it’s Monday, moment of silence please

A moment of silence, please, for those who never get the chance
They show up to the party, but they’re never asked to dance

– Streetlight Manifesto

Shot: Paris, France. In front of Centre Pompidou 

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I’ve got an Open Door Policy

At time of visit, 3-week old Open Door Policy was a serious charmer. Laid back wooden interior, shop house exterior charm, it was a perfect marriage of old meets new. Wine cellar-esque display, open kitchen concept, over-friendly [in a good way] service staff, I knew I was won over the moment I took my place at the table ahead of the rest of my table guests.

Nestled in my semi-corner, nursing a Pimm’s Club [cocktail of Pimm’s, citrus, cucumber, ginger beer], I had the luxury of time and space to survey the interior and I must say, I was impressed.

Modern with rustic touches through the use of brick wall effect and cork wood type storage areas, the overall effect of the interior does nothing to overwhelm but the sense of thought and spatial flow is evident in the set-up. I also love how all the table ware is already set-up and that touch of glass on every table just adds to the overall effect of communal dining.

Back to my order of Pimm’s Club, SGD17. Best cocktail I’ve had? Nope, not by a long shot but please my palette it did. Will I order it again? Yes. In all likelihood though, it’d be a bottle of white the next visit. Old habits die hard, so they say.

I’ll start with my favourite of the six starters available, the watercress soup with soft poached hen’s egg, SGD12. Admittedly, I was only drawn to it for the promise of a poached egg and was half expecting the soup to be served a la Chinese style with pork ribs and stalks of water cress boiled to soft perfection but I wasn’t let down. A thick and flavourful concoction that would turn every non-veg eater off, the soup was comfort in a spoon down to the very last mouthful. When served, make sure you break the poached egg in and stir it in well. I’d say it’s a not-to-be-missed when you pay a visit.

Another crowd pleaser, in fact, so good someone at the table ordered a second portion for his ‘dessert’ as he wanted to end the meal on a high is the steak tartare with truffle mayo and potato chip, SGD19. I’ve always been squeamish over steak tartare as I’m highly sensitive to the gamey flavour that comes with red meat but this dish was perfectly seasoned and the tartare carried a pleasantly refreshing citrus zing. The bread that accompanied the dish was well toasted and those accompanying chips, crisp perfection. And can I add, the presentation is superb. Served on a cutting board with bread stacked high on what I’ve come to identify as a receipt spike, it was a feast for the eyes before the belly.

The crispy chicken wings with curry, yoghurt and cucumber salad, SGD15, was underwhelming and we were left puzzled at what we had actually just devoured. I’d say, you can give this a miss unless you want to experience the feeling of being left underwhelmed.

So we had more than half of the available starters on the menu with the halloumi cheese with olives, white anchovies and crusty bread, SGD19, rounding off the list. I was first introduced to halloumi cheese at Artichoke and I loved how the texture had the consistency of toufu with a lightly salted flavour. So when the friend ordered the dish, I was already mentally recalling the flavours I had savoured at Artichoke and I guess expectations were set and it did not measure up to what I’ve had but good, nevertheless.

The famished and in need of satiation despite technically downing a starter each, we swiftly moved on to mains with three meats and one fish for the table. Let’s start with the only seafood on the table, the pan seared sea bass with artichoke, potatoes and rocket salad, SGD27, was well seared but again, I pretty much had an idea of what sea bass perfection was in my head and it did not meet that mark. For seabass perfection, try Ember and until I uncover another gem of a seabass dish, Ember will continue be my go-to.

Next up, the confit duck leg, puy lentils, sage and smoked bacon, SGD26, was satisfying but again, not the best I’ve had. It still is a good option given the narrow menu available.

My order of 48 hour cooked braised beef cheek with mochi potatoes, carrot puree and snow pea tendrils, SGD29, was well worth the penny and I felt a satisfied grin plaster itself on my face as I sliced and savoured each bite. Mochi potatoes, never had it, awesome. Carrot puree, too sweet, under seasoned and stood out like a sore thumb on the plate. Beef cheek, tender perfection.

Best presentation prize for mains has got to go to the pork belly with parsnip puree, braised quinoa and celery, SGD29. This dish ties with the beef cheek for best mains of the night for me. Not the best pork belly I’ve cracked my knife into but the use of quinoa and parsnip puree, brilliant. Honestly, I would give anything to dive into a plateful of quinoa right now. The bite still lingers.

Bringing on the sweets, I knew from first look at the menu that I would be having the chocolate and pistachio souffle, creme anglaise, SGD15. It’s the first time I’ve encountered a combination of its kind and let me down, it did not. Lightly fragrant and easy on the palette, I fell in love from the first dip.

According to the wait staff, the two desserts you can’t leave without were the souffle and the panna cotta and so order that we did, like obedient students in a well-disciplined class. The lime panna cotta with coconut sago, cashew nuts and mint, SGD13, was ok. Tad too complex with too many flavours which didn’t necessarily create a harmony for the palette if you ask me. I say this dish can be better refined and simplified.

Currently four weeks old, Open Door Policy is definitely getting some notice with its simple, well-executed menu. Not surprised if it continues to enjoy a full house turn out night on night. Be sure to make a reservation if you intend to venture out for a nibble.

GETTING THERE

Indulging in Fashion – Singapore Fashion Film Festival

So I spent a total of SGD$72 in a single click to indulge in my passion for fashion, an inside look at the industry I so lust after but am distant from on a professional level.

The Singapore Fashion Film Festival is the first of its kind on this tiny red dot of ours [or at least, to what I’m aware of the happenings on this island] and brings to live the world of high fashion, haute couture, ateliers and designers through a behind-the-scenes look at the industry. For an alternative weekend experience and mass media consumption, do check out the SFFF offerings.

A total of 10 documentaries are available to satiate your designer craves, my 72 bucks has gained me entry to Donatella Versace, Alexander Wang, Secret World of Haute Couture, Hermes, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. The screening venue is also off the beaten track – Sinema, Old School at Mount Sophia and Alliance Francaise Singapore.

Having caught The Day Before: for both Donatella Versace and boy wonder, Alexander Wang, I must say its well worth the ticket price as I lost myself in each short film chronicling the last 36 hours leading up to the most crucial shows for each designer/ design house. The Day Before documentary series is shot by self-professed fashion geek, Loïc Prigent, allowing full and unrestricted access to design studios, model fittings, backstage mayhem that exposes the industry and making it accessible for folks like you and I. 

Loïc Prigent also directed the miniseries Signé Chanel [which I will be catching this weekend] and the documentary Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton [which I will unfortunately be missing], both of which were previously aired on the Sundance Channel.

Singapore Fashion Film Festival

So, for a spot of fresh air and activity, run along and book your tickets here.  

So Paul’s opening in SG, guess my Parisian holiday just got extended

When I first returned from Paris, an influencer I work with told me that the famed French boulangerie Paul Bakery will open in Singapore by Christmas. With a cocked brow, I gave my best ‘do you think I’m an idiot’ look figuring she was taking me for a ride so imagine my surprise when this was confirmed by multiple other sources and eventually, having recovered from jetlagged, I googled in search for a trustworthy source and found one, I did, via The Straits Times.

According to the article, Paul Bakery will “occupy the shop space which was previously Coffee Club’s on the third floor of the mall next to Books Kinokuniya”

So why the fuss? Let me tell you.

If you’ve ever been in transit at the Dubaiairport, you’ll know Paul. I speak of Paul like we know each other intimately. In truth, Paul did see me through tough times – those long dark hours of transit between Singapore and Egypt in 2010 and the recent transit between Singapore and London, Paul’s been there for me, providing me the right amount of nourishment and sugar rush to take me through those dark hours. In Paris, before I began my marathon of an exploration at Musee de Lourve, Paul was there to help kick start my day. So you see, Paul and I, we go some way  back. [p.s. check out the line at the counter in Dubai]

Enough of the dramatics, I chuckle at whatever possessed me but here’s a gist of the origins leading to the brand that is Paul Bakery. Established in 1889 through humble origins on Rue de la Mackellerie Croix, Charlemagene Mayot started a small bakery with his wife which was eventually succeeded and named Paul when generations later the family took over a bakery belonging to the family Paul and retained the name. Interested in the history of Paul? Click through.

So what are the items that have pulled me through the darkest hours? Here’s the rundown.

Their cuppa is a life-saver, tested and proven – nothing of the weak, acidic sort of brew that many of us may have encountered at other establishments. Not the best, but definitely palatable.

I’ve heard their chocolat chaud, that’s hot chocolate for you, is a miracle in a mug but I’ve never had the good fortune of placing that molten liquid on my lips, not less my tongue. Perhaps this Christmas I’d warm up to a mug of that on this red dot of ours.

You can’t leave Paul without a pastry nor a bread – be it a loaf or in the form of a sandwich, you just can’t. If the counter does not leave you drooling, you must be a fool. To kick start our day long exploration at Musee de Lourve, the lot of us went crazy at the Paul counter and emerged triumphant with the following pastries: Pizza Royale, Quiche Lorraine, Le Grille aux Pommes and the Le Pain au Chocolat. 

Paul‘s La Quiche Lorraine is not the best I’ve tasted but hey given the other pseudo-quiches I’ve had, I’m not complaining. I definitely did wish for it to be served a spot warmer than lukewarm from having sat at the counter though.

The Pizza Royale did hit the spot with me, all that savoury goodness from fresh tomatoes, ham, enmental, enhanced with olive oil, one sound – Mmmmmmmmmm… My toes were definitely curling from the first bite. Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that take you on a gastronomic journey.

The Le Grille aux Pommes is another stunning winner. Coated with apricot glaze, this pastry was the perfect combination of crisp coat and tender, warm, fresh apples at the centre. Perfection.

The chocolate pastry rounded off our affair with Paul for the day. Crisp exterior, molten centre, sweet chocolate with a hint of bitter.. no better way to start our day at the Musee de Lourve I’d say.

So till Christmas, I’ll be dreaming of you Paul.

A Saturday in the Park

In search of some greenery and away-from-home experience? P.S. Cafe at Ann Siang Hill is one of the top picks for me.

I found myself there this weekend just past and I love the lush greenery that surrounds this little shop house. The fact that its housed in a shop house doesn’t hurt. Entry into the cafe takes you up a flight of stairs through Ann Siang Park and you almost feel like you’re shedding the bustling roads of Singapore, thrown into a peaceful wonderland before you hit the landing and are welcomed by the familiar black and white checked tiles unique to the P.S. Cafe chain.

I’m no stranger to P.S. Cafe, frequenting the outlets at Palais Renaissance and Dempsey but the Ann Siang Hill branch is unique. For one, they bar the entry of children below the age of twelve. I do not have issues with children but the ambiance sans the shrill trills of active children does make a world of a difference.

Chow wise, P.S. Cafe has never failed to satisfy and here’s a low down of the calorie-laden brunch we inhaled.

Starting with a side, the Foutine was crisp, savory comfort food created to satiate most. The shoestring fries were infused with truffle oil and were crisp perfection, good enough on their own if you ask me. Enhanced, the fries were tossed with foie gras, mixed shrooms, red wine jus and swiss cheese. We couldn’t detect the swiss cheese in the final mix but that red wine jus-foie gras-shrooms mix was lip-smacking goodness.

Having had laksa for breakfast and absolutely craving nothing but armed with an insatiable appetite, I decided to let the one with the craves do the final orders and the mains were decided as such – Breakfast Sandwich, House Bolognaise and Big Bacon & Eggs on Toast. The Bolognaise, pictured above turned out to be the charmer for me that noon.

Starting with the breakfast sandwich, it is what I would call a nourishing meal. Simple, everyday ingredients chocked full with nutrients and freshness presented on a plate for consumption. Starting with the base of a well-made croissant, a  layer of well toasted bacon starts the sandwich off. Generous slices of avocado [my favorite buttery indulgence] follows and is topped with beautiful ripe slices of tomatoes, leafy green spinach and perfectly blanched asparagus. Another layer of bacon tops the greens and is followed by one of my favorite proteins – eggs, the yolk still runny. The sandwich is then finished with melted gruyere and the sandwich is toasted before service. A mess on the plate and in the hands but a symphony in the mouth.

The house bolognaise is comfort food plus. We’ve all had our fair share of pseudo-bolognaise where the tomato sauce is weak and bland, leaving little appetite to stomach yet another forkful. Well this tomato sauce is at the opposite end of the league. Rich, flavorful, sweet even with generous chunks of ground beef and bacon, leaving you craving for the next forkful. The spaghetti is well-tossed and every strand of the pasta was well-coated in the bolognaise. The flavor of this comfort dish was further enhanced with generous shavings of parmesan and topped with crispy basil leaves. This is one dish I would definitely return for brunch, lunch or dinner just for a pick-me-up.

Our little savory dig-in is wrapped with the big bacon & eggs on toast combo, your typical breakfast find. The elements I really loved were the smoked bacon and pesto button mushrooms, but again, I’m a HUGE fan of pesto so take my word with a pinch of salt. Every element on the plate gelled seamlessly together and made for what I would call a breakfast of satisfaction.

No meal is complete without dessert where I’m concerned and since my introduction to lemon based desserts in London, courtesy of Gordon Ramsay, I’m on the search for the best lemon desserts in the +65. So with no hesitation, I declared my desire for the steamed lemon cake. This was faced with mixed reviews at our table. I loved the citrus flavor that permeated the lemon custard sauce the steamed cake was bathed in and did not like so much the vanilla bean ice cream that topped the cake as it was a tad too creamy for my liking. My pals on the other hand loved the ice cream that topped the dessert and one of them found the lemon custard a tad too tart for her palette. As with everything, it is subjected to personal preference.

Sorbet was craved at the table but denied due to unavailability and we were sorely disappointed but not disheartened with an order of the burnt peach ice cream, a special on the day of visit. Again, I have issues with anything too creamy so this dessert does not get top marks from me as I found it somewhat cloying and far from refreshing which was what I was craving from that missing sorbet order. What I did love was the infusion of the burnt flavor via the caramel crisp that accompanies this dessert.

So if you’re craving some good chow and a little taste of the great outdoors without actually being outdoors, do head on down to P.S. Cafe at Ann Siang Hill for a retreat you will not regret. I couldn’t help but snap a few pictures under the vines after, I’m sure you would too!

MISSION

“Everything I buy is vintage and smells funny. Maybe that’s why I don’t have a boyfriend.” – Lucy Liu

Can’t refute that in relation to the self.

I’ve now made it a personal mission to visit vintage stores in every city I visit. Uncover, discover, share.

Next stop, Hong Kong. I’ll be tearing your streets apart in search of my desire.

+++

“What I really love about them… is the fact that they contain someone’s personal history…I find myself wondering about their lives. I can never look at a garment… without thinking about the woman who owned it. How old was she? Did she work? Was she married? Was she happy?… I look at these exquisite shoes, and I imagine the woman who owned them rising out of them or kissing someone…I look at a little hat like this, I lift up the veil, and I try to imagine the face beneath it… When you buy a piece of vintage clothing you’re not just buying the fabric and thread – you’re buying a piece of someone’s past.” 

– Isabel WolffA Vintage Affair

Scenes from our Apartment in Paris

So its been what three long weeks since the return but I’m still playing catch-up. Remember the post on apartment hunting in Paris? Well here’s the follow-up – scenes from our stay. A very enjoyable stay I must add. Note tho – The French do not cater to the tall. And I’m no giantess, I stand at a mere 170m at best.

Through the doorway, the kitchen greets you. Simple, clean and functional. What more can one ask for? Well, the fact that I’m no genius in the kitchen compounds the lack of attention to details.

Leaving the kitchen, our quaint and cosy little dining area doubled up as a ‘dumping’ ground of sorts for our purchased loot, brochures, maps and pocket change, only serving its true purpose on the last day of our stay when we decided to have a dine-in night. That’s a story in itself for another day.

On the immediate left is sleeping quarter #1 – a sleeping bed catered for two [bottom left of picture]. Stacked atop, on the loft accessible via a short flight of stairs at the foot of the sofa bed is the ‘master bedroom’ that also sleeps two. I loved the layout of the studio and from night #1, I could see myself living in this particular apartment should I relocate to Paris.

At the foot of the bed, a deck overlooking the kitchen sits. A perfect area for a lounge chair, book in hand, hot chocolate on ‘stool doubled as table’ moments. As you can tell, I see the space as living quarters of my own already.

As mentioned in my original post, renting apartments is the way to go if you’re fretting over accommodation costs in Europe. You get value for your money living quarters, conditions and amenities miles better than most hotels, bed & breakfast and hostels you may find AND above all, it’s a home away from home, your chance to live like a local.

That’s me the giantess signing off for now. Details on our apartment on Rue Chapon can be found here. If you’re sweating buckets over accommodation across Europe, Halldis is a trusted partner and you can rest easy booking through them. I took that risk and found a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so take that plunge, I’m positive there is no room for regrets.

Who’s a curious cat?

So according to The NY Times Personality Quiz, I’m CULTURE CURIOUS

Through their lens, my DNA trait can be described as..

Your motto in life is work hard, play hard, and your sharp mind and fun-loving nature is what makes it work for you. Your jubilant character with that slight rebellious streak makes you an exciting person to be around. When all is said and done, you are a bit of an intellect with a tendency to do a spot of soul searching from time to time.

You’re sophisticated and inquisitive with a real passion for art and culture. You pride yourself on being an early adopter of the latest music and films and always like to have a good book on the go. Your ability to bring together very diverse and even dissenting opinions is rooted in your appreciation for all points of view. You believe in immersing yourself in interesting experiences that make you look at people, places and opportunities from new angles. Being sensitive and creative you want to feel connected to the world around you and actively seek out opportunities to explore it. It’s all about broadening your horizons and living life to the full. Anything else would not fulfill your curious nature. You’ll love the list of The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made, the Critics’ Picks and Arts Beat.

Strangely enough, I do believe this does sum me up. Go ahead, give it a shot. Curious cat signing out. meowrrrr.