Monthly Archives: February 2011

Style-File: The Belated CNY Dress-Up Post

Jazzy’s outfit

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(Dress from Soon Lee, shoes from H&M Hong Kong, bag from FemmeX)

Detail shots:

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(Ring from Topshop, London- a thank-you gift from my students for taking care of them on last year’s UK trip)

Andrew: I really liked the simplicity of Jasmine’s dress. The stripes of colour worked really well together and suited Jasmine’s skin-tone very well. I liked too how Dearie sneaked in pops of ‘CNY-colours’ in her ring and some of the ‘bands’ in her dress, without being too obvious and boring. Of course, I always like Dearie in such dresses as they are so relaxed and girly. Heh. 🙂

Andrew’s outfit

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(Shirt from River Island, pants from P.O.A., oxford shoes from Geox)

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(Belt from Raoul: Jazzy’s Christmas present to Andrew- it’s reversible too!)

Detail shots:

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Jasmine: Although Andrew took a lot of ribbing from his cousins about his "man jewelry", I thought those finishing touches really made his outfit more youthful and relaxed! Those stripey socks added a kick of colour to an otherwise subdued outfit. The oxford shoes were half-price at Geox and in such an unusual colour (greyish taupe) too… we walked from Raffles City to Marina Square to get them!

Andrew: Besides the shoes, the River-Island shirt has a long history too! We initially spotted the shirt early 2010, but I was hesitant and unsure as I felt that this shirt was too ‘adventurous’ and ‘bold’ for work. We didn’t manage to get detail shots, but the shirt has ‘floral’ patterns on it and silver buttons. We went in repeatedly to see the shirt and I believe I even tried it twice but chose not to buy it. One day, I finally decided to buy it and we went back to River Island only to discover that my size was no longer available – that was about August or so? However, when Dearie was in Sydney last year, I spent some time in Orchard by myself (shocking, I know) and somehow decided to go into River Island at Ion. To my biggest surprise, the shirt was there again and in my size! I bought it immediately! I have started wearing this shirt to work and it’s getting some good reviews from my colleagues.

Some shots with our families:

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V-Day 2011: All our favourite things

Jasmine: This year’s V-Day was a simple, low-key affair, consisting of all our favourite things- dinner, endless laughter, music, handwritten cards and of course, flowers!

When I got home on Sunday evening, I saw this humongous, gorgeous bouquet of lilies in my living room.

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Andrew: Due to FarEastFlora’s limitation to only two very broad delivery timeslots on Monday, it was very difficult to arrange an on-the-day delivery of the flowers to surprise Jasmine. However, all worked out for the better as arranging for the flowers to arrive a day before was an even better surprise! The smile on Dearie’s face was priceless!

A tip for all guys – FarEastFlora, though pricey, is definitely worth the money. You can trust me when I say this as I have ordered and bought flowers from many other florists before. The flowers from Far East Flora are extremely hardy and they can provide flower food so you can sustain the flowers for at least a week from the date of purchasing the bouquet. There were lilies in the bouquet above which hadn’t bloomed yet and when I went to Dearie’s place yesterday and saw them, they looked really beautiful. (Jasmine: The flowers from Far East Flora have never let us down, although maintaining them does require a little effort. Midweek, I had to prune dying lilies, cut off the leaves, pollen and slice the stalks to absorb water better. The fact that they can last a week –despite being in my care– attests to their resilience though.) Oops, I digress, back to our entry on our V-day Celebration. Heh.

Jasmine: We had dinner at Spruce on Valentine’s Day. Andrew once again chose a restaurant that was perfect for the occasion: it was a little out-of-the-way and the atmosphere was chic yet laidback. It kind of reminded us of the relaxed dining mood at Forty Hands, although its decor and clientele were more upmarket. I really liked the original art on the walls too!

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Andrew: We chose to sit indoors and the interior was very romantically lit (e.g. dim) – which made it difficult to take photos. However, I managed to manipulate the shutter speed so that we could take all the photos above with the help of timer and extra stable hands. Hence the photos above don’t truly reflect what the interior of Spruce is really like.

IMG_9563Dearie having some fun with her lilies

Jasmine: Without realising it, we ordered three pasta dishes (two mains and a side)!

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Jasmine: We initially ordered the signature prawn pasta.

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Although this had been recommended by the waiter as one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, the prawn orachiette with zucchini sauce was a little bland for my taste. However, when we asked to flavour it with more parmesan, the Spanish chef was so accommodating and friendly that he immediately ordered a waiter to replace our pasta with a freshly-cooked risotto, which turned out to be far superior!

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This was a really stellar risotto. I was a little hesitant about mixing my truffled hen egg in, but it blended creamily into the rice and created a very light, subtly truffled “sauce” which flavoured the risotto well. The chives were sprinkled liberally over the dish, which enhanced the delightfully woody taste of the mushrooms.

Andrew: This was really a very well done risotto, I must say. Somehow, mushroom risottos can never go wrong. The one at House@Dempsey is pretty good too. La Nonna’s at Holland V also serves a very good risotto. The fantastic service by the Head Chef also earned Spruce many bonus points!

For myself, I ordered the Tagliatelle with Kurobuta Pork Bolognese:

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Bolognese pastas always taste relatively the same to me, no matter how high class the restaurant is or how well prepared it is. This was a rather average dish, though the kurobata pork had a chewier texture than the usual minced meat used for Bolognese pastas. The cheese used also gave the pasta a more robust flavour, but the dish didn’t really amaze me.

For side-dishes, we had the Mac and Cheese and the Roasted Corn tarragon and Chili Butter.

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Andrew: Both were good. The Mac and Cheese can be a main course on its own and the corn was really flavourful. However, the portion size for the corn was way too small.

We were way too full for dessert, hence we spent the rest of the night chatting while I sipped the signature Spruce Lemonade with Mint Leaves (way too sour!) and left me with a slight stomach upset, which thankfully didn’t spoil our Valentines!

Jasmine: And of course, at the end of the night, we traded our under-$50 presents:

A Martha Stewart craft punch from Andrew to Jazzy (with Reese’s Pieces thrown in for good measure!)…

IMG_9586 Jasmine: The craft punch came wrapped in a gift bag from Daiso. When we were  passing by the gift wrap aisle at Daiso last Sunday, Andrew was trying his best to not be too obvious:

Andrew: “Which of these bags do you think a girl will like?”

Me: “Depends on which girl and which occasion.”

Andrew:  “Aiyah, no need to be so complicated. Let’s say, any girl. Just choose.”

So I played dumb and answered his hypothetical questions 🙂

And a High Society jazz CD from Jazzy to Andrew (plus that card-making class!)…

 

And of course, a card made from scrapbooking materials:

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The front of the card displays a picture of the first cake Jazzy baked for Andrew on his 26th birthday

Andrew: This doesn’t flow chronologically, but I thought it would be apt to end the entry with this! After our date, I had something special prepared for Dearie as a surprise. I sang Peter Joback’s Thank You to her to thank you for another wonderful year spent together:

Andrew: I had heard this song while browsing for Jazz CD’s (the exact one which Jasmine bought for me!) and thought the words were really meaningful. It really captured how thankful I was for every single day we had spent together – the battle-to-be-won days, the weekdays, the weekends, everyday. Thank you Jasmine for being such a wonderful girlfriend in all ways, for supporting me through everything and for taking care of me. I love you, Dearie!

Jasmine: Thank you dear for planning this V-date so well! After dinner, when we had walked back to the car, Andrew declared that he had planned something special to end off our night with. Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:

Thank You (Secret Garden)

If I lived to be a thousand years,
If I ruled the word – it’s hemispheres,
I could not repay the love you brought my way,
So, I want to say it now
To thank you for each day you gave me.

Thank you for the Mondays,
Saturdays and Sundays,
Everyday, the whole year through;
Thank you for the fun days,
All those number-one days,
Battles-to-be-won days, too;
I just want to say it,
Thank you for each day with…you.

Both Andrew and I found the line about the “battles-to-be-won days” especially meaningful because we seem to have weathered so many crises and major transitions despite having been together for less than two years. And although I groaned and joked about muting the volume or going instrumental, having Andrew hold my hand while singing this song softly to me was probably the best part of the V-day lineup. Thank you dear.

Pre V-Day 2011

Andrew: Since Valentines’ Day fell on a week day this year, I thought we’d start the V-Day festivities early by having a pre-celebration at the Sentosa Flower Festival! It was a colleague of mine who also loves flowers told me about it a few weeks ago. I completely forgot about it until I checked on Saturday and realised the last day was on Sunday!

We waited until an opportune time, when the weather was suitably cooling. (Jasmine: Yes, Andrew arrived at my place just before 3pm but I didn’t want to venture out in direct sunlight so we killed time by scrapbooking until 430pm  He’s sweet like that. Heh.) We then made our way across on the newest Sentosa Boardwalk where we were greeted by what I initially thought was a ‘stylized’, calligraphic version of a red rabbit. Turns out it was just the Resorts World logo composed of flowers. It does look like a red rabbit, doesn’t it? There was a rather menacing red rabbit in the background though, with red eyes! It seems like it is reaching out at Dearie in the photo below!

Andrew: We should have known too that on the last day, it would be especially crowded. We (or rather, Jasmine) literally had to barge our way in just to get our photos taken. There were so many tourists vying for that photo spot!

As we walked past Universal Studios towards the Merlion, there were many more animals of the zodiac along the steps. The pictures below are just a few of time.

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Andrew: As you can see, Dearie has nicely matched her clothes with the Festival by wearing a floral patterned dress and I’m not quite sure what animal’s being portrayed in the photo above with a fearful Andrew.

Bunny Trail

Jasmine: And of course, it being the year of the rabbit, there were bunnies scattered everywhere!

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These bunnies looked more like hares though:

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Flower Power

Andrew: At this point, you must be wondering where the ‘flowers’ are in this Flower Festival. To be honest, we were rather underwhelmed by the flowers in this exhibition as the attractions seemed to be more of the bunnies and the designs they had done with the various flowers (like the one shown below).

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The organisers had set up queue poles just to ensure that people were queuing up orderly to take photos with these floral arrangements. The flowers themselves were rather small and most of them had not fully bloomed. Nonetheless, there were still some rather nice floral arrangements throughout like the ones below:

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And of course, this being a pre V-day celebration, there were nice spots too like the one below for couples to enjoy a (really) brief romantic respite from the crazy, CNY crowd.

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Happy Pre V-Day Dearie!

Scrapbooking for Dummies

Andrew: As you would probably have realised, Jasmine has gotten quite into scrapbooking over the past few weeks and she is even considering conducting a workshop on scrapbooking. So, who would be a better ‘test-subject’ than someone who has completely no interest and little talent in scrapbooking? (Jasmine: Poor dear, what a way to describe yourself 😛 ) Heh. Thus last Sunday, I sacrificed and tried my hands at scrapbooking, with very clear instructions and guidance from Dearie:

Step 1: Prepare the materials

Choose a photo, your base paper, and four pieces of cardstock in coordinating colours.

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Cut the cardstock down to size and get to work tearing, scraping and distressing them for an antiqued look.

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Andrew: Jasmine taught me how to improvise with existing equipment to create the same effect as expensive scrapbook materials could. For example, people usually buy ‘scrapers’ to create jagged edges to give the cut-outs a slightly worn-out, vintage look. However, Dearie showed me how the same effect could have been easily (or not so easily) achieved using the edge of a scissors!

Jasmine: We also played around with the new craft punch that Andrew bought for me for V-day!

Step 2:  Select the embellishments

IMG_9516Embellishments consisted of cloth flowers, chipboard floral patterns, buttons, keys and stickers

Andrew: Jasmine made this part very clear and structured for me by providing suggestions and showing me possible options for buttons, flowers and other embellishments. I have to admit that I really didn’t want to put flowers on my scrapbook page! However, as we were replicating a design she had learnt at a class and that she is planning to teach others, I had no choice. Heh. If I really had a choice, I’d put more of those metallic keys around! I guess that’s why guys don’t make good scrapbook-ers.

Step 3: Assemble all components

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Andrew: We didn’t manage to photograph many of the intermediate steps as they weren’t really photo-friendly. This final product involved a lot of strategic gluing, layering and positioning. We initially wanted to use a photo of our graduation from NIE to match with the ‘grade card’ background. However, the alignment of us in the photo made it difficult to fit it in this design, so we chose this one instead! The photo brought back good memories of our first mission trip together!

The final outcome:

IMG_9523Total time taken: 90 minutes

A side-by-side comparision with the original

Andrew: Not bad! Quite close to Dearie’s original, though both pieces have a rather different feel to it. Dearie’s one is more distinctly vintage as she used more distress ink than me and mine still looks rather modern, due to the colours as well. If I had a choice, I would have done without the ribbons around the heart too. Like I said, I guess men just really aren’t made for scrapbooking! Heh. I thought the colours worked quite well though and if anything, the one I created was much less ‘girly’ than the one Jasmine did. I think the colours and the patterns of the paper that I chose helped to make my scrap-page less feminine. I hope so?

Jasmine: I think Andrew’s choice of primary colours made his layout seem bold and fresh! His page had a much more modern vibe than the one that I did in class.

And the unintended consequence…

IMG_9525Andrew passes out from the exertion 🙂

Jasmine: As I began clearing up, Andrew declared that he was feeling tired and lay down on my sofa. My mum and I had a good chuckle at his expense. Didn’t realise scrapbooking was so draining!

Andrew: It was surprisingly easy to pick up scrapbooking. However, it was only easy this time because it was a very ‘structured’, step by step approach which we took. If I’m left to my own creative devices, I think just all the different sorts of paper and embellishments will confuse me to no end. (Jasmine: This is why I would present Andrew with, say, two choices of flowers and have him choose one, so that it wouldn’t be too overwhelming. All things considered, I think Andrew did fairly well for a first attempt!)

A V-Day Gift Guide That WON’T Bankrupt You

Jasmine: For this year as well as last, Andrew and I have mutually agreed to keep our gift budget for Valentine’s Day below $50 per person. I don’t know about you, but I’m rather sick of hearing about all the exorbitant spending that goes on in the name of “romance”: jacked-up restaurant prices, inflated florist fees (Andrew would know this better than me though, heh) and outrageous demands for big-ticket items i.e. diamonds and iWhatevers. The spending has spiralled so out of control that even discount sites like Groupon are getting in on the V-day act and offering half-price bouquets and dinners!

Here are a few simple and meaningful gifts that you can buy, or better still, make for your significant other this February the 14th:

1. This Is For You by Rob Ryan

This is an ideal gift for a Die-Hard Romantic (DHR as Andrew has coined it), people who don’t like to read lengthy pieces or just anyone who’s even remotely into design and illustration. The story is told entirely through exquisite papercuts and at $15 USD, a really sweet gift and an even sweeter deal.

2. Compile your own poetry anthology

Some of Andrew and my favourites are Carol Ann Duffy’s “Valentine” (he introduced it to me in Lit class), Harold Pinter’s “It Is Here” and Veronica Shoffstall’s “After A While”. And if you’re buying her flowers, why not send along a card that carries this lovely little poem by William Carlos Williams:

THE ACT

There were the roses, in the rain.
Don’t cut them, I pleaded.
They won’t last, she said.
But they’re so beautiful
where they are.
Agh, we were all beautiful once, she said,
and cut them and gave them to me
in my hand.

Don’t just stop at poetry! Weave in lyrics from your favourite songs and even funny conversations that you’ve had. One classic metrosexual quote from Andrew that I’ve been dying to put up (we were discussing how he could blog about his starter collection of four watches):

Andrew: I need to buy another watch. Because four watches do not a post make.

3. A bouquet of vintage brooches

I really, really *cough* adore this idea! Many sellers on Etsy make gorgeous versions of this bouquet but alas, they retail for a couple hundred bucks apiece. Why not get creative and source your own vintage brooches? If you run out of options, fret not- there’s always the hair clip section at Accessorize 🙂

4. Cinema Under The Stars

Set up your own Cinema Under The Stars (CUTS). Download an old black-and-white film and watch it together atop Mount Faber, complete with your favourite movie snacks! You can never go wrong with feel-good favourites such as

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Swing Time, starring the legendary Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
  • French Can Can (for foreign film buffs- this is a charming 1960s film by Jean Renoir)
  • Black Swan (included in this shortlist for its swoon-worthy cinematography and costumes by Rodarte but do be warned that this is a psychological suspense thriller rated M-18!)

5. Supporting your other half’s pastimes/ hobbies

According to pop-psych theories, this kind of “gift” says that you value her and you value what she values or considers to be an important part of herself. You could surprise your other half by signing her up for that photography class that she’s always wanted to go for or buying him functional items that would support his hobby i.e. a tie rack if he’s into ties.

A case to store watches… A sign of things to come??

Andrew is very good at this and will occasionally buy me paper flowers, sequins or other inexpensive items to support my penchant for scrapbooking. One other thing that I really appreciate about Andrew is how he allows our dates to be “hijacked” by a quick browse in some scrapbook store. He may complain (alot) about it, but he has never begrudged me that time to hunt down that perfect ribbon in Spotlight or Daiso. Time is one of the best gifts you can give!

Scrapbook: The Cookout Layout

Jasmine: Given how Andrew never passes up a chance to grill me about my kitchen mishaps, I decided to create a scrapbook page that featured a dish that I actually managed to pull off- ice cream waffles! (So what if the waffles were ready-made and came out of a box? 😛 )

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Jasmine: This was the first time I worked with transparencies. I simply cut them out and stuck them on top of the lettering (picture below, to the left). I reckon I shall make my own transparencies next! Do any bookshops still sell transparency markers? (Andrew: Yes, I can pass you some of mine, Dear!)

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Jasmine: And of course, a less-than-subtle warning for my beloved Mr Chong: "Complaints to the cook can be hazardous to your health". Isn’t love great?

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(Andrew: I think my stomach has grown quite resilient after our various culinary “adventures”! Heh.)

Special of the Week

Jasmine: While the subtitle of this blog reads, "because she’s changed my life", I’ve to admit that Andrew has changed mine too. One of the ways in which Andrew has profoundly influenced me is in the area of dining. Andrew and his family are avid foodies, so over the past year and a half of dating, he’s opened my eyes to the fact that there are more restaurants out there beyond Mos Burger and Long John Silver’s. Yep, the girl who used to classify Mos Burger as fine dining  is now considering trying out a degustation menu when we get our bonuses!

This layout was inspired by our love for good food at great prices (and the fact that there was nothing else to do but watch crappy TV on a Wednesday night):

Special of the Week

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Jasmine: I also got to play with the craft punch that Andrew bought for my Valentine’s day gift! It’s remarkably easy to use- thanks Mr Chong!

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More detail shots:

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Jasmine: And the man himself, who happened to be wearing the same Raoul shirt as the picture in the layout:

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(Andrew: I have not worn this shirt for the entire year and it was just such great timing that I wore it on the day Dearie wanted me to photograph the scrapbook page. This picture also brings back great memories of my first birthday spent together with Jasmine. She actually spent two days preparing for this celebration by baking a chocolate cake and preparing a sumptuous meal plus drinks. We drove all the way up to one of the pavilions in Mt. Faber and had a candlelight dinner. That was the sweetest thing any one had ever done to celebrate my birthday. The scrapbook page is just as beautiful as my memory of that night!)

The V-Day Card Challenge

Jasmine: Yesterday, Andrew and I had a little time to kill so we decided to face-off in a V-Day card making challenge!

Andrew: I’ve never been really good at art, but after seeing Dearie’s wonderful scrapbooks, I don’t deny I do feel tempted at times to try my hand at scrapbooking. Jasmine teased me so much about the previous ‘hand-made’ card that I made for her that I thought this V-Day challenge was the time for me to redeem myself!

Rules

1. One sheet of A4-sized white paper to be used

2. Cannot cover the white paper with another sheet of paper (defeats the point of using white paper!)

3. 60-minute time limit

Materials

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(White paper, markers, scotch-tape, glue, scissors and magazines/ postcards/ leftover angpows)

Jasmine: Andrew got a 10-minute headstart and decided to cut out the butterflies from the red packets:

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Andrew: Unfortunately my head-start came to naught as the butterfly that I spent ten minutes cutting out got blown away by the fan and couldn’t be found. Unfazed, I continued cutting, snipping and pasting and…

Jasmine: This was what Andrew came up with!

IMG_9477The cover

IMG_9478The inside

Andrew: I was going for the concept of ‘contrast’ with the more girly exterior (with pink, butterflies and heart) and the masculine accessories inside like watch, belt and Ipod touch.

Jasmine: I thought that the concept for the inside of Andrew’s card was quite creative. Andrew cut out a picture of an Ipod and wrote a sweet message inside. I did however question his choice of decorations: pictures of a watch and a leather cuff… I sure hope he’s not hinting about what V-day gift he wants 😛

I had originally planned on an all-white card, using nothing but a penknife to carve out butterflies for added texture. However, we weren’t able to find a penknife so I started cutting random strips from a magazine and piecing them together.

My final product, which Andrew commented was “very me”:

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Andrew: This was typical Jazzy avant-garde style. Unlike my efforts which were quite slow and deliberate, Jasmine just let her inspiration flow and snipped off strips of paper from the magazine non-stop. It was like she knew what to do right from the start! Heh. I like the little flowers and butterflies at the bottom corner of the card which even seems to be camouflaged amongst the strips behind. (Jasmine: Actually, all three cutouts are butterflies:( )

Andrew: All in all, it was a fun challenge and I discovered that I do have some talent after all. Heh.

Update: Jazzy has gifted Andrew with a card-making class as part of her V-day present to him, so watch this space!

Romantic Restaurants for V-Day

Jasmine: Valentine’s Day. Commercialised? Yes. Waste of money? Totally. Occasion for florists and card companies to earn tons? Certainly.

Are we still going to celebrate it? Absolutely!

Every restaurant worth its weight in salt will surely be packed, so Andrew and I have come up with a list of some of our favourite romantic eateries, arranged by price point.

1) Under $15: Forty Hands (78 Yong Siak Street)

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Andrew: This is one of the most unique cafes I’ve visited thus far. In spite of its secluded locality, there was a steady stream of patrons on a Sunday at 3 p.m. I’m not normally one who has an eye for decor but I was really fascinated by the cake display and the interesting arrangement of planks and different lamps on the ceiling.

DSC_0888Apparently they have a good dinner menu, but we only managed to try their sandwiches which were really quite good. The pulled pork sandwich which I had had raisins, pineapples and tomato puree in it. It tasted like a well-toasted version of a Hawaiian pizza. I was so tempted to try their bitter chocolate tart, their orange jaffa slice and their huge cookies, but I was saving my stomach for a heavy dinner! The light at the bottom of the display just makes the desserts look all the more yummy.

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Jasmine: Forty Hands had a very authentically local atmosphere, from the recycled cans to the Chinese porcelain plates that were reminiscent of 60s’ hawker ware. They supposedly serve a mean latte, but I thought that the selection of food (sandwiches and all day breakfasts) was scrumptious.

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My salt cod mash was quite special. Although I tasted more mash than cod, it was flavoured with just the right amount of saltiness, and went well with the rocket and toasted wholemeal bread.

 

2) Under $20: Bistro One Zero Three (103 Pasir Panjang Road)IMG_6225

Jasmine: Looks can be deceiving. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant was one of our early finds, tucked away along Keppel Road. The storefront looks like it has survived a natural disaster, but the inside is cozy and unpretentious.

IMG_6226Andrew: What we liked about this place was how quiet it was. (Well, it would be given that it’s almost impossible to get here without a car.) It might not be as quiet on Valentines Day, but the service here is top notch and guaranteed to make you feel like you’re the only ones in the restaurant. The calamari was juicy and tasty, unlike many other versions where only thin slivers are offered. The pastas that we had were cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of herbs, seasonings and olive oil to flavour every single bite. I heard their escargoes and beef stroganoff are really good.

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Still Under $20: Le Petit Cuisine (along Upper Thomson Road or at Serene Centre)

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Jasmine: Another lovely little bistro that Andrew’s introduced me to is the French place, Le Petit Cuisine, which does surprisingly good meals with a French spin at decent prices (no GST!).

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Jasmine: Being quite the carnivore, I’ve tried the confit du canard (nice crispy skin) and just yesterday, Andrew ordered the beef and lamb sausages for me. The sausages were accompanied by a unique variety of sauces – Bearnaise (which I personally preferred with eggs Benedict) and two types of mustard. Given that the sausages retained their natural savoury flavour and juiciness,  I preferred them sans any kind of dressing.

IMG_9488Andrew: The Serene Centre branch of this restaurant can be rather romantic as it has an outdoor seating area dimly lit up with little tea light candles on the table and feels like one of those small cafes in Paris. Heh. (Jasmine: Yes! Andrew brought me there on one of our very first dates and I really liked how quaint and out-of-the-way it was. I like to think that we dined in the garden by candlelight, heh.) The food’s very decent for the price. I would recommend the escargoes on croissant starter. They are extremely generous with the garlic butter sauce which they douse generously on the croissant. The escargoes are great and the croissant absorbs up all the sauce and is extremely yummy! I had the beef bourguignon spaghetti yesterday which was very hearty and flavourful with the right combination of spices, carrots and huge chunks of beef.

3) Under $30: TWG (at Ion)

Jasmine: Be prepared to wait in queue for up to 20 minutes as this place has limited seating and is very popular. The quality of the teas far outpaced the quality of the cuisine. Chocolate Truffle Mint tea was my selection and the mint aftertaste was subtle without being bland while the chocolate was sufficiently rich without being overpowering.

The high tea sets sounded divine but tasted average. For the price they commanded, the portion size was also abit of a let down. I’d recommend splitting a half-dozen tea-infused macarons with a friend instead.

IMG_9346Andrew: The whole place speaks British upper-class without being overly pretentious. Like Dearie mentioned though, the food wasn’t impressive. Don’t come here with the intention to have a hearty, delicious meal. The tea-set shown below can hardly satisfy any grown man’s appetite.

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Andrew: This is the kind of place where you come to savour the experience and enjoy good (or in my case, great!) company. Choosing the teas itself is such a delightful experience as the waiter brings out the various tea leaves for you to sample their fragrance. There are more varieties of teas here than drinks at any regular restaurants. Besides the regional teas, they had such interesting flavours like Chocolate Tea, Christmas Lights Tea, Hypnosis Tea etc. There is such attention to detail in the cups and tea-pots that you feel like you’re engaging in an art form. (Of course, after you’ve finished appreciating that art, you’ll probably need to fill your tummy at Ion’s Food Gallery at Basement 4. Heh.)

Food on the Go

Andrew: In case you get the impression from the previous post that Jasmine and I often seek out ‘affordable’ good restaurants during our dates, I assure you that it’s not true!

We did do a post last year on the places we usually fall back on on days when we just don’t have enough energy to be ‘innovative’ and fun. However, we’ve recently become bored with those places as well and we’ve explored a few new options that fall into the same price range (under $20/ pax) with a few hits and misses.

Superdog

Andrew: Jasmine was the one who first saw this fastfood place at Vivocity, and I happened to read a local food magazine and realised that Superdog was actually the first local fast food chain to be so successful – so we made our way down to check out what the craze was all about. 

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I had the Spicy Italian (the one at the bottom of the picture, $6.00) and Jasmine had the Chili Dog ($4.00). The Spicy Italian sausage had a real kick and it was rather shiok eating it with the mustard and the cabbage. However, my major gripe with Superdog is its price. This hot-dog costs $6 on its own, with $2 top-up for meal, and it barely made me 50% full. It’s not value for money at all.

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Jasmine: My sausage tasted flat, with none of the juiciness or "bite" that I expect from hotdogs. I’ve bought better ones from QB (a massive megamart for frozen food) before.

Our rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Soup Broth Asia

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Lotus Root with Pork Rib Soup (left) and Salted Vegetable with Duck Soup

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Accompanying side-dishes (top up 4.80 for 2 dishes)

Andrew: It’s ironic that although it was Dearie who first introduced me to Soup Spoon, I’m now the one who drags us to Soup Spoon. (Jasmine:  The situation has gotten so extreme that in order to accommodate Andrew’s soup spoon HABIT, we’ll sometimes split our dinner over two places so each of us gets what we want.)The mushroom soup always makes me happy!

Soup Spoon’s Asian companion, Soup Broth Asia,  isn’t too bad as well.

The photos above do not do justice to the amount of ingredients that were in the soup. The lotus root soup had a very generous portion of 4-5 meaty pieces of pork ribs, dried cuttlefish, lotus root slices, carrots, red dates and peanuts. The soup had a very full-bodied taste, much unlike the rather watery ones that we sometimes get at food court stalls serving herbal soups. Jasmine’s salted-duck soup came with an equally generous portion of duck too.

The accompanying side-dishes were decent enough. All soup comes with a bowl of rice and is guaranteed to make you full for a reasonable price of $13 (if you order the set). In fact, I think the set’s not necessary as the soup itself is rich with ingredients. 

Our rating: 3.75 stars

Hand-Burger

Andrew: We walked by Hand-Burger many times ever since Jasmine began her scrapbooking obsession, oops I meant hobby. (Jasmine: Okay Andrew Chong, you and I are going to have a little talk later.) It’s always relatively crowded, so we thought we’d give it a try. 

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The Handburger Original

I ordered the Handburger Original as I wasn’t in the mood for anything too huge like ‘The Works Burger’ and also wanted to see how their freshly ground beef patty compared to others like Relish or Fatboys Burger, which we tried a week earlier. The patty was rather average, but I did like the sweet onion jam which complemented the meaty patty very well. One good thing about HandBurger is its sauces. They served a home-made tomato sauce with our onion rings and we really loved the sauce a lot! Unfortunately, The burger was too small and I finished it feeling rather unsatisfied!   (Jasmine: Yes, and sadly, the tomato sauce was the best thing on the menu.)

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Duck Confit Burger with handmade orange sauce and mandarin oranges

Andrew: This burger didn’t quite work for me. I felt the boneless duck leg confit was too plain on its own and didn’t have that meaty shiokness that a beef patty had. This was probably more of personal taste than anything. The orange sauce didn’t really add to the taste of the duck – it seemed like two separate flavours that didn’t go well together at all.

Jasmine: Duck confit is one of my favourite French dishes so I had expected the duck meat in this burger to be grilled to crispy perfection, with a satisfying crunch. However, this burger was rather underwhelming: the meat was not particularly tender and took ages to chew down. Stack a couple of burger buns on top and it’s a recipe for bloatedness.

In addition, I had tried a Mos burger a few days back that had also used the combination of duck and orange sauce. The Mos burger won hands down.

We weren’t too impressed overall by HandBurger, but I wonder if it was because of what we ordered. While we were there, we saw many ordering the Battered Dory Burger which looked formidable with two huge, golden-brown slices of Dory and The Works burger, which looked filling indeed. We might give it a try again someday.

Our rating: 3 stars