Ryan Clift Does 40 Hands & Other Festive Treats

I’ll freely admit I drink way too many caffeinated beverages for my own good, but it’s hard when the work week threatens to swallow you whole. It certainly doesn’t help that I’ve found a new favorite coffee joint, 40 Hands (#01-12, 78 Yong Siak St., 6225-8545) at Tiong Bahru. For those of you who haven’t gotten round to popping by quite yet, here’s another good reason (aside from their fab cuppas). They’ve expanded their food offerings and launched a dinner bites menu conceived by Tippling Club’s Ryan Clift. Just don’t go expecting a Tippling Club-esque experience, there isn’t any molecular gastronomy in sight (this is a café after all). Dishes such as tender chili squid with seven-spice salt and charred lime ($12), Thai beef salad with coriander, mint and roasted rice dressed with hot and sour sauce ($14), polenta and parmesan fries accompanied by truffle mayonnaise ($10) and scallop tartare with yuzu, garlic and chives on squid ink brioche ($14) all make an appearance. Head down for a taste every Wed-Sun, 7-10pm.
A vice I absolutely can’t afford to give up is my gluttonous ways. It’s my job, for Pete’s sake. Amid the season of glorious turkeys, I was treated to a slightly different take on a divine five-course festive meal ($115). Crafted by chef-sommelier Matthew Baker of Krish (9 Rochester Park, 6779-4644) fame, it features anything but the usual suspects. We kicked things off with a perfectly balanced ahi tuna tartar with foie gras terrine, joined by asian pear chutney, a creamy sweet and sour lemon emulsion and pink peppercorn-studded brioche crostini. Other dishes featured include chili crab carbonara, pan-roasted crisp-skinned Tasmanian salmon with citrus-scented pongal and roasted Japanese eggplant puree and 36 hour braised short rib “aloo matar,” accompanied by curried corn and pickled tomatoes. Finally, the best bit: A warm chocolate fondant with salted caramel cubes and milk ice cream. Be sure to make reservations for a fab dinner through Dec 27.
I also have a serious weakness for desserts. In fact, some might say it’s an unhealthy addiction (well, add it on to the rest of the list). While it’s definitely somewhat hereditary (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), it certainly isn’t helped by the mélange of Christmas treats that wondrously find their way to our office. Right now, I’m really digging the framboise Bûche de Noël (from $36 at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Singapore, Marina Square, 5 Raffles Ave., 6338-0066). It’s a sublime creation that combines raspberry crémeux, Valrhona Jivara milk chocolate, joconde chocolate biscuit, macadamia nuts and cocoa nibs, dusted with a pleasantly tart dried raspberry powder to offset all that luscious richness.
As an alternative to more traditional renditions of the perennial log cake, try a durian profiteroles Christmas bell ($68) available through Dec 26. This beautiful, edible show piece from The Deli (G/F Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Rd., 6737-7411) is a light, bell-shaped sponge cake base adorned with ambrosial D24 durian pulp-filled profiteroles. To further enhance the intense flavor of the Christmas Bell, grab a pint of their indulgent durian ice cream ($14.80), also made in-house through Jan 7.
If you missed The Pantry’s (75E Loewen Rd., 6474-0441) Yule Market last weekend, fret not. You can still get in the spirit of things and pick up some of their homemade treats, with everything from crumbly mincemeat pies (from $24) and gingerbread snowmen ($6), to Christmas pudding ($40) and the classic Aussie pavlova ($55). There’s always something a little naughty about indulging in desserts, but these babies are all sugar, spice and everything nice.