• Hello Fruit Cake!

    Once a year… we get to talk about this:

    Fruit Cake

    This picture is cruel because it simply induces instant writer’s block. Sorry–what was I going to say–oh yes, one could get lost in this picture if one isn’t careful.

    You see, it’s a simple concept of taking as much time as you need. When do you need your fruit cakes? Alright, six weeks before that, take a bunch of premium dried fruits and just about soak them in a homemade concoction of rum flavours, compounds, and some other stuff. No alcohol–good for everyone.

    Fruit Cake

    Two weeks later, you’re ready to put some fruit cake together. It’s a matter of getting the little things right: dried fruits–now plump with flavour, freshly roasted walnuts and macadamia nuts, combined in a fruit cake mix perfumed with the fragrance of cinnamon and nutmeg. Take your time, bake it slowly and gently in a moist oven. Be careful, the smells will drive one crazy.

    Fruit Cake

    Once they’re out, take good care of them. Don’t give them too much air–or they’ll dry out; don’t give them too little air–or they’ll over-bake. When they reach room temperature, generously splash Meyer’s Dark Rum for those who would like it–or add a rum flavoured drizzle for those who would like to keep it non-alcoholic. Double clingwrap the fruit cakes to keep them very airtight.

    When do you need your fruit cakes again? Four weeks time? Just about enough time. Keep the airtight fruit cakes in airtight containers to age. As they age over four weeks, the various flavours meld and mellow, causing wonderful complex flavours to develop.

    Fruit Cake

    Fruit cake time? We’ve waited long enough. Slice up, warm up, and butter up–well, just a light spread of premium butter will complete this Christmas dream.

    Once a year? What a torture to wait.

  • Delicatessen in Shangri-La

    Shangri-La: a remote, beautiful, imaginary place where life approaches perfection… And, this utopia can be found in Potong Pasir! 😉 Maybe, maybe that is true, especially to residents and the community of Potong Pasir. It is a wonderful estate — peaceful and full of its own charms, and really a place with its own soul–soulful. But more than that, this estate is actually where Shangri-La is located. Not that imaginary land, but the confectionery and, as they call themselves, delicatessen. That is one amazing thing to call yourself (a German word); they must have been super posh back in the day when they decided to adopt the long form of deli in their name.


    And this is particularly eye catching for a bakery this old. Delicatessen would be a shop where delicacies or fine foods were produced and sold, and you must have something really special–something we had to find out about.

    The shop was not desperately filled to its brim with all kinds of products, as most bakeries are today. It had this nonchalant attitude, the kind of quiet confidence that we love. It did not take very long to go through all that they were selling; some noteworthy stuff they had were a baked light cheese cake, decorated birthday cakes (black forest, chocolate, etc.), dessert pies (awesomely interesting for them to be selling that!), indie bread, egg tarts, and curry puffs. And then, they had this:


    You will not easily find this anywhere else. This was like opening a door in the zoo and finding a bunch of unicorns chilling together. What are these? They are bags of meringues! They are basically egg whites beaten to foam, with a sugar of choice beaten in slowly, and finished with some form of heat applied. Only problem is that it isn’t that basic. It requires technique and perfection at various junctures in the preparation process, so that it is a really difficult confection to sell. For example, just a little bit of fat or oil–even residual on the bowls or from egg yolks–can result in very poor foam result for the beaten egg whites. Even the final product is difficult to keep, especially in humid Singapore. Egg whites and sugar tend to attract water and so meringues weep and bead when refrigerated or exposed to humid conditions. We figure that they would only produce and sell meringues because they have another product that uses only eggs yolks… probably their egg tarts. =)


    Their meringues were lovely. Simple and pure, they snapped as meringues should when bitten into. They were not only well made, they were also fresh and well kept–old or poorly kept meringues are probably not worth eating. This pure sweetness and beautiful texture truly justifies their name as a delicatessen. What makes this most special is that it is sold at a fraction of what we would pay for it–but please, don’t tell anyone! A bag of 6 meringues costs $1.20. No, that is not a typo! Meringue = 90 Brownie Points! ($1.20 for 6 meringues)


    We also tried their humble egg tarts. You could say these egg tarts are egg-siblings to the meringues since they were probably made from the same eggs! Their tart pastry was soft, light, and not overly buttery. The custard had a natural texture and pleasant taste without being too tough or eggy. It was an easy and enjoyable eat as neither the tart nor the custard were struggling for centre-stage. Definitely, one of the best egg tarts we have tried in a long while. It comes down to simple things done right–just like the meringue–and Shangri-La has definitely got it right for these two products. Egg tart = 85 Brownie Points! ($0.80 each)

    You need to come back as there is probably nowhere else!


    Shangri-La Confectionery & Delicatessen
    Blk 148 Potong Pasir Ave 1
    Singapore 350148

  • Pau WAO in MacPherson!


    And so, on a lazy afternoon, we crept into this sleepy coffeeshop along MacPherson Road. It wasn’t our first time there, but the way time moves at half the speed over there is still pretty amazing and worth mentioning.


    For sure it was sleepy, because the uncle behind the counter was face down in his hands on the tabletop having a nap–and we were almost shouting at him by the time we decided that maybe someone else had better serve us. Well, he must have been really tired–so no worries–and we got the coffee uncle to serve us instead. We told him that we were going to take some photos, and feature the shop, and it was really nice of him to straighten up his bow-tie and up his customer service factor by a couple of notches–awesome.


    The first thing we tried was Lotus Leaf Rice; you would notice it looks as appetising as a leaf ever would, thanks to good sunlight and great technology… But honestly it looked alright in real life, and we couldn’t wait to open up and tuck in.


    It was EXACTLY how it looks in the picture–WET. It wasn’t oily, but it was surely wet. We suspect that people did not really have the time to wait for their Lotus Leaf Rice to be heat up upon order, and so the uncle had a serving always in the steamer and ready to go. And we just happened to get the one that was ready-to-go since don’t-know-when. It wasn’t a great impression, but we went ahead to taste it anyway–we always give food a chance, however bad it looks (our brownies didn’t have toppings in the early days too, and so many people still gave us a shot!). The glutinous rice was overdone as expected because of the over-steaming, and so it was almost losing its texture as rice and somewhat soggy–but we know some people do like it that way. Another problem from the oversteaming, the insides smelt just a little too grassy–that would probably be the leaves overcooking, causing unwanted notes to show up in addition to the intended Lotus Leaf fragrance. The positive thing was that the package was filled with so much tasty ingredients that rice didn’t really seem that large a factor after awhile; there were pieces of chicken and pork, a chestnut, and a salted egg-yolk.

    However long it was steamed for, the fact was that we finished every last grain of the Lotus Leaf Rice. Reason? It grew on us as we ate more and more of it. There was this rustic quality that comes with home-cooked food and indie hawker stalls–stuff you would not get in shopping malls. Where are you going to find such strong Lotus Leaf flavour anywhere else? And probably only mummy overcooks her rice from time to time and you know you are having something that cannot be found anywhere else. Lotus Leaf Rice = 73 Brownie Points

    “Mr Pau, penny for your thoughts?”


    Next up, we tried the Da Pau. It was great as usual. The pork was delicious and succulent, cooked right in many aspects. The bun that encapsulated the meat was perfect–thin without being flimsy, and firm enough to hold its shape. With just the right amount of gravy soaking into the bun, this was one truly satisfying Pau. Da Pau = 80 Brownie Points


    We were almost done when this Kong Bak Pau caught our attention. Why was it made like that? Typically, there would be a larger bun with just a little meat and fat visible at both ends. This was terribly interesting–but you wonder if it was the taste buds or curiosity asking the questions. In any case, this Braised Pork Belly Pau was summoned to our table for a full inquiry. =) It is difficult to describe how it went, but let’s just say it was over pretty quick and we had only good to say about it. Kong Bak Pau = 80 Brownie Points


    One more thing–okay, okay, three more things–before we left, some Dessert Paus. On hindsight, it wasn’t that good an idea because first, we were beyond full by then, and second, we tend to be really strict on sweets… But oh well, from left to right: Coffee Pau, Pandan Pau, and Corn Pau. They definitely looked fun and interesting, but the buns were too thick relative to the fillings. The flavours could have been represented better and the textures could have been more fine. Probably something for the rare customer who isn’t full even though the rest of the table is; but we still rather recommend having half a Da Pau for dessert any day (we will share with you). Dessert Paus = 55 Brownie Points

    Worth coming back for all the right reasons!


    Lai Ji Handmade Pau & Dimsum
    458 MacPherson Rd
    Singapore 368176
    Telephone: Unknown
    Opening Hours: Random (Whenever uncle is awake.)