Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Creating a Stir at The French Ladle

After having brunch at Sunset Way, the two Lions decided to explore the quiet Pandan Valley estate. They stumbled upon a nondescript French restaurant and decided to send Tuffy Lion to check the place out for dinner. Apparently, this little new restaurant (seating capacity: 6 tables!) serves honest, home-cooked French food in a cosy and casual setting suitable for large family gatherings, catch-up sessions with friends and oh yes, they do serve brunch on weekends as well. 

The French Ladle reminded Tuffy Lion of unpretentious restaurants like Bather's at Sunset Way with an inviting setting not unlike a friend's home. 

Miss Elegant Kitty doing pilates on the grass.
Ooooo look at her stretch ... ....
Meow! Follow me on the yellow brick road
to food heaven.
Simple and rustic interior with warm colours
and homely touches. 

Unpretentious set-up that beckons you in.
Sky Juice is available, just help yourself to it!
But what's French food without French Reds?!
A glass, please!
A husband-and-wife team. Husband cooks
though. Lol. This skeletal team who seamlessly
delivers the fine food is
complemented by a friend who serves and
does the PR and BD.
Ahh.... complimentary bread basket.
Tuffy Lion found the French Bordeaux
surprisingly good! Delicately tannic,
and smooth.
Escargots in Olive Oil and Parsley.
A little on the chewy side was Tuffy's
feedback to the chef. He preferred it tender and
Cream of Celeriac Soup won Tuffy over with
its subtle and earthy flavours.
Layered Cabbage and Bacon in Chicken Broth.
This was an interesting dish despite the fact that the
broth was too mild and flavour too delicate
to balance the strong taste of bacon.
This humble mashed potato in a cute mini cocotte
was highly recommended and it did not disappoint.
Texture was velvety smooth even after the single sieve.
The very popular Confit de Canard was not available
that night so Tuffy decided to indulge in the
Cassoulet of slow-cooked duck leg, pork belly and sausage.
Very hearty but according to
The French Ladle, they were toying with the idea of removing
this dish altogether as not many locals could appreciate it
and many dedicated hours of preparation goes into it.
A happy Tuffy enjoying this casual French dining
Wait! This ain't over till dessert is served!
A home-made molten chocolate cake
with a dollop of ice-cream. Pretty good!

Overall, it was a satisfying meal in a comfortable, homely environment. Food was simple, straight-forward and good. The lions believe that this new restaurant will be doing quick fine-tuning to some dishes after the feedback and they will be back for brunch and dinner (mmm coq au vin... ...) again. Service was warm and excellent. And most importantly, with no service charge and GST, prices are certainly more affordable than most casual French restaurants in town. Not bad for a local boy trying his hand at French cuisine. Oh yes and reservations are a must! It was full-house that Sunday night.

Here is our review for The French Ladle:

Food Quality: 7.0 pawprints out of 10
Ambience: 8.0 pawprints out of 10
Specials that you should try: Soup du Jour, Confit de Canard, Confit de Porc, Chou au four et au bacon

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address:

The French Ladle
2 Pandan Valley Condominium,
Singapore 597626
Tel: 6467 7505

10 Epicurean Moments in Lovely Laos

1. Numero Uno
Savour the last vertiges of colonial French influence
in a comforting loaf of French baguette
ubiquitously available
in most cafes and roadside stalls.

2. Numero Dos
Tuck into exquisite French cuisine,
fine-dining style,
at a ridiculous fraction of what you would pay
back home.
Lion's choice: Láddress Timnay
Food by a Laotian boy turned chef who cut this teeth working at
renowned France restaurants before returning triumphantly home.

 3. Numero Tres
Even though Robusta bean growing culture is more entrenched
in Asia, you can get a pretty decent cup of Arabica in 
quaint and rustic coffee joints. (above: The Little House in Vientiene)
Plus, visit a Saffron Coffee joint in Luang Prabang for a glimpse of
how authentic fair-trade coffee is helping the livelihood of farmers
who are making the switch from opium cash-crops.
 4. Numero Cuatro
A staple of the Lao people. Roll the sticky rice into
a ball with your fingers and eat it with your
accompanying dishes.
 5. Numero Cinco
Ok what exactly is Lao cusine? Is it a variation of the popular Vietnamese
or even Thai cuisine? Yes and No. Had a funky plate of their popular
papaya salad but it was drenched in pungent fish sauce unlike the sweet Thai
version. Had also the best spring rolls ever at a roadside stall in Chinatown,
Vientiene, that rivaled even the Viet variety.
Let's just say that be prepared to tuck into lotsa greens (healthy!) and
stews and dishes flavoured with refreshing herbs like mint, dill,
galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime, etc

 6. Numero Seis
Rent a bicycle and cycle to the organic Mulberry Farm
in Vang Vieng. Order a cool glass of mulberry wine or
iced mulberry tea and tuck into a crispy and addictive
plate of mulberry tempura leaves. Cuchi had two
plates to herself! Great Greedy Guts!
 7. Numero Siete
Cute Cute and Cuchi swore that they had
the best pastries and brunch here, better than even what you get
back home in the Lion City. Ok, once you get past the snob appeal of
 Le Cafe Ban Vat Sene, with their snooty service,
colonial wicker chairs and Raffles-like ambience,
the pastries are to-die-for! Cuchi had the best lemon tart and
ham-and-cheese croissant with bechamel sauce. Another
recommended atmospheric cafe in Luang Prabang
is Le Banneton selling home-made ice-creams in flavours
like roselle, pineapple, apricot peach and also gourmet breads.
8. Numero Ocho
Lao equivalent of home-made Nori Seaweed.
Freshly fried and harvested from the Mekong River
in Luang Prabang. Crispy and yummy.
 9. Numero Nueve
Silkworm poo tea at Ock Pop Tok.
Earthy and surprisingly pleasant.
Silkworm feeds on mulberry leaves,
passes them out, thereafter, their poo is collected and dried
for this experience. Purported health benefits remain

 10. Numero Diez

Hey is that pork belly? Nope. Aw Lam is a hearty
stew chockful of fresh greens and some meat
of your choice and flavoured with wood chips
infused with spices. Yes, be careful not to
swallow that!

Prescribed Caffeine at Doutor Coffee

Just the other day, Cuchi was griping about the current trend of cafes in Singapore doing away with the availability of wifi and electrical sockets for needy laptop users. So lo and behold, on a quiet Sunday morning, their keen cat senses detected the presence of both dearly missed items in the newly minted Doutor Coffee as they strolled past the cafe located at the shiny beacon of banking and commerce - Marina Bay Financial Centre.

People-watch while you work away on your lappie.
Electrical sockets are kindly available for patrons.
But do not just be a seat-warmer,
have a look at their menu that includes japanese-style
sandwiches and desserts.
But given the sweet availability of both wifi and electrical sockets that were strategically placed by window seats, how did the coffee measure up?

Cute Cute's perennial favourite: Long Black.
Cuchi adventurously reached for a
Honey Cafe au Lait.
Both coffee came in takeaway cups even for

The  Long Black was mild and pleasantly fragrant. It was a standard blend of beans by the parent company in Japan. Apparently, Douter Coffee is a proud owner of two plantations in Kona Island, Hawaii. From web sources, they choose to roast the beans via an in-house open flame method instead of hot air roasting as they believed that it best retains the flavour of the beans and gives Doutor Coffee beans their distinctive aroma and taste. Cute Cute was not sure whether his Long Black was made from pure Kona beans but it was much lighter and smoother than the usual Hawaiian Kona that he has tried locally.

Cuchi's Honey Cafe au Lait was a surprising hit even with Cute Cute. It was perfumed with a mild and subtle hint of honey and was not cloyingly sweet. The Japanese obsession with quality  has definitely paid off here; the attention to detail was impeccable. It was even apparent in the great variety of ahem... condiments on display. Gum syrup in your coffee, anyone?

This condiment set-up is reminiscent of Nippon
fast food joints like MOS Burger.
Hmm, let's see what we can glean from here...
OMG ... kawaii-esque mini capsules of
Liquid Lemon, Honey Sugar and Gum Syrup!!!
Holy Moly! What if I add all these into my coffee ..... hmmm 

The tuna sandwich with melted cheddar cheese was divine.
Portion was reasonable as well.

The milano sandwich with cured parma ham
and bologna sausage was decent but not as
tasty as the tuna sandwich.

Clean and minimalist interior
with a wall of greens to spruce things up.
Cuchi, a soup-lover, guessed that the pumpkin soup
came from instant pre-mix powder but
quite decent anyway.
A variety of imported Japanese snacks on display.

On a separate occasion,  they overheard an obasan raving about her usual order of Honey Cafe au Lait and the Mille Crepe. Yes, Doutor Coffee has a few select pastries like Mont Blanc, Pumpkin Tart, Mille Crepe, and Matcha and Red Bean Cake to tempt dessert-lovers. It's a pity that Cute Cute and Cuchi were too stuffed to try them.

Here is our review for Douter Coffee:

Food Quality: 7.0 pawprints out of 10
Coffee Quality: 7.0 pawprints out of 10
Ambience: 7.0 pawprints out of 10
Specials that you should try: Long Black, Honey au Lait, Tuna Sandwich

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address:

Douter Coffee
12 Marina Boulevard,  #01-05
Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, 
Singapore 018982

Monday, October 22, 2012

Top 10 Things to Do in Languid Laos

Hello folks! It's been a week since the Lions' intrepid expedition to the Languid Land of Laos ....
They had one of the best vacations in this little-known gem of a country,
and of course had fun hunting down that perfect cup of java
while checking out a mosaic of breath-taking sights.
Before unveiling the Top 10 Things to Do in Laos,
here's some snapshots of them
clowning around with their favourite ginger friend, Monster Cat,
before the take-off:   

You're my favourite furry pals ...

Playing and taking a swip at Cute Cute's tail
Auf Wiedersehen! Have fun travelling!
Lion's Guide to Top Ten Things to Do in Languid Laos
(according to their experiences, no order of merit)
1. Numero Uno
Taking a stroll down Vientiene's Champs-Elysees
before reaching the capital city's
Arc de Triomphe modelled after the
original in Paris.
Climb to the top for a paranomic view of the city.
2. Numero Dos
Succumb to the sybaritic pleasure of a
Traditional Lao Massage.
The lions indulged in a two-and-a-half hour spa session
at the
Papaya Spa in Vientiene.

3. Numero Tres

Ready, Steady, Go!
Take a swim or dive in Tarzan-style in a waterfall pool.
4. Numero Cuatro
Witness a time-honooured tradition not found
anywhere else in the world:
The giving of alms to saffron-clad monks
at the break of dawn.
5. Numero Cinco
Try Beer Lao and Nam Khong Beer on tap
brewed on homeground using
locally-grown barley!

6. Numero Seis 
Tube down the Namsong River in Vang Vieng
amidst an amazing limestone karst backdrop.
7. Numero Siete 
Fall under a sleepy spell
as you laze the day away
on a hammock, true laid-back Laotian style.
According to an old saying,
"The Vietnamese plant rice,
the Cambodians watch it grow
and the Lao listen to it grow.”
8. Numero Ocho
Explore and fall in love with the heady beauty of
the UNESCO heritage town, Luang Prabang,
with her lovely colonial buildings of
varying personalities.
9. Numero Nueve
Behold the most impressive caves in the region;
the rest of the insipid caves in Asia
pales in comparison to the magnificience
of these hidden wonders.
The lions were even accompanied by an
intelligent guide dog to these caves.
10. Numero Diez
Cycle to small artisan villages where
the tedious traditions of handmade arts and crafts
are heart-warmingly preserved and
passed down.
(Top: Paper-making/
Bottom: Hands-on weaving class conducted
at Oct Pop Tok)
Due to time-contraints, there are many more deserving activites that
belong on this list. Eg. Visiting the Plain of Jars, zip-lining through the
forest, enjoying the sights of coffee plantations in the Bolaven Plateau, etc.
Cute Cute and Cuchi have already planned for a repeat visit
sometime next year.