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A taste of Singapore, in Paris

Something caught my eye when I clicked through this week’s Paris event listing. Did it say there’s a small Singaporean street food market at the Berges de Seine for a few days? I immediately forwarded the article to Wee Ling and managed to persuade F that we should check it out. He agreed. *Happy dance*

Saveurs de Singapour

Saveurs de Singapour

I arrived just ahead of my meeting time with F, so I scoped around to see what’s there. A tent from which you get your food vouchers from – purchase strictly by cash so find an ATM beforehand! – followed by a few tents where food were served from, and a large tent as “main kitchen” I guess. And I spotted signs reading “satay”, “chicken rice”, “bak kut teh”, “Indian mee goreng” and “bandung/chendol”. Starting to get hungry!

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A feast at Bali Asli

I wanted F’s first trip to Southeast Asia be a memorable one, so I put in considerable effort in planning our holiday. Not a rigid hour-by-hour schedule, mind, but enough to have a good idea what we could do each day and what were the alternatives should we fancy a change. It was during this research phase that I came to know about Bali Asli.

“Asli” refers to something genuine or authentic, and Bali Asli strives to promote the food tradition of East Bali by using own-grown or locally sourced fresh produce for its constantly changing menu. Not only the ingredients used are indigenous to the region, the cooking method is also preserved (wood-fired mud brick stoves!) so to showcase the best East Bali has to offer. More significantly, Bali Asli serves a menu that is based on the concept of megibung, where food and drink are presented as communal platters to be shared, a tradition that harks back a few centuries ago where the King of Karangasem would sit down with his soldiers for their daily meals.

This was the restaurant we “dropped a cool half million for lunch” ;)

Bali Asli

Bali Asli

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Rice and curry et al

After much delays in getting my posts up, I thought, finally, I’m done with Sri Lankan travel series. Until I realised that I have not. What about the food? That’s something very important and shockingly, I haven’t mentioned anything about them up until now. Abnormal for a girl who eats a lot and likes to, as much, talk about food.

When I travel, I like to eat what the locals mostly eat. In Sri Lanka, that means many meals of rice and curry. Some were absolutely delicious, some a tad more pedestrian, and most times the portion size was just downright scary. At least I wasn’t overpaying for “foreign” meals. I’ve seen the price of a plate of spaghetti bolognese easily being equal or higher than a meal of rice and curry that could generously serve two.

Rice and curry sounded so simple, but often it had more elements and ingredients than a typical Western home cook would encounter in a week! Rice was, well, rice. Often times they were plain boiled/steamed rice. But the curry! It wasn’t a single curry dish that I would cook at home by throwing 3-4 types of vegetables and/or meat in with some curry paste and coconut milk. We’re talking of typically 3-6 different curry-base dishes to go with the rice. Not unlike the concept of thali in India, or nasi lemak in Malaysia. And oh how good they often were too.

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Colourful macarons

There’s macaron, and there’s macaroon. One looks like a mini sweet burger with creamy ganache as the filling, sandwiched between two smooth-shell almond-flour meringue biscuits. The other is spiky and brown from the baking of shredded coconut.

Macarons from Pierre Hermé

A great macaron bursts with flavour and melts in your mouth. It is also delicate, requires gentle handling and probably put a major dent in your wallet.

Yeah, the last part is quite the trade-off for a good quality macaron. Some of the best come from the Parisian pastry houses of Pierre Hermé and Ladurée. The macarons they sell come between €1.50 to €2.00 a piece, which is steep for ganache-sandwiched meringues of the size of a small cookie. However, as a treat goes, it’s worth every single cent paid for these babies.

I’m no macaron expert, but my friends and I have previously conducted a rather unscientific tasting after purchasing macarons from several pâtissier in Paris. Between Pierre Hermé, Gérard Mulot, Arnaud Larher, Christophe Roussel and Art Macaron of Mathieu Mandard, we had quite a macaron overload but we also came to a conclusion that the majority prefer Pierre Hermé. I do wonder though, how will it fare had we bought some from Ladurée as well that day for the taste-off?

My favourite flavour from PH’s collection is undoubtedly that of Infiniment Caramel (caramel au beurre salé), followed by Rose and Infiniment Vanille (vanilla). The most unusual flavour that I have tasted from them was that of white truffles (the fungus variety, not chocolate). I see that they have new flavour of Fragola (strawberry and balsamic vinegar), which I’m aching to try.

There are cheaper generic macarons available, but in my experience, they don’t measure up to the works of the masters. They may be equally colourful, but the flavour tends to be weak and one piece tastes the same as the next. It’s such a shame.

Ps: on a creative note, here’s a recipe that makes a combination of macaron and macaroon.

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