Singapore seems to be a great food and drink city. In all honesty we didn’t have enough time to explore it thoroughly. I didn’t chance to have much of the famous street food, as our time was limited and it is a lot to navigate between lots of allergies and finding something for a vegetarian…. But we had some great times nonetheless. Singapore is so unlike Bali in its food culture. Aside from being cosmopolitan and highly stylized, people here actually go out to eat as a fun and social activity, often late into the night. As I believe I mentioned before, the restaurants in Bali are mostly for expats, and at the local warungs eating is done mostly in quiet solitude, and seems to really be a lot more about fuel than pleasure. This breaks my heart a little bit, as it is like a personal artistic starvation here! In contrast, Singapore has four mealtimes according to our hotel concierge. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Supper- a late night meal after your night on the town is winding down. Much more my speed.
The first night we arrived we decided to just walk around the neighborhood where our hotel was. The streets were alive with people gnawing on giant crab legs, crowding tea houses and drink establishments, and slurping big bowls of broth and noodles. From my observation, the food here is a mix of everything. There are just so many influences throughout history, and a natural fusion cuisine seems to have occurred. Fish and chips appears right next to nasi goreng (Indonesian style fried rice).
That first night, we wound up at Raffles, which Colette likes to call colonialist Disney Land. It is everything you would expect from a tropical hotel that the British colonial governors and the Dutch East India Company used to stay in. Right down to the hindi doormen in white linen and red turbins, this is the authentic image of what colonial life was like for the rich colonist. We later found out that Raffles Hotel is the origin of the Singapore Sling, the original girly drink. After drinking about 8 or 9 of these over a long weekend, I concluded that it is a fruity, gross, abomination. But somehow, you just can’t stop. So anyway, if you are curious, here is the recipe, though I would probably add a lot less fruit, skip the fake cherry, and add more liquor. This cocktail was originally decided to hide the sinister flavor of Gin from the tender ladies, but I on the other hand, like to let my gin show through. Try it out….
The Original Singapore Sling:
1 1/2 Oz. Gin
1/2 Oz Cherry Brandy
1/2 Oz Cointreau
1/2 Oz Benedictine
4 Oz Fresh Squeezed Pineapple Juice
1/2 Oz. Lime Juice
1/3 Oz. Grenadine
Few Dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake with ice, strain, garnish (or don’t) with a maraschino cherry and slice of pineapple. Drink with a background of palm trees, the relics of the sweeping tide of colonialism, and roasted peanuts.
So, the next night we had reservations at Iggy’s, Miele guide’s no.2 Restaurant in Asia, also in San Pelligrino’s list of 50 best restaurants in the world. I’m not sure I would put it on that list, but it was a fantastic meal regardless, and they let us return a $125 bottle of wine just because we didn’t like it. The finest course was a potato course paired with Australian truffles, which are as good as any french ones I have tasted, shhh. The chef refused to make a meal without at least a touch of dairy, so this course also had some Epoisses cheese on it which I mostly avoided to save my tender stomach. The other highlight for me was a dish of bone cold homemade cappellini noodles with quinoa, hanohojiso flowers, tomato gelee, and something like a ponzu sauce. A dessert of pureed pumpkin, candied pumpkin seeds, pumpkin tuiles, coconut cream, and aged balsamic with a healthy dose of sea salt was also remarkably good.
The next night we went to one of Singapore’s number one vegetarian restaurants, Original Sin. The wine was excellent, I will conceed that. I had some typical pasta, which was good, but most of the dishes were cheese bombs, and the service was worse than Bali, which takes effort. There was no chef in the kitchen, unsurprisingly. The more classic Singapore style restaurants we really wanted to go to were booked up because of the National Day in Singapore, so we will have to do that next time. Most of all it was great to have wine again. It has a 200% sales tax in Bali, so a bottle of yellow tail comes to around $50. As a lover of wine, I am really missing it with my whole heart.
Other simple, but notable highlights: really yummy ginger-cinnamon-cardamom iced kopi-0 (black coffee in singapore speech), incredible dosas in little india and then pretty awesome ones again in the singapore airport- which has a better food selection than most neighborhoods in america, apero hour at the hotel- all the weird fusion snacks and singapore slings you could desire, repeatedly seeing menus featuring shark fin and birds nest…. Well, that is all until next time when I write on going to Bedugal and Lovina back in Bali. Oh, and here is a link to the plethora of floral picture from the botanical gardens in singapore: http://www.flickr.com/photos/neal-neal/ Enjoy, N