Monday, April 14, 2014

Meals at Club 124

Growing up in a household where my mom would put out dinner by hook or crook, I knew I wanted to be able to provide the same for my own family. Starting easy now with just the Man, even then I realized very quickly, it isn't easy for a working person. 

After work and putting in some gym time, we often reach home at the earliest, 8pm or mostly, nearly 9pm. I struggled to put together a meal most times, mainly due to self-induced stress to provide variety for the Man (while I'm generally happy eating the same things just to live). More often than I would prefer, a lot of the meals feature many instant or processed food products put together. 

But I have since realized, so what if I can't make everything from scratch? So long there's good effort to try to make the meal healthy and satisfying, my objective is achieved, no matter. 

So, I want to introduce two of my favorite go-to meals when time is short. 

1. Wraps

There didn't used to be many available, but now, you can get at least two different varieties from NTUC. The Gardenia brand is the most affordable ($2.50 / 5 pieces), and comes in a few different flavor variants.  If you so choose, I also like the imported ones from USA called Mission Valley, which is actually used for Mexican burritos. Tortillas and wraps can be used interchangeably.  But I personally find the taste of the Gardenia wraps to be more slanted towards our local taste.  I also sometimes get frozen wraps called "Flat Out", which cost $5 for a pack of 6. These are much blander, but higher in fiber and protein and can be found from time to time from The Foodie Market at Tiong Bahru.  

I like wraps because they contain an element of surprise (when you don't slice them up) and you can wrap up anything you fancy. Most often, I look into the fridge and determine which ingredients need to go and then proceed to incorporate them into the meal.  Easy!

Wraps are also good for quesadillas (a type of Mexican folded, crepe-like pancake) with cheese (always in our fridge) and sauteed mushrooms or shredded chicken for the Man.

2. Sandwiches / Tartines

For sandwiches, we use mainly local sliced bread, particularly, Gardenia's Low GI Multi-grain bread, as they are heartier, more substantial and more texture and taste. [side note: actually, this is the only sliced bread I buy now as I find local breads to be high in sugar in general and I am trying to cut back on added sugar in my diet]. I would have preferred to use good hearty European bread with heavier crust and more seeds/grains, but the Man doesn't like bread that is too dry or tough, so nope, European breads would not work unless the sandwich could be panini-pressed to a crisp (but I don't have the ability to do so nor would I necessary want to do that when pressed for time). So for now, Gardenia works as a compromise.

For tartines, or open face sandwiches, European style bread could work as I toast the bread slices up when they are still neat, just so they could dry up and crisp a little more. I usually get Walnut Bread from Swiss Bake but as I don't go to Cold Storage as often, I normally get Gardenia's country style loaves. My two favorite variants are: multigrain and walnut. Beware though, these Gardenia country loaves are vastly different in texture to the ones from Swiss Bake, as in they are much softer in general. But as these loaves boast no additional sugar added in the recipe, I find them healthier than regular sliced bread and so I buy them.  After the initial toast, I load them with different toppings before giving them another round in the toaster to broil to heat / melt the toppings through. My favourite topping is also the easiest to prepare though, just simply fresh, ripe avocado smashed down with a fork and seasoned with a round of fresh ground pepper and salt. It's so delicious just like that!

top: Flat Out Wrap with ham, cheese, egg; bottom: trio of tartines
What are your favorite easy meals that you go to when you don't have much time? 



Monday, March 31, 2014

Catching up at Sun with Moon

It was another overdue catch up with Y and I was grateful for a slower week at work that allowed me to take leave and Y's schedule permitted us to meet for a short lunch.

I decided on Sun with Moon Japanese restaurant at Wheelock, remembering their good value and quality set lunches. Both of us haven't been there in ages! The restaurant was packed to the brim but service was still good. Orders were taken quickly and food arrived in about 10-15 minutes.

I was feeling super hungry and ordered the saba and seafood kimchi pot set. The saba fish used to be much bigger and juicier though this smaller version isn't too bad as well.  That meal filled me much without much of that 3-4pm hunger pangs.


Y and I talked about everything from the wedding to home decor. She alerted me to the Crate and Barrel Store ( I forgot it existed!), to Public Garden happening that weekend at National Design Center, and also to a furniture shop called Second Charm. I went to both Public Garden (my first time!) and to Second Charm's shop at Kallang. At both Crate and Barrel and Second Charm, I went gaga over beautiful pieces of furniture. Lots of inspiration for home decor definitely! At Public Garden, I even bought a statement necklace (I have been trying to cut down on unnecessary shopping) because it was unique and the price cannot be beat at $26?


Thanks Y, for your company and friendship. I always learn something new from you!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Double Date at Da Luca


It has been a while since we last visited Da Luca and recently, the Man and I had a double date there. We were reminded of the hearty portions and big flavors once again. Between the four of us, we ordered five starters and then a main each. But really, we should have shared!

While everything we had was good, what was outstanding was the special starter of cold angel hair pasta with scallops and truffle oil. We didn't ask the price and it was slightly above our expectations at $48. But the dish was indeed very good. 

We also ordered the eggplant parmigiana and cream of pumpkin soup (soup of the day), both of which were competent. The only one I didn't really like was the octopus carpaccio (another daily special). It was leaning towards being too salty, but not only that, they were quite chewy without much other flavor.


eggplant parmagiana

For mains, I got the vongole spaghetti. The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente and the whole dish was perfectly seasoned. I could use with more heat, but level of heat is really subjective anyway. Bonus? There were plenty of fresh clams.  I managed to demolish a good half of it, which I surprised myself as well as I hardly eat pasta anymore these days.

vongole

The Man had the tenderloin, another daily special which was at $44, pretty standard pricing I would say. The meat was cooked perfectly well and the Man was happy.
tenderloin, medium rare

Full to the brim, I didn't need dessert but as group dates mandate, someone would still want dessert so we ordered a tiramisu and an apple tart to split. The tiramisu was pretty decent but the tart was more like a cake with crumble. My friends didn't really like it much. 

tart?

We left the place full and satiated, a note to add Da Luca to our "stay put" list.