Dinner at Din Tai Fung Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Whenever I am in a city with a branch of Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung, I tend to go there for a fix of one of my favourite dishes in the world – the famous soup dumpling, xiao long bao.

Din Tai Fung’s Marina Bay Sands branch is one of the best I have visited (maybe that’s a general Din Tai Fung Singapore-thing though) of the Din Tai Fungs I’ve visited over the world so far. The above xiao long bao pork soyp dumplings were great. Filled with broth and minced pork, then dipped in a chilli-vinegar-soy-ginger dipping sauce, they make your taste buds do the happy dance.

Almost as good as the soup dumplings is the dan dan noodles. Chewy, elastic noodles in a creamy spicy sesame-peanut sauce, sprinkled with spring onions. Mmm-mmm!

Pork buns meets Singapore’s national dish, the famous chilli crab in a – you guessed it – pork and chilli crab bun. This was quite good, although not as good as above dishes.

In the foreground a spicy cucumber salad, in the back – another all time favourite – Din Tai Fung’s Taiwanese pork chop with perfect, slightly oily, egg and scallion rice. Incredibly tasty.

Finally we tried pork and prawn gyoza. Flavour wise it was good but nothing out of the ordinary. Texture wise, however, one of the best gyozas I’ve ever had. Insanely crispy bottom, and light, slightly chewy top.

Hello, Singapore!

After a longish trip to Singapore with the new semi-nonstop (you need to disembark in Moscow but then continue on the same plane) route with Singapore Airlines, we’re now in the “Lion City”, one of my favourite food cities in the world. It’s my third visit which is a first for me outside of Europe.

As mentioned we flew in with Singapore Airlines in their premium economy class. While not amazing, it was pretty nice. And hey – we got meatballs with champagne (Nicolas Feuilatte) for breakfast.

Will make a proper review once back home, when we’ve tried them some more. But first up is four more days of food and adventures in Singapore.

What is a patty melt? (recipe)

Had a really decadent breakfast the other day. Saw this creation fly past on Instagram a couple of times in the last month, and decided i had to try. I mean a burger meets grilled cheese… I couldn’t resist. Behold the patty melt.

What you need (for one patty melt)

1 burger patty (I used store-ground chuck roll)

4 slices of cheddar cheese

2 Slices of toast bread (preferably rye or brown bread)

A couple of pickles

Butter

Salt

How to make the patty melt:

1. Fry the burger patty until cooked, season with salt. Finish with two slices of cheddar and allow to melt on top.

2. Spread butter on the bread slices.

3. Fry bread with butter side down in a frying pan, turn, and let fry on the other side as well.

4. Add one slice of cheddar on the buttered side of each bread slice. Add burger inbetween the two slices. Return to pan for a few seconds to allow the cheese to melt if needed.

5. Cut the patty melt diagonally into two triangular sandwiches. Serve with pickles. Enjoy (and then go out for a walk)!

Update: Next time I’d probably add some mayo, raw onion and possibly pickles on my patty melt.

A short staycation at Hotel At Six in Stockholm

I recently took a brief staycation in one of Stockholm’s new ’luxury hotels’ – Hotel At Six. At Six is a part of both iPrefer and Nordic Choice Hotels (not sure how that works, but I could only receive points from one 😩), the latter is the mother company of my favourite Scandinavian chain Clarion, and hence my expectations were quite high. I won’t elaborate that much, but the stay was definitely my best hotel experience so far in Sweden; great staff, great room and amenities, and most of all fantastic views from our ’deluxe room’.


Room and views over Stockholm. Try to get a room facing Djurgården. The other direction, towards Södermalm has more nearby buildings blocking the view.

Complimentary breakfast buffet pretty latte.

We brought our own champagne to the room and got to borrow nice Riedel champagne glasses from house keeping. Ice bucket was included in the room and ice machines was in the hallway.

Room service sounded delicious but was a tad expensive so we went for take away from Barrels and Burgers (city), which is relatively close. The money we saved was invested in a bottle of Brunello that was deeelicious with the burgers, wings and fries.

After a good nights rest in the fluffy bed it was time for a very nice breakfast before checking out.

Philly cheese steak sandwich recipe

The other day I found a piece of Provolone cheese in my next door supermarket. Many years ago (I sound really old now) I tried to make Philly cheese steak sandwiches at home, featuring thin slices of rib-eye steak/entrecôte, fried peppers & onions as well as a thick layer of melted provolone cheese. Needless to say I loved it. Hence, I though it might be time for another round of cheese steak sandwiches last weekend, and I must say they turned out really well. Not to mention it’s really easy to make.

What you need (for two)

About 150 grams of flank steak

One green bellpepper

One red onion

One clove of garlic

2 soft bread rolls (I used brioche hot dog rolls)

Provolone cheese (I also used some leftover burger cheddar)

Vinegar, salt, pepper

Cooking instructions

1. Trim, and then rub the flank steak with salt and pepper. Let rest in room temperature. Also set your oven to 150 degrees celsius or similar.

2. Slice bellpepper and onion in thin slices. Finely chop the garlic clove.

3. Heat a pan until it starts to smoke (eg. is really hot). Sear the meat on both sides until your prefered cooking grade. I go for medium rare. Let the meat rest while you continue with the preparations.

4. Fry bellpepper, onion and garlic in oil on medium heat until soft. Splash over about two teaspoons of vinegar as well as salt and pepper. Take off the heat.

5. Start with the sandwiches. Brush the breads with a thin layer of dijon mustard (skip this if you’re no mustard fan). Slice the breads and put the fried vegetables on top of the bottom part of the bread. Add sliced cheese and put in the oven for about a minute to melt the cheese. Put in the top breads at the same time but separated to get them warm.

6. Slice the flank steak as thinly as you prefer and stack it on top of the cheesy vegetable bottom bread. Add the top bread. Done!


Swedish milk stewed macaronies recipe – stuvade makaroner

Made one of my favourite comfort foods for dinner tonight: fried falukorv (pork sausage from the city of Falun) with milk-stewed macaronies flavoured with nutmeg. I served it traditionally with a side of ketchup and untraditionally with a sprinkle of chopped fresh chives, which I think adds a nice-yet-subtle hint of fresh onionness to the generally sweet-salty-fatty dish.

Anyway, here’s how you cook Swedish milk-stewed macaronies or as they are locally known stuvade makaroner.

You need uncooked macaronies and you need milk. I use milk with 1,5 percent fat content.

Nutmeg, salt, black pepper.

Ketchup and falukorv (substitute with any pork, beef or veggie sausage, or bacon).

1. Slowy heat milk in a cooking pot until it is about to boil, eg. hot steam is leaving the milk. For four portions, add about 5 deciliters of macaronies to roughly 8-10 deciliters of milk.

2. Then pretty much stirr until the milk has cooked into the macaronies. Keep the cooking temperature to a gentle simmer. It’s similar to making a risotto actually. Slowly stirr, making sure the milk won’t burn into the bottom of the pot. That happens easy by the way, so no cheating with the stirring.

3. When most milk has reduced into the macaronies, add some grated nutmeg, salt and blackpepper. Remove from heat and serve immediately – as soon as the macaronies are getting cold they get about 50 percent less nice. So pre-cook your sausage. 

Enjoy with ketchup, possibly chives and a glass of milk or a beer. If you want to have some vitamins, Swedes (me?) tend to eat a Swedish carrot salad with raw, grated carrots with a splash of oil & vinegar and salt on the side.

Stockholm-Helsinki in a deluxe cabin onboard Tallink-Siljas M/S Silja Serenade


Had a bit of luck a few weeks ago when booking a cruise to Helsinki with one of the infamous Finlandsbåtar (Finland ferries) that cruise the Baltic Sea. 

After finishing our purchase I got a confirmation email for the wrong dates from what I had booked. I contacted the cruise company, Tallink-Silja, who explained that due to some kind of glitch, we had booked cabins that were already sold out. Fortunately, Tallink-Silja were friendly enough to compensate us with an upgrade to their deluxe cabin so we could go on our prefered dates.
One of the main issues (or the USP depending on your trips purpose) with going with any of the Finland ferries is the fact that you can drink the inexpensive stuff bought in the duty free shop directly after your purchase, meaning there are cabin parties all over the ship. That, and the lacking sound-proofing between cabins can make the trip a bit of a struggle as you can’t really escape the party anywhere.

Fortunately Tallink-Silja has adressed this to some extent with closed hallways depending on cabin category, meaning your key card can’t enter other hallways than the one you’re staying in.

We stayed in the deluxe cabin area of the ship, where there are only two-bed cabins, meaning the party crews stayed elsewhere.

The deluxe cabin
Where the standard cabins are good enough to get a couple of hours of sleep, the deluxe cabins are more hotel room-like. The cabin is 14 square meters with a good-sized window giving great ocean views from the 11th floor. Included is also a fridge with complimentary drinks (2 small 20 cl bottles of sparkling wine, 2 beers, 2 cokes, 2 Fanta, and one bottle each of sparkling and still water). It wasn’t replenished during our trip, we did get our beds made though day two, which does not happen in lower cabin classes (I’ve done the trip many times in C, B and A cabins). Instead of bunk beds there is a decently comfortable double bed (queen size I guess), there is a flatscreen tv of decent size and with good reception and Swedish and Finnish channels. Ship’s free wifi worked okay in the cabins, but the signal is much better in the public areas.




The main change for me compared to traveling in lower cabin classes was that this cabin was actually pretty nice to hang out in. The sound-proofing is not much better (if any), but our neighbours were quite silent. We probably spent three hours day two just watching tv, eating chips and resting.


A bonus attached to the cabin is also the ’luxury breakfast’ in Tavolata restaurant. The luxury being coffee and tea being brought to your table instead of you getting it yourself, and a complimentary glass of prosecco, or a bellini. The self-service buffet is good enough, comparable to a 3-star hotel or similar, with decent bread, charcuterie, eggs, Karelian pies, fresh fruit, pastries and bland juice.


Although this post is mostly about the deluxe cabins, as I did not find much information myself about them, I of course need to mention the food we had as well. 🙂

We had dinner the first night in Serenade’s fancy restaurant; Bon Vivant. The restaurant is quite popular, we made a reservation a week before our cruise and got the last table according to the booking agent. The restaurant has a Nordic theme, and menus are changed a couple of times per year. We had the Tommy Myllymäki menu earlier this year when we went to Estonia, and this time it was Finnish chef Jukka Nykänen’s menu.

Wild duck with apples.

Beetroot marinated salmon tartare with truffle mayonnaise.


Pike perch, potato and whey.


The vegan starter was according to my dinner companion one of the best ever.

Day two we swopped the fine-dining for a Finland ferry must.


No trip without a buffet! I managed four rounds of food (and a couple of glasses of wine on tap), but only the picture of round one was publishable. 🙂

Dinner at Restaurang Hantverket in Stockholm


After thinking of visiting for a year or so tonight it was finally time to visit Restaurang Hantverket in Stockholm. Below is what we had.

Nibbles: first a tuttul flatbread with ”slarvsylta” of pork knuckle and homemade butter. Also Hantverket’s possibly most instagrammed dish; deep-fried Hasselback potatoes with dill, bleak roe, sour cream and spring onion, and also “Struva” with whipped duck liver pâté, parmesan cheese and port wine.

Thinly sliced beef with Jerusalem artichoke, gruyère cheese and hazelnuts.

Fork-mashed potatoes with smoked roe, browned butter, crispy chicken skin and dill.


Blackened salmon with pumpkin, ginger, salmon roe and orange.

Pudding of spruce, roasted buckwheat, pine sorbet and birch powder. Three kinds of tree in a dessert sounds equal parts scary and intriguing to me. Fortunately this one was really wood… I mean good, sorry. 😩

The verdict
A really delicious and quite affordable dinner at Restaurang Hantverket. Added bonus was unusually friendly staff, nice setting and great smelling soap in the washroom. 4,5 hasselback potatoes out of five.

Price
3 nibbles, 3 medium sized dishes, 1 dessert and three drinks divided on two persons clocked out at 1000 kronor.

Website (with menu in English)

Best fika in a while at Mr Cake

Just a short update since I had a really nice fika (coffee and pastry) experience at Mr Cake, a newly opened bakery/pastry shop/café in Stockholm.

Mr Cake is a collaboration by famous bakers Mattias Ljungberg and Roy Fares, and serves Swedish fika with an American twist. Naturally I had to pay them a visit. Since they did not serve cronuts (they only do on weekend according to the staff) I took their recommendation and tried a red velvet croissant, and my fika company took a cinnamon roll with frosting a la Cinnabon.

The red velvet croissant was extraordinary delicious. I had a sample of the frosted cinnamon roll and it was great too. When the lines have died down a bit, I shall return for cronuts and cake.


Cronuts

Update: Now I’ve had the cronuts (on a Friday), and they were delicious.

According to rumours they do not have the cronuts (at least last weekend) ready when they open, so maybe arrive a bit later if you’re after them.

Website

3 days of eating in Madrid, Spain

Just got back from a short, fun and busy trip to the great busy Spanish capital Madrid. Unfortunately the image quality is not that great since I only brought my phone. But nevertheless, below are the (mostly) great restaurants I visited.

O’Grove restaurant

Most restaurants that has a man or woman hand slicing pata negra when you enter turn out to be great places in my experience. The thin, nutty and fatty pata negra ham did not dissapont at all to start our meal.

Pulpo, eg. squid grilled and seasoned with smokey paprika.

Grilled seafood. Langoustines, prawns, crayfish, clams, razor mussels and lemon. So good.

Our main was a perfectly sized (after the enourmos amount of tapas to start) beef fillet, served with only a few chips and piementos de padrón.

O’Grove restaurant website

El Buey restaurant

Surprisingly, you got to cook your own steak on a hot plate set in front of you, something I did not realise while booking. This is the steak, pre-grilling. By some reason I took no post-grilling pics. The meat above was really good and was served together with some really good chips/fries and a nice, slightly acidic sauce to baste it in while grilling.

Starters were handed out before the meat and consisted of salad with a mayonnaisy dressing; a ratatouille-like tomato and vegetable stew topped with quail eggs, and deep-fried potato baskets. The same baskets were included with the blood sausage scrambled eggs.

El Buey restaurant website

La Lonja del Mar

Despite being the fancy restaurant of the trip, I was a bit dissapointed with La Lonja del Mar. Although the dishes were okay, they did not at all impress. Above is the two best dishes, a Donistiarra style hake with clams and Torrija, a Spanish version of ‘French toast’ served with missing cherries and ‘Amarena’ ice cream. Tasty enough, but by no means great, unfortunately.

La Lonja del Mar website

Bodegas Pablo Morate winery

Our visit to Bodegas Pablo Morate, a small family winery just outside of Madrid was a highlight of our stay. We got to try some excellent wines (unfortunately not the 101 year old bottle above) and got served some of the best tapas I’ve had. Extra good because Pablo Morate’s mom, the cook of above feast, joined us and told us about the food and even gave us the recipe for the incredibly tasty Spanish tortilla omelette.

Bodegas Pablo Morate website

Tapas tour in  the Salamanca district
Our last evening we decided upon a walking dinner with stops at three acclaimed tapas restaurants in the Barrio de Salamanca where we stayed at the Novotel Madrid Centro, which was pretty good.

La Castela restaurant

Cold but quite tasty shrimps to start the evening.

Pizza-like sandwiches with cheese, grilled and peeled peppers as well as ham. Went down well with a glass of red.

La Castela website

La Monteira restaurant

Might not look that exciting, but a quite nice little nibble in the form of deep-fried breaded pork.

Prawns, deep-fried and supposed to eat whole.

Seared tuna with a tasty dipping sauce. One of the highlights of the tapas we were served.

La Monteira Website

Restaurant Castelados


We got served a plate like above at each of the places visited. A mix of whole deep-fried fishes – to be eaten with bone and all, piementos de padrón and some crunchy stuff I can’t remember.


We had lots of sandwiches. This one was quite inventive, being the vessel of one of Madrid’s most famous dishes; oxtail stew. By this point I was so full, but still managed to chew one and a half of these guys down.

Restaurante Castelados website

The roof at Hotel ME (Radio), Madrid


As a bonus, we also visited the cool rooftop club/bar ‘The Roof at ME’. Not a very high up skybar (7th floor), but a really nice place to dance off the tapas from earlier, have a few nice drinks and admire the (although limited) view. Admission was 20 euro, but included a drink, including cocktails.

The roof at ME website

Breakfast at Novotel Madrid Centro


A breakfast plate at Novotel Madrid Centro, where we stayed. This is just picked up from the buffet, but I would like to mention it because of the nice assortment of charcuterie/coldcuts that they served. The watery juice above is some kind of watered down mango juice I mistakenly took. Fortunately they also had proper fresh squeezed orange juice that was much better.

Novotel Madrid Centro website

Mercado de San Miguel


We also managed to make a quick stop at Mercado de San Miguel food hall in the central parts of town. During the 10-minute visit I had both the above duck foie gras pincho with onion compote and fig jam (I think), as well as churros dipped in hot chocolate. Mmmm……

Merca de San Miguel website

Madrid, hit or miss?
It was a very short visit to the Spanish capital, but the food was great, the people friendly and the city very pretty. I’d love to go back soon to explore some more.