[XMAS BUFFET] Feast in Merriment @ Element, Amara Singapore

Hello everyone!

Let’s begin this post with a Christmas song sing-along! I know, why don’t we sing Deck The Halls, a crowd favourite at any Christmas party for sure?

♪ Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la 
♪ Tis the season to be jolly FATTY
Fa la la la la, la la la la ♪

Throw away your skinny jeans and belts because with all the Christmas-themed buffets in town, stretch pants are back in fashion once again! With so many festive buffets to choose from but a limited calorie budget to work with, hopefully this write-up on the Yuletide dinner and lunch buffet that’s set to launch on the eve of Christmas at Element (courtesy of Amara Singapore) would help you decide if it’s worthwhile to expand your waistline for. That is, unless you belong to the ‘I-can-eat-as-much-as-I-want-and-I-will-still-be-skinny’ group.

In which case, I hate you.

—🎄 Appetisers 🎄—

Cognac Lobster Bisque

Cognac Lobster Bisque

In the pot, this may look like an ordinary lobster bisque to you but it actually includes an ingredient which gives it an extra zing of flavour – Cognac. Added last to the bisque for a stronger kick, the smoothness and silky richness of the Cognac marries well with the sweetness and creaminess of the soup. Perhaps to cater to children and non-drinkers at the buffet, only a soupçon of Cognac was added so the slight bitter and tangy aftertaste that I got from the lobster bisque didn’t occur to me that it was Cognac. In fact, I had thought it was the spiciness from pepper because the distinctive bold flavour of Cognac just wasn’t picked up by my taste bud! Ironically, Fiona, who isn’t a fan of alcohol, could tell in one sip that there was liquor in the bisque 🤷 But it wasn’t too overpowering so she cleaned the bowl in no time!

Personally, I did not really like the texture of the lobster bisque as it was a little too watered-down for my liking and I prefer it to be creamier and heartier. Still, this is a rare find at any buffet and a must-try if you are a crustacean lover like me!

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa (reviewed here)

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa (reviewed here)

One of my favourite dishes at Element makes an appearance again this Christmas! If you’ve not read my verdict on the tuna tataki on my previous post, I urge you to do so now for a more detailed review! But in summary, the cool, softly chewy texture of the Tataki was what does it for me and this was also probably why it was snapped up so quickly at the media tasting event 😍

Editor’s note: Most of them was taken away by you, my dear.

Smoked Duck, Salami and Prosciutto

Smoked Duck, Salami and Prosciutto

Honey Baked Butter Squash with Honey Mustard and Pumpkin Seed

Honey Baked Butter Squash with Honey Mustard and Pumpkin Seed

Diced to bite-sized pieces, the butternut squash felt squishy in the mouth, almost like the texture of potato but softer, and has a lightly sweet and nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin (although many would argue that they’re basically the same considering that they are used interchangeably in certain countries) on its own. The pumpkin seeds give it an added crunch while the honey mustard lends a slightly zestier and more savoury edge. This is definitely the dish to go for if you intend to start the buffet on a healthier note. But being someone who is huge on more piquant flavours, this was rather bland on my palate.

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

A fine example of a simple yet elegant pairing that cannot go wrong, this dish features shredded crab meat mixed with a mayonnaise base and topped with a mountain of prawns. The prawns, which are deshelled for fuss-free eating, have such irresistibly crunchy and firm texture that I could not help but gobble up at least 15 pieces of them in one sitting. No doubt this is going to be a favourite among children and adults alike at the buffet table!

Marinated Duck Rilette with Red Wine, Dried Fruits and Gherkin Salsa

Marinated Duck Rilette with Red Wine, Dried Fruits and Gherkin Salsa

Believe it or not, the duck rillette took me some courage to overcome my apprehension of trying it. Apart from the fact that I had never eaten meat prepared Rillette-style (a cooking method originated from France 🇫🇷) before, it honestly wasn’t the most appealing dish on the buffet table. But I recalled tasting the tuna tataki for the first time and instantly falling head over heels for it. Thinking that this would turn out the same way, I took the plunge and scooped some of the duck rillette along with the sauce onto my plate.

Voilà! Fortune favours the brave, perhaps. The duck rillette (or rillettes de canard, as the French calls it) came across as a breath of fresh air. Soft and smooth in texture, it was akin to the texture of a pastry or pâté. By itself, the meat was rather salty (and in Fiona’s words, tasted like “mushy canned food”) so pairing it with the red wine sauce – which resembled and tasted delightful like cranberry jam – would be highly recommended as the sweetness of the sauce evens it out. This would also go perfectly with bread!

—🎄 Main Course🎄—

Turkey Buah Keluak

Turkey Buah Keluak

What’s Christmas in Singapore without roast turkey smeared with the familiar buah keluak (yes, it isn’t charred although it looks like it)? From cempadak creme brûlée to pandan pudding, it seems like we can always count on Element to come up with the most innovative fusion food ideas regardless of the occasion. And in case you didn’t know, buah keluak (or pangium edule, Malay for “the fruit which nauseates” 🤨) is dubbed the black truffle of the East as it is considered an acquired taste. Used mainly in Malay, Indonesian and Peranakan cooking, these seeds are obtained from their poisonous fruit and are then made safe for consumption by fermentation.

The presence of the buah keluak lends a bitter and earthy taste to the turkey, which would otherwise be terribly bland and dry like chicken breast meat (but twice as bad). According to the chef, this took three days to prepare which, unless the turkey is served to a large group of people who love jaw-tiringly chewy meat, isn’t worth the effort (and slaughter). That said, I truly appreciate the creativity and ingenuity presented in this dish and would recommend this to homesick non-Asians who don’t mind a little South East-Asian twist.

Stir-fried Moreton Bay Bug with Salted Egg

Stir-fried Moreton Bay Bug with Salted Egg

Who would have thought a foreign-sounding crustacean could be localised into a dish that would fit my palate to an absolute T? The creaminess of the salted egg sauce coupled with the firmness and lightly crispiness of the meat was a dream-come-true.  Unlike typical salted egg dishes that would bring you to a state of surfeit (i.e. “gelat“) after a few mouthfuls, this just kept me asking for more. I figured it was probably due to it being infused with some spice during preparation.

Steamed Garoupa with Lime Beurre Blanc topped with Tomato Vierge

Steamed Garoupa with Lime Beurre Blanc topped with Tomato Vierge

Roasted Chicken with Meat Floss

Roasted Chicken with Meat Floss

Tajima Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Truffle Mashed Potato and Port Jus

Tajima Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Truffle Mashed Potato and Port Jus

The addition of the foie gras (those whitish slabs but in very limited quantity) was a splendid touch as it helped to bring out the flavour of the wagyu beef even more. However, probably to cater to the masses at the buffet, the meat was generally cooked to medium which made it somewhat tough and chewy and thereby cheapen the quality of the meat. I feel that this would be better suited at the live station so patrons can request for their steak to be cooked to their preferred doneness (which in my case, would be rare). Furthermore, as an avid lover of wagyu beef, it also kinda annoyed me that the beautiful marbling of the wagyu beef was wholly concealed by the charring and port jus sauce 😫 Where’s the justice for the poor wagyu cattle that died for this?

— 🎄 Desserts🎄—

Cempedak Creme Brûlée

Cempedak Creme Brûlée

The Cempedak Creme Brûlée is like the pinnacle of the Christmas tree as it is, without a doubt, the ⭐ of the dessert section (and as a result of that, effectively stealing the thunder from the log cakes at a Christmas-theme buffet 🤣). Find out why this is the best dessert in my tummy’s opinion on my previous review here.

Macarons (Gingerbread Spices / Coconut / Blueberry + Salted Caramel) - 6 pcs/pack at S$16+ or 10 pcs/pack at S$25+

Macarons (Gingerbread Spices [pink] / Coconut [white – highly recommended] / Blueberry + Salted Caramel [blue – highly recommended]) – 6 pcs/pack at S$16+ or 10 pcs/pack at S$25+

Ho, ho, ho! Spot me on the Christmas log cakes!

Ho, ho, ho! Spot me on the Christmas log cakes!

Fancy gifting your loved ones a log cake to commemorate the season of giving? Element also offers traditional log cakes in three tantalising flavours to suit different tastes. They are available for order at the restaurant.

Amara's Signature Cempadak Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$65+)

Amara’s Signature Cempedak Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$65+)

Out of all the log cakes that were brought out, the Cempedak Yule Log Cake was the first to be reduced to nothing which pretty much attests to the popularity of the cempedak in Element’s dessert line-up. The log cake had a fluffy texture with a very robust cempedak flavour that was fragrant and yet not too overpowering at the same time. Each bite of the cake melted in my mouth before I realised what was happening.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+)

Dark Chocolate Cherry Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+)

 

Pink Champagne Lychee Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+) - this is alcoholic

Pink Champagne Lychee Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+) – this is alcoholic

Christmas is the time to spend with your family and loved ones, and what better way to do so than to indulge in some cempedak goodness (and many other crowd favourites) at Element? If you’re interested to dine at Element, do make your reservations in advance to avoid being a sad 🐼!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Element at Amara Singapore · 165 Tanjong Pagar Road Singapore 088539 · Tel: 6879 2607 · Nearest MRT station: Tanjong Pagar (EW15) · Click here for more information
Prices and time for Christmas Eve/Christmas Buffet Lunch and Dinner as above

Prices and time for Christmas Eve/Christmas Buffet Lunch and Dinner as above 

The writer is a glutton who occasionally allows his appetite free rein and steals food from Fiona’s plate. Among some of his favourite food are a good steak and meaty crabs doused in chili sauce. Read more posts by Alphonsus here.

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for bite-sized food updates!

REVIEW: MAC x Mariah Carey Lipstick in All I Want

Hello everyone!

Did you know Mariah Carey once enrolled herself into a beauty school when she was in the eleventh grade because she wanted to try her hand at being a hairdresser and a make-up artist? That, however (and obviously), didn’t materialise as the Queen of R&B later revealed that she dropped out of the course due to her demanding schedule in the early days of her music career. But with all the fortune she has amassed as one of the most successful singers in the world now, she certainly doesn’t need any credentials to start her own cosmetics line!

Mariah-Carey-MAC

Every December without fail, the enchanting voice of Mariah Carey infiltrates shopping malls around the globe as everyone gears up for Christmas with familiar tunes like “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Last year, the holiday icon (Queen of Christmas is also another honorific nickname bestowed upon Carey) decided to take her hit song to the next level by transforming it into a tangible product! Teaming up with MAC for the first time on a new lipstick (and an impending collection due out later this year), the music goddess stayed true to her penchant for nude lips but added an extra dose of festive sparkle to her aptly-named All I Want lipstick that was released in December 2015.

MAC x Mariah Carey

MAC x Mariah Carey

MAC x Mariah Carey

MAC x Mariah Carey

What let me down, of course, was the plain packaging adopted for this limited-edition lipstick. Being the first product borne out of the collaboration between Mariah Carey and MAC, surely we would have expected something more than just the regular black MAC box. I mean, look, even the relatively unknown Brooke Candy (no offence) got better treatment on the design of her lipstick packaging :\

All I Want is a champagne shimmer with a Frost finish (US$17)

All I Want is a champagne shimmer with a Frost finish (US$17)

MAC All I Want

MAC All I Want

MAC All I Want

MAC All I Want

MAC All I Want

MAC All I Want

MAC All I Want

MAC All I Want

MAC All I Want

MAC All I Want

Everything about this lipstick screams “celebration” – from the alluringly muted gold hue to the sparkly finish which altogether simulate the appearance of champagne. The shimmers stuck out for this one as light is clearly reflected at most parts of the lips. You don’t actually need to apply the lipstick multiple times to achieve this sparkly effect because all it takes is one swipe. You know how the colour of your lipstick can sometimes directly affect your mood? Well, wearing All I Want made me feel like I was wandering around a quiet street on a winter’s night because those shimmers made my lips look really frozen pale 😆

On the downside, it doesn’t have a smooth consistency as the texture felt a tad powdery on my lips. Still, it’s a very pretty lip colour to have to commemorate Christmas and what’s more, a shade that was put together by Mariah Carey herself! This lipstick is also perfect for parties, especially those dimly-lit ones. Those lips are guaranteed to stand out from amidst the darkness.

MAC All I Want swatch comparison

MAC All I Want swatch comparison

I’m not a fan of Frost finish to begin with, thus explaining the very limited number of shades I could compare All I Want with. But as you can see from the above swatches, the Frost finish is a more sparkly and gorgeous version of Lustre.

Boy, I can’t wait to see what awesome stuff Mariah Carey and MAC have in store for us this year! What about you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

MAC X Mariah Carey All I Want lipstick is an online exclusive, now available on MACCosmetics.com.

‘Tis the Season to be Feasting at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport

MEDIA INVITE

Hey everyone!

As the year draws to a close, many of us are getting into the holiday spirit by decking our houses with Christmas and New Year decorations.  At the same time, we may also take this opportunity to gather our loved ones for a memorable reunion. But no reunion would be complete without great food that puts everyone in the festive mood and what better place to experience both simultaneously than throwing a little party at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport where you are able to enjoy a wide selection of delicious and hearty meals? 😉

If you’re intending to play host to this year’s Christmas or New Year celebration but don’t feel like sweating your butt off in the kitchen and yet have no idea where to hold it, Crowne Plaza has rolled out a variety of dining options this yuletide season that centres around conversations and connections. The inspired fusion of flavours and menu items offered at their Lobby Lounge (Yuletide Takeaways) and Azur Restaurant (Festive Buffet) are sized to suit smaller more intimate gatherings among close friends and immediate family members.

Yuletide Takeaways @ Lobby Lounge

From 1 to 26 December 2015, guests can tuck into a series of delights from the Lobby Lounge specially created for this festive month at the comfort of their home. Feast your eyes and stomach on a gourmet paradise of beef, turkey and lamb, as well as a mouthwatering lineup of cakes and pastries to tantalise your taste buds.

But before I go into those, let’s kick things off with some appetisers!

Pumpkin salad

Pumpkin salad – a mix of pumpkin and chestnut

Fruit salad

Fruit salad – a mix of apple, tomatoes, melons, strawberry and nuts

Scallop topped with salmon caviar

Scallop topped with salmon caviar (price not available)

Scallop topped with salmon caviar

Scallop topped with salmon caviar

Salmon cavier

Salmon caviar

The scallop was well-seared on both sides with a fleshy, juicy and fibrous middle. It was drenched in salty gravy and paired with a layer of spinach at the bottom. The salmon caviar gave an additional burst of flavour. However, you may need to request for this dish because it’s not listed on the order chit.

The highlight of the Yuletide Takeaways is the Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib which is sous vide (sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a hot-water bath of 70 degree Celsius, the same reheating method if you’re planning to eat it at a later time) for 24 hours before being roasted in the oven.

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib (S$120+, 1kg)

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib (S$120+, 1kg)

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib

The ambrosial yet not-too-overwhelming flavour of the beef short-rib comes mainly from the BBQ gravy which sweetness is melded with the natural fragrance of the meat. The short-rib itself was incredibly soft with a gorgeous pink centre and perfectly rendered fat. And because it was so tender and buttery, none of it got stuck in my teeth! However, due to the time factor in the preparation of the Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib, an advance order of 3-4 days is required prior to collection.

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib

Roasted Texas BBQ Beef Short-Rib

Of course, when it comes to a Christmas get-together, the dining table needs to have some sort of a roast bird, usually turkey. Having eaten it about twice in my life, I had come to a conclusion that turkey meat is not my cup of tea because of its awfully dry and tough texture. I assumed it was the same for all turkey meat in general. But Crowne Plaza has managed to prove me wrong once again!

Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices (S$135+, 1 kg)

Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices (S$135+, 1 kg)

Doused in rich and delectable Spicy Coconut Cream Sauce that tastes like sweet curry, the Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices is a classic example of when East meets West. The turkey itself is roasted for 6 hours at 70 degree Celsius to a golden yellow and, although somewhat thicker than chicken meat, was an absolute joy to eat for it was so succulent and chewy! The thin savoury skin (the closest description I can think of is that it is quite similar to the roast chicken skin at Poulét) was the winner for me because it was what got me hooked! I just couldn’t resist getting more servings of the turkey meat XD

Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices

Roasted Turkey with Turmeric Coriander Spices

If you prefer a more traditional take on the turkey, the House Special Roasted Turkey Marinated with Maple Glaze and Chestnut Stuffing served with Cranberry Sauce (S$135+, 5 kg) might just be what you’re looking for! Each whole turkey can serve approximately six to eight guests comfortably.

When it comes to celebrating Christmas, one cannot forget the lamb due to its significance in the bible (and symbolism of Christ). The Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Garlic & Caramelised Shallot Sauce ($160+, 2.6 kg) is soaked in orange brine overnight before being marinated in a fragrant combination of rosemary and garlic, and finally slow roasted at 70 degrees Celsius for over seven hours. If you’re game to try something new this Christmas (since lamb is more commonly served on Easter), you might want to give this dish a go!

Rounding out the Christmas menu from the Lobby Lounge are two festive log cakes handcrafted by the hotel’s pastry chefs because… what’s Christmas without log cakes? Indulge in either the Ispahan-inspired Log Cake with Raspberries Yoghurt Mousse or the more conventional Manjari Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline Yule Log Cake (or both, to get the best of both worlds 😉 ). Featuring a light and tangy raspberry yoghurt mousse overlaying juicy lychee bits and rose-flavoured jelly in the cake centre, the former is the answer to guilt-free (not 100% but still…) log cakes. The slightly tart (acidic) overall taste helps to relieve a bit of the bloatedness from the hearty meal.

Ispahan-inspired Log Cake with Raspberries Yoghurt Mousse (S$65+)

Ispahan-inspired Log Cake with Raspberries Yoghurt Mousse (S$65+)

The chocolate log cake, on the other hand, has a wafer-like hazelnut centre that has got that crunchy going on every bite.  It is not excessively sweet too as there was a tinge of bitterness in the chocolate. Designed to resemble an actual log from an enchanted forest, it comes topped with seasonal decorations like a mini Christmas hat. How cute!

Manjari Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline Yule Log Cake ($65+)

Manjari Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline Yule Log Cake ($65+)

Since Crowne Plaza is conveniently located at Terminal 3 of Changi Airport, guests can, upon returning from their travels, pop in the Lobby Lounge for a quick takeout before heading home. But as most of these dishes require time to prepare, you are encouraged to place your orders at least 3 days in advance to avoid disappointment! To place an order for Yuletide Takeaways, visit the hotel’s Festive Desk (24 Nov – 24 Dec 2015, 9am – 9pm), call +65 6823 5367, fax your order to +65 6823 5301 (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm) or email christmas.cpca@ihg.com. The last collection for all Yuletide Takeaways are on 26 December 2016.

Psst.. festive hampers are also on sale if you’d like to build stronger networks with your clients *winks* More information can be found here.

Festive Buffet @ Azur

Otherwise, if you dislike waiting, Azur Restaurant also has an array of Christmas-themed selections for their festive buffet that’s catered to both Asian and Western taste buds, available from 1 to 30 December 2015. Buffet items are served in small portions to allow sampling of all the different food offered at the international buffet. Looking for ways to reward your staff for their hard work and effort throughout the year? There are round tables for larger group dining reservations for everyone to bond and laugh over brunch, lunch and dinner.

Dessert spread at the buffet

Dessert spread at the buffet

Gingerbread man atop white chocolate and cinnamon

Gingerbread man atop white chocolate and cinnamon

Santa Claus atop raspberry puree

Santa Claus atop raspberry puree

Pricing plan

Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner (24 December 2015)*
Adult $ 70 ++ Child $ 35 ++

Christmas Day Brunch (25 December 2015)*
Adult $ 65 ++ Child $ 32.50 ++

Christmas Day Dinner (25 December 2015)*
Adult $ 75 ++ Child $ 37.50 ++

Boxing Day Brunch (26 December 2015)
Adult $ 65 ++ Child $ 32.50 ++

Festive Buffet Lunch (1 – 23, 27 – 30 December 2015)
Adult $ 45 ++ Child $ 22.50 ++

Festive Buffet Dinner (1 – 23, 26 – 30 December 2015)
Adult $ 55 ++ Child $ 27.50 ++

New Year’s Eve Lunch (31 December 2015)
Adult $ 45 ++ Child $ 22.50 ++

New Year’s Eve Dinner (31 December 2015)
Adult $ 75 ++ Child $ 37.50 ++

*Spot jolly ‘ol Santa on 24 and 25 December 2015 and receive a little blessing of joy. Santa will be roving around during meal times at Azur Restaurant

To make a reservation, please call 6823 5354 or email azur.cpca@ihg.com. Reservations are highly encouraged. Visit the Crowne Plaza Dining website for more information.

That’s all, fellow foodies! Get feasting! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Crowne Plaza @ Changi Airport
75 Airport Boulevard
Singapore 819664
For reservations: 6823 5367 (Yuletide Takeaways) / 6823 5354 (Festive Buffet)
Or you may email christmas.cpca@ihg.com (Yuletide Takeaways) /
azur.cpca@ihg.com (Festive Buffet)
Please visit their website or Facebook for more information