Brixton * London

Returning to London after 7 years was very exhilarating. At first it felt a little unfamiliar, but walking along the big roads and little cobbled stoned streets made me feel like I was back in my second-home once again. My 3 years in London was probably not as well spent as I wish it was. The traveler in me hadn’t fully developed at that time. So this was my attempt of a sort-of redemption for all the regrets I had for so long.

I chose a bedroom in a nice little apartment in Brixton as my home for my 5-day trip. I am ashamed to say I had never been to Brixton. I’m not sure if it is as fun as it is today. The cafe and bistro scene was not as prominent when I was living there, so maybe I shouldn’t be as regretful as I was. But I’m so glad I chose Brixton as my home base! So full of life and filled with people from different walks of life, I enjoyed myself thoroughly being there.

Here are a few places I recommend visiting if you’re in the area!

F.MONDAYS COFFEE
Great coffee with a simple food menu, I’m not surprised I always see it almost full with customers every time I pass by in the bus. As silly as it sounds, honey and jam on toast was such a revelation! F.Mondays is a few stops from Brixton Station but if you fancy a walk, it’s probably about 15 – 20 minutes.

BRIXTON VILLAGE & MARKET ROW
Best to come here Wednesdays – Sundays, because some of the must-go shops are closed on the other days. A great place with a great atmosphere to hang out half a day. Remember to bring a good sum of money especially if you love beautiful homeware at affordable prices! Falcon Enamelware galore!

Some of the establishments I highly recommend:
Federation Coffee
Another space for well made coffee and the most delicious polenta loaf cake I’ve ever had. So good, I had 2 slices.
Rachel & Malika’s
A shop which sells an eclectic mix of knick knacks from all over the world, including bags from Colombia.
Cornercopia Homestore
A cozy little shop that sells vintage/vintage-esque kitchenware and homeware.
Could have spent more money here if it were not the last day and I ran out of money.
Honest Burgers
Delicious burgers. Period.
I ordered the vegetarian burger and a side of delicious onion rings. The good food with interesting company in the form of my good friend Ray, made for a fantastic dinner.

Also Look out for their special weekend flea markets on their website.

There are many other things to check out in Brixton including Pop Brixton – Made out of containers that house different little F&B establishments, it is bustling in the evening when the space comes to life. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s a nice spot to hang out with a pint of beer and soak in the atmosphere. Do also look into the varies grocers to find a wide variety of locally grown produce or other locally made goods like bottled honeys to take home! You won’t be disappointed.

While I have always loved the East side of London the most, Brixton in the South has stolen my heart as well.
Hope you enjoy Brixton as much as I did!

Cherry Pie

With cherries in season, it felt a must to me, to make a delicious pie with gloriously sweet cherries. And taking advantage of the fact that cherries were so cheap and readily available everywhere in the Netherlands, I bought two kilos worth. Maybe a little bit of a overkill, but popping in cherries while I was baking made the whole process even more enjoyable!

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I had been waiting to try out this cherry pie recipe by Yossy Arefi on the Herriot Grace blog and this was the perfect chance. The pie crust was simple to make! I had to make a reduction of the water in the recipe if not it would have been too watery to handle. I suggest adding water bit by bit until the consistency of the dough is to your liking. In my opinion, as long as it comes together well and the dough is firm , it should be fine. If I’m not wrong I used 1/2 or slightly less than what was required.

The pie came out so yummy! So if you have the chance to get your hands on some cherries, you must make it!
Happy Baking!

Recipe by Yossy Arefi
INGREDIENTS

CRUST adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
    • (171g) 1&2/3 cups all purpose flour
    • (171g) 1&2/3 cups rye flour
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • (226g) 16 Tablespoons (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2’’ pieces
    • (120ml) 1/2 – 2/3 cup ice water (I suggest a reduction)
    • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
FILLING
    • (1.2kg) 5 cups pitted sweet cherries, about 2 ½ lbs
    • (134g) 2/3 cup sugar
    • (40-50g) 4-5 tablespoons flour
    • juice and zest of one lemon
    • seeds from 1 vanilla bean
TOPPING
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A few teaspoons of coarse sugar such as turbinado or light demerara

METHOD
CRUST

    1. 1. In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt and sugar together. Add in the butter and quickly rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers. You want the butter to break up into small pieces ranging from the size of peas to lima beans.
    2. 2. Combine the water and apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup. Make a well in the flour/butter mixture and slowly stream ½ cup of water into the dough while mixing gently. Mix until the water is evenly distributed and the dough holds together when you squeeze it. It may look dry, and that’s okay, just as long as it holds together when you squeeze it. If it is too dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time.
    3. 3. Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, gather the wrap tightly around the dough and refrigerate it for at least an hour, or overnight.
    4. 4. After it has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it onto a lightly floured board. Pat the dough into a rough square, then roll it into an 8” x 11” rectangle. The dough will be a bit rough and crumbly and that’s okay! With the long side of the dough facing you, gently fold the dough into thirds. Then turn the dough so the seam is at the top and parallel to your body. Repeat this process 2 more times then divide the dough in half and wrap the each piece in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before using. I always chill my dough overnight before using it.
FILLING
    1. In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest and vanilla bean seeds into the sugar, then add the rest of the ingredients and toss gently to combine. Start with four tablespoons of flour and If the mixture looks extremely juicy, add in the extra tablespoon of flour.
TO ASSEMBLE & BAKE
  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC
  2. 1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough into a 12” (rough) circle about 1/8” thick and place it into a 9 or 10 inch pie pan. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the pie. Prepare the filling while the dough chills.
  3. 2. Fill the chilled pie shell with the cherry mixture and roll out the second crust. Top the pie with the second crust, trim the edges, then crimp the edges and cut a few vents. Alternately, you can cut the second crust into strips and weave a lattice top.
  4. 3. Slide the whole pie into the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes before you bake it to firm up the crust. When you are ready to bake, carefully and gently brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkle with a healthy dose of coarse sugar.
  5. 4. Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes on the lowest rack of your oven, then lower the oven temp to 375º and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble. Cool completely before serving.

FIG TOASTS WITH BUTTERED HONEY

Fig, Thyme & Honey

When I saw the photo of this dish on the cover of Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady, I knew I had to try making it myself. Anything with fresh figs is very appealing to me because it is, to me, considered a very rare and not to mention, very expensive fruit. Being able to get my hands on fresh figs on the first day of my trip here was like finding gold… which may sound pretty sad to alot of people out there… but when a small box of 4 figs cost 12 Singapore dollars in the supermarket… the rush of buying 4 for 2 Euros is electrifying. A little over the top emotionally, but I speak the sacred truth. lol.

So if you get to lay your hands on a fig or two, you should definitely make this dish as well. It’s sweet and savoury at the same time and the taste is out-of-this-world good. Plus, very easy to make. So no excuses on not having the thyme to do it. hurhurhur. Sorry, I had to.

FIG TOASTS WITH BUTTERED HONEY
Serves 4

2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Sprigs Thyme, or 1 or sprig rosemary, plus more for garnish
3 Tablespoons HOney
Flaky Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
6 to 8 Slices of Sturdy Grain Bread
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for Drizzling
4 to 6 Fresh Figs
Stilton to serve (optional)

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the thyme. Once the butter is fluid, pour in the honey. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook, swirling the pot often until combined and bubbling thickly, 1 to 2 minutes. Set asisde.

While the honey and butter are simmering, grill or toast the bread, with a few drops of olive oil brushed on each side. Slice the figs thickly and arrange in mosaics upon the toasts. Use an offset spatula or the side of the blunt knife to squish the figs into the toasts, so that the flesh spreads and softens.

Pluck the herbs from the honey and discard. Drip the syrup onto the figs from a height, twirling and circling the spoon so that the oney falls in sweeping arabesques. Season the toasts with more salt and pepper and a few fresh herb leaves. Serve right away, alone or met with a wedge of stilton at the table.

ENJOY!

Fig, Thyme & Honey

Bagels, Doughnuts & Me

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I finally feel my creative juices flowing again. Recently, or actually, just yesterday, I passed on my managerial duties to someone whom I know would be far more suited for that role than me… during this current point in time. I’m still the boss of M&M but I’m taking a back seat and going back to the things that I really like doing… the fun stuff… like amateur styling, taking photos, teaching and events. I am very grateful for the notoriety M&M has been gaining, however the more customers we have, the more stressed I get. I’m too emotional, too sensitive, too much of a people pleaser (One bad review can have me cry one bucket of tears… people can be so mean) which are traits that make me dreadful at running a business.

So in celebration of my new “freedom”, I made bagels and doughnuts – which will be new classes for July and August! Nothing beats soft fluffy freshly made doughnuts, not even you Krispy Kreme! Damn you and your delicious original glaze! Mmmmmm…..

Sorry I digress…

Anyways do look out for the class schedule on the Maple & Market website soon! I will be also working on cake classes too, so look out for those too! :) In the meantime, have a wonderful week!
xx

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BINCHO

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I had truly cultivated a love for yakitori when I was staying in Tokyo for awhile. My Japanese Godfather had a favourite yakitori-ya where he’d have a meal at, at least once a week. When I was there, we’d drop by twice a week. We’d sit at the counter while he’d chat with the boss. They spoke really fast, occasionally asking for my opinion…most probably out of courtesy. I didn’t mind being left alone to watch the variety programmes showing on the tiny TV in the corner, eating good food and sipping on a big glass of Calpis High. Bliss.

When I came back to Singapore, I couldn’t find any yakitori restaurant that was as good as the one in Tokyo. Friends didn’t know. Even google couldn’t help. So for the longest time, I gave up the notion that I would be able to savour tasty yakitori outside of Japan….

until a month ago…

I got an invitation to a food tasting at BINCHO.

Maybe this sounds quite ungrateful, but I’m quite picky about the food tastings I attend because I’m quite wary of being bamboozled into writing a nice post about food I don’t really like. Shamed to say it has happened before, but now I tell myself, if I’m not gushing about it to my friends and family, then it really isn’t worth writing about. *2 & counting…*

The email said Yaki Tori and that peaked my interest immediately. A potentially good Yaki Tori restaurant in Singapore? NA NI ?! I nearly didn’t make it cause I was stuck at the shop covered in cake flour... But thank God I did, for I would have nearly missed out on a really decadent meal.

Because I’m not very good at writing and would not wish you to sit through horrible (vocab-wise) descriptions of the food and the space, I’m sharing my evening with you through photos and short-but-sweet comments below.

bincho-2-18The front entrance at the back.

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Front bar.

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Back dining area.

bincho-2-15Front row seats.
Chef Masashi has been in Singapore for more than 10 years so don’t be shy to have a conversation with him while he prepares your dish for you.

bincho-2Assorted Appetizer
The chicken pate was quite divine.

bincho-2-2Assorted Sashimi
Hello super fresh Uni.

bincho-2-3Hokkaido Tofu
For the Tofu fanatic. Must eat with the ginger and spring onions on the side.

bincho-2-11Momotaro Tomato
Sweeeeettt little tomato…..didn’t even need the drizzle.

bincho-2-10Spare Parts
Not for the feint of heart. If I remember correctly, the heart, liver and oh the cockerel’s comb. The comb gave me a little bit of the eeby jeebies, but I got to try it just once.

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bincho-2-9Yaki Tori Shio | Tare
Chicken. A lot of tasty tasty chicken.

bincho-2-8Grilled Vegetables Platter
Beautifully grilled vegetables – a refreshing bite from all the meaty disposition.

bincho-2-6Lamb
I chew the meat of the bone like a ravenous lion. You can choose wagyu beef if you’d prefer that.

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Tsukune & Egg Yolk
Only had one chance to take that photo with the yolk on top of the tsukune. Made of meat from the chicken’s neck, it’s tender and juicy. This probably doesn’t sound very appetizing, but there isn’t much meat on a chicken’s neck so you can imagine how many chickens it took to make that one piece of meat…… #meatloversonly #carnivores

bincho-2-13Simmer Kurobuta Don
After all the meat, it was hard to take more than one mouthful of the kurobuta don, which was very unfair to the dish. If you’re chuffed like me, must have the rice and meat with the broth to make it a good mouthful.

Best part of any meal for me
DESSERT!!! RAWWRRR!!

 

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Amao Strawberry | Green Tea Ice Cream
You know how I feel about Japanese strawberries! And Green Tea Ice Cream…. Pshh. Obviously I LOVE THEM ALL. :)

The following dishes were from two set menus I got the privilege to nom on!

FUJI $80 | BINCHO $120

I know you’re probably thinking, HOLY CRAP, that’s expensive. But Yaki Tori is expensive, both in and out of Japan. If dinner is too pricy for you, you can consider having lunch instead. Their lunch menu is pretty affordable and very very good. They share their space with Hua Bee Coffee Shop which sells  meepok. So if you’re going in a group, there’s an option of casual or finer dining!

Another post on that soon!

BINCHO
78 Moh Guan Terrace
#01-19
Singapore 162078

xx

Picnic In The Park

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This past weekend, L and I had our first picnic at Fort Canning Park. Besides the scotching sun and the infestation of mosquitos and ants, we had an enjoyable time. You know what they say, it’s the company that counts…

picnic-6649Ok… and the food too.. I made mac & cheese, cheese on toast, roasted vegetable salad and egg-mayo salad with bacon bits! Cheated a little and bought a slice of chocolate cake from Food For Thought nearby. :)

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I finally got to use the vintage food carrier that I had inherited from my dear Grandmother. It even still has “YAP” which is my grandma’s maiden family name, that she would write on everything she owned! When she passed, it was a good thing I took home most of her prized kitchen accessories before my aunt could throw them all away. I miss her and her Peranakan cooking. :)

The basket, I bought from Tokyo and the drinking glasses are from Plain Vanilla.

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From this experience, I learned that I need better planning in terms of location and what things to bring. I looking forward to having a another and hopefully better, picnic! Anyone have any suggestion on good picnic spots in Singapore? Please share!

Happy Weekend ahead, my fellow Wanderlusters! xx

Asari

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clams-6167Every time I make this dish. I never remember the proportion of wine to stock. I just keep tasting and tasting till I get it right. Nowadays when I read recipes, I just take note of the ingredients and not really pay much attention to the portioning. Of course, it’s always a better idea to at least read through the recipe thoroughly, once. One strand of saffron is powerful enough, you don’t need to put the whole lot like it’s parsley. *awkward laugh* Lessons learnt the hard way are always the most effective. :)

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Drunken Clams
Fry clams in butter, red chilli slices and garlic. Pour in chicken stock, white wine and water. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down lower. Add pepper and parsley. After simmering for awhile, turn off the heat completely. & that’s that!

I like to eat it with spaghetti or bread. I don’t know if it’s the wine, but this dish always makes me feel so happy. haha.

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Bento with Love

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The best way to tell anyone that you love them… is always through food.

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Mentaiko, Rocket, Avocado, Seaweed on Steamed Rice – a combination I fell in love with during one of the best meals I had in Tokyo. Because it can be served cold, it’s a great dish to make into a bento! And if you’re wondering, I got the bento box from the household section of Siam Paragon departmental store in BKK. 😀

Breakfast

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The Most Important Meal Of The Day

My first an all-day breakfast experience happened in Melbourne over the course of 5 days. It was there I started my love affair with poached eggs, fresh produce and artisanal coffee. Who knew breakfast could be so simple yet so decadent?!

Now in Singapore, so many places serve an all-day breakfast menu. I used to fancy spending a day at a cafe having breakfast and catching up with friends, but now I like my breakfast more intimate – just me in my PJs having breakfast I made myself. At home. Reading the newspaper.

I feel like I’ve aged 10 years in the past year and my daily habits are beginning to follow those of my parents. I’m appreciating being at home a lot more than I used to. I’m trying not to work as much and hopefully, if all goes well, I’ll be able to recover those ten years and finally be 27 years old again. Oh.. and have more time to have breakfast, of course. xx

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