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Little breakfast find in Causeway Bay.

imageArrived in Hong Kong, we stayed with our friend who just had moved to Causeway Bay. The first morning wasn’t our designated dim sum day so I looked around the internet for a coffee place close by. I found a joint called ’18 Grams’ that turned out to be just a two minute walk away, a small pretty coffee shop that at most maybe holds 15 people including the outside tables.

I had the ‘Ham & Cheese‘ which was right what I needed for a very hungry morning, great toasted and crunchy poppy seed bread with a salty mix of the lean smoked ham and wonderfully gooey cheese. They also had my favourite ‘Iced Drip Coffee‘ which they funnily served in a champagne flute and a mega refreshing ‘White Peach Soda’.

I’d come back here again anytime to try the other delicious looking breakfast items or to have one of those fancy looking coffees again. Nice one.

18 Grams
Unit C, G/F 15 Cannon Street
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2893 8988
http://www.18grams.com/

Bigger’s Not Better

imageI had been to ‘Valentino’s’ before when they still were in their small shophouse at Riffle Range Road and since a colleague and I didn’t have anything better to do tonight we decided to try out their new location at the Grandstand, former Turf City Shopping Mall.

After a lovely nutty ‘Ham Platter‘ and some creamy ‘Vitello Tonnato‘ I ordered one of their off-menu specials, the ‘Aglio e Oglio Linguini Nero di Seppia‘ with king prawn. The linguini were nicely al dente and not too oily. The prawn was humongous, quite fresh but rather bland. The kicker though were the roasted garlic gloves that melted in my mouth and had a nice charr flavor without being to overwhelming garlicy. A bit more seasoning and this would have been pretty great.

imageOut of pure curiosity we ordered a pizza ‘Margherita‘. Unfortunately this was pretty underwhelming. The dough was thin and crispy but the sugo didn’t taste like much and the amount of cheese on top was simply too much for my preference. It was not a bad pizza but from a place with such a reputation I was expecting a little more than just ok.

imageThe ‘Panna Cotta‘ I had for dessert was not that special either with very little vanilla and a bit amateurish in presentation but what I really liked was the berry sauce that came with it. Nice and sour.

The quality and taste of the food was pretty good but because I thought to remember it a bit different and also because ‘Valentino’s’ is not necessarily a cheap restaurant I was just expecting a little more.  On the upside the service was outstanding and the staff super friendly but it was a bit sad to see they had lost a bit of their family run restaurant charm which only small places have and small is not was ‘Valentino’s’ is anymore.

http://valentino.sg/

Ristorante da Valentino
#01-19 The Grandstand
200 Turfclub Road
Singapore 289774
Tel: +65 6462 0555

Tuscany Fantastico in Bianco et Nero

imageA colleague friend came into town on a transit to the Philippines and so we rallied the troops and all went together to ‘Pietrasanta’ in one of the black & white houses down at Portsdown Road. We were warmly welcomed by the friendly staff and the manager and seated on a big table inside.

As my main I chose the fish special ‘Grilled Sole‘ which I saw floating by to another table earlier. The fish was huge and looked super tasty with it’s nice chars from the grill. Following the managers recommendation I drizzled some of their fancy olive oil on top and together with the lemon and the pepper it tasted absolutely great. The kicker on this was that after it came from the grill they put the sole on a wooden board coming from an olive tree so when turning the fish over, the second half offered a completely new flavor, smokey and with an oaky taste to it. Very happy that I sighted this.

imageBefore this lovely fish we shared a variation of antipasti like the ‘Scamorza con Prosciutto‘. The cheese was lovely smokey and melted but still firm and wrapped in a salty cover of crispy pan fried parma ham.

imageWe couldn’t get enough of the ‘Tagliere Di Salumi e Formaggi‘ which was a cold cut platter of delicious parma ham, juicy and light mortadella, two types of salty and nutty salami and a centerpiece of parmesan that tasted lovely milky.

imageAnother starter we ordered was the ‘Acciughe Fresche Fritte‘ which were freshly imported anchovies fried in a light batter. Other than usual the tiny fishes were properly cleaned and only fried for a very short time so they were still moist and tasted like eating them in Italy.

imageLast but not least we had the famous ‘Burrata‘ a huge deformed mozzarella cheese ball filled with a mixture of the same as well as heavy cream. I loved the outer shell of this as it had a weird yet nice texture and tasted like strong milky white blob. The others preferred the inner core which I found too creamy to eat too much of it. The burrata was accompanied by an extra plate of juicy tomatos, arugula and parma ham which in combination with the nice olive oil made this a brilliant appetizer.

imageDuring the entire dinner we were exceptionally well taken care of by our head waiter and all the other staff and after we had finished everything we received a digestive including a freeflow of freshly baked biscotti and chocolate covered roasted almonds.

I had been here before but didn’t remember it being this nice. The food was fantastic and proper down to earth home cooked Tuscan cuisine and the service was memorable friendly and attentive. A great piece of Italy in traditional Singaporean heritage.

http://www.ristorante-pietrasanta.com/

Ristorante Pietrasanta Pte. Ltd.
5B Portsdown Road
#01-03
Singapore 139311
Tel: +65 6479 9521

Fair Trade for Pie

imageI was on my way home from a short business trip to Melbourne and didn’t have a single meat pie during my whole stay. I knew there was one cafe at Tullamarine Airport that had one just perfect for my last minute fix but when I finally arrived there I had to realize that the cafe had turned into an Italian deli. After searching the entire airport in vain for pie I finally capitulated and was pretty disappointed, it was an Australian airport after all. Thankfully I passed ‘Bar Pulpo’ which offered ‘Bocadillos‘ the tasty sandwiches I new from Spain.

I went for the ‘Serrano with Zamora Cheese‘ and asked them to put it into the oven quickly so the cheese could melt. This thing was beautiful. The generous slab of serrano ham was lovely nutty and the cheese added it’s deep salty but not overpowering taste. This all in a perfect piece of baguette which had it’s own taste, nicely spiced and soft and firm at the same time. I just say I entered the plane very happy and content so I would recommend this to any hungry traveller passing through here.

Bar Pulpo by Movida                                                                                                                                Departure Mall Melbourne International Airport Terminal 2                                                               Departure Drive                                                                                                                                      Tullamarine                                                                                                                                                    Victoria 3045                                                                                                                                               Australia

Humongous Pizzas!

FxCam_1367668025133 I spend the whole day on roller coasters with friends at Universal Studios and as the day got older we got tried and really hungry. So solve the second problem we went to ‘Peperoni’ on Zion Road, which is in one of the shophouses just opposite of Great World City. I have never been here before but really liked the seating outside, a bistro feeling.

Since I never had but always wanted to we ordered one of their massive 21″ mega pizzas half half. One half with ‘Capricciosa‘ (shitake, ham, artichokes and black olives), the other with ‘Prosciutto Grudo di Parma‘ (parma ham and rocket). This thing was tremendous, just like the pizzas from the opening scenes of Roseanne. I loved it, the dough was pretty thin, very crisp on the outside rim and more and more juicy towards the inside of the pie. The sugo tasted great and nicely tomato-y and was covered with the right amount of cheese; maybe not exactly but close. The parma ham was from good quality and had a delicious nutty taste nicely accompanied by the bitterness of the rocket salad and covered with a lot of salty parmigiano reggiano. The ham on the ‘Capricciosa‘ half tasted quite good but could have been cut a bit thinner and even though I always would prefer button mushrooms or chanterelle the shitake were thin and tasty. The black olives were good and heaps and so the only neglected ingredient were the  very few carciofo or artichokes.

FxCam_1367669352558 As our first dessert we had the ‘Tiramusi‘ which was quite nice and not too heavy. I found the ladyfingers a tad too big which made it taste a bit watery and they also could have gone a bit heavier on the kahlua and the coffee. Not bad but also not outstanding.

FxCam_1367669528588My personal choice was the ‘Panna Cotta‘ which was actually pretty darn good. I’m not big with desserts other than ice cream, but if I come across this one I usually get it. It was spotted with vanilla grains and super light so I totally forgot that it’s pretty much pure cream. The sour fruity berry sauce was a great combination to the sweetness and made this a nice closer for the dinner and a long day.

I really have to mention our outstanding waitress, who was super friendly, fast, attentive and overly helpful with all our requests. It’s kinda sad that great service really stands out that much but that’s how it is and this one was awesome.

The ‘Peperoni’ branch on Zion is a really nice and casual place to come with friends and to enjoy some of the better pizzas (and service) in town. I’ll come back, grazie mille.

http://peperoni.com.sg/

Peperoni Pizzeria          
56 Zion Road  
Singapore 247781              
Tel: +65 6732 3235

More Parma Please!

imageThis place is just around the corner from my work and today my colleague had her birthday and wished to have her birthday lunch over there.

The few times I came here I always ordered the ‘BLT‘ so for a change I went with their ‘Parma Ham Sandwich‘ today. The first great thing about this sandwich was the toasted Turkish bread which was crispy on the outside and soft but tasty on the inside. Second great thing was the actual parma ham with it’s intense and typical nutty flavor. I only wished they would have been a bit more generous with the parma as more than two thin slices would have been nice. I’m not too sure what cheese they used  but it’s light smokey aroma together with the bitter rocket rounded the whole sandwich up just nicely.

I thought that was a really decent sandwich and might pop by here for lunch now more often hoping they’ll stack it up with more of that tasty ham eventually but I don’t hold my breath.

http://www.vivavox.com.sg/

VivaVox Cafe                                                                                                                                                          3A International Business Park                                                                                                                       #01-10 Icon@IBP                                                                                                                                    Singapore 609935