Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Crab Masters

Black Pepper Crab
Black Pepper Crab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There's  always a danger writing a travel review on a site such as TripAdvisor, when it is a couple of years since you last visited a place or have been to eat there.

I took to adding my pennyworth when I was doing  a lot of travelling and still find it a great place to start planning for a trip; what other people say in their candid reviews can be quite revealing!

My most recent entries were motivated by a television programme that graced our New Zealand screens this week. Masterchef plucks wanna-be chefs from public entries and puts them through a competition process.

This week the final four New Zealand entrants were transported by Jetstar (business class I might add) to Singapore.  They were housed in suites in the new Marina Bay Sands hotel and had to cook a selection of classic Singapore dishes on a raised platform in Chinatown.

The recipes for black pepper crab, fish head curry and Hokkien prawn noodles were provided by KF Seetoh of  Makansutra fame. Mr Seetoh certainly knows his food but his table manners, as I recall from watching him on Singaporean television, left a lot to be desired.  Talking through mouthfuls of food never ranked highly as entertainment for me. To be fair he is ten on the Richter scale for enthusiasm about his subject.

To add to the challenge the New Zealand entrants had to cope with a sudden deluge, lightening and thunder claps from a typical Singapore storm.

Another barrier was the requirement that they purchased their ingredients from the nearby Chinatown market.  Having no knowledge of the local dialects meant that they struggled to make themselves understood and in one instance the fish stall holder flatly refused to serve the Ang Mo waving a handful of gelatinous squid.  Maybe not a good look from the Singapore Tourism Board perspective but not an uncommon occurrence.

They struggled through the challenge with several of the resulting sauces looked less than appetising.  The locals who were crowding around the platform watching gave them warm applause for their efforts.

My 'food reviews' are a lot less edifying.  A mention of the White Dog Cafe in Vivo City and the relevant virtues of loaves from Peck bakery in Takashimaya seems to be the sum total of my input in the food columns of TripAdvisor; but maybe I am just getting started.

Two years on and I still miss my true Singapore makan.
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