Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Food cooked by students from Culinary Institute of America in Singapore

This was my lunch yesterday cooked by students from the Culinary Institute of America in Singapore. It's tucked in the corner of the Temasek Polytechnic campus, on the eastern part of town. I was delighted at this lunch surprise from a friend in church. In the menu booklet, the Institute invites diners to interact with the students and ask questions about the food - not that I needed that invite. I had 20 questions for every dish served out to me. 

Apologies for bad photography - blame it on the iPhone. 

I chose a cured fish starter - if you've been reading my blog, you know I'm an incurable cure-r, having done home-cured salmon and home-cured pancetta. My dish came with a cured red snapper paired with diced tomatoes, and cured mackerel with mango, served on a biscotti that had gone soft and retoasted, I think. The mackerel smelled and tasted fishy, like otah (fish paste). The red snapper however was lovely to the bite, and tasted very fresh and beautifully cured, just the right taste and texture for me, and I rushed home to research more about cured red snapper - with vodka! (Who's ready for the next private dining seating on this??!)

My main was an interesting composition of lentils wrapped in black crepes in a mixed garlic herb sauce, with honey roasted pumpkins, and topped with fried leeks. Vegan. I'm learning to wake my palate and taste in a deliberate fashion, always conscious of the effect the food and each ingredient has on my tastebud. This dish, I enjoyed, although half a portion would have sufficed for me. The lentils had a Middle Eastern-Moroccan twang, and the leeks were very flavourful. Even the green sauce was palatable to me, and seemed appropriate with St Patrick's Day round the corner.

 I asked our student-waiter what made the crepe black, making it look like a Japanese seaweed. He smiled and said, Today's crepe is darker than it should be! Essentially, it's blackened using 2 ingredients, black bean puree and bamboo charcoal powder. That word again. I had just blogged about it a month ago - see post on Black Bread.

Poor girl had to go into the kitchen to bring this out to show me.
At the rate I'm going, I may be "black"-listed and banned from
coming back to this restaurant!
And here's our trio dessert: 1. Coconut sorbet with dragon fruit cubes and candied parnsips. The parsnip took the limelight from the sorbet.

 2. Yuzu tart with raspberry sauce. It was ok, ok - know what I mean? Like, forgettable.

3. Warm apple cake with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. This was the most humble and heart-warming dessert. In my friend's words and with hand to heart and a peaceful sigh, he said, Eating this just makes me feel so happy. Soul Food. I want my food to have this effect on my diner! 

My curiosity still unsatiated, I asked if I could have a tour of the kitchen. They willingly obliged. (God, that woman!) The student-sous chef brought us round, boasting of their state-of-the-art equipment and a chill room for salad and cake preparatory work to ensure freshness. I unabashedly asked the Executive Chef from the States if she was open to sharing her recipes or if they were trade secrets. For my audacity, I was rewarded with the recipe for the apple cake, her father's recipe from her hometown back in New York. Will post when I get to test it. Overall, well done to the student-chefs and the service crew. I would really like to be back there soon. And this time, with a decent camera. Ciao for now!


  1. Interesting food though I find the arrangement for the main course somewhat fussy. Is the makan place open to the public ?

  2. I would have to agree with you on that - plating for the main did feel somewhat too busy. Maybe it's just the American thing. Yes, it's open to the public but you have to call to reserve.


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