Burnt Ends

Burnt Ends won't be "new" to most of you anymore, but I figured in the off-chance that you haven't had a chance to try it/haven't read a thing about it (how can that be!!?! It's been everywhere from Soshiok to Today) then this little write up might in some way encourage you to try it out.

The establishment is the latest in LLP's (Loh Lik Peng) series of trendy upper-end eateries. Located in his favourite enclave of the Keong Saik/Jiak Chuan/Teck Lim triangle (I swear he must be buying up all the real estate in that area), it's a stone's throw from his other equally famous upper-end eateries, Esquina and Keong Saik Snacks. It's nice to have three tasty options to go to when you're in that area, unfortunately, they're normally perpetually full and do not take reservations, but three > one.

When P told me about the concept behind burnt ends (in essence, it's a high class smoke shack), I wasn't particularly enthused about paying the place a visit -- I mean, how exciting can BBQ possibly be? And that, my friends, is where I was wrong, wrong, wrong. In the event you're still under the impression that all BBQ resembles char siew, then you definitely need to do yourself a favour and have dinner here.

The food is simple, but very sophisticated. Not in the let me molecular-gastronomize the crap out of these beautiful flown-in-from-around-the-world-ingredients, but in the fact that the cooking process manages to highlight all the natural flavours, and bring out the best characters in each ingredient.

Take for example, the humble leek, who knew that smoking it would bring out all it's buttery goodness? Or the unassuming quail's egg (comes in a clean white bowl with 5 little eggs), so small but packs such an amazing smoky punch with a perfectly runny yolk. I had an entire bowl to myself, P had to order a second one for himself. 

As for the meats (because BBQs should be about the meats), we had the Burnt Ends Sanger (it looks like a burger), Onglet, and Duck Hearts. Now, I never, ever eat innards of any sort, they really weird me out, but these plump little morsels, golden brown on the outside and the perfect shade of pink inside were absolutely sensational. There isn't a doubt in my mind that I'd order them again in a heartbeat (hurhur). Served with mushrooms, wilted vegetables and some kind of garlic dressing, it was one of my favourite dishes that evening.

The Sanger is essentially the Burnt Ends Burger (because it isn't a BBQ joint unless there's a burger somewhere on the menu) - succulent pulled pork shoulder mixed with coleslaw and some kinda crazy delicious dressing may actually convert me from a die-hard beef fan to pulled pork forever. But then we went and ordered a serving of the Onglet (which they portion according to the number of people dining and how much you've already ordered), and my conversion was very short-lived. The steak was lightly charred on the outside, and again, perfectly pink inside - I like my beef on the rarer side and this "rarer than medium rare" was just right, and super duper flavourful.

Finally, we ended with some sort of hibiscus dessert. To be honest, I hated the hibiscus bit, but I loved the smoked ice cream served with it. I wanted to order a second serving, telling them to hold the hibiscus, but I feared having my ass kicked out of the establishment so had to settle for just a single serve. 

Like all of LLP's establishments, this place will set you back somewhat, we paid about $75 per person which isn't cheap but we think it was well worth it. 

Burnt Ends 

20 Teck Lim Road
6224-3933
Open: Mondays to Saturdays, 6pm to midnight. Closed on Sundays

They say it's no-reservations but if you call on the day-of and ask for a 6.30pm seating they will save you a seat or two.

Chop Suey!

Have you tried it? It’s great! I know it’s been getting less-than-rave reviews around the interwebs, and I will admit that it’s a tad pricey for what some would call “home-cooked food” – but no one in my home can cook food like that, and I loved the modern-update-on-<rustic, colonial, industrial, speakeasy>-interior now so synonymous with the PS café group, so it was worth it in my opinion.

You must order the Kung-Duck-Pow starter and the Crispy Egg main, I also quite enjoyed the Spiced Lamb Ribs and the Vietnamese Coffee Pudding (for dessert) was sensational. See pictures above - doesn’t it look delicious?

As for what it means to be a tad pricey - the bill worked out to be about $50 per pax for dinner (some had wine, others didn't). So if you're looking for somewhere new-ish to go in the Dempsey area - I'd say it's worth a try!

In the meantime, hope you're all having a happy midweek and plodding along nicely towards the weekend. 

Chopsuey Cafe
9224 6611

# 01 - 23. Block 10. Dempsey Rd. 

Reservations can be made through Chope.

 

Cheese parties

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We have the delightful Patricia Chang, lady behind the NY-based label Patrica Chang, to thank for the inspiration for today's post. I was cruising through her instagram feed looking for pretty new dresses for Spring/Summer when I saw she was in Napa fully enjoying the wonders of a simple but chic wine and cheese party. Now all I want to do is get prepped for the weekend and whip up a guest list for a super spring-y wine-and-cheese party at home.

The problem with hosting these wine-and-cheese-affairs is that you can be certain your bank account won't be spared. They're among the most expensive things to put together if you live anywhere outside the wine-growing-regions of Northern California and Southern Australia.

Thankfully, the internets (wunderkind that it is) have provided ideas on how to save when hosting these soirees. Below, a cheat-sheet to el-cheapo wine and cheese parties, by yours truly:

  • For decor, buy tall-stemmed blooms from the market and arrange them in old wine bottles. It's perfectly in theme and won't cost a bomb -- if you need some visual inspiration, you'll find it over here.
  • If you don't have actual cheese boards at home, fret not, IKEA has a couple of inexpensive options and alternatives - I like this Kraftig wooden chopping board ($29.90) or this adorable wood lazy susan by Snudda ($9.90).
  • For the crafters among us, you could DIY a slate cheese-board using tile from a hardware store - don't forget to follow these instructions to make the surface safe for consumption.
  • Prepare palette cleansers like nuts, fresh fruit (strawberries are a nice touch), dried fruit (raisins and apricots) and vegetable sticks (celery and carrot), and provide a selection of cold cuts like salami and parma ham.
  • Consider cooking up some cheese-themed items using cheaper cheese alternatives -- I love the French Onion Crostini and Fried Cheese Bundles by Rachael Ray.
  • And then let your guests do the rest! Ask them to each bring a bottle of wine and a wedge to share. You can help them in this process by giving suggestions of which cheeses go well with the different types of wine (if you aren't sure, the Wine Enthusiast provides a very straightforward pairing chart).

Looking forward to the weekend -- now all I need is some cheese and attendees.

Photo credits: Patricia Chang and Pinterest.

Lamb Chops Play Along!

This might be the world’s best lamb chop recipe. I know, I say this ALL the time of practically ALL the recipes I’ve shared online, but really my friends this recipe is the winner of all winners for a few reasons.

I actually never have lamb, I don’t like it – it rarely tastes good, is often gamey and is almost always overdone. Because of this, cooking lamb actually scares the bejeezus out of me (I’d rather wrestle with some lobsters), but yesterday while I was stuck in cold storage for an entire half hour, completely uninspired by anything in the meat or seafood section, I decided to take a chance on the most appealing-looking thing in the cold section which happened to be the discounted lamb cutlets. I had to deal with P’s raised eyebrows for most of the way home – scepticism over what he was going to have to have for dinner.

Fortunately for me, there was a wonderful rosemary-and-garlic crusted lamb recipe that popped up near the top of the search. Rosemary? I like. Garlic? I love. It’s safe to say I have an unhealthy obsession with it, and though the dressing was designed for 12 lamb cutlets, I made it for just four pieces (only cutting back on the salt). Which explains the incredibly intense and flavourful outcome that landed on our dinner plates.

You will need:

  • 5 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary (take the leaves off the stems please!)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used ¾ teaspoon of sea-salt and 1½  teaspoon of cracked black pepper)

Combine all 5 of the ingredients above and coat both sides of the chops. Turn your grill on high and wait for it to get “sizzling” hot (drop water, see if it sizzles). Place coated chops on grill and let cook for just 3½ to 4 minutes per side for a medium-rare that is closer to the rare than medium side. If you don’t have a grill, you can use a broiler or a pan, but you might have to experiment with the amount of time per side, but my guess would be 5 minutes a side for the broiler.

This recipe is jam-packed with flavour, and because of the coating of garlic and rosemary, the lamb will turn out pink, juicy and tender even with the extremely high heat. If you’re using the grill, you’ll go from chopping ingredients to plated in approximately 20 minutes. It’s a really good week day dinner option.

rust me and try it.

Lobster pot pie

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It’s Friday and there's a line up of social activities to attend to. This is what you get when you pair a somewhat-social-person like me up with a super-social-person like P – an endless array of weekend festivities. I’m normally a massive fan of these shenanigans, but today, I just want to go home and cook up a lobster pot pie.

Why lobster pot pie? You might ask.

Well (to me at least), lobster pot pie lies right smack in the epicentre where luxury and classic comfort food meet. I mean, what can be more decadent than filling a humble flaky golden pastry with generous chunks of succulent lobster meat, smothering it all in a velveteen roux of white sauce with hints of onion, fennel and a ton of butter and baked to heavenly goodness? Nothing is more decadent. Nothing is more delicious. Few things make me happier than chowing down on a luscious little pot of lobster pie.

You know what’s tragic? A decent pot of lobster pie is practically impossible to find on this tiny island of ours. And somehow, the thought of wrestling live lobsters on a Friday night kind of kills the magic – I used to buy my lobster in nice medium sized chunks that came wrapped in white paper packaging, all ready to slip right into the stew with no further ado. I miss the convenience of American grocery stores.

So I’ll have to save these culinary dreams for another night, but in the event you’re up to the challenge, may I recommend Ina Garten’s take on it? It’s delightful, and you can cheat with store-bought pastry to save on time. The best part of this dish is that it goes from oven to table! No need for fancy plating or further fussing around.

Damn I want a luscious little pot of lobster pie.

Image credit.

Addendum

A friend of mine just sent over the most fabulous read on lobsters. Did you know that

Up until sometime in the 1800s, though, lobster was literally low-class food, eaten only by the poor and institutionalized. Even in the harsh penal environment of early America, some colonies had laws against feeding lobsters to inmates more than once a week because it was thought to be cruel and unusual, like making people eat rats.

Moreover, a crustacean is an aquatic arthropod of the class Crustacea, which comprises crabs, shrimp, barnacles, lobsters, and freshwater crayfish... And an arthropod is an invertebrate member of the phylum Arthropoda, which phylum covers insects, spiders, crustaceans, and centipedes/millipedes, all of whose main commonality, besides the absence of a centralized brain-spine assembly, is a chitinous exoskeleton composed of segments, to which appendages are articulated in pairs

The point is that lobsters are basically giant sea-insects. My brother was right all along!

More reading here.