This festival has many names, such as "Mooncake Festival" and "Lantern Festival", etc, as well. It is a harvest festival celebrated by the Chinese all over the world, falling on the 15th day of the Lunar Eighth month every year (around mid-September for our calendars). Some fables associated with this beautiful festival include Chang-Er flying to the Moon, Jade Rabbit and Wu Gang chopping tree etc - feel free to read up all about them.
Being an avid mooncake lover, I totally let go of dietary restrictions this month so I could indulge in mooncakes; various types (and each year, more and more unique flavours or types of mooncakes are being created). I am glad to note that many companies have also become more flexible, tweaking their mooncakes and packaging to suit our needs better these days, such as:
Gluten-free, egg-less, low sugar or no sugar Mooncakes
Allowing us to mix and match different flavoured mooncakes in a box purchase (in the past, flavours were fixed by the hotels or restaurants)
More hotels and restaurants allowing the purchase of single pieces of Mooncakes instead of the mandatory "2 pieces per box" minimum order practice.
I love these changes as it allows us to be able to buy more flavours to share with family and friends, rather than ending up with 5 different boxes of mooncakes just so we could try 5 different types of mooncakes. My must-visit place is usually Takashimaya's Mooncake Fair, where one gets to see, and sample many kinds of mooncakes from all participating hotels, restaurants and confectioneries. What assortment did I buy / receive this year?
For Snowskin Liqueur series this year, I love the Lychee Martini Truffle and Champagne Truffle (SGD$78.00 for a box of 8) mini snowskin mooncakes by Grand Hyatt the best. After tasting several liqueur mooncakes, I found theirs to contain the stronger whiff of alcohol, contrasting beautifully with the light sweetness of the snowskin mooncakes.
That, followed by Ritz Carlton'sLycheetini and Irish Martini mini snowskin mooncakes, exuding pretty robust flavours of Martini in its chocolate centre as well. These retail for SGD$76.00 for a box of 8 mini snowskin cakes.
For a good mixture of alcoholic and non-alcoholic snowskin mooncakes, I enjoyed JW Marriott Singapore South Beach's assorted mooncakes, containing flavours such as Cempedek, Champagne, Chocolate and Green Tea; makes for a perfect gift suiting everyone's unique preference. They retail for SGD$73.90 for a box of 8 assorted mini snowskin mooncakes.
Finally, the other snowskin mooncake that piqued my interest this year was by Bakerhaus, a Malaysian bakery selling their mooncakes in Singapore. Their Lava Mooncake series was pretty unique, and the lava centre really flowed - one could choose from blueberry cheese, strawberry cheese, mango cheese or custard. These cost SGD$66.00 for a box of full-sized snowskin mooncakes.
Ice-cream Mooncakes (SGD$39.80 for 4) by Swensens is an annual favourite as well, especially the Sticky Chewy Chocolate and Cempedek ones. Another ideal gift for people who don't like the conventional baked or SnowSkin Mooncakes.
Moving on to baked goods, I enjoyed the assorted mooncakes from Mandarin Orchard Hotel, "The Mandarin Collection" (SGD$73.00) featuring Mixed Nuts with Jamon Iberico, Double Yolk White Lotus Paste, Macadamia Nuts with Low Sugar White Lotus Paste, and Azuki Red Bean Paste with Pine Nuts. This treasure box gave us the best of all worlds.
There was also the White Lotus Seeds with Pine Nuts baked mooncakes (SGD$66.00) by Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, which I gifted my clients, and they loved the presentation as well as taste of these elegant, traditional mooncakes.
Tried some of the low-sugar Pandan mooncake and low-sugar Lotus Seed Paste mooncake (SGD$58.00) from Holiday Inn as well. Nice!
I couldn't resist getting one of these mini Custard Mooncakes (SGD$4.50) from Starbucks the other day while drinking my morning coffee. Hmmmm not bad as a tea-time pastry, but I still find Maxim's Custard mooncake tastier.
Last but not least, these pretty little delights from Peach Garden Restaurant, with many flavours. I always like their Premium Sun-dried Longan infused with Red Tea Paste mooncakes (SGD$68.00 per box of 4). Other interesting flavours from them include Pandan, Red Bean Paste with Orange Peel, Black Date with Melon Seed, etc - perfect for the traditionalists looking for favorite flavours of yesteryear.
Finally, one can't do without Teochew-style, flakey mooncakes, I feel. I used to buy from East Ocean Restaurant, but theirs expire pretty soon, even if stored in fridge. I also enjoy buying from Gin Thye, especially together with their ultra-delectable Walnut-Skin Mooncakes, but too bad they don't carry them this year. So I went back to Zhen Wei - their specialty being that they are able to sell in boxes of 2 (pretty marble-like boxes too!), and they have both the yam-paste and pumpkin-paste flavours. Retailing at SGD$27.00 for a box of 2, we usually gift these to the grannies, who loved them superbly.
Another pretty palatable Teochew-style mooncake is the Yam mooncake with single yolk from Swatow Restaurant (SGD$48.00 for 4 pieces). It's low in sugar and where better to have Teochew-style mooncake than from a Teochew restaurant, right?
That's my Mooncake review for this year. Now it'st time to diet and exercise off those sugars and drink plenty of tea. Once again, may you have a blessed Mid-Autumn Festival (also known to me as "Autumn Equinox")! Harvest more in your businesses!
Hungry Ghost Festival aka Lunar 7th Month just passed, and I experienced my first ever Auction and Dinner. You know, one of those huge tentage setups with getai (singer's platform) and loud auctions that go deep into the night?
Ever curious about them, I accepted an invitation to attend one. After all, I am always excited about different cultures and events.
So there were 2 stages in the brightly-lit tent, and also many round tables seated with people from all walks of life, enjoying the festivities of the lunar 7th Month.
One of the stages featured "getai" singers, dressed to the nines in sequined gowns and all, belting out oldies usually. It is said that at a "getai" performance, the first 2 rows of seats are left empty deliberately, for the enjoyment of the "good brothers" aka spirits.
The other stage was more dominant, with an emcee auctioning many items such as symbols of prosperity, bottles of X.O. and eben soft toys. Interesting to watch the bidding going on.
Foodwise, we were treated to an 8-course Chinese dinner, this particular event by Mapollo Catering. Dinner commenced late, close to 8.10pm.
Dinner kickstarted with a Mixed Platter comprising Shrimps, Top Shell, Jellyfish, Bak Kwa (roast pork slices) and pickled Century Egg. Then we had a tasty Pork Ribs and Stomach Melon Soup, fragrant with aroma of whole white peppers.
Other items to grace the table included Suckling Pig with ultra crispy skin and melt-in-mouth flesh, Abalone Mushroom with Cabbage, Steamed Fish with Sambal Coating, and Steamed Prawns.
Last but not least, a palatable Fried Buns stuffed with Char Siew dish; we wish they had second helpings for this! Finally, something sweet to conclude the night- Iced Lemongrass Longan with White Fungus.
Overall, we enjoyed ourselves in this vibrant event and was surprised the food was overall quite delightful as well.