Chachic's Book Nook


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Restaurant André

So I know it’s not really book-related to post about a meal that I had at Restaurant André, but I first found out about two and three-starred Michelin restaurant from books that I read. Specifically, in Laura Florand’s The Chocolate Heart, The Chocolate Temptation and The Chocolate Rose from her Amour et Chocolat series. The heroes in these books are pastry chefs in two and three-starred Michelin restaurants.

I never thought I’d be able to try out super fancy restaurants like these until I went to Les Amis for my birthday last March. I figured that I might as well eat at these places while I’m still in Singapore, at least I don’t have to travel and pay for flights and lodgings just to try them out. Apparently some die-hard foodies do that. So far, I’ve gone to Les Amis and Restaurant André. If I manage to go to Odette, I would have experienced the three French restaurants in Singapore that have two Michelin stars. The two other restaurants at that level are Japanese, and I’m not sure my palate is refined enough to try that.

I actually wanted to book a slot for Restaurant André on my birthday but it was fully booked by the time I started making plans. Apparently, reservations had to be made weeks in advance. Restaurant André has been award two Michelin stars, is placed number two in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, and is the only restaurant in Singapore to be included in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. I was pretty sure a meal at this restaurant would be the best meal that I’ve had in Singapore, so I was curious to try it out. And was also delighted when my friend agreed to join me.

Restaurant André is rated no. 2 in Asia's Best 50 Restaurants, and the only restaurant in Singapore included in the World's Best 50 list. It also has two Michelin stars, and has to be booked weeks in advance to get a slot. @nj_reyes and I were understandably excited to experience the best meal that we've had in Singapore.🙌🙌 Culmination of our foodie explorations together in this country. This was the lunch menu for today: - black cherry, red coral capsule - Hokkaido bird cockles brined in seawater onion slaw in clam velouté - broccoli eclair preserved lemon confit, kailan flower - spring sugar pea and wasabi sauce, goat cheese ice cream, charred white asparagus (the prettiest course in this menu!) - all about crab: crab fat emulsion (in Filipino, sosyal na aligue), crab canneloni with granny smith, crab custard with fresh sorrel - steamed marble goby, textures of leek, broth of bouillabaise - pigeon dry-aged in hay and salt koji, bitter chocolate oatmeal (in Filipino, sosyal na champorado) - pear melba, burnt marshmallow, pink finger lime caviar - pickled plums, purple shiso granite, creme fraiche - petit fours and coffee . . . #RestaurantAndre #ChefAndreChiang #AsiasBestRestaurant #Asias50Best #WorldsBestRestaurant #Worlds50Best #MichelinStar #Michelin #SGfood #SGfoodie #SGdesserts #foodstagram #IGeats #finedining #ExploreSingapore

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Swipe right to see all of the dishes, or hover over the image and click the right arrow. This was the lunch menu for that we had:
– black cherry, red coral capsule
– Hokkaido bird cockles brined in seawater onion slaw in clam velouté
– broccoli eclair preserved lemon confit, kailan flower
– spring sugar pea and wasabi sauce, goat cheese ice cream, charred white asparagus (the prettiest course in this menu!)
– all about crab: crab fat emulsion, crab canneloni with granny smith, crab custard with fresh sorrel
– steamed marble goby, textures of leek, broth of bouillabaise
– pigeon dry-aged in hay and salt koji, bitter chocolate oatmeal
– pear melba, burnt marshmallow, pink finger lime caviar
– pickled plums, purple shiso granite, creme fraiche
– petit fours and coffee

Taste-wise, my favorite parts of the meal were the appetizers and the desserts! The pea and white asparagus dish was both pretty and delicious too. I noticed that this menu kind of had a seafood theme going on. Aside from the food, I also loved the cozy and warm vibe that the restaurant had. It’s inside a renovated house and we were seated on the third floor, which only had a few tables in it. On the way up, we got to glimpse the kitchens where the chefs happily waved hello from the stations. Chef André himself left the kitchen after the meal was finished to say hello to the patrons. I thought that was very thoughtful of him.

I thought that was pretty cute. As a book nerd, I noticed the bookish details inside the restaurant:

Dining at restaurants like these, I discovered that what they do is basically story-telling using food as their medium. I loved how beautifully presented the dishes were, how each dish was served with an explanation, kind of like the server telling you a story about the dish. They keep changing their menus based on what ingredients are the best during that season. It just felt like there was a lot of care put into each dish served. It was a feast not just for a diner’s taste buds but also for the eyes.

So, so, so. This goes to show how I can relate everything to books. 🙂 Also that I could have gone into food blogging if book blogging wasn’t difficult enough to maintain. Have you tried any Michelin starred restaurants? If yes, what was your experience like? Have you read books that have characters who are chefs in this kind of environment?


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Better At Weddings Than You Blog Tour: Food Inspiration

Mina V. Esguerra is a prolific Filipino romance author and the founder of #romanceclass, a community of Filipino romance authors who publish books independently. I have featured her books and her writing countless times here on my blog, and I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for her latest release: Better At Weddings Than You. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I need to work on a review to share more of my thoughts about it. Aside from romance books, one thing that Mina and I share is our love of food! I noticed that Better At Weddings Than You had references to some restaurants and certain dishes, and I thought it would be a great topic for a guest post. I hope this guest post will make you curious enough to read the book when it comes out, and also to try the food mentioned here! 🙂

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Food Inspiration: As featured in Better At Weddings Than You
by Mina V. Esguerra

My books are not about food, but they may as well be. I write contemporary romance but I also love food… and I keep talking about it. Especially when I’m writing anything set in the Philippines. With Better At Weddings Than You, the premise that the main characters Daphne and Aaron worked in the wedding industry formed the “menu” for this book. Here’s a selection and the real-life counterparts!

  • Christmas Eve dinner (Real thing: Spiral Restaurant at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel)
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Daphne and Aaron meet over Christmas Eve dinner at a fancy hotel restaurant by the Manila Bay, and if you’re familiar with the area it’s an easy guess that it might actually be Spiral Restaurant at the Sofitel. If you know me at all, then you’d be sure — I adore the large restaurant, the seafood, salads, meats, and the cheese room.

  • Tea shop meeting (Real things: Rustic Mornings and TWG)
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So the tea shop I describe in an early chapter of the book doesn’t actually exist (that I know of) but it’s based on the many small restaurants popping up in the city. It would have a look similar to Rustic Mornings by Isabelo in Marikina, but with a tea list that would remind you of a page from the menu of TWG. Just a page, because TWG of Singapore’s full menu would be too much for a quaint neighborhood tea place!

  • Caterer Food Tasting scene (Real thing: K by Cunanan)

How do you choose your caterer for your wedding? You taste their food. While planning my own wedding I (seriously) sampled the menus of three caterers, and one of the visits kind of went like the scene in my book. K by Cunanan is one caterer you’d encounter in the industry, and they did our wedding. We loved the food and their reception venue styling.

  • Chicharon salad (Real thing: Chef Sharwin Tee’s Tempura Bacon Salad)

In one scene, Daphne gets to reveal something about herself and I get to describe a decadent salad. Everything I said about the salad is directly from a food memory – of eating my friend Sharwin’s Tempura Bacon Salad at his restaurant. I replaced the bacon with chicharon though. If you can make this salad happen, let me know! I think it works well with a fruit vinaigrette, by the way.

Believe it or not, I had to edit this list so I don’t go on and on. Thank you, Chachic, for giving me the space on your blog! Better At Weddings Than You comes out April 15 and its Amazon link is here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XKS8Y1T

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Book Description:
Daphne Cardenas is the best wedding planner around, and everyone knows it. That’s why her friend Greg hired her as an emergency replacement one month before his wedding—because he fears his fiancée Helen is falling for the guy they first hired for the job.

Aaron Trinidad is new to the wedding industry but years of conference planning and loads of charm make him good at it. Really good at it. Planning the wedding of his friend Helen should be easy, and it is. To be unceremoniously fired isn’t good for his new career, but the chance to learn from the best might be the silver lining.

Aaron and Daphne have chemistry, but there’s history with Helen that at least one other person considers a threat. Who’s the planner who can fix this impending disaster?

(Part of the Chic Manila series, but can be read as a standalone.)

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Belated Birthday Post

My birthday was last March 29 so this is a really belated birthday post. But I haven’t had a time to sit down and do a write up of the day before now. While not exactly book-related, I think I’ve updated my blog about how I celebrated my birthday in previous years so I wanted to do the same thing this year. Good thing I kept posting pics on Instagram, so linking to them makes it easier for me to share how my day was spent. I took the day off but the night before my birthday, I had dinner at an Italian restaurant called No Menu, with two of my co-workers:

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It was a lovely meal and on top of that, they gave me gifts that I loved: a fancy teacup from a store called T2 and a small purse (wallet?) from Coach. It was really a pleasant surprise to receive these gifts because I wasn’t expecting anything!

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The actual day of my birthday fell on a Wednesday and everyone I knew in Singapore was at work on that day so I spent it by myself. I decided to give the foodie in me an indulgence of a meal in the form of a two-star Michelin restaurant, Les Amis. I had previously only read about Michelin star meals in books but I’m happy to report that I’ve experienced it in real life. Scroll to the right to see all of the courses:

Yesterday's indulgence was a 6-course meal at Les Amis, a French restaurant with two Michelin stars and ranked 16th in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants. I think this must be the fanciest meal I've had and it was a great experience. I liked how each dish was served with an explanation, kind of like the server telling you a story about the food. It's art in food form! I hope I get to try other Singapore restaurants from the list (e.g. Andre, Odette, Burnt Ends)! . . . Here's the menu for this meal: . . - amuse bouche: smoked river salmon and eel with baby leek - (signature) cold angel hair pasta balanced with kombu, caviar and truffle - (signature) langoustine with courgette and an emulsion of extra virgin olive oil - seasonal white asparagus - turbot fish - lamb cooked in a veil of spinach served with green asparagus and stuffed morel mushroom - sugar sphere with seasonal strawberries, sorbet and a hint of lime . . . #LesAmis #LesAmisRestaurant #MichelinStar #Michelin #SGfood #SGfoodie #SGdesserts #foodstagram #IGeats #finedining #ExploreSingapore

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After the fancy meal, I watched the live action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and loved it. More thoughts shared below:

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And last but not the least, I was planning to splurge by buying a Jo Malone cologne that I’ve been eyeing for the longest time (they smell so good but they’re also super expensive) but decided to go for all natural and organic skincare instead once a friend recommended Vanderohe:

@vanderohe no. 1 face serum is a blend of pure essential oils that are sourced from their countries of origin. I'm such a sucker for organic/natural skincare so I knew I had to try this once @munsq started raving about it. I use it as a moisturizer day and night. I love how it smells and feels, and also that it has multiple positive benefits, making it a one stop skincare solution. Still waiting to see if it will help me achieve smoother and clearer skin! . . . #Vanderohe #faceserum #faceoil #naturalskincare #organicskincare #foodgradeskincare #holisticskincare #botanicalskincare #skincare #skinfood #organicbeauty #crueltyfree #botanics #SGbeauty #beautygram #cleanbeauty #essentialoils #kakikayan #ChachicsBeautyHaul #PaperMarket #PrimaFlowers #scrapbooking

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I did drop by the bookstore after watching the movie but SURPRISE! I walked out of the bookstore without buying anything. Also no books received as gifts because my family and real life friends never know what titles to get for me. So that’s a quick update from me about how my birthday went. 🙂 Back to regular programming and book-related posts after this.


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Influenced by a Book: #LauraFlorandDiscussion

As a reader, there have been times when something that I read in a book has influenced some of my actions. Influenced by a Book is a feature that lets me share experiences like that. You can view some of my previous posts here.

My friends Kim and Mina are co-moderated a discussion of Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. I wasn’t able to join the face to face discussion in Manila earlier today, but I participated in the online discussion. A common reaction to reading this series about chocolatiers and pastry chefs is to crave delicious desserts and chocolates like the ones described in the books. Because of this, Mina requested that we share photos of our chocolate adventures on social media and use the hashtag #LauraFlorandDiscussion. I’ve shared pictures all over Twitter and Facebook, and I wanted to consolidate all of them in this one blog post. I don’t know whether I should be proud of myself for using #LauraFlorandDiscussion to indulge the dessert addict in me, or be embarrassed by how sinful some of these creations are. Sharing these pics in no particular order because I’ve forgotten the exact dates when I had them (also not giving a timeline on when I had these 😛 ).

Paris Baguette is a Korean bakery that has a branch near our office. I get some of their pastries for breakfast from time to time. I love their chocolate earl grey cake (more like a mousse) because I’m a fan of both chocolate and tea-flavored desserts:
Paris Baguette - chocolate earl grey

Another cafe near the office is Paul, a well-known cafe in France. I’ve seen branches of it in French airports and train stations. I dropped by to grab a croissant and chocolat chaud for breakfast one day:
Paul - pastries

Paul - macarons

Paul’s macarons have two sizes: tiny and huge.

Royce is a fancy Japanese chocolate brand and my go-to whenever I’m in dire need of chocolate. I think they’re reasonably priced for the quality that they provide.
Royce

Awfully Chocolate is a Sinagaporean chocolate store that offers a variety of dark chocolate desserts. My favorite from them is their cold poached chocolate, a kind mousse that’s so rich and yummy. I’m not a big fan of their truffles, I think the ones from Royce are better.
Awfully Chocolate

This post would not be complete without a Laduree shot! I’ve tried Laduree in Paris and Singapore and I think the quality is pretty consistent. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite macaron brand in Singapore but I feel like they started the trend so they deserve the popularity. I tried their earl grey flavor when I visited this time.
Laduree - Laura Florand Discussion

Bonheur Patisserie is a brand that comes up whenever I search for macarons in Singapore. I didn’t love them the first time I tried their macarons but I’ve found two flavors that I think they do really well: lavender and rose.
Bonheur Patisserie

Bonheur Patisserie 2

Bonheur Patisserie with matcha

Bonheur Patisserie’s lavender and rose macarons paired with St. Marc’s matcha latte

I’ve been meaning to try Patisserie G for a while now and finally got to do so when I was in that area with my friend. We shared their signature dessert called the G spot and I had a lavender lemon macaron. We found the G spot just okay, but I thought the macaron was yummy.
Patisserie G pastries
Patisserie G macarons
Patisserie G

Last, but certainly not the least, is another well-known Parisian cafe that opened a branch in Singapore: Angelina. I previously blogged about their chocolat chaud and macarons. This time, my friend and I ordered their Negresco pastry (meringue, chocolate mousse, dark chocolate shavings ) and signature Angelina tea (light and fruity). My friend and I agreed that the Negresco is much better than the G spot mentioned above.
Angelina - Negresco and tea
Angelina - Negresco

OMG I’m feeling so guilty just looking back on these pictures. I need to have more salads in the coming days and weeks. I used to say that I would have started a food blog if I didn’t have a book blog. So it’s also been fun to go to these places, try their desserts and take pictures. Sometimes, I share my food adventures on Instagram. What do you guys think of all of these yumminess? 🙂


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Foodie Reads

Soup and salad from Poulet

If you browse through my Instagram stream, my photos mostly involve books, food and postcards. I think that’s proof enough that I enjoy eating good food just as much as I enjoy reading a good book. So I’m delighted whenever I come across novels that focus on food, whether the characters are chefs or foodies just like me. I love reading books that make me hungry or crave for a certain dish or pastry while I’m reading – which is not always a good thing because there are times when I don’t have access to the type of food described in the book. Nevertheless, I still enjoy reading mouthwatering descriptions to the point where as a reader, you almost feel like you can taste what the author has imagined.

Here are some of my favorite foodie reads:

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand and the rest of the Amour et Chocolat books – Chocolate and Paris are the main ingredients for Laura Florand’s delicious romances, I can’t get enough of her books.

Truly by Ruthie Knox – Loved how honey was described in this one and it was also great how the characters went on a food trip around New York. I never knew taco could be sexy until I read this!

Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer – It was lovely how Liza Palmer highlighted the warmth and comfort that a well-cooked, favorite meal brings to any person.

Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer – Seeing Me Naked wasn’t as focused on food as Nowhere But Home was but I thought it was great that the main character is a pastry chef.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – I loved how food and cooking was combined with magic in this book.

Dessert and coffee from Tiong Bahru Bakery

What about you, what are your favorite reads that have food as one of the main aspects of the story? I would love to get some good recommendations! I’ve made myself hungry while writing this post but since it’s almost midnight, I should go to bed instead.