25 February 2014

Masons is one of two restaurants located at the Gillman Barracks and I went primarily for Ratha Krishnan's duck confit. I missed the memo though that stated he already left to re-open The Black Sheep Cafe (albeit in another location). No wonder the dish was missing from the menu. I ordered the closest thing which was the pasta version, but more on that later.

Calamari with Verve Garlic Cream (SGD 16)
Juicy calamari done to golden perfection

My server suggested this because according to her, those who have ordered it before keep coming back just for the calamari. I asked if it would be too much for one person to eat considering it states "for sharing" on the menu, and I also ordered pasta. She said no since it wasn't that large.

Not sure if they wanted to get rid of the squid from the kitchen, but turns out it wasn't bad at all. The coating was light, giving the right amount of crunch, and the seasonings were not overpowering as you could still taste the calamari. So I would not mind ordering this again, but I'd make sure that someone else is there to share it with me. Despite the server's assurances, it was too much for just one person.

Confit of Duck (SGD 28)
Lean duck served with roasted garlic, fresh sage, a dash of cream tossed with fettuccine and topped with crispy prosciutto

This wasn't bland, but it also wasn't great. I've had pasta before where I literally wanted to lick the plate clean (this is not one of them). I broke the prosciutto into small pieces and mixed it in which was a good move since it gave the dish texture.

Though I could only eat so much - you know how something tastes okay in the beginning, but the more of it you consume, the more you feel like throwing up? This is one of those. It would have been a tolerable dish if the serving size were smaller or shared with others.

I went on a weekday around 1:30 PM and only two tables were occupied. So if you want a quiet place to rest your feet after looking at the art galleries, Masons is not a bad option.

Gillman Barracks

18 February 2014

A few weeks ago, Earl and I joined an art and history tour of the Gillman Barracks conducted by the Friends of the Museums. Earl loves stories on World War II so I thought that the history part would keep him occupied while I enjoyed the art. Alas, the tour just gave a brief background of the area and focused more on the exhibits. Oh, well.

But for those who do like art, especially contemporary art, then is the place to go to as there are around 17 galleries to choose from.

As with all galleries, you can buy any of the items on display though if you're serious about making a purchase, you may need to act quickly. I spoke to someone over at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery and she informed me that everything in their exhibit has already been sold.

Currently, they are featuring the work of Singaporean artist Jane Lee and there was one piece that piqued my interest, the Fetish Series - O (pictured left). I was starting to have visions of how striking the red would be in our apartment!

This will have to remain a pipe dream though as one, someone already owns it and two, they paid USD 26,000 for the privilege which means Lee is an artist who is way beyond our budget.

The Gillman Barracks is a pretty quiet place. At the OTA Fine Arts gallery, there were only two other visitors checking out the paintings so you can go around in relative tranquillity.

According to our tour guide, the galleries change their exhibits every two or three months so there will always be something new to discover.

The Jewel Box

14 February 2014

At the end of Marang Trail is an area called The Jewel Box where you'll find scenic views, a small Merlion, and restaurants. So one way to psych yourself up for going on the trail is to think of the food you can eat once you reach the finish line. Though an easier way to get there is by either taking a taxi or the Cable Car.

Only two of the three restaurants were open due to the Chinese New Year holiday, and Earl chose Faber Bistro based on the menu options.

Since we were at top of the mountain, there was a really good breeze which made eating outdoors quite relaxing. Though I think the view from our table would have been better at night with all the buildings lit.

The other two restaurants have a view of the harbour, but I would recommend going for either lunch or dinner otherwise the early afternoon sun will be in your eyes.

Snail Sausage with Potato Rosti, Sour Cream & Dijon Mustard (SGD 16)

The sausage itself was juicy though only mildly seasoned so it needed a dash of salt. While eating it with the rosti gave it texture and adding the sour cream and mustard made for an enjoyable meal (I LOVE sour cream).

Monster Dog - 9 inch Chicken Hotdog with Salad & Fries (SGD 12)

Earl's hotdog was also like my snail sausage - not bad, but I definitely wouldn't go up the trail just for this.

Orange Juice (SGD 5)

For those who want an alcohol buzz, they have discounted drinks during their 3 PM to 8 PM happy hour.

Southern Ridges: Marang Trail

12 February 2014

One of the many options for nature lovers here in Singapore is the Southern Ridges. Basically it connects five different parks so that you can walk it from end to end in around four hours (depending on your fitness level).

Earl and I decided to go to the one that was easiest for us to get to - the Marang Trail. In hindsight, maybe we should have chosen some other route considering I am completely out of shape. Here's how I would best describe the experience:

Have you ever wanted to buy a StairMaster, but couldn't afford it? Well, here's the free outdoor version...

It even comes with a lot of plants and the occasional monkey.

This is the entrance and while it looks simple enough, it is just the start of the steps. The entire trail is a one huge staircase - the equivalent of a 24-storey building (as per the official website).

To give you an idea, see the cable cars in the distance? It stops at the top of Mt. Faber which is also the end point of the Marang Trail.

I was not able to take pictures during our walk as I was too preoccupied with catching my breath and thinking about how I was going to survive. But survive we did and we were rewarded with The Jewel Box (which is also the subject of my next post).