Monday, 15 June 2009

Fifth month, gastro gang

This month, we have mostly been...

- Getting into the swing of the dinner party thing. As the bar scene in Singapore is somewhat lacking compared to London's homely public houses complete with roaring fires and edgy watering holes of the East End with mis-matching furniture and kids sporting designer kicks and flicks, it's a popular alternative to gather in friends' places for dinner and drinks. Added to this, you also get the benefit of cheaper alcohol and a maid to clear up after you. Bonus. So, we have now been treated to parties in a range of places: from a two storey semi-detached black and white house to an old school condominium fit for a princess; from a converted shop house in Little India to a finished-last-year condominium that gives new meaning to the term "über-plüsh". All have their own distinct charm and it is excellent that, despite Singapore's size, there is a wide range of different types of places which one can call home.

- Learning about the life of 'Expat Brats', or rather more kindly, 'Third Culture Kids', whilst hanging out at the Tanglin Club. On the whole, I have found them all to be very welcoming. I'm just glad that I wasn't still drinking off my parents' beer money at age 25.

- Dining at number 45 of the world's 50 best restaurants (according to San Pellegrino). Iggy's served up a ten course dining extravaganza with a lean towards delectable items from the sea. On certain occasions, we were informed in which order to consume the beautifully presented parcels of gastronomic joy and in between others, we were served delicate creations that certainly amused our mouths no end. Our two complaints were that at the credit crunchingly punchy price of S$195 per head, not including wine, one expects every course to be the taste (as well as the picture) of perfection. Whilst presentation was spot on, there were a couple of dishes that lacked the balance required in molecular gastronomy. Added to that, the setting (in the Regent Hotel) was a little cramped and the decor could do with a makeover, but the service received was five star and it's always nice when the maître d' shakes your hand when you leave.

- Experiencing our first foray into clubbing with 'proper' music at Zouk. We grooved and bopped to the sounds of Ricardo Villalobos. Our penchant for electronic music played on a high quality soundsystem surrounded by an up-for-it crowd was satisfied given that it was the first time in almost five months that we had graced the dancefloor of a place not known purely as a model hang out (Mimolette) or one that plays god-awful 'salsa-house' and offers 'culinary clubbing' (Supperclub). We also met up with two lovely guys via the power of the internet - from posting on 4Four. Geek chic clubbing.

- Entertaining my parents. The 'rents landed on a Sunday and I treated them to a homemade Malaysian chicken curry, fast becoming my signature dish, made with another fabulous kampong chicken from the wet market in Tiong Bahru. During the week that they were here, I was working, so I met up with them for lunches and dinners. Given that they are old hands at the inner workings of Sin City, they shun posh eateries in favour of hawker centres featuring in the Makansutra. We did, however, convene one evening for a family gathering at the Swiss and Asian buffet at the Swissotel Stamford, which (with the credit card dining discount - a Singaporean must-have) was just $20 per head. It was rather amusing to see Grandad wandering round making pains to avoid any of the Western food. Thankfully, there were enough fresh oysters to start a farm, so I overdosed on zinc and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

- Feeling a strong pang of homesickness. The departure of Dash's parents was the first feeling of missing home that I felt. The second came, rather oddly, when I was watching 'The Duchess' at the Screening Room for a 'Women in Business' networking event organised by Norton Rose. The scenes of the beautiful Georgian mansions and sweeping English countryside made a little lump appear in my throat that wasn't a poorly swallowed bitesize samosa from the nibbles tray. Thankfully, more free wine helped to numb the thoughts of being far away from home.

Next up is a trip back to Blighty to attend a fabulous wedding at a farm in Suffolk and celebrate six months of UK non-residency status. Just before that though, we shall be celebrating a birthday at a villa in Bali and no doubt hanging out at more 'phat' Singaporean pads. It's a hard life.

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