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Thursday 29 September 2016

Dinner at Vita Italia Restaurant @ Chinatown

38 Mosque Street, Singapore 049516
Tel: 6220 0093

If you are looking for a cosy, homely Italian restaurant for hearty Italian food with utterly hospitable service, look no further. Vita Italia is a quaint Italian restaurant located at Mosque Street, tastefully decorated in understated elegance and well-spaces tables.

"Vita" means life, living in Italian, so dining here basically means "life in Italy" or "living Italy". With a name like that, you can be sure that food is wholesome, authentic Italian fare.

Best of all, it's strictly No Menu here, or as how you term it, "omakase". Set lunch comes in 3 or 5 courses meals, whereas set dinner comes in 7, 9 or 13 courses; wine / pairing available at an additional SGD$38++

The moment we stepped in, the amicable Giorgia immediately greeted us and chatted with us throughout, making us feel more like a friend than a patron. She introduced their special concept, and took pains to understand our likes and needs.

We started with Collessi Wine Beer - a collection of different-flavoured Italian beer created with the methodologies of Champagne wine making. We had Triple Malter (unpasteurized triple malt blonde beer - aromas of fresh yeast, vanilla and crusty bread; full-bodied with notes of malt, citrus, tropical fruits and apricots) and Nera (unpasturized black beer - full bodied, creamy, with fragrances of roasted barley coffee, liquorice, cocoa and rhubarb.

Some delicious and fluffy Italian bread kept us happy while we waited for each other, and decided on what to eat. No olive oil, no butter, just morsels of baked delicacies whetting our appetite.

First course was served - Board of Salumi with San Daniele Ham, Taleggio Cheese, Tuscany Pecorino, fresh Anchovies; fresh bread, and mixed salad of greens, black olives and tomatoes. Everything was fresh and palatable.

Second course was Deep Fried Zucchini Flower and Rice Croquette on a bed of baby spinach. Simply crumbly and saccharine.

Third course we had was Black Pepper Chicken (spicy, juicy and succulent), served with Portobello Mushrooms stuffed with garlic and chopped tomatoes, served on a soft bed of broccoli. The stuffed mushrooms were moistened and piquant, tangy, utterly tasty.

Fourth course was springy Home-made Tagliolini Pasta in Spinach and Pork Sauce, served with generous servings of Chickpea. The gravy was delectable despite its deceptively simple appearance.

Finally, desserts! Panna Cotta with Raspberry Jam was beautiful - creamy, enhanced by tarty berries, sliding into the throats silkily.

After that, we had some Limoncello to celebrate new friendship and to conclude a marvellous meal.

We enjoyed ourselves truly very much and all 4 of us wanted to come back, bringing more people to try the magic of Chef Carmine and warm affability of Giorgia.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Review on Hair and Scalp Treatment at Jonsson Protein Hair Care @ Plaza Singapura [Sponsored]

68 Orchard Road #04- (New Wing) Plaza Singapura, Singapore
Tel: 6333 1661

I was honoured to be invited for a sponsored session of hair care and scalp treatment (worth SGD$300) by Jonsson Protein Hair Care at Plaza Singapura.  My hair and scalp are healthy generally, except for a little hair loss (usually due to brushing) and a few strands of gray hair here and there.

Jonsson is a hair and scalp care salon in Singapore, not your usual hair salon. They are from the USA and focus on using proteins treatment primarily - both using proteins to treat our conditions externally and stimulating our internal proteins growth. This sets them apart from the all-familiar Yun Nam or Beijing 101 which use herbal formulae.

On top of that, Jonsson also has their own in-house hairstylists and doctors to offer a full suite of services to their customers. These services have to be arranged in advance by appointment basis.

Upon arrival, the usual declaration form filling and consultation process took place, followed by a head scan segmented into left, crown and right. The problems (oily scalp and weak follicles) were diagnosed and being explained to me, and these results would also help in the tailoring of solutions to fit my issues best. My results were displayed on their program on the computer for me to see.

I was then taken to the treatment room - yes, instead of the usual rows of mirrors where everyone is able to stare at each other undergoing hair services, here they have individual rooms to offer privacy and exclusivity. I loved it already.

A foamy, cool glass of Protein Drink was being served to me, faintly sweet of cherry taste. I enjoyed this beverage knowing the goodness it contains.

The therapist, Pearly, came in to execute the treatment shortly. She started off by rinsing my hair with their in-house shampoo. For me, the chosen shampoo targeted oily scalp, and had a refreshing, soothing minty note to it. The experience therapist also gave me a pretty intensive scalp and back massage at this juncture.

Rinsing came next - all we had to do was swivel the chair around, and lower it so that my head was in the washbasin. It was so convenient.

Following that, Pearly applied the Protein Treatment Mask to my scalp. It was in a gel form, and had no strong odors. It even felt soothing upon my scalp.

My hair was wrapped up and steamed (see the hot wisps of air in photo above) for around 15 minutes. Another round of massage and rinse took place thereafter, with my supposedly oily scalp being cleansed. She also monitored the amount of hair loss during these 2 rinses.

She blew my hair dry for me and applied cooling essence to my scalp to lock in the proteins and fortify the treatment. Scalp did feel very much cleaner, and hair lighter. I was brought back to the consultation room for another round of scalp scans and attempts to make me commit by signing up.

Overall, service was professionally executed and Pearly was very knowledgeable and eager to share knowledge. A little less attempt to hardsell throughout the treatment session would make it very enjoyable, but I managed to turn her sales talk into a mini Q&A session satisfying my queries on hair and scalp care.

I also received a set of Jonsson's very own haircare products to bring home, consisting of shampoo, hair conditioner and scalp essence. Thank you again for the lovely treatment and a healthier scalp!

Sunday 25 September 2016

[Media Invite] Dinner at Spuds & Aprons @ Faber Peak

109 Mt. Faber Road, Level 2, Singapore 099203
Tel: 6377 0688

Opening Hours: Mon to Fri (12pm to 11pm) / Sat to Sun (11am to 11pm)

Up, up and away! - from the hustle and bustle of city life, to the almost halcyon heights at Faber Peak (Mt. Faber). Formerly known as The Jewel Box, this new hilltop destination now houses a cluster of dining and entertainment, cable car joyrides and unique experiences for locals and tourists alike. Located 100 metres above sea level, this inviting dining haven boldly offers spectacular views overlooking waters, islands and citylights, serenity as well as delectable dining experience.

I was honoured to be invited for media tasting with representatives from Hungrygowhere and some familiar reviewers / bloggers. We came by the very comfortable Cable Cars at Harbourfront Tower 2, catching glimpses of the gorgeous sunset before our meal. Take note to alight 2 stops later, and last cable car leaves Mt. Faber at 9.30pm in the evenings.

A sight to behold, scintillating on top of the hill - Spuds and Aprons is but a delightful alcove encased in stunning glass architecture, framed by elegant hiba wood arcs, ancient angsana trees and complemented  by a rainbow-coloured stairway aptly named "Happy Steps".  Seating concept is open, romantic, and houses a capacity of 50 indoors, with a further 160 outdoors.

At Spuds and Aprons, helmed by executive chef Derrick Ang, who artfully marrying East and West cuisine into palatable and creative dishes. We started with a delicious and healthy drink named Chunky Munchies Soda with Nata D'coco (SGD$8.00) - the drink was a beautiful maroon hue and stuffed with lots of berries; utterly refreshing and lovely.

Their signature Chilli Crab in a Tux (SGD$14.00) blew me away with robust, spicy flavours of a much-loved local delight, encased in jackets of lightly-battered potato skin - a playful and splendid creation.

Sweet Potato Fries (SGD$10.00) with sea salt and Japanese curry mayo was dense in texture; with well-combined sweet-salty unions.

The Thai Green Curry with Rice Crackers (SGD$14.00) made for an appetite-whetting starter and set our teeth crackling away with rice crackers dipped generously with green curry. This start is easily-addictive, especially if beer comes into the picture.

Next, a very dangerously sinful but irresistible Truffle Wicked Fries & Gravy (SGD$13.00) - thick cut crispy fries doused with 6 types of cheeses - Emmental, Gruyere, Provolone, Cheddar, Mozzarella and Parmesan. The intensity of the cheese secured the palate's approval firmly and as a result, not a single drop of melted cheese was spared from the plate.

Onto the mains, we had Crispy Pork Belly (SGD$27.00) - pork belly soaked in a hot tub and slow-cooked until fork tender, perfectly crisped and served with homemade pineapple pickle and mixed brown rice. You might want to know there are pickled turnip (cai po) in the brown rice, giving it an extra crunch and boost of flavour.  Thumbs and toes up for this dish.

Tobiko Crusted Cod Fillet (SGD$32.00) - Atlantic Cod fillet with Omega 3 goodness, oven-roasted, topped with tobiko and served with green tea soba noodles and aged ponzu sauce. A very 'lady' dish, you say? From the saccharine cod to the ponzu-soaked green tea noodles, this dish exuded understated elegance and went very easy on the palate.

The Grilled King Prawns (SGD$32.00) scored the highest points for presentation that night - plump, succulent, grilled whole Tiger Prawns, sitting on an almost golden pool of tangy Tom Yum broth, flanked by silky al dente spool of squid ink pasta. Shimeiji mushrooms and cherry tomatoes added to adorn the pretty dish - I loved the look of this dish over the interesting contrast of squid ink versus tom yum.

Next, BBQ Baby Back Ribs (SGD$26.00) - slow-cooked baby back ribs in homemade barbecue sauce, char-grilled until tender, served with tangy coleslaw and French Fries.

Following that, the Gorgeous Beef Guinness (SGD$28.00) - Guinness stout chunky beef stew with shallots and mashed potato - a heartwarming dish that would be perfect for chilly nights especially. I loved the strong flavour of Guinness in the dish, but thought that the dish itself was a tad dry.

Final main course of the night was the Quack and Go (SGD$26.00) - Asian-spiced Duck Leg Confit with spicy mango salsa and mixed brown rice with pickled turnip (cai po). I enjoyed the crispy duck leg confit with succulent flesh as well as the refreshing idea of eating this item with rice.

Desserts were served! The Jars of  Happiness (SGD$11.00) - shortbread biscuits with almond flakes lined the bottom of the glass jars, topped with Haagen Dazs vanilla ice-cream, mixed berries and peaked by mixed berry compote. The perfect sweet cooler after the savoury and spicy dishes earlier on.

Chempedek Bread & Butter Pudding (SGD$12.00) fastened strings of the heart with its croissant pudding (not just any bread!), piquant aroma of chempedek and Haagen Dazs vanilla ice-cream. A very tropical twist to a wholesome, traditional dessert.

We concluded the meal with Banana Heaven (SGD$12.00) - banana biscuit with light vanilla cream, chocolate chip cookies and caramel. The moistened banana biscuit could've passed off a denser cake, distinctively delicious of banana flavour.

The meal was so delicious we nearly missed the last cable car back to the city!  Thank you Spuds and Aprons especially Tracy and Yee San for hosting us, as well as thank you Hungrygowhere for the invite.

Book through HUNGRYGOWHERE now to enjoy 50% off your second main course and dine among lush greenery.