Wild Rocket @ Mount Emily

Added on by Tabitha.

SO much to post about my last trip to Singapore but I thought I'd start with this recap of my dinner at Wild Rocket. The Husband and I celebrated our ninth anniversary while in Singapore and I wanted to do something special. I've wanted to dine at Wild Rocket for a while now, more so since I started following owner and chef Low Willin online and learning more about him through mutual friends. I knew I was in for a treat but I had no idea how much I would love this meal. It was one of the best dinners I've had and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Willin's cuisine is mostly plays on Singaporean and Asian cuisine. I started typing what I thought were the standout dishes but turns out, I loved them all. Though I did want to mention this:

One of the courses we had was what Willin has dubbed as "Singapore Noodles." You've probably heard me bitch make comments about how Chinese restaurants in America have a "Singapore noodles" dish on their menu that doesn't actually exist and it was a relief to know that Willin shares the same gripe. So he's come up with what he feels should actually be Singapore noodles and I think someone needs to make it official because his dish was delicious. It's inspired by a popular local dish called Hokkien Mee, and it was so good I could have eaten another giant bowl of it. Actually, there was a guy sitting at the bar nearby and I'm pretty sure he requested an extra bowl of the noodles before his dessert courses came.

Anyway, here's what we had for dinner that night:

Hokkaido scallops, shoyu kombu, chai poh, truffle oil
Cai poh = dried asian radish.

Thai inspired duck salad with red curry ice cream
Who knew curry could taste so good in ice cream form??

Har cheong gai
Instead of chicken wings like this dish traditionally is, it was pig ears in the shrimp paste batter.

Char kuay teow with no kuay teow
He used thin slivers of cuttlefish as the noodles!

Willin's Singapore noodles
That King prawn. *Drool*

Clay pot rice
Foie gras of the barramundi!! Just as rich as regular foie gras only a little fishy. Duck liver lap cheong (chinese sausage). 

Wagyu short rib with buah kuluak mash
Buah kuluak is a tree nut that, honestly, up to that night I refused to eat because it just seemed weird. It's not and it's pretty damned good.

The first dessert course was a sugarcane sorbet with a piece of sugarcane that had been soaked in rum. Final dessert course was a play on burbur hitam, a dessert of sweet, glutinous black rice that's usually served warm but this came as an ice cream with some sea coconut, jackfruit and coconut mousse on the side. Pictures below, click to view, hover to see captions, tap the white dot if you're using your phone.

Tasting menus are always a treat because the impression I get is that the chef is just having fun in the kitchen and it's so fascinating to see what they come up with. I really enjoyed listening to Willin talk about each dish  and what inspired him. A chef's love for what he/she does is infectious and somehow it makes the meal that much more enjoyable. Overall, what we loved most about that evening was the experience as a whole from the wonderful food to the service to the ambience. We were treated SO well! And the food, oh the food... every smell, every bite!! My mouth is watering just thinking about it and I can't wait to go back.

I've also been enjoying following Willin on Instagram. By my observations, he's someone who is constantly learning and keeping his mind open to exploring cuisines of all sorts and I think that open-mindedness is what makes him such a great (and extremely humble) chef. It'll be interesting to see what he's inspired by next and to see what he has on the menu by the next time I go home!

You can find out more about Wild Rocket by clicking here. If you're in Singapore, or if you're planning a trip there, I highly recommend making a reservation - I think you'll love it. Big thanks to Willin for the wonderful dinner and for our little treat at the end, that was so nice of you! 

My Mama

Added on by Tabitha.

“Don’t use your hands, like that the food become ba si.” 

I’m probably spelling that wrong, but I never asked her what it actually meant or how it was spelled, I just took her word for it: that if I touched food with my hands it’d go bad a lot quicker. I must have been barely a teenager when she first said it to me, and even now when I get lazy and start picking at leftovers with my bare fingers, I hear her voice loud and clear. It was one of many things I remember and learned from my grandmother. 

Mama, as we called her, raised me with the help of my grandfather who passed away when I was 17. My parents were both very young and both worked so most of my childhood memories and a lot of what I learned was from them. 

Mama cooked, that was her role. She took care of the home and made us breakfast, lunch and dinner. Egg day on Mondays, no meat on Fridays. She loved KFC and Burger King, those were always treats for us and for her. 

Every night, she’d make a whole meal for the six of us and it would always be a full-on family meal of some sort of meat, seafood, veggies and soup. On Sundays, my aunt's family came over and it was always a feast. It was impressive, and she did it mostly on her own almost every night for years and years. 

She would also remember if one of us liked a certain dish. She took a lot of joy in just watching us eat and would notice if one of us ate more of one thing, and took pride in knowing that and making that dish for us again and again just to see us enjoy it. 

Although, when she knew that we didn’t like a particular dish of hers, she’d be sure to point out the next time she made it, that one of us “Didn’t know how to eat it.” She wasn’t mad or offended, it was just a fact and something she kept track of. 

But oh, when you did know how to eat something and you loved it she would, without fail, tell you with a smile, “Here, I know this is your favorite." And I had a lot of favorites - her tofu soup, made with the softest grade of tofu with minced pork, green onions in a clean, clear broth. Her sambal prawns, her pepper pork, peanut soup, baby kai lan with oysters sauce, French beans with oyster sauce… and she would REMEMBER. That was her thing, and that was how she showed us she loved us. 

Thanks to her I know how to clean a pig’s stomach. Thanks to her I developed an appreciation for cooking and baking and the joy and comfort I find in being in the kitchen. Most of all, thanks to her I always had something good to eat; my family always ate well and we were completely spoiled. It was all because of her.

She was meticulous with prep. I still remember how she would take the time to pull the tails off a giant basket of mung bean sprouts while watching cooking shows (Wok With Yan was her favorite). There were times she’d let me help her with the sprouts which, at the time, I hated to do but I’ve now come to appreciate it because getting rid of the tails really makes the dish so much more pleasant to look at and eat. She was also a really good, consistent cook and she had a database of recipes in her head that she just knew by heart that I wish I wrote down, and that I wish I paid more attention to when she was cooking. 

Most of all, I wish I told her how much I appreciated her and how much of an influence she was on me, whether she intended for that to happen or not. 

I love you, Mama. You took really good care of me, of all of us. I just hope you knew that before you left us. At least you're not hurting anymore.

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Yum! East - Take a culinary tour of East Nashville on 6/4/15

Added on by Tabitha.

UPDATE: SOLD OUT

On Thursday June 4th, skip cooking dinner at home and head to East Nashville to feast on samples from more than 30 restaurants! For just $45 you could dine on food from Holland House, Marche, Two Ten Jack, The Pharmacy, delicious ice cream from Jeni's AND Nashville's own Pied Piper Creamery and MANY more local favorites. Your ticket purchase goes to help the Fannie Battle Day Home for Children - everybody wins! 

Click here to purchase your tickets! For more information and a full list of participating restaurants visit their website at YumEast.com 

A (somewhat by choice) childless woman's thoughts

Added on by Tabitha.

I shared this article on Facebook yesterday. "Childless by choice: Shallow and self-absorbed or just awesome? 

It wasn't the first article of its sort I've shared in the past two years or so - there've been plenty along the same grain of "we're childless, we choose to be (or maybe we didn't) but the bottom line is, just leave us the fuck alone about it." 

But is everyone looking at me and my fellow DINKS with such disdain or pity or even judgement? No, not at all. For every pushy person out there, I am thankful for at least five more people in my life - ones who have kids, mind you - who understand and are supportive. 

I speak for myself and my circle - my friends (emphasis on friends) have been plenty supportive. Without diving into personal things, I have this to say: it all boils down to choice and for some reason, there are a lot of people who can't fathom others making different choices than they did, and I have thus chosen not to surround myself with those jerks (who I'm sure mean well, in their own odd way).  

I'm not writing this to defend not having kids - the articles floating around out there are doing a good job doing that for me. I'm writing this because not everybody is a judgmental dick or someone who lords the whole "oh my god it's so rewarding to have kids you guys have to have kids what do you mean you don't want kids you'd have such cute kids" sermon over you and I'd like to salute those people and thank them for being mature enough to know that when someone responds with the following

  • No, not yet.
  • Nope!
  • We don't.
  • We're planning to, but not right now.
  • Hell no.
  • Eh, no.
  • We just got married yesterday.

is to move on.

BUT! I am writing this to give credit to and show appreciation for the people I know who have kids who don't push their decisions on me and the many, many other people like me and The Husband; the ones who respect our life choices and who aren't themselves being selfish by insisting that it's in any way wrong that we don't follow the same path they've gone down. You know who you are, and I love you and thank you. 

Why I like Twitter so much

Added on by Tabitha.

The weather in Nashville's been less than ideal over the past few weeks and it's reminded me how much I love and rely on Twitter. If not for Twitter, I wouldn't be as informed about traffic conditions, closures, and I wouldn't have learned that ice dams are a thing.

I've been an active Twitter user for eight years now, and I haven't gotten sick of it. Twitter is a lot more reliable than Facebook, especially now that Facebook will shove a post to the top of your timeline that's days (even weeks or months) old just because there was activity on it (like a new comment). People unknowingly share and re-share articles that are sometimes a few years old that they mistake for news, and I feel that that Facebook just isn't an environment for timely or factual information.

The people you follow on Twitter are the people you choose to follow and you're not forced to accept someone's friend request just because you know they'll be butthurt if you don't. Not saying it doesn't happen on Twitter but it's a lot easier to avoid the crazy there than on Facebook.

Now, if you're not as concerned with getting real-time news and you prefer fluff or US Magazine level news; if you enjoy peeking into the lives of people you haven't seen or talked to since you were 15 and if you just LOVE seeing other people's ultrasounds then Facebook is great for all that.

Hell, I won't deny that I enjoy scrolling through Facebook, sometimes it's nice to give my brain a break. Maybe it's schadenfreude. But I do my utmost not to divulge much about myself aside from the occasional soapbox - much easier to do when you don't have character limitations. But I've stopped posting pictures of myself and of my family and friends on there because I enjoy some level of privacy, and I am sure my friends/family do too.

Anyway, back to why Twitter's reliable. Here's a good example: If you've lived in Nashville for more than six years, you were around for when Twitter proved itself really useful - during the flood of 2010 when none of the news outlets reported anything because it was the weekend and they were, at the time, slow to catch on to social media. Every update I got came from the other Nashvillians I followed, and whether we intended to or not, Twitter became a source of support. If I'm not wrong, that's basically when news outlets finally became active on social media.

Speaking of, I recommend following @NashSevereWX if you live in Nashville or nearby because they are the best source of updates during bad weather. Now excuse me, I'm going to check my Twitter feed to see if I should be panicking and stocking up on milk and bread or not.