Archive of ‘Food’ category

Forget Starbucks – Favorite Coffee Spots in Singapore

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Okay I’m a coffee snob. Maybe not, but there’s a certain way I like my coffee – chocolatey, deep, dark and with no hint of that bitter after taste. My coffee has to be delicious, and let me tell you – Starbucks just doesn’t cut it at all. With the huge number of cafes popping up in Singapore, let me share with you a couple of my trusted favorites that I head to for a good cup of coffee. These are ranked according to how good I think their coffee is, as per my discerning taste – please note my sarcasm. Not only does it wake me up, I just love how a good cup of latte or cappuccino tastes. If I could, I’d have at least 3 cups a day, even one before I sleep.

Please note that my favorites are dependent on the proximity and ease of the locations to my home or where I work from the most. Definitely not the sort to travel too far for good coffee – since I need it on a daily basis, it has to be easy to reach.

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Penny University
402 East Coast Road, Singapore 428997
Closed Mondays

I love Penny for the fact that I get to choose the size and strength of my coffee. My order consists of a 7 oz with an extra shot, and sometimes with a Snickers Tart to-go. I’ve heard great stuff about the desserts there, but have only tried the Greek yogurt with granola (huge serving, lots of fruits, delish), the turkey + cheese croissant (yes!), Croque Monsieur &  one of those salads that I can’t remember (but good stuff). I love the roast of their beans, and there’s effectively only a 5% bitter after taste that’s mixed with a chocolatey warm linger. The space is well decorated and I love the booth seats, but if you intend to spend the day in the cafe, be prepared to come out smelling like food & oil as the ventilation isn’t that good. They get really packed on weekends, so skip the crowd and just grab your coffee to go. They do, however, have plugs and wi-fi, so it’ll make a good space to work from for a couple of hours on weekdays.

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Percolate
136 Bedok North Avenue 3 #01-152B, Singapore 460136
Closed Tuesdays

New favorite – just found this spot a couple weeks back and I ADORE it because it’s 10 minutes away from my place, so affordable ($4.50 for a latte), and very unpretentious. It’s gaining some popularity at the moment, but fret not, I love my coffee to go anyway. Apparently opened by an ex-Papa Palheta barista, the two owners are there on a daily basis. The decor is simple and minimal, and they use flowers and some duck figurines to add accents. The only downside is that they open at 10:30am on weekdays, leaving me with early morning sadness as I have to wait for my caffeine fix. Haven’t tried anything else on the menu and I don’t think I will – their coffee has 0 bitter after taste and gives me the same happy vibes as that of Penny.

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Kith Cafe
Quayside Isle, Sentosa Cove, 31 Ocean Way #01-08
Closed Tuesdays

How is this third on my list and yet the furthest? Let me explain – please note that I’m only mentioning the Kith at Sentosa Cove, and this is because the iced latte + iced mocha there is epic. It comes in a huge plastic takeaway cup, with just the right amount of ice to coffee. The coffee at Kith is like your oldest friend, it never lets you down and you get to pick up right where you left off. After a huge cup of this, I can barely stomach anything else but I’m as happy as can be. The view, ambience and colors at this outlet also perks up your day, and chilling by the water just relaxes you. Although the prices here are slightly higher, the quality of the food is good, and the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. I would like to caution you to never visit the Kith at Park Mall (horrendous food, prices and service all around), while the Kith at Robertson is best for their comforting toasties and pasta.

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Working Title
48 Arab Street, Singapore 199745
Open everyday, YES

Grab your coffee to-go here – love the coffee, no bitter after taste, great roast. Both the iced and hot lattes are delicious, so it just depends on what you feel like having on that particular day. Whether packed or empty, day or night, I’ve not been disappointed by the coffee here. Huge plus? They’re open 7 days a week, so you can rely on them when you need a caffeine kick. They have a selection of ice cream sandwiches and cakes that are pretty good, so consider that too. It’s located below a backpackers hostel, so expect a number of foreigners in the cafe. They’ve got plugs and wi-fi, which is a huge plus. The huge con though, is that the space can get pretty grimy and dirty (which is why coffee to-go), and they sometimes get a bit under staffed when it comes to cleaning up. Get your coffee and head to the various stores around Haji Lane & Arab Street to do some sightseeing and shopping instead!

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Artistry
17 Jalan Pinang, Singapore 199149
Closed Mondays

This would have ranked way higher on my list, probably a tie with Percolate, but I’ve only been there thrice, and it’s been hard for me to pop by for another visit. The coffee here is strong and deep, and it’s probably one of the few places that I’m happy to order just black coffee with no sugar or milk. Other than the coffee, please also consider ordering the peanut butter & jelly french toast – super yummy, loved it so much I finished the entire plate. They are apparently taking that off the menu soon, so try to pop by within the next couple of weeks.

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Sarnies
136 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068601
Open everyday!

Ok guys, the reason Sarnies is so low on my list is because I’ve only been there twice, and they were 3 years apart. I recently managed to pop by for a cuppa and was blown away by the coffee. Delicious, just the right hint of chocolatey goodness, and no bitter aftertaste. Perfect for anyone in the Raffles Place area. I was also extremely tempted by the yummy smells that were coming from the kitchen, and their menu looked exceptional. The staff were upbeat, I loved the music that was playing there, and there was a steady flow of customers coming through the door. If it weren’t for the fact that I try my best to steer clear of the CBD due to the office crowd, I’d visit this joint on a daily basis.

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Chye Seng Huat Hardware
150 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207563
Closed Mondays

Honestly, this would have been #1 on my list. For a good year and a half, I visited CSHH for my coffee fix. I loved the coffee – the roast was exceptional, they used Meiji milk, and my cappuccino was never burnt. Dark and chocolately, each and every time I held that cup in my hand and sipped on it, a blissful sigh would escape my lips. They had a delicious breakfast, and the carrot cake was small and the perfect snack. Sadly, they changed their blend / roast sometime early this year, and after 3 attempts that ended up with me getting bitter aftertastes, I decided that I could no longer rely on my favorite joint for coffee. We went our separate ways, leaving me with a broken heart. CSHH – here’s a question for you – WHY IN THE WORLD DID YOU CHANGE YOUR ROAST?! Still worth a visit though, just in case they receive my message and change their roast back to what it was – I’ll update you on this.

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I wanted to quickly list a couple of other places that I would consider getting coffee from sometimes when there’s just nothing better nearby – Joe&Dough, Brill Cafe, Toby’s Estate & Department of Caffeine. If you’ve any coffee spots that you love, PLEASE recommend them to me and I will definitely visit them!

Diet Truths, Part 1

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Fact: I lost 10 kilograms over the past year.
This is the most weight I’ve ever lost, and also the easiest way I’ve ever done it. I haven’t gone about publicizing it or shouting about it, because it came about due to a simple change in my lifestyle. I  will share more about my weight loss journey in future posts, but I thought it’d be good to share with everyone the various diets I’ve tried, and my experience with them.

  To sum it up? 90% of the time these diets don’t work, stop telling people you’re on a diet, and after noting what foods work and don’t work for you, change your lifestyle to fit what you can do. Know what your mind and body can handle (aka if you can’t NOT eat carbs, don’t starve yourself of them until you can’t help but binge on it later on), and lastly don’t overthink food and worry about losing weight. Things will come naturally – it’s all in the mind.

I will try my best to break down the diet, what I did, how long I did it for, and why it did or did not work. Everything below is from personal experience and my 100% honest opinion, and they might work differently for different people. This is a rather extensive post where I’ll be sharing some resources and website with you, and I will continue to update this should I remember some more details.

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Raw Food Diet
WHAT IT IS:
This diet is based on the premise that heat destroys the enzymes and proteins in food, and these enzymes are significantly important to your health and fighting chronic illnesses. There have been articles about going on the raw food diet as a “cure” to cancer. There are also a lot of amazing reported side effects like reduction of headache, a reduced need for sleep, clearing of sinuses, increased immunity etc.

WHAT YOU EAT:
Uncooked, unprocessed and organic. You can dehydrate your food with a dehydrator (nothing above 47 degrees celcius) but that in itself is quite an investment. Raw fruits, raw vegetables, lots of nuts and seeds. This had a ton of sashimi involved. There are also SO MANY RECIPES of raw desserts out there that are very delicious.

MY EXPERIENCE:
This was intensive and needed a lot of effort. It was hard to go out with friends as not everywhere would serve salads or raw food. I started my days with a veggie-fruit blend, and spent my days eating strawberries, grapes, oranges, apples, carrots, pears, and a TON of nuts, including raw cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts etc. I went through a 2-year long phase of eating so much nuts, everyone though I was nuts (lol). The only downside was I started missing chicken and beef after a while, since it was hard to eat them unless you seared beef but that was a major pain to do.

It was, however, quite a miracle, as the pros I had read about started to arise 2-3 weeks into the diet. I only needed to sleep 4-5 hours a night, and yet I found myself completely energetic in the day. I could work for hours, and then head to the gym, and then head out with friends without feeling exhausted. My skin was so clear and smooth, and this also had to do with the copious amounts of water I was drinking. I never craved for desserts since I had such a great time chowing down the yummiest of fruits. For the 3-4 months that I was on this diet, I felt invincible, healthy, and very strong. It was coupled with 2 hour gym and cardio sessions at least three times a week, and I hadn’t recorded my weight loss then but I was probably a couple of kilograms heavier than I was now.

It ended sadly between us, the raw food diet and I. One day, I decided that I had to have some fried chicken, and the rest was history.

MY ADVICE:
I would consider going back on this diet for cleansing purposes, and I would recommend this to anyone who needs to hit the “Refresh” button when it comes to their personal eating habits. This will give you a much needed wakeup call. There are plenty of raw food blogs and websites out there, and you can do this for 3 months without investing in a dehydrator. It is wise to note that fruits and vegetables can cost more than carbohydrates and meats, but a worthy investment if you’re looking to pump up your immunity and health.

MORE INFORMATION:
I follow a couple of “fruitists” on Instagram just because I love how fresh their food look (not all are raw foodies), so if you need inspiration, hit up these lovely ones – @lolacooks@lonijane, @nutsaboutfruit, @healthforhappy, @veggie_moments. A couple of sites and pages that I found helpful are ZenHabits, The Best of Raw Food and Living Foods. The Vegan Stoner has good recipes and funny drawings to go with.

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4 Hour Body Diet
WHAT IT IS:
“Minimalist diet, rapid body transformation” (that’s what the site and reviewers say, and also the best way to sum it up.) Written by Tim Ferriss, the acclaimed author of The 4-Hour Work Week, he basically tried everything there was to try over 10 years and found the best “hack” for the most efficient results. There are other contents in the book including how to add muscle, reversing injuries etc.

WHAT YOU EAT:
This diet is also known as the Slow Carb Diet. Not to take away from the book, but this essentially is a “No Whites” diet – no carbs, no flour, no dairy, no sugar, no fruit. Think lots of protein, legumes, eggs and vegetables. The book suggests keeping meals simple and repeated, as well as intermittent fasting, which I will touch on below. The winning point of this diet (for me) was the once a week cheat day which I loved.

MY EXPERIENCE :
A complete turn around from the raw food diet, I was on this 4 hour body diet for at least 6 months. You lose a lot of weight, and you lose it fast. The best friend Maisha also lost weight as a result of this diet since we do see each other on a daily basis. I lost about 4-5 kilograms while on this.

I got used to iced coffees and Americanos, and since this diet, it is a norm for me to eat meals with no carbs at all. I grew to love legumes, and the easiest way to make it through is to seek out Mexican, Middle Eastern and Indian food during this diet.

Maintaing discipline for 6 days a week felt hard for me at times, but having consistency in meals made eating seem like you were fueling yourself up rather than enjoying your food. On cheat days (once a week), I would binge out on fried chicken, bread, ice cream, cakes – you name it, I ate it. It was a shocking sight but also very magical that this would result in fat loss.

MY ADVICE:
If you’re looking for quick fat loss, this is the diet for you. However, like most diets I’ve tried, if you go back to regular eating habits that include carbs, sugar and dairy, you will most likely put back some if not all of the weight you’ve lost. I also found this diet lacking in variety, and it took away the pleasure of eating. As a coffee addict, I missed the delicious taste of my cappuccinos since I couldn’t have milk with my coffee. However, I would still suggest limiting intake of carbs, dairy and sugar on a daily basis for overall health (says the woman who drinks at least one can of Coke a day).

MORE INFORMATION:
This is the official website for the diet where you can find more information. If you’d like to read the experiences of others, you can find a very honest one here, and read more details about the diet here.

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Atkins Diet
WHAT IT IS:
Researched and developed by Robert Atkins, the idea behind this is by cutting back on carbs, your body burns the fats stored for fuel instead. Possibly one of the most popular diets ever, many people tend to go completely carb-free on this.

WHAT YOU EAT:
Less than 20 grams of carbs daily, mostly from vegetables, with protein and fat from lots of meat (chicken, fish, beef), eggs, butter and vegetable oil. No coffee, no alcohol, no forms of carbs or dairy other than butter, cheese and cream. Lastly, no nuts, beans or legumes.

MY EXPERIENCE:
Probably stuck to this for 4-5 months, but we were just not meant to be – I mean, no coffee?? I just couldn’t stick with it. I did, however, start to apply some lessons learnt from this into my daily life. I stopped eating rice, noodles and bread (right now, I eat them sparingly) and it has helped keep me trim. I also tend to eat more lean meat, and much prefer that and some veggies to carbs.

My advice: If you are a huge carb lover, this diet will ruin you. I know friends who have went on this diet, but gained back all the weight they lost after reverting back to their “regular” diets. Again, no coffee and no nuts were a huge turn-off for me. You should definitely pick your battles, and if you’re a carb lover, work at reducing your carb intake rather than completely starving yourself of them as that will make you want them more in the long run. I did, however, feel more energetic, leaner and lighter during this diet, which are huge plus points!

MORE INFORMATION:
The official website for the diet. This is a pretty popular one, so a quick Google search should get you what you want.

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That’s part one of my diet review, and I’ll be doing a second part within the next couple of weeks! Let me know if you’ve any questions, and I’d be happy to answer them. Have a great weekend ahead loves.

Pick a Nic!

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Just over the weekend, J and I headed to the park for an open air screening of Despicable Me. Can I just digress and say that it is one of my favorite movies, with so many funny and awwww moments that I’ve watched it twice this year and was not sick of it at all. We decided to pack with us a simple meal, which included ham&cheese (grilled of course), egg mayo, and a slice of carrot cake. Everything but the cake was homemade by us, which was easy to accomplish. I’ve had a couple of picnics with friends in the past, and I absolutely enjoy them! Let me share a couple of trade secrets of a picnic-er with you, since its summer all year round in Singapore and almost always a good time for one, unless its pouring out.

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First off, where to have a picnic?
A park, some sort of a garden, by the beach, by the pool, or even indoors!

My favorite picks would be by the pool or Singapore’s Botanic Gardens (so cliche but it can’t be helped). The best spots are those with shade (think big big trees), soft grass, little to no buildings so that there’ll be a breeze, and if possible, some flower bushes by the side for aesthetic and smell purposes.
I’d say that as long as you have a picnic mat and basket, it’s officially a picnic. I’ve had a picnic indoors and the air conditioning can sometimes make it a lot more fun, especially when you can throw pillows around and spend some quality time watching a good movie.

Key point to note – never go for a picnic between breakfast and lunch. Always have it in the afternoon or evening or you’ll definitely end up regretting it after you’ve been burnt by the sun and/or meet with heat fatigue. If you’ve found a great shaded area and aren’t too bothered by the sun / or do not live in a tropical country, by all means have a brunch picnic!

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What to pack for a picnic (non-food items)
Picnic mat, and a picnic basket that can fit your yummies.
If you’re someone who doesn’t have that meaty of a butt (like me), I would suggest bringing a sleeping bag – an idea of J’s which I really loved! You should also consider the following: A box of tissues, a paper fan, a pack of wet tissue, mosquito repellant, and a garbage bag for you to dump your trash after for easy clean-up! If you have more than enough space in your boot or more than enough people to carry stuff, bring some pillows and flowers for some additional fun & comfort. You can consider some stainless steel cutlery and tin cups that are environmentally friendly and easy to wash if required.

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Food to pack
Here’s where it gets really interesting (for me at least).
Fresh fruits are always a must – strawberries, cherries, grapes, pears, blueberries and peaches are my favorite picks! Stocking more of these for your picnic is great when you don’t want to spend too much time preparing – even an all-fruit picnic would work.

Sandwiches – ham & cheese is a must, and I love putting cheddar cheese, emmental cheese, apple baked ham and soft white bread. I’ve a couple of favorite recipes pinned and shall share with you guys – 1, 2, 3,

Dips & Chips – the easiest things to put together, so grab your favorite baked chips and pair it with hummus or guacamole. (both of these are epic recipes.) For a healthier option, swap the chips out for cucumber or carrots.

Desserts – my favorite part. I’d pick a tart or a light cake for this, and here are a couple of recipes you can try – 1, 2, 3. A quick brownie recipe or tiny cupcakes work best, and you should bring some sort of icing to dip them in, yum! Click for 38 more healthy picnic recipes from The Greatist!

 

Drinks – as I am highly guilty of always having an Asian glow after drinking alcohol, I wouldn’t recommend much alcohol at picnics unless they’re bottles upon bottles of Somersby! I would also say a great lemonade or icy chilled juice would work. You can consider freezing your drink up into ice cubes, so that once you’ve arrived at your destination, you’ll have a lovely ice cold liquid to sip on. Other drinks to consider should include watermelon juice, iced honey lemon, iced blueberry or peach tea, or even just iced water with strawberries in them!

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Picnic Activities
Sure, it could be all about eating, but there are tons of other things you can do at a picnic. If its just you and a friend or your beau, you should each grab a book and read together, or you could read out your favorite parts to each other. With your smartphone by your side, you could also bring along a tiny portable speaker and share music with friend. Other activities you can consider include a game of frisbee, a card game (like Bridge or Saboteur or Cards of Humanity), hide & seek (if you’re in a park!), a game of five stones, kite flying, or even just snapping thousands of photos to commemorate your day out.

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Hope you enjoyed that and that this post inspired you enough to head out and spend some time at a picnic with the people you love. Let me know how it goes!