Monthly Archives: July 2011

2nd Year Anniversary @ La Catina

[Andrew: We are still clearing our backlog of entries and this entry dates back to even before the June holidays!]

Special Bouquet from Secret Garden by Jaslyn

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Jasmine: We had just been in this flower shop a week prior and I had fallen in love with the delphiniums because of its unusual and vivid indigo hue. So I was pleasantly surprised when Andrew incorporated that flower when he put this anniversary bouquet together himself (with some help from the florist, of course).

Andrew: There was no bouquet with the flower that Dearie requested, hence I had to ‘make’ my own by choosing various flowers which I thought complemented the delphiniums quite well using some of Dearie’s ‘colour wheel’ principle and of course, some of my own ‘instincts’.  This was actually one of the most affordable and beautiful bouquets that I’ve bought Jasmine.

Dinner at La Catina in Venezia @ Changi Village Hotel

Jasmine: For dinner, Andrew chose an Italian restaurant located at Changi. I’d have to give it at least four stars for ambience, seriously, because its out-of-the-way, seaside location made it perfect for a romantic and quiet dinner.

I was not so keen on the faux Baroque decor but otherwise enjoyed the high ceilings and sweeping views of the sea.

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Andrew: A colleague had recommended this place to me before and I read good reviews of it on ladyironchef, which claimed it was one of the best places for Italian food. I’m always on the look out for quiet, scenic places that make you feel like you’re not in Singapore and this was definitely it! The restaurant was located on the top floor of the hotel, next to the small swimming pool. It was breezy and you had a perfect view of the sea. It was just the place I wanted! They offer al fresco dining as well.

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Jasmine: Andrew had heard good things about the Parma ham and melon, and I must say this was one dish that lived up to its reputation! Painstakingly cured and full of brackish flavour,and went well with the juicy and sweet melon slices. Oh yes, do take note that you’re not supposed to discard the streaks of fat, as Parma ham can only be appreciated in its entirety. So be prepared to forgo your diet 🙂

Andrew: This was an extremely generous portion of paper thin parma ham with huge slices of sweet melon. Parma ham is extremely salty, so the sweet melon did help to balance out the saltiness. It helped too that the melon was incredibly fresh and juicy. However, I’m one for warm appetizers, so I didn’t quite enjoy it after a while. I enjoyed the parma ham much more when I ate it with the garlic bread below as its warm fragrance really helped to enhance the taste of the ham.

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Generous portions of garlic bread

Andrew: We enjoyed the garlic bread lots. Huge slices of bread with butter and fresh garlic and herbs sprinkled over – what’s there not to like? I believe it was rather affordable too. That’s another plus point of these out of the way restaurants! Now, on to our main courses!

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Jasmine: Gnocchi and ravioli are like comfort food to me. This gnocchi was quite palatable as it was creamy but not too starchy.

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Crabmeat Linguine

Andrew: This was one of the highly recommended dishes on the food blog and hungrygowhere.com (another good food resource, but not as reliable as blogs, IMHO) as well. It had a very light tomato base mixed with cream and an intense seafood umami taste. The crab meat came in medium size chunks, so it was quite worth it.

Andrew: Unfortunately, the dessert was a big letdown. I can’t even remember what the name of this dessert was, but basically – don’t even bother trying any of their desserts. They are over-priced – at about $8 per dessert and they aren’t even made in-house. You know the dessert is not good when it’s just taken out of the freezer where you see the drink bottles stored.

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IMG_0013Locking fingers over the Parma ham

Andrew: We would still recommend this restaurant for the ambience and better than average food!

It was indeed a significant anniversary for us as we had just done our 3rd lesson of the marriage preparation course with Touch Community services that day too. During the dinner, we spoke about our plans for the future – our future – and we also covered other points recommended to us by the couples conducting the course. We realised too that we had indeed made great strides as a couple and individually over the year and truly, we are thankful to God for bringing us to where we are today and teaching us to learn how to love each other.

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Happy 2nd year Anniversary Dearie!

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Uniqlo Uni-glow

Jasmine: One of our favourite mass-market brands has got to be Japanese retailer Uniqlo. I firmly believe that while other large brands like H&M produce affordable, trendy fashion, Uniqlo is unrivalled in terms of quality and value for money.

We’ve unearthed quite a few good quality staples for Andrew from Uniqlo!

For Him

1. Hunter green polo tee, $29.90

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Jasmine: One of Uniqlo’s strengths is that it always delivers wardrobe basics in an extensive and on-trend array of colours. We liked how the forest green went well with Mr Chong’s tan.

Andrew: Uniqlo’s the best place for good, affordable polo T-shirts. I had been looking for them high and low as most of them were either too generic or too expensive (ie. Fred Perry). This was perfect! I wore this for a ‘green-themed’ party and my colleague commented that this was the most ‘interesting green’. Heh. Another colleague commented that this was RI green.

I liked the shirt a lot, but being rather stingy, was unwilling to buy it. Dearie thoughtfully made an additional trip down to Uniqlo on another day just to get it for me as a surprise gift!

2. Navy blue bermudas, $39.90

Andrew: I always find that I don’t have enough casual clothes, so this berms was perfect for me (perfect price, perfect fit and perfect colour too!). The colour doesn’t come out too clearly in the picture below, but it is indeed a very versatile pair of berms as it matches almost everything.

blueberms High tea at HOUSE

Jasmine: The slim cut and nautical feel of the navy blue bermudas make this a slightly more smart casual alternative to baggy berms. Dear wore this ensemble (I bought the top for him for $5 in Hong Kong- it was supposedly XS!) for afternoon tea at House. Navy blue is consistently underrated but it makes a great staple colour to have in your wardrobe, apart from the usual (boring) black.

We like to keep it sharp and tailored with white, stripes and anything nautical, really. However, you can pair your navy blue berms the way you would pair your jeans: with anything.

3. Wrinkle-free shirt and jeans, $49.90 and $69.90 respectively

Andrew: This  is one of my most comfortable and flexible pair of jeans that I keep wearing again and again every weekend. The shirt is simple yet versatile too, suitable for work and for casual weekends.

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Jasmine: For the grand price of $69.90, a very decent, nicely-cut pair of jeans to wear again and again. Although we advocate mixing different brands, this turned out to be a head-to-toe Uniqlo look styled by Dear himself for a Sunday matinee at the  Esplanade. It’s smartened up by the Raoul belt and Geox shoes. Tip: pointed shoes elongate you and make you look taller and leaner. Just don’t get too carried away with the pointiness though, unless you’re auditioning for the role of Aladdin:

4. PVC leather bomber jacket, $99.90

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Andrew: I couldn’t find a clearer picture of me and the coat alone, but this leather jacket has come in very useful in my travels or at church. It took us two trips to Uniqlo before we managed to unearth a jacket which was of a size suitable for me. I always find that leather jackets add an immediate element of style without having to work too hard.

Jasmine: I think this has got to be one of our best buys from Uniqlo. A rugged yet city-appropriate jacket for Andrew, to replace the casual white Adidas jacket that somehow mysteriously vanished. This jacket fits Andrew snugly and looks alot more expensive than it really is.

For Her

Jasmine: And although my dressing veers towards the vintage and eclectic, I’ve also found Uniqlo exercise gear to be affordable and made of high quality materials on those (rare) occasions when I break a sweat!

I have a pair of shorts ($19.90), a pair of 3/4 pants ($25.90), and two exercise tops ($14.90 and $29.90). I bought the 3/4 pants and both tops for my Pilates sessions, but I’ve only done three so far. Heh.

p.s. Dear says I shouldn’t “model” my workout gear as it’s rather body-hugging, but I assure you that they fit well and have sufficient stretch.

3/4 sleeve top, $14.90

This 3/4 sleeve top is designed for breathability, and what I like about it is how well it integrates with my everyday wardrobe, as it provides the perfect minimalist complement to some of my more “out there” skirts.

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Tutu skirt from Etsy

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Floral applique skirt from H&M Finland, hairband from Covent Garden London

Andrew: I’m quite amazed at how versatile the top is, creating such simple yet sophisticated looks for Dearie.

Credits for most of the photos go to Dearie for deciding which were the best spots for photo-taking in terms of colour contrasts. It was a fun time indeed! 🙂

Fine Lunching @ Jaan

Andrew: Dearie and I make full use of any school holidays to go for lunch at high class restaurants, because we can enjoy great quality food at almost half the price of dinner! After going to Iggy’s, we decided we had to go to Ja’an, since it was the only other restaurant in Singapore on Pelligrino’s top 50 list.

However, rumour has it that the standards have dropped since Chef Andre left to start up his own restaurant. Well, are the rumours true? We’ll never know because we never went there earlier, but I must say that our experience there was a rather memorable one from start to end!

First up – our complimentary starters which came even before the amuse bouche. I couldn’t take a good shot of them because of the glare, but in the photo below, you can see how wonderful the view is from up Ja’an! You get an unobstructed view of the Marina Bay Skyline!

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Our starters (from left to right): Barley crisps and bacon skin, crispy salmon skin with lemon puree and lemon snow,
crispy potato skin with anchovies, chives and cream

Jasmine: Talk about making an entrance!

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Jasmine: Whilst I pledge my undying loyalty to the potato chip, I was quite intrigued by the crispy salmon skin with lemon snow and puree. Considering that salmon skin is the part of the salmon that I pay the least attention too, eating it unwillingly for its nutrient content but finding it otherwise flaccid and rubbery, I thought that rendering the salmon skin separately from the flesh made it impeccably crunchy and light.

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Andrew: The crispy potato skin was very unique in terms of presentation, but the taste was rather like a lighter version of sour cream and onions at the tip (of course, much fresher!). Heh. I hope I don’t get blasted for making this comparison. Nonetheless, I really did enjoy the starters, big plus points for the ingenuity of presentation and play of textures, forms and colours.

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Amuse bouche: Tomato soup?

Andrew: While this was less overwhelming sour than the one at Iggy’s, we still didn’t really like this. Cold tomato dishes just don’t do it for either of us.

Jasmine: Yep, when the waiter told us what this dish contained, we were immediately put on guard because we had a less than pleasant experience with Iggy’s tomato amuse bouche. What is it with fine dining places and cold tomato?

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The stunning view from Ja’an @ Swissotel

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Jasmine: Oh my, the variety and quality of bread at Jaan was unbeatable. I am still dreaming of the black truffle baguette (closest to camera), with its generous and woodsy sprinkling of truffle slivers. The (mini) baguette was also invitingly warm, fluffy and easy to bite on.

Andrew: Just like Jasmine mentioned, the black truffle baguette was heavenly! It was so soft and thoroughly infused with the  wonderful earthy taste and aroma of truffles. They had a sour dough, olive bread and something else which I couldn’t remember. The butter here was good – better than Iggy’s, but Forlino’s is still the winner for best butter!  At this kind of restaurant, the bread is your best bet for feeling full at the end of the dinner. It’s free-flow by the way!

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Veloute of White Beans, Confit Oxtail with Shimeiji Mushrooms

Andrew: This dish came to us initially without the veloute (which is apparently one of the four “mother” sauces of French cuisine). The confit oxtail was placed in the centre of the plate with little bits of garnishing around. A pity we didn’t get a picture of that!

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Andrew: Veloute is derived from the French word velour meaning velvety and indeed, that is the best word to describe the texture of this. I really liked it! The veloute was smooth and delicately flavoured. Its taste subtly enhanced the gamey  taste of oxtail which was nicely balanced in terms of texture and taste with the shimeiji mushrooms. I wasn’t sure what was at the bottom of the soup, but there was a hint of sweetness too as I scraped the bottom of the bowl and mixed it with the veloute and oxtail. It was perfect!

(Jasmine: Heh, dear commented last night that my food descriptions are anything but short, but just look at his!)

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Seared Escalope of Foie Gras, Beetroot and Cherry Composition

Jasmine: I thought the way the foie gras was plated was quite visually stunning. Usually a meat decorated with red gravy would come off looking like a bloody massacre, but the beetroot saucing was well-controlled. (Andrew: That’s a really lovely picture taken by Dearie!)

The foie gras itself had a smooth, melting texture, but was unfortunately lacking that rich, livery taste. However, it was greatly enlivened by the beetroot, which was semi-sweet and almost crunchy- a welcome antidote to the gooey texture and mild flavour of the foie gras. Hurray for unusual and successful combis!

A close up:

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Those airy, sugary pink lumps are also made from beetroot. They dissolved almost instantly on the tongue!

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Three strokes of genius that the humble beetroot was treated in three different ways- served cubed and raw, served as a sauce and served as a sweet confection.

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Andrew: Next came our main courses!

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Pan-Roasted Crispy Seabass, Fricasse of Squid and Fava Beans, Farfalle Pasta

Andrew: What I love at the cuisine at these gourmet restaurants is how they allow the natural flavours to ‘work’ for themselves and rely very minimally on additional seasoning to flavour the food. This was no exception. The flavours were light and worked well together to give a natural freshness to this pasta dish. It wasn’t perfect though. The seabass was a little dry and the pasta a little too chewy for my liking. However, I thought the fava beans were a nice though, adding a distinctive taste and texture.

Jasmine: I should also pause to mention how I enjoyed the Scandinavian styling that went into the presentation of food. I dislike the soaring towers of food that many upmarket places trot out to patrons; I find stacked dishes  impractical and unnecessarily difficult to eat. Thankfully, Jaan’s presentation was unpretentious, and focused on bringing out the natural qualities of the ingredients i.e. the rich red hue of the beetroot, blending a minimalist approach toward plating with a keen eye for texture and colour.

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Slowly cooked Pork Belly, Black Truffle, Jerusalem Artichokes and Toasted Shallots

Jasmine: Not being one for red meats usually, I found myself relishing the pork belly more than expected. Although pork belly tends to be one of the cheaper cuts, I felt the chef at Jaan handled it very well as it was oozing with juicy flavour. The layer of toasted shallots was what won me over though, as its crispiness lent a new dimension to the overall sensory experience. That for me is what distinguishes a fine dining restaurant from a simply upmarket establishment- its innovativeness and ability to transport diners to a new sensory realm. My only beef with this dish (no pun intended) was that the truffle sauce was much too mild.

Andrew: I maintain my view that the natural flavours dominate in such a meal and it was indeed so for this dish. I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted a piece of pork belly in such purity of taste, without all the sweet sauce or five spice seasoning that the Chinese like to prepare it with. The shallots flavoured it, but didn’t interfere with the juiciness of the pork! I’m feeling hungry just writing about it now!

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Check out that layer of fat glistening in the light!

Andrew: Before we knew it, the desserts had arrived.

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Marquis of Chocolate, Macadamia nuts and sea salt

Andrew: This was artfully plated and reminded me of the solar system with two planets and a comet in between with many stars around. Heh. Okay, perhaps not the best interpretation. I wasn’t too impressed with the flavours of this dish though. There was intentional balance of sweetness and saltiness, but the taste wasn’t distinctive enough or particularly memorable.

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Elderflower Chibouste, Compote of Rhubarb and
Strawberry Sorbert

Jasmine: Again, another well-considered plating for my elderflower chibouste. Sadly, I never quite discovered what the elderflower was supposed to taste like. All I can say was that it was quite clean and refreshing, with no perfumey or floral aftertaste or aroma.

 

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Andrew: We were quite fascinated by the ceiling design, which I’m sure will be rather stunningly lit up at night (another reason why I guess you pay more for dinner?).

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Jasmine: Random shot of my ring from Israeli brand Michal Negrin! I love this ring- it goes with everything!

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Andrew: Final shots before we left Jaan, of our fine dining outfits!

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On Andrew: shirt from Raoul, jeans from Uniqlo

On Jasmine: dress from Urban Outfitters, hairband from Camden, London

Bespoke Birthday Gifts

Jasmine: For his gift, I asked Andrew to choose between a custom-made shirt or speakers for his iPhone. But as the good-looking speakers were way above budget, Andrew chose to tailor a lilac shirt at Rossi (which is becoming his new "it" brand).

Many complain that menswear is boring and formulaic, but in my opinion, men can showcase their individuality through witty subtle details. Andrew and I got to choose every single detail of his first bespoke shirt, from the colour of button (and thread used for buttonhole!) to the contrasting cuff. I also encouraged Andrew to monogram the shirt with his initials for a truly bespoke look.

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Monogrammed Cuff

Andrew: We didn’t manage to get a good photo of the shirt today due to poor lighting, hence we’ll dedicate perhaps another post just to it (and all things Rossi! Heh). Didn’t want to delay posting this as it would be a while before I wear it again. Needless to say, the shirt received rave reviews from students as it was perfect in all senses!

Jasmine: I know this is not a fashion post, but I just want to add that men should be more daring with colour! Instead of playing it safe with blacks, whites and greys, try these colors to flatter Asian skintones (we’ve found that these colours look great on my very tanned Mr Chong)

-light pink

-navy blue (don’t kill it with black pants. try khaki or dove gray for a smart casual look)

-deep royal purple (but keep the details masculine as you do not want to look like a Drama King)

And a postcard specially flown in from Finland!

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Andrew: I’m quite liking this ‘birthday card’ from a foreign land idea. Last year’s birthday card was from Dearie’s UK learning journey and this year is from Finland. I must say it captures the Scandinavian vibe quite well! Thanks Dearie for the great presents!

My Birthday!

Jasmine: Oh boy. This is the birthday that Andrew will never forget. Not only did I have to change plans three times, he also had to pay for our meal AND bring me to see a doctor. [Andrew: Don’t worry about these things Dear, these were all circumstances beyond our control!]

This was actually the third time I had planned and replanned his birthday. Why? The first two times, I had planned to bring him to a well-reviewed salon (at Club Street, and later on at Cantonment Road) and have dinner in the vicinity, but due to rescheduling of his work calendar, we had no choice but to put it off yet again.

Anyway, I chose La Strada as Andrew wanted something Western (Italian’s kinda Western, right?). La Strada is the Italian “wing” of the famed Les Amis restaurateur group, and in conjunction with rather good reviews, I was hoping for a blog-worthy meal.

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Jasmine: Andrew could not stop eating the grissini!

Andrew: Oh – so that’s what it’s called? I thought it was just called breadsticks. Heh. We actually asked for an extra serving of bread and the waiter only gave us two slices of the bread without the breadsticks, so we specially asked for the breadsticks and he gave us a lot more – at least 6 – in a cup! Cute!

Dearie informed me that the pizzas here were supposed to be very good. However, as they were undergoing renovations soon, their wood-fired oven was out of action during this period. What a waste!

For starters, we were deciding between the Scamorza alla Piastra con Proscuitto di Parma (Smoked scarmoza cheese with Parma Ham, cherry tomatoes and balsamic glaze) or the Asparagi di Ferri (Grilled asparagus with pancetta, poached egg, buerre blanc, parmesan shavings and lemon vinaigrette). Both sounded uniquely Italian – we (or rather, I) eventually decided to go with the parma ham because of my preference for meat and we didn’t regret it at all.

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Andrew: I was initially worried that the scarmorza cheese would be a stinky cheese, but it turned out to be a nice, mild cheese that helped to balance the saltiness of the parma ham nicely. Interestingly enough, googling ‘scarmorza’ cheese reveals that it is a ‘plastic or stretched curd cheese’ which doesn’t really describe its taste, but plastic and stretched are spot on in describing the texture! The only minus point is that the portion was too small.

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Photo-taking before our mains arrived

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Fruitti di Mare – Linguettine with seafood, cherry tomatoes, bottarga, white wine, garlic

Andrew: Besides the fact that it was too small a portion, this was a well-prepared dish. Big juicy prawns (3 of them!), thick chewy squid, fresh clams with a light, herby tomato sauce. I loved it.

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Jasmine: The signature dish of La Strada would have to be its carbonara. The bacon was nicely done- mildly smoky and the saltiness was apparent but not overtly so. The carbonara itself sported a “crimped” look and its unusually springy texture stood out against the mix of ingredients. In addition, I rather enjoyed that perfectly runny egg yolk in my carbonara (and this is someone who NEVER eats yolk), and the various flavours mingled well.

I found myself wishing for just a sliver of white truffle though- that would seriously have clinched the deal for me.

Andrew: Before we had dinner, Dearie decided that we should walk over to Goodwood Park Hotel to get a piece of durian mousse cake for my birthday cake as they were having their durian cake season now.  It was indeed thoughtful of her as durian cake is one of my favourite cakes. (All durian lovers must definitely head down to Goodwood Park’s durian buffet. The smell was just heavenly as we walked past!) (Jasmine: Heavenly smell?? Are you sure dear?)

I remembered too late though that most restaurants nowadays don’t allow patrons to have durian cake in consideration of their other guests, and this was indeed the case at La Strada. So we packed our cake and made our way to Jasmine’s place for my post-dinner celebrations!

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Jasmine’s sister and mum were rather amused by our little mini-celebration at her place and we even ‘re-enacted’ the singing of the birthday song so that Charlene could catch ‘candid shots’ of it. Heh. One plus point of celebrating in Jasmine’s place – we had the help of someone who actually knew how to take good photos as opposed to most waiters/waitresses who have almost always taken disappointing shots!

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Andrew: Goodwood Park’s durian cake was excellent indeed, but I thought Jasmine’s mum’s durian cake was much better in terms of the portion and quality of durian used! (Jasmine: Yes, both Charlene and Mum came over to sample Andrew’s durian cake and Mum of course declared her own to be superior. On another note, I am rather impressed by how Andrew has managed to compliment both my mum and sis in just one post. Talk about scoring points. Haha.)

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On Jasmine: Dress and sash from Roxy Square

On Andrew: Shirt from Raoul

Andrew: We ended off the birthday with more photos! Thanks to Charlene! I’m quite glad we ended the celebrations at Jasmine’s place though as it was definitely a much better place (in terms of lighting) to take photos of us instead of La Strada!

Thanks Dear for planning a great birthday and for having to change plans so many times to work around my unpredictable schedule! It was a meaningful and memorable celebration indeed! 🙂

Birthday presents in next post!

Avoir Faim: The French Food Post

Jasmine: I am not a Francophile, I just adore everything about France :p

The language, architecture, history, sidewalk cafes, chocolate eclairs, Parisian style and err..  Dior, Chanel, Isabel Marant and Yves Saint Laurent. (Andrew: Hmm, seems more like Parisian luxurious style rather than just style – but is there any other style in Paris?)

Disneyland Paris, not so much.

One of the simplest ways to recreate that Parisian chronotope is to visit French restuarants in the heart of Singapore.

Choupinette

Jasmine: Choupinette is not just my favourite French cafe but it’s my favourite cafe, period. Andrew first introduced me to it on my birthday last year, thnking I would enjoy the food and atmosphere, and he was spot on! We’ve been here thrice, at different times of the day for brunch, tea and dinner, and I really like that relaxed vibe of young families playing with their children, women reading French magazines or friends having coffee and conversation.

Andrew: I recall that we celebrated Jasmine’s birthday last year on a Sunday and I had a hard time finding reasonably priced French restaurants that were open on Sunday for brunch. Another plus point for Choupinette is that it’s relatively accessible (so accessible that I bumped into a student here!) compared to other French places (like the French Stall, which you’ll read about later) and parking’s not a problem.

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My pretty Dearie in a very ‘summery’ outfit

(Jasmine: Hee, thanks dear. Both the hairband and the top are from Hong Kong. The hairband cost more than the top?!)

There’s a very wide selection of fashion magazines here for perusing while waiting for your food, some even in French!

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Jasmine: I ordered one of their brunch sets, a Smoked Royale that came with a steaming pot of ginger lemon tea. My salmon was very lightly smoked and salted, and the texture was fairly delicate. The egg was perfectly poached, with its runny yolk, and all the components of the Smoked Royale combined to make an appetising brunch that was just right in terms of portion size and flavour.

However, the comparison here would be to Dempsey’s Cafe Hacienda, which does a really mean poached egg, with a deliciously silky-smooth egg white that seriously trumps all other players in its league for texture. Thus, to be perfectly impartial this is not excellente nourriture (French for "awesome food"), but Coupinette’s great selection of French cuisine, leisurely vibe and cosy location along Bukit Timah Road make it a perfectly lovely place for a first date.

Andrew: I was looking for a healthier alternative on my third visit and I made the cardinal mistake of thinking that vegetarian = healthy. I ordered the vegetarian lasagna and it was one of the cheesiest, most rich lasagna’s that I’ve ever had! I loved it. There was a great abundance of stringy, melted cheese and the vegetables were baked to such chewy softness.

We didn’t take a photo of this, but I had a creme brulee with my set and unfortunately it wasn’t very good. The sticky layer on top was burnt and too hard and the creme below was rather tasteless and thick. One minus point for Choupinette, but we know to avoid that in future and go for the macarons or eclair instead!

Romance Factor: 4.5/5. This is a good place for dating, especially for dinners as it is quiet and cosy. It’s especially lovely if you manage to get the table for two at the corner, which Dearie says is ‘our seat’.

The French Stall

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This was one of the French places that I was considering for Jasmine’s birthday last year, but rejected as it wasn’t opened on Sunday. Furthermore, this place is very difficult to get to and it took us almost an hour to drive here through the mad traffic in little India and we had to park in some alley behind the restaurant.

Jasmine: Yes, this was the day I was feeling a little down, and Andrew, sensing that, sweetly changed plans and brought me here as he knows that I love French food. I was really touched by how he drove through awful traffic just to get us here.

Andrew: I quite enjoyed the feel of this restaurant. It immediately reminded me of the humble, homely restaurants we saw in Paris just beside the streets. It was really like we were transported upon entry into another ‘chronotope’ (as Jasmine put it so aptly earlier!).

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Andrew: Both of us ordered a set meal which began with potato and leek soup, which was thick and creamy. I liked it! (Jasmine: Ditto! The French Stall started out offering authentic European cuisine at food court prices. This three course set meal included soup, mains and dessert, and cost $20/pax.)

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Our main courses:

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Cod in butter sauce

Andrew: The portion was generous and the cod was excellently prepared and went well with the butter sauce and herbs.

Jasmine: I preferred my cod to Andrew’s pork as the cod was mildly flavoured and retained its moisture, pairing well with the piquant butter sauce. The mashed potato was also worthy of mention as it was unbelievably creamy.

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Pork medallions

Andrew: The pork medallions were a little dry and the sauce was pretty standard. Nothing too amazing.

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Our desserts: Creme caramel and tiramisu

Andrew: The creme caramel was the standard dessert that came with the menu and we had to top up for the tiramisu. I liked that the tiramisu had less alcohol than others I’ve tried, but I thought it would have been better with more sponge and less cream. It was too creamy for my liking. The creme caramel was significantly better tham the creme brulee at Choupinette in terms of texture and taste.

Romance Factor: 4/5. The inaccessibility is a great minus point for this place which otherwise has some good photo opportunities (like the one below), very authentic decor and decent food at reasonable prices. However, the heavy traffic outside the restaurant does detract from the ‘out of Singapore’ feeling (and the romance factor) that Choupinette manages quite well.

Jasmine:  In a newspaper interview given by the French chef, the out-of-the-way location and the tree-lined sidestreet outside the restaurant, which has an al fresco dining concept, are meant to give diners the feel of being in a sidewalk cafe in Paris along some tree-lined boulevard. I thought that The French Stall’s homey, publike decor also imbued it with a nostalgically authentic feel.

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On Jasmine: Kate Spade knockoff dress from Far East Plaza

Andrew’s Birthday @ Kuriya

Andrew: For my birthday this year, my uncle recommended Kuriya at Great World City for top notch Japanese food! We had a cosy little room to ourselves and had a great time enjoying the food and the company.  The best part about Japanese food is that most of it is incredibly healthy, hence we could feast to our hearts’ content, without having to worry excessively about calorie-intake!

Sashimi & Sushi Dishes

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Sashimi Starter with all set meals

All set meals came with a sashimi starter with salmon, tuna and swordfish sashimi. It is indeed a mark of a Japanese fine dining place that the sashimi comes on a bed of ice to retain its freshness. I loved the salmon sashimi so much! Even their wasabi was more concentrated and spicy than the ones at usual Japanese restaurants – a small amount was able to pack a good punch!

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Jasmine: I was quite happy to order a sashimi salad and share tempura with Andrew and his brother. I’ve always enjoyed the sashimi salad at Sushi Tei, but Kuriya was far more generous, giving large, silky slabs of three different kinds of sashimi, unlike the piecemeal shreds of salmon at Sushi Tei. However, as I was halfway through my salad, I looked up and realised that Andrew’s main course had not yet arrived… And neither had anyone else’s. So I had to slow down considerably. Heh.

Here’s a close up:

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Dearie’s Sashimi Salad

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My uncle’s sushi set

Andrew: I didn’t get to try any of these myself, but every single piece does look pretty and fresh! Heh. I’m sure it must have been good.

Chawanmushi

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Regular chawanmushi

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My dad’s abalone chawanmushi

Andrew: My dad ordered an abalone set menu, so every item from starter to main course had abalone in it. The texture and taste of the chawanmushi was good, but the abalone was too rubbery for me.

Tempuras

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Soft shell crab tempura

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Assorted tempura

Andrew: The tempuras were good! The batter used was light, crispy and not too oily. Prawns were juicy and tasty. They even deep-fried the prawn heads for us, but everyone avoided it after my dad’s comment about how the cholesterol of a prawn was concentrated in the head.

Jasmine: Of course, how could I go without my usual serving of unhealthy, deep-fried food, right? Unlike my staple food of potato chips, in which the potato is preserved, deep-fried and ridged beyond recognition, tempura is defined completely by the essence of the ingredient, and not any extra seasoning or topping. From this dish, I only had two tempura ebi, but I liked how refined and delicate the batter was.

All kinds of hot pots with garlic rice!

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Wenda and Sharon’s Pork Sukiyaki Paper Steamboat Hot

Andrew: The sukiyaki sauce flavoured the pork extremely well. The pork slices were meaty and thoroughly infused with the fragrant sweetness of the sukiyaki sauce. My brother, food-chemistry expert that he is, warned us against dipping the meat in the raw egg (which is the way you’re supposed to eat it), hence the egg was poured into the hotpot and cooked together with the pork.

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My dad’s Abalone Steamboat with udon noodles

Andrew: I didn’t try this myself, but my dad said the soup was light – not sure if he meant it wasn’t tasty enough? Heh.

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Alaskan Kingcrab Stonepot

Andrew: This was my order and I enjoyed it lots! The soup was light and the dish relied solely on the ingredients’ natural flavours with minimal seasoning. The soup was infused with the sweetness of the king crab and the freshness and sweetness of the vegetables. The meat of the king crab was a little rubbery (not as fresh as the ones at Todai), but still retained the juicy natural sweetness of king crab. I loved it!

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Teapot Soup

Andrew: It’s amazing how much they can squeeze into this little teapot of soup! Can you believe that in this pot is a whole prawn, pieces of pork, mushrooms, gingko nuts and fishcake?

Jasmine: Yes, we were quite impressed by how Andrew kept pulling ingredient after ingredient out of the deceptively small pot.

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Fragrant Garlic Rice

Andrew: This garlic rice was fragrant and delicious. It amazes me how most of the dishes here rely greatly on the natural ingredients for their flavours and rely little on additional seasoning like salt and pepper. Every single grain of this fried rice dish was filled with garlic flavour. Yum!

Jasmine: I only meant to sample the rice but ended up helping myself to a couple more mouthfuls to Andrew’s surprise (I’m not really a rice person). The breakout star of the garlic rice was, without question, the garlic, which was crispy, aromatic and really pepped up the entire dish.

Everyone had a good time:

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And finally, the cake arrived….

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Chocolate truffle cake from Choco@art

Andrew: Rich and creamy chocolate cake, nice in small portions, but can get a bit overwhelmingly sweet after a while.

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Jasmine: Oh, and a couple of people remarked that we were "accidentally" colour-coordinated again. Andrew is wearing a gingham shirt from Topman and I am wearing a Japanese label, Osmosis, bought in Hong Kong.

Andrew: It was indeed a great time not only of food, but of interesting conversations too as we laughed and joked about the latest Fun-pack Song, Lady Gaga, Vietnamese coffee and politics. I had a great birthday celebration!

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My First Birthday Gift: Apple Wireless Keyboard for my iPad2

Thanks Wenda & Sharon for this thoughtful gift!

Am now looking forward to my birthday celebration with Dearie!

(Jasmine: Pressure!)

Venus Tells-All About Mars (The Woman’s Perspective)

“Sure God created man before woman. But then you always make a rough draft before the final masterpiece.” –Author Unknown

(Andrew: In response to the quote Jasmine chose – Well, for most of the greatest directors and writers, the always say that their first work is the best and sequels always pale in comparison to the first. So… Heh.)

Jasmine: Our last post was anchored by Andrew and focused on helping men understand women. In this post, we’ll be talking about how women can understand men better.

1. How to avoid arguments

Jasmine: One of my favourite takeaways from John Gray’s book was the tip to practise assertive asking. Many people mistakenly use “Can you” or “Could you” when making requests because it sounds more polite than “Will you” or “Would you”. However, according to Gray, “can you” offers the recipient a chance to respond that he cannot. An even worse manner of asking (and yes, been guilty of on occasion!) which I’ve noticed is “Do you want to?”- not only does this presume (often incorrectly) that the recipient is keen, it also allows for the possibility of a simple “No, I don’t want to”, which would effectively close off any further negotiations.

When making requests, what we should do is begin with, “Would you?” This minimises the possibility of the recipient responding negatively, as an “I will not” is much harsher than an “I cannot”.

I read this book earlier than Andrew (hence much of what I’ve said in this post and the last is from memory, as the book is still in Andrew’s possession) and decided to practice assertive asking on him without telling him that I was doing so. I would make requests phrased as “Would you bring me out on a date?” or “Would you pick me up from school at 10pm tomorrow?” To my surprise, Andrew agreed to every single request! (Even the 10pm one, which I especially appreciated. Heh, thanks dear.) Previously, when I was using “could you”, it was easier for him to say no and he did hem and haw about similar requests made using “could you”.

Anyway, I got away with it for a whole month… until it was his turn to read the book. Now he’s practising assertive asking on me! Urgh.

Of course, the other half of assertive asking is to be able to accept rejection graciously, with an easygoing “ok”. That, unfortunately, is the part that Andrew likes to stress to me nowadays.

[Andrew: Yup! The beauty of Gray’s book is that it also helped me to understand that it’s okay to turn down certain requests at times (if it’s really beyond you physically), but the important part is how you do it and of course, to still keep her satisfied while doing so.]

2. Realise our different emotional needs

I did find the extended metaphor of men and women as aliens from different planets rather prolonged and tedious. However, one funny story that John Gray concocted was that of the knight in shining armour, who is all ready to rescue his damsel in distress.

“Just as he pulls out his sword, the princess cries, “Don’t use your sword, use this noose”.

She throws out the noose, and motions to him instructions about how to use it. He hesitantly follows her instructions. The dragon dies and everyone rejoices.

At the celebration dinner the knight feels he didn’t really do anything. Somehow, because he used her noose and not his sword, he doesn’t feel quite worthy of the town’s trust and admiration. He is slightly depressed and forgets to shine his armour.”

Jasmine: Gray repeats the metaphor by recounting how the knight saves his princess again, but this time she tells him to use poison and not the noose. Finally…

“A month later, he goes on another trip. This time on his journey he hears another woman in distress. As he rushes to her call, his depression lifts and he feels confident and alive. But as he draws his sword to slay the dragon, he again hesitates, “Should I use the sword, the noose or the poison to slay the dragon? What would my princess say?”

For a moment he is confused. Then he remembers how he felt back in the days when he only carried a sword. With a burst of renewed confidence he throws off the noose and the poison and charges the dragon with his trusted sword. He slays the dragon and the towspeople rejoice.

The knight never returned to his princess. He stayed in this new village and lived happily ever after. He eventually married, but only after making sure his new partner knew nothing about nooses and poisons.”

Jasmine: As over-simplified as this may be, I thought it was quite effective in demonstrating how women unwittingly inhibit men from expressing their love.

I’ve learnt that it’s best to let a man express love on his own terms and in his own time. Although the temptation to offer advice is always there, refrain from making suggestions, unless he has specifically asked for it. More significantly, men need to be trusted and admired. In contrast, offering suggestions makes it seem like you do not trust him, and are depriving him of his primary love needs.

[Andrew: Yes, I think this is a great piece of advice to girls. If asked, I believe almost every single girl will be able to list out 10 or more perfect ways in which they would love their boyfriend/husbands to display their love. All girls think about these things and of course, some of these ‘ideas’ come unfortunately from movies. Guys, on the other hand, tend to be more easy-going about how girls express love to them and in fact, their need to be loved is less than their need to be accepted. Nonetheless, a good piece of advice for all men is to find a way to balance what the girl wants with what comes naturally to you. I’m not saying that guys should not go out of their comfort zone for their girlfriends, but at the same time, ensure that you’re doing what you’re doing because you genuinely want to do it for the girl, not because she wants you to do it. The difference is subtle, but significant – and girls are really complex – they don’t want their boyfriends to do things for them just because they asked for it. They want their boyfriends to genuinely want to do it.]

Jasmine: What are primary love needs, and how do they differ between the sexes?

Women need to receive

  • Caring
  • Understanding
  • Respect
  • Devotion
  • Validation
  • Reassurance

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all women have the same primary needs. Neither does it imply that men don’t have these primary needs either. What “primary love needs” means is that a woman needs to have her primary love needs fulfilled before she can receive other kinds of love.

On the other hand…

Men need to receive

  • Trust
  • Acceptance
  • Appreciation
  • Admiration
  • Approval
  • Encouragement

Recently, Andrew noticed that I was feeling rather down. We had decided to go to East Coast for dinner as it was nearer to my place, but having reached East Coast, he suddenly announced in the car, “Dear, why don’t we go for French food instead? I know this nice restaurant called the Black Sheep.” (I love French food.)

Instinctively, I knew that he was trying to cheer me up, and I made sure to mention how I appreciated his willingness to drive through horrendous Little India peak hour traffic to get to the restaurant. In addition, Andrew is a steady sort who doesn’t like to change plans (especially not at the last minute), so I was really touched by his spontaneity and how he just wanted to make me happy.

Bringing me to that French restaurant met two primary love needs that day. It was Andrew’s way of showing that he not only validated how I was feeling then, but that he cared about me. As a result, I felt loved and cherished by his act of service. (Not to mention, much fuller- and that was just the appetizer!)

Andrew: Of course, after the whole dinner, I felt glad that Jasmine was significantly cheered up and she made it a point to thank me and affirm me for going out of my way to care for her. I felt that my efforts were appreciated and hence, one of my primary love needs was met too! It’s amazing how simple actions like saying thank you (and of course, going beyond that to explain how much you appreciated the man’s actions) goes a long way to filling a man’s love tank.

Jasmine: The most powerful thing about recognising our different love needs is that these different love needs are reciprocal. Therefore, if a man gives a woman the caring and devotion she requires, then she will be better able to give him the trust and admiration he desires, and vice versa.

3. Men are like rubber bands

Jasmine: In a nutshell,  guys need their own space.

Gray provides the rather cheesy metaphor of women being like waves (which Andrew has mentioned in our previous post) and men being like rubber bands. What most women don’t realise is that the male intimacy cycle is different from the female’s. Every man needs to feel secure in his autonomy and independence, but after spending too much time with a woman, may begin to feel that his self-worth and individuality are under threat. A man, regardless of how much he loves a woman, may therefore feel a need to occasionally pull away before he springs back with renewed power and commitment. [Andrew: Wow Dearie, I feel like I’m reading the book all over again by writing this entry. Heh.)

This can be extremely surprising, even hurtful, for women. Women have difficulty understanding this because we pull away for different reasons, for instance, when we are hurt or infuriated. Men, however, sometimes back off for no reason at all, and it is important for women to understand three things:

1) It isn’t your fault. It is just a natural cycle.

2) If given support, he will come back on his own after distancing himself.

3) Support does not equate to worrying or hovering at the edge of his “cave”. Support is not blaming or criticising him, but going out and enjoying yourself instead.

Two simple ways that Andrew and I have worked out would be firstly, to work out a schedule of meeting days that both are comfortable with. It should neither be too seldom (cannot grow the relationship) nor too often (cannot sustain interests outside the relationship). Meeting everyday is overkill!

Secondly, when Andrew needs his space, find something enjoyable to engage yourself in. For me, I’ll go shopping, take a steambath or meet up with my friends. This is especially so when he is sick or has had a long and tiring day. (Worst time ever to nag, or even have a halfway decent conversation.) It’s much better to leave him alone and then meet the following day, when he is more refreshed. Instead of hanging all over him like a bad cloud, try not to make a big deal of it, as that merely undoes all the good of letting him have his me-time.

One example I can think of was when Andrew wanted to holiday with his family in June. Although his family vacation clashed with an important course then, we eventually compromised by bringing the course forward, and during the week that he was away, I embarked on my first solo trip (to Hong Kong and Guangzhou- which I don’t regret one bit… who needs a man trailing after you when you shop?)! Even pampered myself with a night’s stay at a five-star hotel! We both came back re-invigorated and Andrew planned two lovely dates for us that following week. That’s what I call a win-win situation 🙂

Andrew: Yes, the arrangements and sacrifices described by Jasmine above have indeed helped to give me my needed space from time to time. For guys, do let your girlfriends know too when you need your own space, to enter that cave. Sometimes, we enter into the cave subconsciously, but on the outside, we’re still trying hard to maintain ‘connection’ with our girlfriend. Your girlfriend will notice that and wonder why you are disconnected. Let her know when you’re too tired or need some time just to unwind but more importantly, let her know when you will be back, so she has more security. Don’t try to push yourself beyond what you can physically give as it will eventually end up hurting both of you.

Jasmine: If you’re interested in Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus but don’t want to commit to putting down hard cash for it, here’s an ebook version:

http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/21230179/1805388939/name/ladies.pdf

Mars and Venus: Understanding Women

Andrew: This book had been strongly recommended to us by many couples, so we finally picked it up and read it for ourselves. I really found many of the tips in the book very, very helpful and strongly recommend it to all dating and even married couples. In fact, I found the book so useful that I was thinking of getting another copy so both of us can have one each, instead of sharing one.

Andrew: Here are some pointers that have really helped us in understanding each other better and communicating better. We’re only sharing the tips which were especially helpful for the sake of brevity.

Helping men understand women

Truth 1: To fully express their feelings, women assume poetic license to use various superlatives, metaphors and generalizations.

Andrew: Women often say things like “We never go out”, “We are always in a hurry”, “Nothing is ever going right”, and what men often do in those situations is to provide a rational, reasonable response to those extreme statements, like “No, that’s not true, we went out last week.” That completely misses the point of what the woman is expressing and might even result in a quarrel and the man invalidating the woman’s feelings.

John Gray helpfully provides a set of interpretations for various ‘poetic statements’ that women make. What I’ve learnt when encountering such situations with Jasmine is to withhold judgment and to show her that I understand what she’s feeling. Easier said than done, of course – to ask a man to withhold his rational side is almost like asking him to stop functioning altogether as that is the only side that most men, or at least I, normally use to respond to situations! Difficult – but I’m trying.

Jasmine: Women should also note that men, even the ones they are closest to in their lives, are not wired like your girlfriends, who know how to read an absolute statement like "I’m dying to quit my job" as a cue to empathise and comfort.

Men, on the other hand, take things literally. If I said, "I’m dying to quit my job" to an average man (which I am not– I love teaching, haha), he’d probably respond, "Then quit lor".

This boils down to our very natures as men and women. Women are by nature socially-oriented, whereas men are solution-oriented. Women need to talk about many things, mostly unrelated and in no logical sequence whatsoever, as a means of reflection and problem analysis before they finally reach a conclusion. (Guys, note that I said "conclusion" and not "solution", as women often already have a solution and don’t need your solution- just your listening ear.)

Men, however, have already analysed their problems and come up with solutions before they share. Men will often exhaust all options on their own before they even think of seeking someone else’s advice. Very often, the person whose advice they will seek is someone they truly admire. (So ladies, if he asks for suggestions, you can be assured that he truly respects and values your opinion! Otherwise, don’t offer unsolicited advice- that makes a man feel like he is incapable of solving his own problems, which is very ego-damaging.)

The most important thing to remember here is that men take things literally. When I’m feeling emotional, I try to preface my statement with a disclaimer, for instance, "It’s just me being irrational" or "Perhaps I’ve just had a bad day" or "I’ll probably think differently tomorrow, but I’m dying to quit my job".

And Andrew’s going to share about scoring points in Truth 3, so I’ll just add here that when a women rants emotionally, it’s actually a golden opportunity for you to score points with one simple word, "Why?" (Use a sympathetic tone, and add on "tell me more, dear" to earn 500 bonus points.)

Truth 2: Women are like waves

Andrew: A woman’s self-esteem rises and falls like a wave. When she hits bottom (which John Gray describes as going into her well), it is a time for emotional housecleaning.

Most men expect women to be happy forever, or more accurately, for there always to be a reason behind why the emotions fall. More dangerously (and I am definitely guilty of that!), a man assumes that the woman’s change of mood is based solely on his behaviour. He may feel extremely frustrated because he doesn’t know how to make things better.

The solution John Gray provides in his book is simple, yet effective – don’t try to fix it. Once again, this is something that’s not always easy given men’s ‘fix-it’ mentality. What a man should do during this time is just to be with her, listen to her share her feelings and empathize with what she’s going through. Offer her love, attention and support. I’ve been guilty too of making comments that don’t fully support her like, ‘We’ve worked through this issue before right, dear?’  (Jasmine: heh, or more accurately, "Huh… Haven’t we been through this before?") and am now learning to just support her. A few more helpful insights from John Gray:

– A man’s love and support cannot instantly resolve a woman’s issues. His love can make it safer for her to go into her well.

– A woman going into her well is not a man’s fault or his failure. By being more supportive, he cannot prevent it from happening, but he can help her through these difficult times.

– A woman has within herself the ability to spontaneously rise up after she has hit rock bottom. A man does not have to fix her. She is not broken but just needs his love, patience and understanding.

Jasmine: Yes, and the flip side of women being like waves is men liking their caves. But this is a pretty big issue so we may dedicate a whole other post to it.

Truth 3: When a woman keeps score, no matter how big or small a gift of love is it scores one point; each gift has equal value.

Andrew: Gray shares about how men think that doing one big thing scores him many points and how men will eventually just focus on doing big things occasionally, yet women need many expressions of love in a relationship to feel loved. Many of these things are extremely simple too, as Gray shares 101 simple things men can do to score points with women. I’ve been learning how to use some of these tips like complimenting her on how she looks (won’t share too many here or else Dearie will know the ‘tricks’. Heh).

Jasmine: Aiyah, I’ve read the book too what. Heh.

To his credit, Andrew does make an effort to be observant and compliments me not just in a general way (i.e "You look pretty"- though that’s always welcome!), but in a way that shows he’s noticed a specific detail (i.e. "I thought you looked great in those heels’ or "I like your new haircut").

Oh yes, and being understanding when she is late because she couldn’t decide on her outfit also scores plenty points. Follow up with abovementioned compliment i.e. "you look great in those heels". (But be fair ladies, and try to be punctual. Try. :P)

Andrew: Mark Gungor shares about scoring points in a very hilarious way in his video here.

There are many other videos by Mark Gungor on relationships which we highly recommend!

Jasmine: We’re saving the best for the last here, so one final way to "score points without doing anything at all", as Mark Gungor puts it, is to plan a date, and then let her know in advance that you are planning it. Men think that women love big surprises, but what they should realise is that when you inform your partner beforehand, you are increasing her anticipation and reminding her of the effort you are putting in to be romantic. Telling her in advance also gives her the chance to share it with her friends, so even more bonus points for you!

Fine Lunching at Iggy’s

Jasmine: Andrew and I have been talking about splashing out on a fine dining restaurant, so we finally took the plunge (what’s with all the aquatic metaphors) and went to Iggy’s during the June holidays!

Andrew: Iggy’s is one of the two Singapore restaurants that has made it onto Pelligrino’s list of top 50 restaurants in the world. Lunch was the best time to go as you get to try all their unique cuisine at practically a third of the price of the dinner sets. Of course, the selection is more limited.

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Amuse Bouche

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Jasmine: Our tomato-themed amuse bouche had tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and strangely enough, tomato jelly. This wasn’t to Andrew’s taste at all as he generally avoids tomatoes if he can help it. Even I who don’t mind tomatoes found the taste of tomato in the jelly rather bizarre as it was a tad acidic.

An amuse bouche differs from an appetizer in that it is offered free of charge to all patrons. It is meant to be a tour de force of the chef’s inventiveness and finesse, albeit in bite-sized portions.

Andrew: One important thing to appreciate in all these top notch restaurants is the aesthetics of the dish. I was ready to be amazed when I saw the petals and tomatoes as I thought, perhaps this will be a tomato dish I like! However, I really didn’t like this dish at all. The sourish taste was way too overpowering, added with the fact that it was cold (there was shaved tomato-flavoured ice? heh) just added an extra sting to the sourness.

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Andrew: Another thing to note about these restaurants is that their portions are extremely small – as you will notice later. However, Iggy’s more than made up for it with free flow of bread rolls freshly baked in their own oven. They offered a choice of garlic crusted bread or sour-dough bread. The garlic crusted bread was fragrant and crisp. I had 3 pieces of that throughout. The sour-dough bread was softer and went better with their special home-made butter sprinkled with salt (shown below). I loved the butter a lot, but I still felt the butter at Forlinos was more addictive due to its texture.

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Starters

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Tua tua clams with buratta, sago and sudachi

Andrew: Now, this was the dish that really started off the gastronomic adventure that I had looked forward too at Iggy’s. There was an amazing mix of colour, texture and flavours in this dish. The clams were cooked to perfection – they were chewy and burst with umami goodness with every bite. It went perfectly with the sticky texture of the rice below and the light yet subtly sweet melt-in-your-mouth sago below. (Unfortunately, you would notice that dread red thing – a tomato once again! – but I just separated it and didn’t allow it to affect my enjoyment of this dish. Heh)

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Foie gras with creme de cassis and figs

Jasmine: Due to limited budget as an undergrad, foie gras is one of those delicacies that I have only discovered and grown to savour in recent years. In fact, one of the most inspired comments that I came across when researching foie gras geniously described the dish as "meat that wants to be butter". That could most certainly be said of Iggy’s foie gras, which was a lovely rich brown hue. The taste of liver was subdued and every creamy bite melted effortlessly on the tongue. My only beef with it (no pun intended) was that the exterior lacked that delicious hint of crispy fat.

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Andrew: As with all fine dining restaurants, the knives are changed very often, but I’ve never quite seen a special knife provided just for foie gras. You can see how gentle and blunt the “blade” (if you can even call it that?) on this knife is, just enough to cut through the foie gras. (Jasmine: Dear, I think that was the butter knife!)

Mains

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Tortellini with veal cheeks, wild asparagus and turnip

Jasmine: I ordered this dish because I generally gravitate towards stuffed pastas, but perhaps my Pastamania-bred tastebuds were too unrefined to appreciate the nuances of the tortellini. I know veal cheeks are supposed to be milder in flavour and tender than beef cheeks, but they were so mild that I barely registered they were there.

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Spaghettoni with poultry jus, summer truffles and parmesan

Jasmine: This was really quite special. The spaghettoni was supposed to be one of Iggy’s star dishes, and it lived up to its stellar reputation. Though not as aromatic as winter truffles, the inclusion of summer truffles was perfect for June, as the truffles imparted a subtly earthy, musky taste to the pasta.

Andrew: This was special, but I wasn’t quite amazed by it. Yes, the truffle taste was good and the spaghettoni was prepared to just the right texture. But I was expecting a bit more – a burst of exciting, refreshing and new flavours with every bite. Perhaps a lot of craft and ‘food chemistry’ went into this, but the result wasn’t amazing. It didn’t give me the ‘Wow’ that the crab rucola salad at Forlinos did.

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A glimpse of the kitchen where all the gastronomic delights are being prepared

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Change of knives again for the next dish

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A lovely centrepiece for the table – with all the petals and flowers in their dishes, you could almost imagine this being a table snack!

Next dish!

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Wagyu tenderloin with brussel sprouts and asparagus (?)

Andrew: This was very well-prepared wagyu tenderloin, subtly seasoned to bring out the meaty, juicy goodness of a piece of wagyu beef. The vegetables were all seasoned too and I loved the dashes of green throughout the dish, highlighted nicely in this picture.

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Rack of lamb with green olive tapenade, spaghetti squash and blood lime

Jasmine: Once again, this lamb rack was succulent, juicy and flavorful, though not exceptionally so. To my surprise I found the bed of greens far more appetising. I attribute that to the unconventional and appetite-whetting combination of pulpy, semi-nutty spaghetti squash, and the salty zing of green olive tapenade.

Desserts

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Guinness with salted peanuts, Milo crumble, potato chips, marshmallow

Andrew: When I first saw the description, I thought it’d be an interesting mix of salty and sweet. However, the taste turned out to be rather conventional, even when I tried eating the salty peanuts with the milo crumble in one scoop. Yes, it wasn’t as overpowering or heavy as most chocolate desserts are and once again, there was a good mix of items of different textures, but the result wasn’t as exciting as I thought it’d be.

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Rhubarb with salted sable, vanilla beans and blood orange

Jasmine: Seems like my selection of courses for this entire meal was based on comfort and familarity with foods I relish, such as foie gras and tortellini. In contrast,  I tend to avoid conventional, overly sweet desserts, and favour unexpected pairings.

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The rhubarb was refreshingly sour, though I thought the colour could have been brighter and redder to match the blood orange (which is one of my fave dessert ingredients because of how its tartness provides the perfect counternote to sugary confections). The vanilla bean ice cream was also note-worthy. It was hardly "plain vanilla" as it was delectable, creamy and smooth.

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Jasmine: Oh, and our outfits today. My outfit is brought to you by my favourite Korean shop at Far East Plaza, and my macrame necklace was hand-beaded by a very macho-looking, dreadlock-sporting guy at an open-air market in Finland! Andrew’s shirt was bought on sale from one of his go-to brands, P.O.A.

Andrew: All in all, it seemed like Jazzy had a more enjoyable dining or ‘lunching’ experience than Andrew. Heh. In spite of the comments made, I still enjoyed the meal, but I believe we both agreed that while the food was well prepared, it wasn’t as exciting (taste-wise) as we thought it’d be. Will we be back again to try their dinner? Perhaps after we’ve explored the other outstanding/Michelin star restaurants in Singapore.