Food tours are de rigueur on my travels. I've found that joining a food tour is the most authentic way to get to know a country, as guides bring you around to their favourite food haunts, away from tourist traps, all the while providing an unadulterated insight of a local.
I've never done one in Singapore (why would I ever need to anyway??), so when the FoodNews PR people invited me on a Gourmet Greens Week 2015 Food Trail around our little island, I thought, why not? It'd be fun to do one of my little island, and I may discover new foodie gems! Besides, I'd been toying with the idea of implementing a vegetarian diet once a week, so the food trail's spotlight on vegetarian fare was perfectly opportune.
For the week of 23 - 29 November, participating restaurants will offer a 4-course set lunch at $30, and 4-course set dinner at $45, with a complimentary bottle of FIJI Water (I mean, if you were going to eat clean, you may as well go all the way and avoid Newater, right?) thrown in for good measure. This is Restaurant Week, vegetarian edition. Our food trail brought us to 5 restaurants, to sample a dish from their set menus specially curated for the upcoming Gourmet Greens Week. For a full listing of the 17 participating restaurants, go to Chope Reservations here.
First stop was Humpback, an affiliate of Sugarhall and Jigger & Pony, that I've been wanting to visit. Humpback, as it suggests, is seafood-centric, but they sure don't skimp on their vegetable menu.
The Kale Chips with Sunchoke done three ways, pureed, fried, and raw, was enlivened by a honeycomb drizzle. The saccharine richness of the honey helped mitigate the bitter tones of the kale. Despite the asymmetrical plating, this was wonderfully balanced.
Next stop was OSO Ristorante, which I last dined at 2013. I wasn't particularly impressed then but this tasting warrants a second shot. It helped that the chef was such a charmingly cheeky fella, you couldn't help but take to his effervescent personality.
I don't like eggplant, but the Oven-Baked Parmigiana Eggplant with tomato sauce was quite the game-changer. This was meaty but meltingly soft, delicate but rich in flavour. I think I'll insist on all eggplants cooked this way from hereon now.
Burlamacco marked the mid-point of the food trail, which I liked very much the last time I was here, save for the unfortunate incident of inappropriate service.
A signature here, the Uova al Pomodoro, of 3 eggs perfectly poached in a garlicky arrabiata sauce redolent of thyme and oregano, was just as outstanding as I remembered.
The penultimate stop (and the last of the savouries) was at Humpback sister restaurant, Sugarhall, which I love, so it was terribly disappointing to find out that they no longer catered for takeaways. A customer complaint about his packed food giving him food poisoning, and several others whining about their packed food being terrible, was the rationale for the change in policy regarding takeaways. Oh these imbeciles really screw things up for the rest of us reasonable folk. What did you expect when you take away food from a restaurant?!?!?!?!?!?!? Packed food will NEVER be as good as what you eat at the restaurant itself, moron. (which is why I don't review takeaway food) And if you choose to eat your packed food three days past its 'fresh before' date, then you only have your pathetic dumbass self to blame. In this particular case, Sugarhall had no other complaints of in-house diners suffering from food poisoning that night, so the problem lies with the customer who packed food home, and not with the restaurant. *Ok, rant over*
So, we had a Beetroot Tartin, with pecans, fricassee, and mascarpone cheese. I don't usually eat beetroot because I find its taste jarring, but this was refreshingly nuanced.
Last stop for the night was Pepenero, whose management was recently taken handed over to the owners of Burlamacco, and which I'd just dined at just last week (stay tuned for the review).
The Zabaglione Ice-Cream Semifreddo with amaretti biscuit crumble was a dynamite contrast between the crunch of the biscuit base, and the smooth wobbliness of the icy cream.
So hurry and make your reservations for Gourmet Greens Week, exclusively with Chope Reservations, a collaborator with FIJI Water for this inaugural event, now!
My thanks to the people of FoodNews PR for the invite and the various restaurants for hosting.
Gourmet Greens Week 2015