the building, Atlas Bar is a designers dream. 

The place just sings of the Great Gatsby, dripping in brass, gold, bronze, every millimetre of detail carefully considered, with plush velvety furniture to add to the richness of the space. Although the bar reeks of opulence and aristocracy, the service, is anything but. 

In future visits I will make sure to book online, but we managed to squeeze in a table on this particular visit, and service was the perfect balance between friendly, warm and professional. Even though we had to wait for a little bit, Brad and I couldn’t help from craning our necks up to visually absorb the absolute splendour of the place. 

Celebratory champagne was only appropriate; Atlas specialises in both champagne and gin in particular (so it’s obviously my kind of place), followed by a couple of cocktails in the most stunning and elegant cocktail glasses I have ever set eyes and hands on. Mildly terrified I was going to constantly break something! 

I can’t remember all of the cocktails we got that night, but the ATLAS Martini, with london dry gin, ambrato vermouth, orange bitters, champagne vinegar, that Brad ordered, was definitely one of the highlights. I don’t think I’ve had a martini I’ve ever liked more. It was so beautifully balanced, served icy cold, but so floral and aromatic. For being pure alcohol - it didn’t come off like that in the palate in the slightest. I was so impressed.

But all the cocktails were an absolute delight, obviously carefully thought through, gentle on the sugars, highlighting the beautiful spirits and not letting the subtleties get over powered. We also enjoyed the Cecil Beaton, rare Australian spiced dry gin with hibiscus water, earl grey tea, baking spices, citrus and milk and the S.S Normandie - fine calvados, peach, peach liquer, almond cordial, citrus and salt.

We were also offered a tour of their gin collection, which is quite a sight - their collection even includes gins from the 1910s and 1920s - which is absolutely ridiculous to think about. The labels were so worn they had no writing left on the just about, and because they were so old, most of the bottles were around a third to half empty, with so much alcohol having had evaporated over the years. 

We also got to check out the champagne room behind the bar - which is locked with a fingerprint scanner (so James Bond, I love it!), which houses the rarest treasure of all. In 1916 there was an embargo on imports into Russia from France - but there was a Czar who loved this particular champagne. So he had some smuggled, a couple of crates of 1907 Heidsieck & Co. Monocle “Gout American” and on it’s way to him on a Swedish cargo ship which was found by the Germans, and sunk, with all it’s cargo onboard.

The champagne sunk to the bottom of the ocean, which ended up being perfect conditions to keep champagne in. Cool, dark, under pressure and so now, you could buy one of the 3 bottles available at Atlas for a cool $125,000. Or was it $250,000? Regardless, 6 digit figure. Yike!

Atlas is absolutely not an experience to be missed. It will set you back a bit - but it’s absolutely worth the experience…especially when you’re aglow with being newly engaged. 

On to day 3. We made our back to Chinatown Food Complex…because why wouldn’t you? More tea and coffee from my favourite place, where the lady who came to collect our cups later realised we were together and told Brad to make sure he looked after me in the cutest broken English, and a serve of Chee Cheong Fun, which is always on my ‘must eat’ list every time I’m back in Singapore or Malaysia. I love the smooth, slippery texture of the noodles, the hint of heat and the sweetness of the plum sauce (and whatever else it’s mixed with). It’s pure carb heaven in the morning. 

There was also a very popular store selling ‘Economy Noodle’, so it was way too hard not to get a $2 plate of beehoon fried in the biggest work I’ve ever seen. 

The great thing about Chinatown Food Complex, is that it’s also in close proximity to Maxwell Food Centre, where there are loads of well known stalls, so we naturally wandered over and lined up for Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice - made famous by none other than the rebel child of food, Anthony Bourdain. 

I think we got there at around 10am, opening time, and only had to wait around 15-20 minutes for our plate of gorgeously aromatic chicken rice. Tian Tian runs like clockwork, and despite being in a hawker centre, they’re pretty techy, where you order with a cashier who gives you your docket, then you go down to the pick up window where they are pre-filling containers of chilli sauce and a rice portioning system going on.  

It was a lot more pared back in flavour that I had expected, in the good way, letting the natural flavours of the chicken come through instead of boosting it. The rice was fluffy, the chicken was tender - happiness was had all around. 

Following the multi-course breakfast, and a quick catch up with a friend, we made our way over to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay - which I had somehow not visited in all my previous visits. 

Of course it poured rain when we got there and none of the golf buggies that can help ferry you and back from the entrance closest to the station to the conservatories were running. At least in Singapore, because it’s so humid, you just have to deal with being wet, and not cold, so we soldiered through the rain and made our way to the gigantic conservatory’s. It was actually probably better this way to the alternative which is to have to be walking through the garden at peak heat with the sun out…

There are two in the gardens, and both are definitely worth visiting, the flower dome and the cloud forest, which are very different from each other. The cloud forest is quite the eco-system, and quite a spectacular sight upon walking in, with a 35 metre tall mountain covered in all varieties of flowers. The cloud forest is home to so many varieties of orchids, which are one of my favourite flower varieties. Poor Brad had to stop just about every 10 steps so I could take a picture of something! My original love of photography came from taking photos of nature and flowers, so I was reconciling an old love in the gardens. 

Whilst the cool cloud forest showcases a particular style of flora, the flower dome in comparison does not discriminate. The conservatory has it’s gardens split up into different areas of the world, showcasing flowers and greenery from Australia to South America. 

The Van Gogh Tulip event was on as well, so the flower dome was even more awash with colour when we visited. 

After a couple of big nights of eating, we finished our day back at the Maxwell Hawker Centre, with a couple of bottles of Tiger beer, fried kuay teow, roast duck rice and poh piah, with one of the stalls blasting some Queen classics before retiring to the room with Haagen Daaz ice-cream sticks. 

Our last day was slower than all the rest. A couple of extra z’s, squishing of face into soft and fluffy pillows and squeezing each other’s hands, before we got ourselves together and headed literally to the corner of the block we were on, to Ah Chiang’s for rice porridge to warm our bellies. I had noticed it was open almost all hours during our trip, from morning until relatively late in the night, but always with people around no matter what time of day it was. 

And after having some of the porridge myself, it’s not hard to see why. The coffee and tea were dark and strong, the porridge (pretty sure I got the one with salted fish and Brad got pork) was smooth, but thick and dense as well. Delicious. Make sure to get a side of the Chinese doughnuts, and flavour your porridge with lots of pepper, ginger and chilli. 

Following breakfast, we wandered around Tiong Bahru, popping in and out of all the cute little boutiques - a couple of my favourites include Books Actually with an eclectic range of more indie books and a couple of resident cats (who didn’t like me too much) and Plain Vanilla, which tempted me with delightfully baked treats but I didn’t cave in this time.

The only thing I didn’t get to show Brad in Tiong Bahru this particular trip, was the Tiong Bahru hawker centre, as the whole centre and it’s market were under renovation. I had kind of booked our accommodation with the mindset we’d be right next to a hawker centre, but even with the local one closed, we were no more than a 15 to 20 minute walk, or a very cheap Uber, from Chinatown and all the other popular locations in Singapore. 

Having told a friend the next plans were to walk around Haji Lane, well known for a more local take on fashion and gifts, he suggested we go to Zam Zam for lunch. 

So happy to have gotten his recommendation, which has been in the neighbourhood since 1908 (?!?!?!) and serving very aromatic Indian food. Be sure to note, there is only one location, which they proudly proclaim on about 20 banners adorning the store in bright neon greens and yellows. 

As we approach, they sense quickly that we’re tourists and channel us upstairs, where there is air-con (so don’t be afraid) and table service. 

Zam Zam is famous for their murtabak roti - essentially a choice of minced meat with garlic, egg and onion wrapped up in a roti and served with curry sauce. Goddamn guys. It’s good. For around $5, the thing is ginormous, filling and incredibly delicious. There’s also a deer option, but I decide to be cheapskate and skip out on the premium protein and go with the old faithful chicken murtabak. 

We also get a serve of briyani which is much lighter than the one we had earlier in the trip with less gravy and sauce, but still totally delicious. I love the fluffiness of the rice and how much flavour they got in without making it really wet. Good teh tarik too.

From street eats to fancy feasts, we head over to Orchard to meet friends at Luke’s Oyster Bar - which is literally located inside a department store. But despite it’s slightly odd location, don’t think of it all as some tawdry mall kiosk, once you step through Luke’s doors, you’re transported somewhere else. 

Lit gently, with white table cloth, and leather banquettes, there’s definitely an essence of New York to the place, especially when I walk in on my friend ordering a burger with all those fries. 

Having just eaten, we order dessert. Warm chocolate chip cookies with a stout milkshake is so simple…but so darned good. If I could buy that milkshake in a bottle and bring it around with me everywhere… 

The key lime “pie” with toasted meringue is also well received by the table, with a soft Italian style meringue layered on to of pastry crumbs and a cool, refreshing and zesty mouthful of lime-y curd goodness. 

I was impressed with the little we had Luke’s and would love to come back for a full meal the next time I’m in town! 

By later afternoon, we were pretty pooped. We picked up our bags from where they were being held by our AirBnb host, and headed over to my Aunt’s place for dinner and chills, where we were greeted with fried chicken and chilli crab. 

Now how’s that to end a trip? 

Although at the airport, waiting for our 1am flight, we were struggling to stay awake, had a little indigestion going on, and were ready for the familiarity of our own beds, it’ll definitely be one of the most memorable Easter’s I’ve ever had. An amazing trip, so much wonderful food, catch ups with lots of friends, and the biggest confession of love one could ever hope to truly receive. What more can a girl ask for in life?