Saturday, July 23, 2016

A date with the birds @ Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

Jurong Bird Park, home to some of the largest free-flying aviaries is one of the most renowned bird sanctuaries in the world. A prime tourist attraction located in the Jurong region of Singapore, this Park has been drawing in flocks of visitors since 1971. Boasting a collection of more than 5,000 birds across 400 species, the exhibits within the Park mirror the natural environments of their feathered residents.

What the Park has to offer:
  • Aside from their colorful inhabitants, the Park features educational and interactive shows where visitors can catch the birds in action. 
  • There are plenty of opportunities to feed the birds and get professional photographs taken with them. 
  • The Park makes sincere efforts towards breeding and conservation and those interested can get in on the behind-the-scenes operations at the Breeding & Research Centre (BRC). 
  • There is also a lot of fun in store for the little people. The Birdz of Play is a bird-themed playground with wet and dry play zones and indoor games room. 
  • There are several cafes and refreshment stalls interspersed throughout the Park which caters to the weary and/or peckish tourist. 
  • Visitors can take a leisurely stroll around the Park or else hop on board the guided trams to explore the attractions. There are lots of sign boards to help you navigate your way.

I have been to the Jurong Bird Park more number of times than I can recount but my last visit had been three years ago. The opportunity to revisit presented itself recently when I had family visiting from India. On a bright sunny, with the kids in tow (and sans the husband), we set off for a half day of bird gawking.

I don't have an insane number of photographs in this post (like I usually do) since I had two hyperactive toddlers to wrangle! I wasn't entirely satisfied with my captures but I did the best I could.

Here is a summary of the attractions in the Park and what you can expect.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Store review: Awfully Chocolate @ Holland Village, Singapore

"Chocolate is health food for the soul"
~Miranda Gray

Making an entrance in 1998, Awfully Chocolate chose to give the boot to fancy french pastries that had invaded Singapore and bring the humble cake back to its glory days. Their story began with a cake - a moist dark chocolate cake between layers of dark chocolate fudge. But since the store's inception, things have changed quite a bit. From selling only three variations of dark chocolate cake, the menu at Awfully Chocolate has expanded to include different types of cakes, desserts, and ice-cream.

I have passed by Awfully Chocolate stores innumerable times but had never actually been to one. I have however tried their signature all-chocolate cake (and it is pretty good!). I am definitely a chocoholic but probably not to the extent that I would make it my life's mission to visit each and every chocolate haven. Wait a minute....that would be a choco-fanatic!

It happened that I was meeting my friends for dinner and one of them suggested we move the party elsewhere for dessert to liven things up a bit more. Awfully Chocolate was a shouting distance away so it seemed like the obvious choice. It happened to be a Friday evening in the ever effervescent Holland Village so expecting crowds everywhere is a given. Surprisingly, the store was blissfully quiet so we readily headed in.

With a dominating color palette of white, the stores evoke a sense of space and simplicity. The friendly staff showed us to our table. The Holland Village outlet offers a range of cakes, desserts, ice-cream and chocolate-centric drinks. In addition, it also offers hot food on the brunch, lunch and dinner menu.

We ordered a mix of things - hot drinks, cold drinks, ice-cream and desserts. Sharing is caring and so most of the items went around to be sampled and critiqued!

Classic Dark Chocolate ($8.00)

Rich, dark and classy served with a cacao frais (smooth and silky dark chocolate and fresh cream) on the side.

This probably was one of the best-looking and tasting drinks of the evening.



Friday, July 8, 2016

Baker's Corner: Vegetarian Empanada Gallega

First things first - Empanada Gallega (Galician pie), a large two-crusted savoury pie originating from Spain, is not meant to be vegetarian. The traditional version usually has seafood and/or pork in the filling. Like a lot of global dishes that I have featured on my blog before, I have tweaked this recipe to suit my cooking style. So I have no absolutely no qualms in admitting that this is not an authentic recipe. But then again, a combination of crispy crust, soft bread and a delicious filling (meat or no meat) - that's a no brainer right? Who wouldn't want that? Did I hear a 'Hell Yeah?!

I realized I've featured a number of sweet bakes and desserts in quick succession since the last few weeks so it was time to change gears and go the savoury route. I came across this recipe by sheer accident. I was searching for some info online and then my attention got diverted a wee bit and soon I got carried away to the extent that I couldn't even remember what I had been originally looking for! Haha! Does that happen to you? It happens to me a LOT!

Anyway, my mom was in town then and I wanted to bake something nice for her so I ended up experimenting with this dish barely 10 mins after I had stumbled upon it. The ingredients weren't too many and fortunately for me, all pantry staples so it didn't take much effort to put it together.

In the end - it looked good, I liked it, she liked it so win-win-win! 

If you feel like tucking into savoury pie then I suggest you try this recipe and enjoy what it has to offer. Feel free to amp it up with fresh seasonal produce and play around with the seasonings. It is really up to your taste and preferences so there is plenty of room for creativity.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Recipe of the month: Easy Mango Sorbet

Yes I know....the end of the glorious mango season is upon us. It is only a matter of days before this royal fella bids adieu for the year. In my defense, I tried this recipe several weeks ago but never got time to blog it until now (lame but true).

This is a recipe I came across in a cooking-related facebook group that I am a member of and it looked fairly simple and easy on the eye. And when I saw that it didn't require an icecream maker or that I had to go about stirring the frozen mixture umpteen times in a span of several hours, I was in!

My dear mum who was here last month, happened to get me a huge stash of the most gorgeous alphonso mangoes from India and so I jumped at the chance to turn them into a refreshing sorbet. What better way to beat the scorching Singapore heat? 

I don't have step-by-step photos for this recipe since I deemed it quite unnecessary. Just follow the instructions and you will be fine. Trust me!

That's all you will hear from me today. Gotta rush peeps! On a parting note - I'm hoping it isn't too late to get hold of good mangoes so make it, enjoy it, and if you can't then bookmark the recipe for next year!