Recently in Food Glorious Food Category

Sticking to the rules

March 21, 2011 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

R and I had supper at a restaurant which usually gives us 50% discount when we use a certain card*.

However, this time, we only had one main course and one starter and drinks (as I wasn’t feeling too hungry). When the bill came, the waiter told us that he couldn’t give us the 50% discount, as we needed to order two main courses first.

So we ended up with a silly situation: If we paid up then, our meal would have cost about $50; if we ordered an extra main course (at around $20) the meal would have cost $(50+20)/2 = $35

We thought we could order a pizza and bring it home. The waiter said no, we must consume the pizza on the premises (!!!). We decided that we should still order the pizza anyway and eat what we can, because it would save us $15.

Because this waiter stuck so firmly to the rules, his kitchen would have to cook an extra dish which we would barely eat. If the pizza cost $10 to make (ingredients and labour), that would be the restaurant’s loss. If he just gave us the discount without forcing us to order an extra main dish, the kitchen wouldn’t have to cook a new dish, and he would have freed up 2 seats (i.e. the opportunity cost of serving more patrons) instead of making us wait around longer.

To avoid wasting the pizza, we told the couple sitting next to us that they could have some of it too. They seemed happy with that.

However, 30 minutes passed and no pizza arrived, and the couple beside us left. On checking, we were told by the same waiter that the kitchen never received our pizza order. He looked sheepish about it, and offered to give us half price off our existing bill (without the pizza).

Now, it made me think that two things may have happened:

1) The waiter knew he couldn’t bend the rules for this special restaurant card we had. But he did have leeway in giving disgruntled customers a discount. So he let our order lapse, and compensated us with the 50% that we wanted, in the first place. His kitchen didn’t have to make a pizza. Clever!

2) The waiter really was a stickler for the rules, and genuinely forgot our order. We think this is more likely the case.

But still, it’s literally given me food for thought - when should we stick to the standard operating procedures, and when do we close one eye to avoid putting both parties in a worse position?

(* Note: I’m not sure how this discount system works behind the scenes, but think that the card company compensates the restaurant for the discounts given, as the membership fee is pretty high)

In my 2 months in France, I managed to check out two Michelin-rated restaurants. This one, Les Pléiades in Barbizon, was the better of the two. I’ll zoom in on my dish, which was most unusual.

A dish with my name on it

Filet du canette migratoire du Canada a la sauce cranberry, puree vitelotte et bouquet de legumes printaniers

The air-flown duck arrived in an ‘Air Mail’ envelope which the waiter cut up. It was then laid out on my plate. It was explained that since we were in Barbizon, the town where many artists and authors resided, this dish represented a palette that we could paint on.

I was given a tube of warm paste which turned out to be more of the purple potato mash with an obvious hint of truffle. I decided to write my name on my plate.

The said paste

Another dish on the menu that intrigued us, was called ‘Seriole Killer’. Turns out the El Bulli-trained chef has a sense of humour and it is actually a fish dish with a ‘knife’ sticking out.

Seriole Killer, the fish dish with a murder weapon stuck in it

We could see the El Bulli influence in various dishes, such as this dessert which came with cactus juice. It tasted grassy but not unpleasant.

Dessert with cactus juice

Escale de fruits des iles avec ses dunes au sesame et sa fraicheur de cactus au citron

Finally the chef, Philippe Geneletti, emerged to chat with us. I told him he deserved his Michelin star. This was a very new restaurant with an obviously young, up and coming chef who still had a lot of ideas and enthusiasm.

The gastronomic restaurant (not to be confused with the more casual brasserie in the same hotel) is located in the newly-built Les Pléiades hotel. For more information, visit the hotel website.

Cooking bouillabaisse

July 27, 2008 7:27 PM | Comments (3)

I have hardly any posts on cooking, but I assure my readers I can help around the kitchen.

This was what we were cooking in the afternoon - fish soup. [All photos taken by iPhone]

First, I chopped up carrots, celery and onions (sniff sniff), then fried them with olive oil in a large pot.

Adding the celery

We marinated the fish in white wine, and the prawns in XO sauce.

A dash of whisky for the seafood

We had a problem with shrinking scallops the last time we cooked this dish. So this time, we seared the scallops (to lock in their juices) then removed them from the pot, to be added when everything else was cooked.

Searing the scallops

Separately, we soaked the clams in salt water to remove the fishy smell. Then we steamed them. Only the fresh ones open up, and those are the ones that make it to our soup.

Some clams have opened up

We added fish, and then prawns to the main pot.

3 types of fish added

We added two cartons of stock.

Adding stock

Final product!

My soup!

Serve with baked garlic bread (olive oil and garlic only - no butter! Must be healthy).

Very thin slices of garlic bread

Tip: To have really finely-sliced bread, put the baguettes in the freezer so they’re firm when you cut them.

Cooking tips and recipe courtesy of my Cordon Bleu-trained grandaunt :)

Food at Harrods

July 17, 2008 3:01 AM | Comments (2)

I used to marvel at the Harrods food hall in my younger days. Somehow, this time I wasn’t wowed very much. In fact, despite the sale the place was relatively empty. It was late morning. We managed to grab seats at the Japanese restaurant.

Sushi set

Special set

Check out the caviar! BTW these weren’t even the most expensive … I think the priciest bottle was going for over 3,000 quid.

Caviar at Harrod's

We had tea at the Illy bar.

Dessert at Harrod's

I highly recommend the Strawberry Cheesecake. It isn’t too sweet, and has a cookie base.

Strawberry cheesecake - the best of them all

Close-up of my sirloin, medium

Nope, this has nothing to do with Optimus. Check out my latest food review on, on the new steakhouse in Tanglin Village/Dempsey Road. More photos here.

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