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Gontran Cherrier’s Rye and Red Miso Bread from Tiong Bahru Bakery, Trends, An Unfashionable God

May 10, 2012 1 comment

The appearance of bizarre (or fashion forward, depending on individual taste and future fashion) fig-leaves on an old friend reminded us all how, quite some time ago when we could (and would) fit into such clothes and some even model them, we used to hang out at fashion shows dissecting trends and cheering on friends who were trying not to slip and fall off the catwalk. The haute culture trickle-down effect was less obvious then than it is now with Zara, Forever 21, and all sorts of people scouring the web for the latest shows so they can manufacture “inspired” clothes for the masses.

Lucky Peach Issue 3: The Cooks and Chefs IssueSo it was serendipitous to read, in the most recent issue of Lucky Peach, that our plebian treats/trends had also devolved from the food gods. That molten chocolate cake, for instance, had in fact been “inspired” by the haute cuisine of Michel Bras (reinvented by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, pre-invented by Ella Helfrich for a Pillsbury bake-off in 1966, says Lucky Peach).

And perhaps just as the hundredth monkey effect gives birth to fashion trends for the season, so it is for the chefs in haute kitchens? (Though the effect now supposedly discredited due to failure to take into account a rogue coconut-washing monkey who sojourned on the other island.)

Gontran Cherrier's Rye and Red Miso Bread from Tiong Bahru BakeryGontran Cherrier‘s rye and red miso bread (from Tiong Bahru Bakery, 56 Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate) is apparently quite trendy, though it hasn’t quite started a trend of its own, perhaps owing to home bread-bakers not being in quite the same supply as home cake-bakers.

The rough + umami make a great pairing and can be used in much the same way as Marmite or Vegemite on toast – lightly toasted with a bit of butter and cut into soldiers to scoop up soft-boiled eggs;

Gontran Cherrier's Rye and Red Miso Bread from Tiong Bahru Bakery x Adam's 100% Natural Peanut Butteror with nut butters (HT: Chocolate and Zucchini) – this slice with Adam’s 100% Natural Peanut Butter was an excellent pairing;

Slices of Gontran Cherrier's Rye and Red Miso Bread Boule from Tiong Bahru Bakery x Dumpling soup from Real Food Killineyor as a very good companion to the dumpling soup at Real Food Killiney.

Gontran Cherrier's Rye and Red Miso Bread from Tiong Bahru Bakery x Sweet Ripe Pear x Morbier cheeseBeing mostly umami, it enhances the taste of whatever you put on it or eat it with – like slices of sweet ripe pear and Morbier cheese.

What was obvious from reading Jeremiah with someone on Monday and 2 Samuel with another last night was that the God of the Bible has never been quite fashionable. Where it has always been easy to control gods with offerings of their favourite food or the sacrifice of virgins, the God of the Bible could not be told what to do; he did not need sacrifices of things he created himself; he had his own mind and he set the rules. While the trend has always been for gods to reward their followers with prosperity, good health, loads of children etc., the God of the Bible has been quite different: his main concern since the beginning of the world has always been that they acknowledge him as God and obey him from their heart and therefore would bring judgement on them if they did not.

Basically, a really God-like God.

So when God’s king David despised God’s word and did evil by taking Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and then killing her husband (2 Samuel 12), God declared he would punish his sin by ensuring that his own wives would be taken by his neighbour and that the sword would never leave his own house. This was fulfilled over a number of years as Absalom kills Amnon for taking Tamar, Absalom tries to depose David and takes his 10 concubines, Joab and gang kill Absalom, fighting between the tribes who would later split into Israel and Judah (2 Samuel 13 – 20).

And a few centuries later, when the tribes had already been split into Israel and Judah, and Israel had already been defeated by the Assyrians because of their disobedience to God, God sent Jeremiah to warn Judah that they would be wiped out by the Babylonians if they did not repent and turn back to God. What God wanted was for his own people to repent from despising him and to acknowledge him as God (Jeremiah 1-6); he was not concerned with cheap victories over other nations just to show who was in control. Because the whole world was his, he did not need to keep a nation intact just to show he had power. (Nor did he need to scrounge around for the dreams of random followers, a la the old gods in Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman.) Yet, despite his omnipotence, he always wooed his people in such a loving and patient manner, which is more than you can of minor dictators these days.

Now, that is a truly a God.

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Tiong Bahru Bakery. World-building.

May 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Artisan bakeries have followed in the wake of the Third Wave specialty coffee movement. Representing the Kiwis, Dean Brettschneider’s Baker & Cook, with most of the rest being either French (Paul Bakery), French-Japanese (Maison Kayser), Japanese (Pullman Bakery, DONQ Bakery (facebook)), or French-inspired (The French Bakery, plus some German – Nick Vina, plus “old world technique” – The Bread Project (facebook)). Bread recipes seem to take to the Singapore humidity badly, so foreign bakers have had a tough time putting a rise on quality levels.

Regardless, all these new entrants are great for carb-fiends.

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

The most recent opening has been Gontran Cherrier’s modestly-named Tiong Bahru Bakery (56 Eng Hoon Street, facebook), another good trend-read by Cynthia Chua and her Spa Esprit Group F&B arm, Food Collective.

Between The Hunger Games (which i had to watch for research purposes – a terrible waste of money and a great disservice to the book(s)) and some messing about with cocktails before meeting The Avengers (why did Tony Stark have the best lines? We loved the silly wisecracks and slapstick so much we kept repeating the one-liners through the night, enough that any mother within earshot would have smacked us), hoofed it to Tiong Bahru for some sustenance.

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

The main door would be fantastic for a gongfu movie involving clueless baddies standing too near two-way doors, but generally not so good for clueless innocent bystanders lining up past the Synesso machine. Loads of natural light, big bold flower arrangement, requisite retro furniture (+ tables with sharpened legs), IKEA? wooden bowl lampshades, well-trained friendly staff.

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

Even the toilet was note-worthy, gushed the lady at the next table, insisting that we take a look. The blue glass panes and the biscuit tins as bins were a nice touch.

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru EstateAs were the bread-shaped namecards (not exclusive to toilet).

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

A good range of breads, viennoiseries, and pastries: olive bread, croissant (plain, chocolate, almond with chocolate), brioche, kouign aman [sic], raisin bun, apple crumble, brownie, tarts, baguette (plain, cereal, curry), squid ink bread, rye and red miso boules.

Bread samples, Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru EstateThe samples at the cashier sold many people on loaves they may never have thought to buy. All crusty (but not hard) with soft flavourful interior.

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru EstateDecent foccacia topped with stuff, though there are probably more interesting breads to try.

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

Croissant was a winner – crunchy without shattering to little pieces that disappear into your windpipe. Slight butter taste but not lip-balm replacement oily, enhanced by the good butter, Alain Milliat jams and Les Comptoirs de Saint-Malo‘s Caramalo Cafe caramel au beurre salé (oh man!) available on the sideboard.

Criossant Chocolat, Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

The croissant chocolat was similarly crisp with chewy interior and well-placed melted chocolate bits. The almond chocolate croissant was apparently quite standout stuff too.

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Kouign Aman. Gontran Cherrier, Tiong Bahru Bakery

Other viennoiserie (“raisin roll”, “kouign aman”) similarly excellent.

Viennoiserie? Gontran Cherrier, Tiong Bahru Bakery Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

Other breads (eg. “Vienna Chocolate”, “Brioche”) were a bit dry on the inside.

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

Couldn’t quite appreciate the flan vanilla nor the chocolate mendiant (similar to what one usually expects of confections bearing this name, there’s chocolate and mixed fruit and nuts, but in a tartlet shell).

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Tiong Bahru Bakery, Eng Hoon Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

This was not going to be a destination for coffee, but 40 Hands trained the baristas sufficiently that they didn’t ruin a good brunch/lunch/tea.

Unfortunately, my hair was such a mess that the nice lady at the next table politely enquired if i lived nearby.

M. John HarrisonNo idea how M John Harrison, only one of my favourite authors, keeps his long hair quite so neat because on the best of days, i look like Hagrid…on a bad hair day. But of greater interest, Mike’s views on world-building. My quarrel with movie adaptations of books is precisely that in order to bring them into being, word-building is necessary.

In some sense, it would be like the folly of Jorge Luis Borges’ (another favourite) On Exactitude In Science, itself allegedly based on Lewis Carroll’s Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, in which there is an empire where the study of cartography is so exact that a map of the empire is the size of the empire, and coincides point for point with it.

So it is also my quarrel with those who dismiss the Bible because it does not contain the world. Yes, it does not even contain information that could be found in an encyclopaedia nor a list of answers to FAQs (like: “If God created everything and knows everything before they happen, then why did he create the serpent?” or “Why did God create us if he knew that he would have to send his Son to die for the sins of the world?”), because that is not its nature. The nature of the Scriptures is that of a message, a rather lengthy note; it tells us the danger we are in and how to be saved from this danger; it is both a warning and an offer.

I would not find issue with a Caution sign or an instruction manual just because they failed to mention the existence of dinosaurs (itself a theory we have come to believe, ironically in this context, as gospel truth!).

Baker & Cook. Grace and Election.

January 28, 2012 1 comment

Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood

Baker & Cook (77 Hillview Avenue, Greenwood), started by Dean Brettschneider -the-Global-Baker, says it is “Singapore’s only true artisan bakery & foodstore”.

Remnant breads and bagels, Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood Carrot cake, Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood

There was a steady stream of people coming in for a baguette but most of the bread had been sold out by early evening. They’re open from 7am to 10pm every day, so we’ll probably have to get there in the morning to grab the bread.

Pizza and broccoli salad, Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood Flat white, Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood

However, if the bready pizza base is anything to go by, this bakery might possibly be as good as its boast.

Fruit tarts, Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood Apricot frangipane tart, Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood

The apricot tart was well-made too – frangipane not cloyingly sweet nor soaked in almond flavouring nor too damp, tart shell not delicate but crisp.

Towards closing time, they started handing out complimentary pastries/cake slices to certain people. I wasn’t selected, and as I was struggling with Ephesians 1, I realised that just as it wasn’t my place to demand a free taster, neither was it my place to demand salvation.

Most people want to know what God will do for them if they deigned to believe in him. Some want to know what they can do to earn salvation or be part of God’s people. But the Bible scoffs at any pretense of contributing to one’s salvation, and really, would anyone be so foolish and shameless to demand to know what the baker would reward them with if they condescended to take a slice of carrot cake?

Already, Ephesians 1 shows that we do nothing under our own steam:

  • in Christ, God has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing;
  • in him, God chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight;
  • through Jesus Christ, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons;
  • in the One he loves, he has freely given us glorious grace;
  • in him…through his blood, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, all wisdom and understanding;
  • in Christ, he has made known the mystery of his will;
  • God brings all things in heaven and earth together under one head, Christ;
  • in him, we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of God who works all things in conformity to his will;
  • in Christ, we who were first to hope might be for praise of his glory;
  • in Christ, you were also included when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation;
  • in him, you were marked with a seal, the Holy Spirit;
  • the Holy Spirit guarantees inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possessions.

Ultimately, we don’t choose God while he bites his nails in heaven, anxiously awaiting daily updates from earth. Rather he chooses his people just as he chose to make a covenant with Abraham. Even our repentance (2 Timothy 2:25) and faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) come from God, so we cannot even boast that we have done anything to deserve to be treated decently by God – which makes our salvation and new status as God’s people so very precious, and makes plain the enormous grace (undeserved favour) of God.

PS:
Lucky Last Baguette, Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood
“Lucky Last Baguette”

Almond croissant, Baker & Cook, Hillview Avenue, Greenwood
Almond croissant

Maison Kayser Singapore

December 18, 2011 1 comment

Missed the plane to Perth by managing, somehow, to switch off the alarm in my sleep. Fortunately, Qantas allowed a change to the flight for S$75 fee.

So made it to church to listen to Joshua Ng preach on idolatry from James 4 (probably quite similar to the one he gave at SMACC in KL earlier this year) – something i’m naturally anxious to avoid (cue: Sam Chaplin’s Two Sins as earworm), collect Christmas cards and gingerbread men and well wishes (and jibes about not managing to wake up for anything), and to chat with some of the uni folk back on vacation from Oz.

Maison Kayser, Scotts Square Maison Kayser, Scotts Square

Sped down to Orchard Road and we camped out at Maison Kayser (Scotts Square)* while waiting for the photos for Christmas cards to be printed in Far East Plaza (old skool!), then wrote illegibly on their backs.

Hopefully, i’ll remember actually haul ass to Changi Airport this evening and get these posted.

Maison Kayser, Scotts Square Maison Kayser, Scotts Square
Maison Kayser, Scotts Square

*enjoyed the “artisan bread” most – the walnut bread had a delicate crunchy crust enclosing a soft flavourful chewy innards with freshly roasted walnuts (most of the walnuts in pastries here taste rancid). The pastries (croissant, croissant aux amande) would have benefited a lot from some oven time before being served (the server assured me they had already been heated and wouldn’t re-heat despite their being in limp distress in the Singapore humidity). Then there were the eclairs and lemon tarts (with and without meringue).

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