[Media Invite] Ethan's Gourmet (featuring Chef Peter Rollinson of Flutes Restaurant)

I was recently invited to the media launch of Ethan's Gourmet, a boutique grocer of fine foods and produce. Just think of it as an amalgamation of Meidi-Ya and Jones the Grocer, but waaaaaaaay cheaper and notably exclusively curated. I love this place already!

Its spartan brick-and-mortar shop couldn't be any more ulu-fied, but the good news is that they're about to launch an online site (by 15 April, I hear) on which to buy its wares. 

Set up by a trio of enterprising retailers, who've close personal networks with Japanese suppliers, Ethan's Gourmet is thus able to pass on substantive savings to us as the end consumer. Here, Elaine and one of her partners are introducing Ethan's Gourmet to us food bloggers at the media launch. A personal nugget: she'd apparently named the store after her beloved son! Aww...

Only kobe, kagoshima and tajima wagyu beef are sold here, and I note that the meats about 20% cheaper than at Meidi-Ya. Being one of the very few suppliers and the first online retailer of the uber-luxe tajima wagyu beef, Ethan's Gourmet supplies to famed Japanese steakhouse The Fat Cow.

They also sell premium sashimi-grade fish and seafood (snow crab legs, YUMS!!), as well as the prized amadai fish.

They've also a select wine and sake range, carefully curated, mostly mid-range but very drinkable.

I couldn't resist buying a bunch of stuff, and these were my picks at Ethan's Gourmet: Marusho Tomatoes ($5.90), otherwise known as rainbow tomatoes.

I've never been known to snack on typically healthy fare, but these little juicy balls of heaven were so awesomely sweet I'm now a convert!

Another must-buy is the Amadu Strawberries ($19.80), bright red morsels of fruity juiciness bursting with ripened sweetness. The Hubs practically inhaled them ALL...in just ONE sitting.

Inspired to cook something with black ink, I also got the Black Squid ink Linguine ($9), but if you so prefer, there's a saffron-flavoured linguine for sale as well.

I'm a sucker for cheeses, and while plain table crackers are typically used to set up their flavourful pungency, The Fine Cheese Co. Rosemary Crackers ($8.40) and TFCC Red Hot Chilli Crackers ($8.40) heighten the cheeses beautifully.

Red Hot Chilli Crackers are better paired with mature cheddars, while Rosemary Crackers are more suited for soft cheeses.

I also got a packet of Frozen Edamame ($7.45), I love steaming them and then sprinkling them with truffle salt, also sold at the store (Ethan's apparently retails the ultra-fine Truffle Gourmet range of truffled salts, pastes and flavouring). Ethan's Gourmet also retails other frozen greens, like spinach, and broccoli.

We were gifted with a goodie bag: a few citrus-infused ume, kelp (which I'm gonna use to make dashi stock), green tea bags (always useful as I'm a big fan of green tea), a citrus-flavoured green tea, Maria Sharapova's sour gummies, a umami goma-kombu seafood snack, Korean designer water, and a packet of compressed paper wipes (so convenient and such space-savers!).

The congenial Aussie Chef Peter Rollinson of Flutes Restaurant was invited to cook up Ethan's produce. Even with a makeshift barbie stand, his food managed an exquisite sublimity, that I've since put Flutes on my to-eat list!

The Tajima Wagyu Beef Striploin with yummy marusho tomatoes and yuzu dressing was melty and decadent and luscious. My favourite of the lot!

The moist and tender Kurobuta Pork Chops with caramelised apple sauce, sauteed spinach and radish was well-balanced.

The Grilled Amadai Fillet was exquisitely crunchy, but flaky and moist underneath. I particularly loved the curried cauliflower puree and lime. It brought out the mild creaminess of the Japanese fish beautifully.

The plump Grilled Scallops with mushy peas and truffle squid ink was a little too moreish for my liking. I thought the squid ink overwhelmed the delicate scallops. 

Many thanks to Ada, Leroy and Nichole of FoodNews PR for the invite, and Elaine Yee of Ethan's Gourmet for hosting! xoxo

Ethan's Gourmet
50 Tagore Lane
Entrepreneur Centre
Tel: 6372 8809
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11am to 7pm; Closed Mondays
Website: www.ethansgourmet.com



Known for seamlessly fusing east-and-west flavours, Bacchanalia's food is inventive and harmonious. The tapas-portioned, artfully-plated food should have been an unwelcome assault on my finely-tuned pretentious sensor, but the warm amiable staff and relaxed congenial vibe of the gorgeous restaurant were the very antithesis of what should have been a stuffy, formal dinner affair.

As aforementioned, service was faultless, the lovely staff were attentive but unobtrusive. They'd taken care to eliminate all parsley/coriander/cilantro from all dishes, and explained every single dish in detail. I particularly liked that the chef made periodic appearances to personally elaborate on his creations.

Because parking is so limited, I'd suggest getting your car valeted; it's only $10, and it saves a lot of hassle (and time) going round in circles finding a viable, non-fine-able lot. 

A great way to sample Bacchanalia's signatures is to order either of the 2 the set meal options. Because there were 3 of us in the dinner party, we opted for the 7-Course Set ($190 which is sufficient to feed 2), and supplemented with a handful of dishes from the ala carte menu.

From the ala carte menu, the Mushroom Fantasia ($18), a medley of 4 mushroom variants: cordyceps, portobello, shimeiji and oyster, was cooked 4 ways, paired with a sweet corn veloute and mint for contrast.

A must-try, the Calamari Grenobloise ($34) of squid grilled to a smoky perfection, was married with chayote squash, capers, artichoke puree, sauce grenobloise, and hasselback potatoes. 

The Chicken & Cheese ($34) was about the moistest chicken breast ever. This was heaped with a bunch of fresh grassy herbs, mountain yam puree, tarragon-infused whey, and blanketed in melted cheese.

The first course off the 7-course set was a soup-like Cauliflower Gratin ($18 ala carte price), chunked up with deep fried breaded cauliflower florets, and layered with white truffle and cheese foam. Because I'd asked to hold off any parsley, mine was sans gremolata.

Coming up second was the Thai-inspired Rice & Coconut ($26 ala carte price), a sumptuous confluence of creamy coconut risotto, chilli paste, ginger strips and fermented coconut.

The refreshingly clear Hamachi Carambola ($28 ala carte price), of citrus-cured hamachi sashimi was dressed with pickled starfruit and garlic, and walnut praline.A most pleasantly palate-cleansing middle course.

The succulent grilled Norwegian Hand-Dived Scallops ($37 ala carte price) were set stop baked borlotti beans, kalix caviar, and dusted with cacao powder.

The Steak & Sauce Rossini ($38 ala carte price), medium-grilled 1 year grain-fed petit tender was drizzled with a luxurious red wine jus thickened by melted foie gras. Sauteed cauliflower mushrooms, kailan, and celeriac, rode alongside potato crisps.

The scrumptious melty Foie Gras Satay ($35 ala carte price), done sous vide, was balanced with a bright lemongrass & tamarind fluid jam, and topped with grated chestnuts and peanut satay sauce.

Rounding off the superb set was the White Chocolate & Cherry Tart ($17 ala carte price), filled with a white chocolate & almond ganache and cherry jam, while a tart morello cherry sorbet lent contrast.

23A Coleman Street
The Masonic Lodge
Tel: 6509 1453
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 12midnight for dinner;
Fridays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 2am for dinner;
Saturdays from 6pm to 2am for dinner;
Closed on Sundays
Website: www.bacchanalia.asia


Portobello Fajitas

Portobello Fajitas make for a quick and easy vegetarian supplement to any meal. Red, green and yellow peppers are tossed in together for a riot of colours.

Ingredients (feeds 4-6):
10 large portobellos, sliced thickly
3 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 green pepper, sliced thinly
1 yellow pepper, sliced thinly
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne
Salt to taste

1) Fry onions in olive oil till soft and transluscent, about 3 minutes on medium-high heat.

2) Add peppers, and fry for another 2 minutes.

3) Add mushrooms and fry on high heat until water released evaporated.

4) Add cumin, garlic, coriander, cayenne.

 5) Salt to taste before serving.


in ITALY Bar & Ristorante

I don't know why I took this long to hit up inITALY, but I figure, better late than never, eh? A friend had been bugging me to try the Italian ristorante, and, oh boy, did it live up to the hype. Here at this cosy eatery, honest-to-goodness fare is executed with aplomb, highlighting the impossibly fresh produce. I particularly liked how the rustic and hearty is effortlessly balanced with refinement.

Service could do with a jolt of energy, but it hit all the right buttons on professionalism, attentiveness and friendliness. Our water glasses were rarely left parched for long, my request to hold off any parsley was attended to, and the wait staff periodically checked in.

Reservations are a must, especially if you want to sit in the constrained indoors. Even though it'd rained earlier in the day, we were still perspiring through dinner.

A must-try if you're a fan of this cheese, the Burrata ($28) was set against silky ribbons of salty parma ham, peppery rucola, juicy heirloom tomatoes, and a capsicum chutney. This was a dish that was more than the sum of its parts. While I still don't care for the creamy buffalo cheese, I'd happily admit that the flavours were married most beautifully.

My favourite appetizer, the carb-centric Crostino ($28) was a crispy, chewy oven-baked dough bed, layered with melted taleggio, black olive tapenade, radicchio, and strips of gorgeously pink parma ham. Fantastic stuff.

A classic starter, the Carpaccio ($24) contrasted paper-thin slices of succulent Angus beef tenderloin, spicy mustard and aromatic truffled goat cheese with the subtle kick of arugula leaves.

I've always been partial to arugula, and the Rucola ($19) was an excellent salad, simplicity at its finest. Just rocket leaves, raspadura cheese shavings, heirloom tomatoes, pinenuts, and garlic croutons. I asked to hold off the mustard dressing, and dressed this in EVOO instead.

InItaly offers one of the best Parma Ham ($24), silky glorious pink ribbons of cured saltiness.

One of the best complimentary Bread Baskets I've ever had, these were chewy, crunchy, doughy packets of delight paired with a smooth nutty pesto.

Highly recommended, the Chitarra ($38) didn't disappoint. Al dente home-made spaghetti laced with sparkling fresh lobster chunks cooked to a springy softness were tossed in a pomodoro sauce spiked with chilli.

A must-try, the Orecchiette ($28), cloaked in a velvety porcini mushroom sauce and dotted with crispy parma ham crumbs, was glorious. I loved how the earthy mushrooms were in perfect symmetry with the salty ham.

The Ravioli di Ossobucco ($28) were just about the most exquisite dumplings ever, fat and bursting with scrumptious veal stuffing, and pooled in a garlicky saffron gravy brightened by lemon rind.

Not just for meat-lovers trying to stay away from carbs, the Pollo alla Diavola ($28) was undoubtedly the best roasted spring chicken I've ever had in an Italian restaurant. Rubbed with rosemary and chilli, this was flavoursome to the bone, and finger-licking good. Absolutely glorious. Fire-grilled blistered vine tomatoes and roasted ratte potatoes rode alongside.

For those watching their diet, a lighter option would be the Acqua Pazza ($36), a duo of red garoupa fillets simmered in a delicate broth flavoured by mussels, clams, Taggiasche olives, and Pantellaria capers.

Like an old-comfortable pair of well-worn shoes, the Classic Tiramisu ($14) was a reliable, safe option for dessert. This was commendable: moist and heady and nuanced.

For a more unique sweet, try the Zabaglione ($16), a juxtaposition of the warm moscato-tempered sabayon against the chill of the peach sorbet.

in ITALY Ristorante
38 Craig Road
Tel: 6423 0918
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Fridays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 12midnight for dinner;
Saturdays from 6pm to 12midnight for dinner
Website: www.initaly.asia


Earth Kitchen, International Plaza

International Plaza is practically an icon of the old downtown business commercial district. While the building houses many business enterprises, its first floor is occupied mostly by hole-in-the-wall food stalls. Many open right in early morning to accommodate office workers and close up shop by mid afternoon when they sell out after the lunch hour.

Earth Kitchen, which sells prawn noodles and mixed economy dishes, offers one of the better fried noodles around. 

The Beehoon-Mee with Fried Luncheon Meat, Fishcake and Fish Fillet ($3.50) boasted decent wok hei and flavour. Of note was the punchy fragrant sambal.

The stall facade for reference

Earth Kitchen
10 Anson Road
#01-46 International Plaza
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