An Introduction

An Introduction
The Simplest Aphrodisiac

Flavours of the Month

Flavours of the Month
Rocks Urban Grill & Bar

Overseas Trips

Overseas Trips
The Reason to Travel

The A List

The A List
Featuring the Best

Milan, Italy: Pizzeria Di Gennaro

30 June 2010

Pizzeria Di Gennaro was a recommendation by the travel buoctopusesddy's Italian friend, who interestingly had described himself as quite a foodie too. The pizzas here turned out quite alright and definitely worth a try if you're clueless on where or what to eat whilst around Milan's busy shopping district. Straight from the wood-fired oven, the sides are crisp and lightly burnt, just the way I like it to be, with a slightly fluffier middle.

My Pizza Frutti di Mare (surprise, surprise) was delicious, though I spent a considerable amount of time observing the baby octopus perched on my pizza. No, it wasn't moving or dancing around, but what I thought was a baby squid turned out to be a baby octopus after all once the travel buddy pointed out its eight legs. It just stuck out, calling for some attention.

A close-up of the baby octopus before it got eaten up. Chewy.

Very good.

€10 frutti di mare pizza
€9 regina mozza pizza (ham and mushroom pizza, not reviewed)

Via S. Radegonda, 14,
Milan, Italy.

Pictures taken with the Canon Ixus 80 IS.

Milan, Italy: Caffe Letterario

29 June 2010

Caffe Letterario at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan is memorable for the wrong reasons. After having had so many delightful meals throughout the trip, I finally hit a brick wall with this deceitfully established restaurant in downtown Milan. Service was lacking and the food was... edible but not worth a single calorie. You must be wondering why I'm still blogging about this place then, but this is just to let you know (in case you may have been thinking otherwise) that not everything here in Italy is absolutely delicious. I'd be lying to you if I were to go all out to make my trip sound extremely perfect by gushing over every single thing.


Or at least, what Italians think bread should be. This was so hard and tough that even my seasoned meat-tearing teeth could do little to tear it apart. Might as well keep it to hit those Indian con-men in front of the Duomo.

Zuppa di Cipolla alla Francese

I have little idea about the travel buddy's fascination for French onion soups, even more so when he has the tendency to order this in Italy. While it may look terribly simple and not necessarily appetising, the travel buddy thought it was more flavourful than expected.

Rissotto ai Frutti di Mare

You've read enough of my Italy entries by now to know that "frutti di mare" refers quite simply to seafood. While the seafood pastas and pizzas that I've had in Italy were all pretty good, the same however cannot be said for Caffe Letterario's risotto. The rice was just too moist and sticky, and the seafood ingredients turned out to be terribly tasteless.

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

The travel buddy was looking for a repeat of the awesome tagliatelle that we had in Florence, but I think it's just too much to ask for from Caffe Letterario. A tad too watery bolognese sauce and the pasta was more tough than al dente. Pity.

Poor, quite impersonal and hurried.

€13 for the zuppa di cipolla alla francese
€19 for the rissotto ai frutti di mare
€17 for the tagliatelle alla bolognese
€7 for a 1-litre bottle of mineral water

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele,
Milan, Italy.

Pictures taken with the Canon Ixus 80 IS.

Milan, Italy: Caffe Milano

28 June 2010

My trip in Italy actually started out in Milan, where I had a whole day to myself before I joined the travel buddy at Milan's Malpensa airport for a short flight to Naples. My first "meal" in Italy was actually a teatime snack of... yes you guessed it right, gelato, and some good ol' Italian cappuccino.

The Stracciatella gelato here was average at best, and in retrospect it paled in comparison to the other stracciatellas I had, especially in Florence. On the other hand, the Gusto Nocciola gelato was delicious, and I savoured every bit of this hazelnut delight. The texture of the gelato here is quite good, and it wasn't too icy or watery. Good balance.

€4 for two scoops of gelato,
€6 for a cup of cappuccino.

Along Via Dante, en route to Castello Sforzesco,
Milan, Italy.

Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.

Florence, Italy: Osteria de' Peccatori

27 June 2010

If you ask me what's one of my most memorable and well-liked eateries in Italy, I would say for certainty that Osteria de' Peccatori in Florence is definitely one of them. The food here is simple, unpretentious and most importantly, delicious. I should add too that prices here are relatively affordable, cheap even if you compare it with some of the other restaurants. Sounds good eh? :)

The interior of Osteria de' Peccatori is warm and inviting, and to some extent has a countryside feel to it as well. With the cool weather of early May, having an early dinner in here was a cosy and comfortable affair.

Perhaps the people here have a sense of humour or masculine pride too, and I know I just have to put this picture up for good measure (pun intended?). A copy of Michaelangelo's famous David finds itself "upsized" in the right place (go figure, I've been quite obvious haha!) here, quite unlike the original.

Bruschetta ai Rigatino e Porcini

The travel buddy loves his bruschettas, and had fairly good things to say about this one in particular. You can't see much of the bread in the picture, but the highlight anyway is the tender Tuscany bacon and porcini mushrooms.

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

Probably the best al dente pasta that I've had in this entire trip in Italy. Homemade pasta that was firm to the bite, and with an impeccable meaty bolognese sauce that I doubt any restaurants in Singapore can come close. Sizeable portion too, but for such a delectable dish I could order seconds or thirds if I wasn't aiming other things on the menu. Full marks, if not more.

Cream Caramel

Firm panna cotta with not too bad caramel sauce. I think I would have enjoyed the tiramisu more though!


And in case you're wondering, what tiramisu, here it is. This is very good tiramisu with a good balance of flavours - liquer, coffee and chocolate, and the type of moisture that I personally like. Anything with too much sponge doesn't score well with me, so this was really quite good.

Pizza Frutti di Mare

I'm not done yet, not by a mile. I really, really wanted to try the pizza here, and so, much to the amusement of the travel buddy, I ordered a whole pizza for takeaway. And because he had his fill for the night, this was going to be mine, mine, and only mine.

No regrets at all. This is fantastic seafood pizza, with a good assortment of ingredients - mussels, clams, shellfish, prawns and squids. Thin and crisp pizza, but not necessarily wafer-like like the joke that you see with skinny pizzas in Singapore. This is very good pizza, yums.

Very good. Menu had English descriptions so the language barrier wasn't too much of a problem. They were staring at me (and my DSLR) with some bit of amusement though.

€6.90 for the bruschetta ai rigatino e porcini
€7.90 for the tagliatelle alla bolognese
€3.90 for the cream caramel
€4.10 for the tiramisu
€7.90 for the pizza frutti di mare
€2.60 for a cup of caffe latte
€2.60 for a 1-litre bottle of mineral water

Piazza San Firenze, 14r,
Florence, Italy.

Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.

Florence, Italy: Golden View

24 June 2010

One of Florence's main sights is the Ponte Vecchio, though other than having houses and shops built on it I have to admit that I don't see much "star quality" in this old bridge. Still, tourists seem to be somewhat drawn to this over-rated structure, and I'm guessing it probably has something to do with their over-reliance on misleading guidebooks. As a tidbit, the Ponte Vecchio is a Medieval bridge over one of Italy's most important rivers, the Arno River.

Golden View Open Bar was a recommendation from our hotel manager, who confessed that he has never personally dined here before but has heard many good things about it from his hotel patrons. He made a reservation for us with a request for a table with a view, and so we got a nice look at the famed Ponte Vecchio throughout dinner. In case you're wondering, the very first picture above was taken right from my seat.

Champagne here is cheap, because it's included in Golden View's service and cover charges which only comes up to €3.50. Light but refreshing, this set our appetites racing.

Complimentary Bread

The Complimentary Bread basket was a disappointment, as with most bread baskets in Italy seemed to turn out. The bread was cold and tough, and lacked flavour. I really wonder how the elderly cope with such... demanding chewing.

Chitarra All'astice
Chitarra spaghetti with fresh lobster and tomato sauce

I have yet to try Otto Ristorante's Boston Lobster Pasta in Singapore, so I will have to make do with something from Italy (haha...) The Chitarra All'astice was quite good, and the unique (at least to me) chitarra spaghetti was an interesting alternative to the typical spaghetti. What shone was the thick and aromatic tomato sauce as well as the wonderfully fresh lobster.

Chitarra Amiata Carne di Manzo e Vitella Con Piselli, Porcini e Pinoli
Chitarra spaghetti with beef and veal ragout, porcini mushrooms and pine nuts

If you like your beef, you would like this too. The travel buddy definitely enjoyed his pasta, but he did remark that it could get a bit too salty at times.

Petto D'anatra All'arancia
Duck breast with orange sauce

Some European countries, like Italy in this case, have this norm of a second main course. We don't usually keep to this norm, if at all, but this time round we both decided to order the grilled duck breast. I'm glad we did. The duck was tender and well-grilled, and the sweet orange sauce complemented it perfectly.

Crème Brûlée

And of course, there's always time and room for dessert. The Crème Brûlée scored well with us, with a good balance of a smooth custard base and a crisp caramel layer. It's not necessarily mind-blowing, but at least it wrapped up the meal wonderfully. Travel buddy was especially pleased.

Very good.

€22 for the Chitarra All'astice
€16 for the Chitarra Amiata Carne di Manzo e Vitella Con Piselli
€24 for the Petto D'anatra All'arancia
€9 for the Crème Brûlée
€3.50 for service and cover charge
€3.50 for a bottle of mineral water

Via De' Bardi, 58,
At the intersection of Lungarno Torrigiani and Via De Guicciardini,
Florence, Italy.

Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.

Florence, Italy: Bar Pontevecchio

23 June 2010

This post is a feature of two gelaterias that I am especially fond of in Florence, and for the same reason - they both have the most heavenly Nutellatta gelato. The first is Bar Pontevecchio, which is a café located at one end of the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge. While its Nocciola (hazelnut) gelato was pretty decent, the Nutellatta was just in another league of its own. Creamy gelato with thick, rich swirls of Nutella chocolate, simply lovely.

The other favourite of mine is a small gelateria situated at Piazza Del Mercato Nuovo, though its name (I doubt "Gelato" was meant to be a definitive name) still eludes me even after at least two return visits. Nevertheless, I sure caught the attention of the stallowner, and at the third visit he finally asked me, with a wide smile, "Is it really good?" I beamed with delight and told him his Nutellatta was just amazing. Here's why.

Creamy gelato with not just swirls or slivers but thick layers (I'm tempted to even type slabs) of Nutella all around. Not many people can handle such chocolatey goodness for sure, but I for one found it seductively brilliant. At brief moments it did feel as though you're eating Nutella right out of the bottle, but the experience is even more satisfying now with the company of delicious milky ice-cream. Awesome.

€2.50 for small, €3.50 for medium.

Bar Pontevecchio: at the end of Ponte Vecchio, along Via De' Guicciardini.
Gelato: facing Piazza Del Mercato Nuovo.

Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.

Florence, Italy: Gelateria Dei Neri

22 June 2010

Amongst other things like art and history, the Florentines are also especially serious about their gelato. Competition here is particularly stiff, and the only way you can do well is to do what you have to do - sell the real deal. Compared to some of the gelato I had in Milan and Naples, the ones here are at their freshest and richest, and the scoops are often over-proportionately large too. Not that I'm complaining, no way, every extra spoonful is a little piece more of heaven.

Gelateria Dei Neri has such a wide range of gelato that deciding on just two to three flavours would seem almost impossible. I was thinking that the only way I could do justice to myself (and the land of gelato) was to have a scoop each, of everything. Of course my travel buddy would have none of that, and so I had to settle for just two scoops worth of gelato. I knew I had to make a right decision. I must.

With a little help from our Lonely Planet guide, I scored on one of Dei Neri's top signatures, the Cocco gelato. This is by far the best ever coconut-flavoured gelato that I've ever eaten, with a richness that is unbeatable by a long mile and with a freshness that has "genuine" written all over it. Just like what I told you how gelato in Firenze would be like. Just imagine detecting bits of coconut pulp in your gelato, and tasting the natural sweetness from within. Simply divine.

The other flavour I had was the Bacio, which on first glance may remind you of the typical cookies and cream ice-cream (albeit a darker version), but it really is a combination of chocolate and hazelnut. It's something which may remind you of Nutella (*hint hint* look out for the next post!) or Ferrero Rocher, but having the balance of chocolate and hazelnut is not as easy as it seems. Dei Neri does it pretty well here, though I still think it got overshadowed by the amazing Cocco.

I know I should be showing close-ups of the gelato instead of pictures of myself, but usually when I'm on holiday close-ups on food would take a back seat. That said, I do have a shot of something delicious tomorrow, so stay tuned :)

About €3 for a small cup. Choose your two flavours wisely!

Via dei Neri, 20R,
Florence, Italy.

Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.

Florence, Italy: Grom Gelato

21 June 2010

Gelato is unmistakably Italy's national dessert, and it's definitely difficult, if not impossible, to filter through the thousands of gelaterias in search of Italy's best gelato. Still, I can say with utmost confidence that Florence has some of the best and freshest gelato in the country, and here I will share with you four of my top favourites. They have their own strengths for sure, and it really depends on what you are looking out for. In short, there's something for everyone right here in Florence :)

Grom Gelato is well-known for its fresh and organic flavours, so think about organic eggs, full fat milk and even Lurisia mountain water for its delicious sorbets. Don't expect to find any emulsifiers, non-natural thickeners, colorings or preservatives in your gelato, these guys mean serious business. They also have a corporate social responsibility thing going in its "Grom Loves World" green project, and so all the plastic and paper products you get here are from recycled materials. Neat.

The gelato is definitely as good as it sounds. I had double scoops of Cocco and the all popular Stracciatella, and I liked them both. The Cocco's really unique because Grom uses fresh coconut pulp and mixes it with full-cream milk, which together is a quality match surely. Similarly, the Stracciatella scores on its level of creaminess, and is a delectable milky delight.

If you're curious, you can head on to Grom's website for its long list of flavours. What others may particularly appreciate about Grom is its helpful list detailing the main ingredients which some may be intolerant to, and this can be found here on its website as well as within the gelateria itself.

About €4 for a medium, double scoops of two flavours.

Via del Campanile,
Florence, Italy.

Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.


19 June 2010

Italiannies is a fairly new American-Italian (*raises eyebrows*) diner at TripleOne Somerset. One thing that it doesn't say openly, at least in its local website or within the grounds of its restaurant, is that it really originates from Malaysia rather than either the US or Italy. Well, not that it matters entirely, and the first thing you would notice about Italiannies is its praiseworthy service. It's quite rare in Singapore that you would be served complimentary drinks while waiting for a table, but that's exactly what Italiannies did and you can say I was quite impressed by the small but thoughtful gesture.

Complimentary Bread

The slices of focaccia from the Complimentary Bread Basket were really quite delicious, in large part because of the pleasant aroma, the slightly crisp crust, and the soft centre. Thumbs up.

Margherita Pizza

In contrast, the Margherita Pizza was an utter disappointment. I'm not acting like a snob who expects every Italian dish before me to resemble those in Italy, but the way this pizza was presented was just plain... boring. It's supposed to be good tomato paste all around, but there was barely much of that. In its place instead were large slices of tomato that didn't pair very well with the equally disappointing (and cheese-deprived) biscuit-like crust.

Chicken Parmagiana

The Chicken Parmagiana has promise, especially the wonderfully tender chicken that is a delight to munch and chew on. The let-down has to be the ready-made (and terribly typical) spaghetti, which is very much the kind you can find in all supermarkets. If only I could match the chicken with authentic al dente pasta from Cugini, that would be quite delightful I'm sure.

Clam Linguine

Dinner buddy Glenn wasn't impressed with his Clam Linguine, and he boasted that he could cook much better than that. Well, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt haha! We did agree that the healthy portion of pasta was a waste given the number of empty or closed clams.

Fair. Do note that free iced water is not served here.

$9.90 for the (9") margherita pizza
$19.90 for the chicken parmagiana
$18.90 for the clams linguine

* Prices subject to the usual 7% GST and 10% service charge.

TripleOne Somerset, #01-02.
Behind 313 @ Somerset.

Pictures taken with the Canon Ixus 80 IS.


17 June 2010

When Loraine from The Hungry-Trotting Couple suggested we have a go at Filipino food for our mini-bloggers' dinner, I jumped at the idea. It's always exciting to try something new for a change, and with such enticing items on Bonifacio's online menu I was more than eager to make the necessary dinner reservations. May was a terribly packed month for many of the bloggers as most of us were actually on holiday in various parts of the world, and so I was really happy that I managed to find time to meet Loraine and Xin Li (from The Moose), even more so that it was the very first time that we were meeting one another.

I like Loraine and Xin Li, they're nice people. They're the sincere type of food bloggers who are just in it for the love of food and that thrill of gastronomic adventures. I've grown tired of food bloggers trying to outdo one another, so you can imagne my delight to meet such pleasant people for dinner, just sharing good food and good conversations. This is what I like most about food-blogging.

I couldn't ask for a better place for dinner. Bonifacio is located along the relatively quiet Keong Saik Road and is just about five minutes walk away from the Outram Park NEL MRT Station. The interior, though simple and not necessarily large, is still warm and inviting. Service here is also worth mention, as I especially like how the staff is confident about the authenticity and taste of the recommended dishes without appearing arrogant or aloof. Friendly Filipino service at its best.

Sago't Gulaman

The Sago't Gulaman is a sweet Filipino drink that has tapioca pearls, sago and jelly. I was told the Filipino "version" is very sweet and may not sit well with some Singaporeans, but anything is game for someone like me and I asked for the real deal. It didn't turn out as sweet as expected, but somewhat balanced enough. For a gross simplification, it's like drinking bubble tea, but better. Loraine's Fresh Yellow Mango Shake was even better, as it was awesomely (but naturally!) sweet from "authentic" mangoes specially air-flown from the Philippines.

Tuna Sisig

This was my favourite dish of the night. While it's typically pork sisig, my dinner companions were very nice to choose the Tuna Sisig instead just so I could try it, and boy was it good. The small chunks of spicy tuna were served on a sizzling hot plate, and what you've to do is to add some lime juice and soy sauce for flavour and then cook it all together with an egg. This is the first time that I've tried sisig, so the novelty was there and I found it really satisfying.


Himagsikan actually means "revolution", and partly fits with the theme of Bonifacio and his role in the Philippine Revolution. For our purposes here, it was a delicious seafood dish that features aromatic Java rice (why "Java" in the Philippines eludes me) and extremely well-grilled seafood. What stood out the most was the grilled tuna, which was wonderfully tender and was still pinkish in the middle.

Ah, here's another look at my yummy Himagsikan. Lovely.

Daing na Bangus

The Daing na Bangus is actually deep-fried marinated milkfish served with mango tomato salsa. Loraine seemed to like it, and I'll (very conveniently so) quote her comments here: "Bonifacio's version was well marinated, and with the dip of native vinegar (pinakurat) [it] completed the works. It was cooked the Filipino way, fried until it's crispy (see how the fish ends were curled), just the way i like it. It was air flown from the Philippines, [and] thus it's a bit on the pricey side."

Chicken Inasal

It did look very simple, but the Chicken Inasal, grilled chicken marinated in annatto oil, turned out to be surprisingly very good. Xin Li's apt comments were as follows: "In Bonifacio’s Chicken Inasal, the breast meat was quite tender and slightly juicy. In addition, there is this sweet salad like thing that paired very well [with] the chicken as well as the accompanying sour and spicy sauce. In addition, the chicken was flavourful, [and] the meat was well-marinated." I couldn't agree more.

All-in-all, a good dinner at a place that demands a revisit for sure :)


$4.95 for the sago't gulaman
$5.95 for the fresh yellow mango shake
$12.95 for the tuna sisig
$22.95 for the himagsikan
$22.95 for the daing na bangus
$11.95 for the chicken inasal

* Prices subject to the usual 7% GST and 10% service charge.

35 Kreta Ayer, along Keong Saik Road.

Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.

2009 ·*the simplest aphrodisiac by TNB | Official Singapore Food Blog.