Monday, July 25

Hammade Homeware

I don't know about the rest of the country, but London's been having a truly beautiful and hot day today. The last seriously warm day we had (before all the rain arrived), Truffle here had the pleasure of being invited to a pop-up shop in Kingly Court in the West End. Given the weather, the media types and teenaged Continental tourists were out in force on Carnaby Street. Kingly Court is a relatively new development that seems to have landed like a space ship into the folds of Soho. Restaurants and cafés surround a courtyard on the ground floor, indie boutiques are scattered throughout the building, and there's a smart yoga studio on an upper floor.

I was at Kingly Court that warm Thursday to check out Ham, a gift and homeware brand started up by Jo Robinson (née Ham). I know Jo from school, as she was Head Girl the year before my sister Rice Krispie was. (That's right, Rice Krispie was Head Girl at my school. Her sisters' pride regarding this fact never fails to embarrass her. So I thought I'd mention it on our blog.) After school, Jo trained as a fine artist at The Ruskin School in Oxford. She then worked in marketing, before leaving last year to start up Ham.

The concept behind Ham is the capture of unexpected moments in the contented lives of a pig, a horse and a rabbit. Jo's designs have taken these moments and finished them on premium cotton, fine bone china, and foil-blocked gift cards. There is much to adorn the home, but my kitchenware antenna specifically picked up on the delightful apron, tea towels and mugs.

Monday, July 18

Cinnamon Goes to Singapore

Hello! We are back from Singapore! We went on a quick one week trip to see my parents, to vacation, to attend my 20th high school reunion and to eat lots of Singaporean food. I had my fill of Mee Pok, Satay, Kueh Pie Tee, Chwee Kueh, Mee Siam, Chilli Crab and Chicken Rice. I am now back, reminiscing about our trip.

You know, I always thought I was the one going through all the change, living in different countries, experiencing different cultures, and developing in complex ways as a person. I expected Singapore to remain the same all through these years. But it too has changed.

My first experience of change came on day 2, when Prince Charming and I left the kids at home with my parents and went to Ann Siang Hill, the trendy hot spot for bars and restaurants. There we had dinner at Cugini's - an Italian restaurant. We were very excited when we got there as the ambience was great and the place was filled with Italians! No better endorsement of restaurants than to have its ethnicity filling its tables, I say. But, we were a little disappointed with the food and the wine. The shocker of the evening came when the bill came at the end....US$350! We had even shared the appetizer and dessert!

We had a similar shocking experience when we lunched at PS Cafe on Harding Road. This time the food was five-star and the ambience hard to beat. It is set in an old colonial building surrounded by trees of dense rainforests. But, my parents waited for an hour for the table and each main course was no less than $23!! What had happened to my inexpensive Singapore!

Friday, July 15

Churros y Chocolate

Frangelico and I were at the Marylebone Summer Fayre a few weeks ago. This is an annual event along Marylebone High Street and its environs, featuring food, drink, live music, massages, indie shops, and estate agents using children as mobile advertising units by planting balloons on them. It's organised by the Howard de Walden Estate, and one could look at the Fayre either as an attempt to create a villagey feel in the area, or as a way of getting more people desirous of living in Marylebone, so that the rents can go up with the influx of demand. All about managing your assets, right?

On the food front, some of the areas' restaurants pitched a tent and presented their favourites. Many of the usual suspects doing the rounds of London's markets were there too - the paella guys, the churros girls, the hog roasts, the sausages, etc. (It's amazing how fried meat can sell.) The Arancini Brothers were there too, and Rice Krispie startled one of them by bounding up and saying: "Hi! You must be Dave!"

Here is some of what we sampled. First up, we have the ever-popular churros y chocolate. This is, I have been assured, the breakfast of champions. Deep-fried dough - crisp and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside - with sugar, cinnamon and a pot of molten chocolate to dip into.

Looks like Christmas

Sunday, July 3

A Taste of France (and India and Spain)

An American in Paris

Paris is an interesting place when it comes to food. It's harder than you might think to find something really good to eat. Like many other European cities, it too has busy people who want to feed their families quickly. Yes, there are those who take lengthy lunch breaks, but there are also those who eat plain sandwiches. And you'd be surprised by the number of teenagers who, when they're hanging out with friends and catching a movie, do a poll of the group and decide on McDo for dinner. It's not all farmers with live chickens and unpasteurised cheeses.

This makes it hard for the visitor to stumble around and find good quality food. Just like in any other city, if you don't know where you're going, you could end up somewhere less than scintillating (much less). But when you do make a find in Paris, it can be stellar. And it is this which makes treasure-hunting in the City of Light totally worth it.

On a recent trip to Paris, Frangelico and I stumbled upon Lafayette Gourmet. It was a Monday, dinner was a long way away, and the markets were closed, but we wanted to have a tapas-style pick-and-choose snack. Galleries Lafayette is a big department store in the city, located on one of the famous Parisian boulevards, Boulevard Hausmann. The brand is a familiar name in South East Asia too. (Well, it was in 1980s Singapore anyway, and that's where all the South East Asians came to shop in those days).

I'd heard a mention of a food hall in this place and we decided to investigate. We rushed along to Boulevard Hausmann, thinking: "This is Paris, the place would have shut at 5pm". As we came up to the building, we saw a sign announcing that Lafayette Gourmet would be open until 9pm. Allez, les Bleus!


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