garibaldi italian, purvis street

I’m (super) late on this one (and many others), and so just a short piece on this place – it was a birthday meal, and we arrived with heightened expectations and a keen sense of disappointment after. while service was lovely, and the place was neat and crisp with its white tablecloths and fancy tableware, we found the food to be just about middling. nothing so bad as to surprise, but certainly not as good as we were led to believe with its longstanding, positive repute. at the long and short of it, we are unlikely to return, especially with Singapore’s large range of excellent Italian restaurants (such as Senso and Gattopardo).

Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar
36 Purvis St
Singapore 188613
tel + 65 6837 1468
$$$: 55ish onward

a cake consultation: shawn, part 3

here’s an update – if you don’t know what I’m talking about, have a look at part one and two – photos from a (supposedly) satisfied customer. that cake almost looks like the rehearsal product – and really, I’m so impressed he managed to arrange those pink dragées in a discernible problem. and furoshiki, too!, though that cake wrapping was likely more for subterfuge than aesthetic reasons.

now, anyone up for a cakesultation? I’ll even throw in a couple of amateur graphics (witness that gorgeous cake box)!

a cake consultation: shawn, part 2

this is part zwei of my cakesultation: read part one here!

after we got the batter in, there was a discernible escalation in excitement on his part – I got the impression that the baking session had only just started at that point for him – and out came the bottles of whiskey. I’m no drinker, and it was still rather early morning, but we had an taste-smelling: how else to see what would go with the other components?

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a cake consultation: shawn, part 1

this, you guys, is something I’m really excited to share with you. I did my first cakesultation – which really is a fancy way of saying I helped a friend with his vision for a special cake – meant for his girlfriend’s (hi gwen!) birthday – and it couldn’t have been more fun.

shawn’s a close friend – I’m not going to say more about this in fear of unnecessarily building his substantial ego – and I was pretty stoked when he asked for cake-ing help. it eventually evolved into something pretty awesome: drawing diagrams of cake is cool, you gotta admit. he’s rather clueless about baking – probably why I was enlisted – and the only things I had to go on were chocolate-and-whiskey, no berries or fruit, and three layers. let’s start – it’s a long storytelling!

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pandan kaya cake with a coconut frosting

yes, it’s that green.

I don’t seem to have much affinity with pandan desserts – they all require second-tries-and-the-promise-of-practice. in truth, it’s probably not the fault of the screwpine leaf – all the recipes calling for it are inevitably asian desserts, which also inescapably means vagueish instructions and a felicitous mix of finesse and experience (and fengshui, let’s not forget that).

this wasn’t bad actually, just a tad too sweet and lots of I-should-haves on hindsight. no recipe for you today, therefore, but a few notes if you’re thinking of trying this out!

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rodizio preto, london

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very good meatfest in soho. I had booked this place, went back to the netosphere to read more reviews, then doubted my choice of restaurantfor a dinner with friends. we needn’t have worried though.

the restaurant was rightly crowded on a saturday evening, and we were seated belowstairs. in fact the only downside to the whole experience was our waitress who was a tad ditsy and unsure about things – oh well.

this rodizio (as with most) operates on a all-you-can-eat policy such that you basically pay a flat rate at the end. there are only two choices, one for only the hot buffet and the salads, and then you pay a premium of about 5 pounds over that for the option of the having loads of meat. I don’t think the buffet and salads are worth it – though it does mean that you can have vegetarian friends with you even though they probably wouldn’t have as great a time as you do.

I’ll start by saying that the buffet spread upstairs seems larger and better than the one downstairs, but we were there for the meat anyway so the salads and etc. merely served as a buffer. there was a fried food counter with fried onion rings, brazilian cheese mochi bread (not spectacular but alright), fried bananas (my friends went back for seconds and triples as you can see from the laden plate on the left, second from bottom), what looked to me to be variants of pasta and lasagne. very heavy starchy stuff.

adjacent to that was the salad section which were 4 different salads heavily dressed as well as a bowl of fresh cut tomatoes and baby salad leaves. the salads included a bean-and-mushroom salad, a green-beans-and-peppers salad (I liked these two), something with radishes and cabbages that looked the least oily, as well as a strange looking salad of okra. the salads all taste like they have the same dressing, but it’s not a bad one, just a bit heavy on the oil.

let me tell you my strategy for going through this meal. aim for the simply grilled meats, stay away from the starch, and use the salads and fresh tomatoes to refresh your palate as the meal proceeds. there are apparently 15 different types of meat and I’m not sure if we got them all, but these included many different cuts of beef, pork, chicken and lamb. out of those, the lamb was apparently not too great, the pork was dry and the beef and chicken did the best. stay away from the bacon-wrapped chicken which was horribly salty and dry – I’m still suffering from that tiny bite I had.

I can’t tell you what the best one was since I don’t know which cuts they were as the meal went on, but I would stick to the beef and chicken – there was one sort that was exceptionally good – medium rare beef. incredibly tasty and rare, you can see the photo above of the pink meat. I got at least four or five slices of that. sorry for the morass of meat photos – there isn’t a really appetising way of photographing slices of meat that just happen on your plate as a waiter walks by.

I’d come back especially when I have many (male) friends to feed. it was very cheap for the amount of food we got, as well as the fact that we’re right smack in town.

by the way – we also celebrated a birthday at the restaurant that night and they didn’t charge us for service and were really nice about bringing it out and giving us plates and serviettes and etc. very impressive. the cake was from patisserie valerie, if you’re interested, and was a black forest cake with a moist crumb but a bit too much cream for me!

Rodizio Preto West End on Urbanspoon

checkerboard chocolate cake

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I think this might be one of the prettiest cakes I’ve made in a long time – though my first birthday cake with the meringue is also vying for the spot. if you note the light difference in the photos, that’s basically how long it took me to make this. one night to make the layers, the next morning-afternoon to do prep work, and a late night to finish the frosting. don’t let me hear you say it’s not a big deal BECAUSE IT IS, but it is so satisfying when you cut into the cake, and you get this mix of dark and white cake all neatly stacked up. just look at that last photo – I am such a proud momma.

the components of this cake are a crumbly and moist chocolate cake, a buttery vanilla white cake, dark chocolate ganache as filling, and a horlicks-milk-chocolate ganache as frosting topped with quartered maltesers. how can that not be tasty? I also used my blow-torch all over the kitchen which made it ingredient shiny and melted the malteser-honeycomb a little.

the horlicks taste was brought out by the maltesers and provided depth of flavour, but you wouldn’t know it was there if you weren’t told. I took inspiration from the countless rainbow cakes floating about the webosphere, but I didn’t want to use food colouring and didn’t really want to try and make my own natural food colouring this time so I made the chocolate and white cakes – which was hassle since it meant make 2 layer cakes, but it was so worthwhile.

the trick to this cake? make your layers beforehand and this time don’t use the freezer because you want to be able to cut the cakes into rings in the morning. it’s alright if it dries out a little as you just need to trim the sides (you can see my bowl of trimmings) and those are always the chef’s prerogative (so tasty). take your time with it, and be prepared for a mess. but loads of fun!

lemon-blackcurrant cake with meringue icing


I went all out this year for my birthday! after spending lots of time thinking of the cake I could bake while in the doldrums of exam studying, I envisioned layers and layers of a sophisticated cake – and then promptly ignored all that when I was in the supermarket purchasing ingredients. I’m not really a fussy cake kind of person, and this cake fits me right to a T – pretty enough for photography but simple tasting enough to be homely and wholesome.

with this cake I made two moist white cake layers that were halved horizontally and then frozen 2 days before I wanted to assemble the cake. the freezer is your best friend when making layer cakes!

on the day of assembly, I made a quick lemon curd and used some blackcurrant jam I had on hand to layer up the still frozen cake layers – make sure you freeze them flat so they don’t warp weirdly and cause your cake to be lopsided.

the best part of this cake was the meringue icing – I’ve never made one before and had to rope in the help of a pair of masculine hands to make the sugar syrup while I whipped up the egg whites (always a benefit to being attached) – which was like the best part of a fluffy, airy marshmallow. it is such a great thing – melt in your mouth sweetness which balanced the buttery white cake and tart-y curd and jam. the perfect counterpoint. you really do need some help with this – so rope in a friend/favour/use emotional blackmail.

I got out the blowtorch – that I’ve had for 2 years but never used – and realised that men have an almost unbelievable and overwhelming love for gadgetry. and this is a realization made while having loads of geeky engineering male friends, so I think I have some basis on which to make this conclusion. he got gadget-happy holding it like a light-saber, and frosted my cake for me as well as s’mored it (look at those gorgeous tan-lines on the cake!).

if you’re in london, you can get the gaseous butane refills at most off-licenses/newsagents; or at least that’s where I found mine.

the cake cut beautifully to show distinct layers, and a fruity but butter cake is always always a beautiful thing. let me know if you decide you’d like the recipes for the cake!