Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

Dining in the Downtown CBD cannot get better than at Cook & Brew at The Westin Singapore. Located at level 33, the casual gastro-bar provided an unparalleled view of the Marina Bay area. Food wise, there's more than just bar bites. The menu here has a mix of South-East Asia flavors and hearty (for lack of a better description) Western food. 
The best time to visit? FRIDAYS. House pour wines and beers are only $10 and cocktails are priced at $12 nett! You can also get bottles from $88. Plus, the live band gets the party going from 6pm.
Always order the Whipped Buffalo Milk Ricotta ($15) to start. The winning combination of smooth airy cream with an earthy truffle honey on warm crusty chewy bread dissolved our resolve to save space for the other dishes.
Plus theres more than enough spread to go around. Hee. 
We were surprised by an entire head of Roasted Broccoli ($14) with a fiery honey Dijon and Sriracha dressing and pops of acidity from the sweet pickles, chili and lemon. Chop the florets up and toss them in the Korean style sweet and spicy sauce. How's this for an interesting bar bite?
A hot new restaurant opening in Tanjong Pagar is Venue by Sebastian at Downtown Gallery. This casual modern European restaurant with a touch of Asian flavors is helmed by Chef-Owner Sebastian Ng, former Chef-Owner of the now defunct Restaurant Ember, and Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Lee, former Head Chef of Artichoke.
The sharing plates menu highlights some of Chef Sebastian's signatures from Ember across eight dish categories including, ‘Toast’, ‘Fritti & Greens’, ‘Pasta’, ‘Raw, Cured & Smoked’, ‘Pan, Coal & Roast’, ‘Sides’ and ‘Sweets’.
From the toast section, I enjoyed the toast with the foie gras mousse ($12) the most. Who doesn't like a creamy pate on fresh crunchy bread? The chopped seasonal mushrooms with truffle oil ($8) could have been given a creamier texture, or at least something to bind the finely chopped pieces. Or do what we did and the foie gras with the mushrooms before spreading it on the toast.
Under the Fritti & Greens, highlights for us include the cauliflower fritti with spicy mint aioli ($10), grilled Spanish gem lettuce with burrata and mentaiko vinaigrette ($19) and the lovely seasonal Jerusalem artichoke soup with crispy duck ($8). Cauliflowers are such great snacks and i swear you wouldn't be able to stop popping these crunchy bites of florets that have been lightly coated and deep-fried.
As much as I love my raw and cold salads, the grilled version of the Spanish gem lettuce fared better than the cold one, which was bland in comparison even with the anchovy sauce. For $9, I'd rather get a salad elsewhere.
There is no reason to travel to the western part of Singapore except for food. For Spanish paella, we are happy to trot down to UNA at One Rochester. Plus it's a fantastic spot to wind down with sangria in this lovely colonial bungalow with fairy lights. 
The menu consists of Spanish offerings of tapas, paellas and parilla (grill) specialties.
You will not go wrong with the crowd-pleasing Gambas Al Ajillo ($22), made with fresh tiger prawns sautéed in olive oil, white wine, garlic, parsley and a kick of chili. We couldn't stop dipping the bread into the aromatic infused olive oil.  
The Patatas Bravas ($10) may seem plain but the potato bites were wonderfully crispy. The spicy tomato-base brava sauce and aioli made them even more irresistible.
Cusco Peru is the center of the universe according to the Incans and it was without a doubt an unchanging component of our South America trip because of Machu Picchu! Check out our South America itinerary here). Well, Cusco is a lot more than just Machu Picchu and we found out through trips to the various museums and ancient sites. So here is what we did in Cusco in 4 days
To get to Cusco, you'll have to fly in from Lima. There are flights throughout the day and will only take you about 1.5h to get to the Inca capital. We took LATAM airlines for our flights in South America. 
You are likely to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness in Cusco, more so than at Machu Picchu which is at a lower elevation. Take it easy for the first day when you arrive. 
Have your meds ready, and drink lots of Coca tea to help relieve dizziness and headaches. The tea is available at your hotel (for sure), and all around town and the sights.
We stayed at Hotel Eco Inn Hotel Cusco. It's a 3 star hotel that is spacious and clean. It may be some distance from the main town area but it wasn't much of an issue since we were always picked up and dropped off from our tours.  We were surprised by the quality of the food when we had several quick meals at the hotel before and after our tours. The breakfast spread is also quite substantial and yes to guacamole and other Andean fare for breakfast!
We spent an afternoon in the city, visiting the Main Square, the Cusco Cathedral, and the Coricancha (Qorikancha) temple (the Christian monastery of Santo Domingo was built on top of it). We marvelled at the Inca architecture all around town and were enriched by our guide's commentary as we went around the cathedral. I'll definitely recommend going on a guided tour. 
Cusco itself was laid out to represent a jaguar and Coricancha was located at the tail. Coricancha contains the Temple of the Sun which the most sacred site in the Inca religion and it is also considered the very centre of the Inca world. Massive walls of the complex were built from large stone blocks finely cut and fitted together without mortar. 
In Inca symmetry, the second most important sacred site in the city - Sacsayhuaman - was located at the head of the jaguar. It's a short drive from the main town and we were wowed by the massive construction here.
We continued with our small-group tour to the Sacred Valley the following day. Star attractions are the markets and the cities of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. There are plenty of tour companies around the Plaza de Armas in Cusco offering these tours costing between US$15 to 25 for a big group of up to 30pax (meals/entrance fees not included). Tours operate on market days i.e. Tue, Thu, and Sun. I'd recommend you do this if you only have a day for this. Alternatively, hire a taxi and take a guide for US$150 onwards. If not, try navigating the local bus but be warned that it'd be very tiring.
Sacred Valley's climate and fertile soil is perfect for agriculture then and now. 
The colorful Pisac market where you can buy silver, alpaca fur, and traditional weaves among other knick knacks. I bought a Machu Picchu sun hat which proved to be the best buy for going about Cusco (careful of the burns)! The tour will bring you to a lunch stop in Urubamba.
Then it was off to Ollantaytambo. We wondered how these massive rocks were brought up the mountain to construct this site without the use of wheels back then. 
Our tour ended with a transfer to the Ollantaytambo train station for our train ride to Machu Picchu town (Aguas Calientes). 

The ride takes about 90 minutes. You could either take the Incarail or Perurail. Both offers different class of service. We went with Incarail's Expedition Train and they offer complimentary beverage and interesting Andean cookies. I was quite impressed with Peru coffee brew that was offered. 


We stayed at El Mapi by Inkaterra, which is a cheaper and more contemporary option from the luxurious Inkaterra. It reminded me a little of Point Yamu by COMO. Breakfast spread was more than sufficient though the dinner we had at the restaurant on-site was far from mind-blowing. Good news is that there are plenty to eat around town where the hotel is conveniently located. 
The plan was to wake early and catch the first bus (5.30-6am) from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. We were supposed to climb Huayna Picchu which will give us a view of Machu Picchu (you need a ticket for this). However, by this leg of our trip, we were sick of having to wake so bloody early to catch our transfers and all so we decided that we could always go later.  
Be prepared for the bus queue wait!
Well guess what, we completely missed Huayna Picchu because 1. We "climbed" the wrong thing (ended up touring MP on our own) 2. We realized at the end of our little tour that Huayna Picchu entrance is only open at certain hours so if you miss the window, you can't enter even if you have a ticket. 
Well good news is that we thoroughly explored the citadel, once on our own, and a second time with our private guide. HUR HUR.
Give the walk at least 2 hours. It's a huge compound and there's plenty to see. It's good to go with a guide so that you'll learn more about the place.
Part of the Ican trek route
As you can obviously tell, we did not do the Incan trek (there's a 2d1n and a 4d3n option) as we took a while to plan our itinerary and by the time things were firmed, there were no more passes to do the trek. If you'd like to do that, make sure you book it in advance online. 

We had the most exciting train ride back from Aguas Calientes to Poroy (3h 45mins). Hello train fault! We thought it was a 'Train to Busan' moment when the lights went out and we were stuck on the tracks for a really long time. Thankfully our local escort was super on the ball and they appeared miraculously on the tracks and 'rescued' us and sent us back to our hotel. We didn't even have to call them. Book your land package with Peru Interact guys! FYI they settled all the logistics for us- accom, transfers, sightseeing for our South America trip, according to how we planned it. I'd say it's a semi-private and exclusive tour. Not sure what happened to the rest of the people on the train. Maybe they were eaten by zombies.
Now about food. There are plenty of options to eat in Cusco, but make sure you check out Chicha by Gaston Acurio (we dined at his Amazonian restaurant Amaz and it was AMAZing). There are also outlets in Lima and Arequipa if you missed this. Of course if you have the change in Lima, get a table at Peru's most celebrated Chef's flagship restaurant Astrid & Gaston. Traditional Andean cuisine is served here, think superfoods and flavorful meats. End your meal with a queso helado, a cheese ice cream flavored with cinnamon. And don't miss the pisco based cocktails.
Next, Pachapapa was also recommended by our Lima food guide and they serve traditional Peruvian dishes in a homey courtyard. They are best known for its cuy horniado con hucatay y ají panca (whole guinea pig roasted with Peruvian herbs and hot yellow peppers) and Pachamanca (assortment of tubers, corn and meats baked in a traditional ground-oven). located in the heart of Cusco’s San Blas neighborhood, directly in front of the San Blas Cathedral. 
Enjoy a variety of Peruvian dishes on a buffet spread at Tunupa. We were brought to this restaurant for lunch while on our tour to the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo. The buffet spread is very extensive and there were more than enough options to give us satisfied. Jr have seconds of the ceviche that is made on the spot, while i kept going back for the Aji de gallina, a classic Peruvian chicken dish cooked in a creamy amarillo peppers-ground walnut-cheese sauce. They also serve guinea pig in some form (carpaccio and terrine). They also have another outlet in Cusco city main square.

After our Machu Picchu trek x 2, we were starving by the time we got back to Aguas Calientes. A quick search online brought us to Indio Feliz, a charming restaurant that serves Franco-Peruvian food in ridonculous portions. We ordered a 3 course set meal and a quiche (because I wanted something small), and I swear it could feed a village.
The main dish of Mango and Chicken was made with half a chicken and came with a full plate of roasted vegetables, and another plate of chips. The French Onion Soup also came in a mini pot as opposed to a regular soup bowl.

This 4 day 3 night Cusco itinerary will work if you are fine with missing the Incan trek. There is still a fair amount of activity in this one if you're not all that couch potato as well!

Robertson Quay is undergoing some serious revival with new hotels and changes in the food scene along the river. A homegrown favorite SPRMRKT has expanded and set up shop at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI) Creative Workshop & Gallery. I've walked past several times but only noticed their bistro concept SPRMRKT Daily. Little did i know that their Kitchen & Bar, which serves refined European food, is tucked away upstairs through a side stairway.
The spot is absolutely gorgeous in the day with expansive views of the idyllic riverside. Lunch sets are offered, starting from $30, served with coffee or tea. They have also started their weekend brunches and we say grab a table now!
For lunch, start with a simple but wholesome Brussels & Roots with a honey clove dressing. The vegetables are simply steamed- golden baby beetroots and baby turnips along with the Australian Brussels sprouts. The garden of greens is flavored with pops of umami from the slow-baked tomatoes seasoned with thyme, garlic, sea salt and olive oil.
For lunch, go for a lighter Pan-Roasted Chilean Sea Bass. The fish is seared and basted with butter, then finished in the oven with a simple touch of salt, pepper, and lemon juice. A refreshing ratatouille adds a juicy crunch to the mix. We agreed with the chicken stock flavored polenta which was rich and velvety with some Parmesan sharpness.
Thinking of fresh Italian food? Head over to Basilico, Regent Singapore’s flagship Italian restaurant for a taste of the bountiful produce and ingredients that change each season.
The seasonally-driven Basilissimo menu changes quarterly to reflect the time of year. There's always something exciting and fresh going on here.
It's easy to go crazy with their semi buffet, which features a wide range of cheeses, cold cuts, and some seafood. I ended up with an entire plate of cheese as usual. Make sure you have their Grana Padana with truffle honey. To top off this extravagance, Chef added more freshly shaved black truffles on my portion. Man knows his way to my stomach! Go easy on the starters though. The daily dinner menu also includes a main course, and a dessert buffet at the end. 
On my way to Lombok-Bali to climb Mt. Rinjani currently and because of that, i'm reminded that i have some Ubud Bali posts that i've yet to clear so here is a mish-mash of things that you can put together for a chill weekend on the island.

Well there are plenty of villas and hotels to pick from and it was by chance that we found The Purist Villas and Spa. It's an intimate villas hotel nestled in the green hills of Ubud that is home to seven tastefully designed spaces.
There are 7 villas on site, which means plenty of privacy and space. Some villas have private pools with gazebos, while others have sun decks and loungers. We love the modern Balinese vibe that the villas exude.
Four-poster bed and decadent bathrooms are included. We star-gazed from our outdoor tub with vino in hand. Read about my other recommended Bali stays here- Como Ubud and Alila Villas Soori.

Something fun that i did in Bali was to go for a cooking class! A quick impromptu search later, we were signed up for a day of fun with Paon Bali Cooking School in Ubud. For our morning class, they brought us to the market, rice fields, and then to their traditional Balinese home where we took part in cooking a feast.
Looking for a place to stay in Buenos Aires Argentina? This #travelerintransit recommends Hotel Clasico in the trendy Palermo Hollywood area.
The boutique hotel is within walking distance of many restaurants and cafes that i was dying to check out and i also absolutely love the design of the hotel. Bed was firm and comfy with 250 Egyptian cotton threads bed sheets, feather cushions and duvet; 42” Smart TV set; strong air-conditioning; minimal street noise, natural light filled room in the day through the full length windows; and wifi connectivity through the hotel. In short, all you need for a good rest.
#Bathroomgoals Obviously archiving all these for the future home. :)
When i drop all my writing to start on a food review, you know this must be something to look forward to! Presenting Audace, my latest favorite fine French Bistro! This one month old restaurant at Wanderlust Hotel Singapore is helmed by Michelin Star awarded Chef Jérémy Gillon (previously from Le Montana in the French Alps) and serves a contemporary fine French Bistro menu which is lighter and fresher.

p.s. I see a trend with the other restaurants under the Unlisted Collection- a focus on 'bistronomy' (bistro fare with a contemporary touch) and spotlighting vegetables (different textures and flavors), generally food that is more approachable. Well i think this formula is working for 2016/17. 
Many of Chef Jérémy’s dishes are created daily with produce hand-selected from nearby Tekka Market. In addition to this, Chef Jérémy also sources his own herbs from the alps to make infused syrups, vinegars, cocktails, coffees and teas for his menus. As the restaurant is still very new, they are still deciding on whether to have a separate menu for lunch and dinner but right now it's the same menu. Pick from the a la carte items, or go for their discovery course (4 course $68, 6 course $98) which will allow you to sample a variety from the main menu. Signatures will change with the season. 
From the bar menu, we tried the Parsnip Confit cooked in Brown Butter Hay. Presented in a smoking cocotte, the smokiness of the hay gives this root vegetable a meaty taste (like luncheon meat). A syrup infused with an Alpine herb (Asperule Odorante) adds a refreshing scent to the dish. We also tasted a hint of mango! You can easily spread the parsnip over the crusty warm bread but make sure you spread that hazelnut butter that is hand churned and mixed with crushed hazelnuts for an added smoothness to each bite.