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Thread: What's hot on gourmet shelves

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    Default What's hot on gourmet shelves

    Published April 21, 2007

    What's hot on gourmet shelves

    Singaporeans' appetite for high-end foodstuff is growing and they don't seem to mind paying more for it. JAIME EE has the details


    WHEN Graeme Pullen, manager of the Cellar Door Wholesale Foods, started selling marinated figs at the deli in Bukit Timah, he could not believe his eyes when they started flying off the shelves.

    The Telegraph Hill figs, marinated in an orange and balsamic dressing, are plump figs soaked in a sweet-tangy orange and balsamic dressing which are great served with ice creams or with cheese. At $55 a kg, Mr Pullen says price is no deterrent for trendy foodies when it comes to upmarket gourmet products.

    Local foodies' appetites for high end foodstuffs really started growing in the last 12 months, says Mr Pullen.

    'The Cellar Door has been opened for eight years and sells imported gourmet foods and wines. When it originally opened, customers were mainly from the expatriate community, but today local customers make up over 50 per cent of the regular customer base and this number is growing.

    'In the last two years, we have seen a huge uptake in the sales of wine as Asia moves to embrace the wine culture. But in the last 12 months, we have experienced double digit growth in imported gourmet foods, like marinated figs, olives, pastes and cheeses. There is also an increased popularity in entertaining at home and customers often come in asking for ideas on how to put together a cheese board or what wine to serve with what cheese.'

    He adds: 'It's a very different market today than it was eight years ago - customers have more disposable income, have more sophisticated tastes, they are willing to be more adventurous.'

    Over at Archangel, co-owner Edina Hong agrees that 'despite the kiasu culture, Singapore is a fairly affluent city with a lot of well-travelled people who are willing to pay for quality'.

    So much so that they are willing to pay $56 for a small (150 gm) box of truffles by Gallar, a premium Belgian chocolate brand. This is in addition to the bottled French lemonade and biscuits that are the fastest selling items at the Great World City shop.

    Concludes Mr Pullen, 'Along with the increased number of people entertaining at home there is also a growing sense of keeping-up-with-the-Wangs mentality. Brand conscious customers want to make sure they are serving their friends and neighbours top quality products - and they are prepared to pay for it.'

    That said, we shopped around to find out what's hot on gourmet shelves now. Here's a quick shopping list:

    TELEGRAPH HILL MARINATED FIGS
    Available at Cellar Door,
    611 Bukit Timah Road. Tel: 6469-7665

    AT $55 per kilo (although they are sold in smaller packages) the high price comes from the fact that figs are not a cheap fruit. Totally different from dried figs, these plump, juicy morsels from New Zealand have been soaked in orange and balsamic oils for a unique flavour that's totally different from the more common dried variety.

    KAPITI CHEESE
    Available at Cellar Door
    and Cold Storage

    THIS New Zealand brand has been around for the past few years, but business started booming around six months ago and, as a result, so has the range of cheeses available here. The kikorangi makes a great introduction to blue cheese for those averse to the really strong versions - mild, creamy with just a slight pungence of blue cheese. New items include creamy havarti which is a buttery smooth trappist style cheese, kirima - a double cream camembert that has a slight hint of mushroom, and Port Nicholson - an orange washed rind cheese with a mild flavour.

    PASTABILITIES
    Available at Culina,
    617 Bukit Timah Road. Tel: 6468-5255

    THIS quirkily named Sydney-based pasta maker offers a wide range of home-made style frozen pasta and ravioli. Pick from ravioli stuffed with four cheeses, mushrooms or potato and roasted garlic. Or create your own pasta dish with their saffron angel hair pasta, squid ink linguini or parsley and shallot spaghetti. $25 per packet.

    GALLER CHOCOLATES
    Available at Archangel,
    #03-32/33 Great World City.
    Tel: 6836-4424

    THIS boutique chocolate company was founded by Jean Galler, who was inspired to create his own line of chocolates after working in the family confectionery business that was founded by his grandfather in 1930. He apprenticed with Gaston Lenotre in Paris at the age of 16 and opened his own shop when he turned 21. Thirty years on, his chocolates have won countless awards but all chocoholics need to know is that his pralines simply melt in the mouth.

    MILAWA AFFINE GOAT'S CHEESE
    Available online at
    www.redgum.com.sg
    and selected gourmet shops

    GOATS' cheese is growing in popularity despite its general pungence that tends to put off unadventurous cheese lovers. While European goat's cheese has always predominated, Australia and New Zealand are coming up the ranks as prime cheese producers. Milawa is a small-scale but highly acclaimed cheese maker in north-east Victoria and its owners specialise in producing Australian farmhouse cheese using traditional European methods.

    PASTILLA NASH PRUNE and WALNUT LOG
    Available online at www.redgum.com.sg

    WITH cheese platters being the order of the day for domestic goddesses, here's another treat to go with your favourite brie. Organic prunes and walnuts are combined into a compact log that's easy to slice and serve.

    PITANGO SOUPS
    Soon to be available at Cold Storage

    A RANGE of organic soups from New Zealand started by a former chef and his dancer wife. Exotic flavours include Thai pumpkin with lime leaves and rice, Moroccan chicken and Indian vegetable. Or go with the soup that launched the business - tomato and thyme. Made from organic ingredients with no preservatives.

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    Default Aussie gourmet produce at your fingertips

    Published April 21, 2007

    Aussie gourmet produce at your fingertips


    IF you like the idea of having the best of Australia's gourmet produce at your fingertips, a new online organic store is likely to stir your interest.

    Red Gum has been run by Australian couple Roland and Elena Scherer in Singapore since 1989. As a wholesaler of Australian vegetables, fruits, cheeses and deli products, it catered mainly to restaurants, supermarkets and gourmet delis. But from next week it will be selling to the public via an online site where you can order fresh gourmet salads, exotic fruit, antipasto, farmhouse cheeses, herbs, spices and more.

    One of Red Gum's specialty areas is artisinal cheese, so you'll find a whole range of cow's and goat's cheeses made by small, award- winning producers. It also boasts top quality gourmet salad greens - a boon to those who cannot find good-quality organic rocket, spinach or mixed greens on a regular basis.

    Red Gum's claim to quality is based on its ability to handle perishable products, maintaining them at the right cool temperature from the moment they leave the farm. Mr Scherer - a former executive chef - deals with the farmers and producers directly to get the freshest stuff as quickly as possible.

    It will be interesting to check out Red Gum's salads. It gets its salad greens mainly from Hussey & Company from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, which specialises in various mixed greens like mesclun and Asian, and Lotus Red which supplies a wide range of hydroponic head lettuces.

    Check out www.redgum.com.sg

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    Default Canada raises its pork profile

    Published April 21, 2007

    Canada raises its pork profile

    By JAIME EE


    IF you've ever eaten in a Chinese restaurant in Canada, it may well have struck you that some of the best char siew in the world is made by immigrant chefs toiling in the hot kitchens of Chinatown. While it may well be attributed to the chefs, many of whom had honed their skills in Hong Kong, the real credit has to go to the pork they used - that is, Canadian pork - plump and juicy with just the right succulence and bite.

    It used to be that if you wanted to buy fresh pork from maple leaf country in Singapore, you had to go to Meidi-ya, which stocks pork from Canada, the US, Japan and, of course, Australia, but only in limited qualities and priced at a premium.

    Just yesterday, Canada Pork International launched a major drive to make Canadian pork more accessible in Singapore, and from May 4, imported chilled pork will be sold at upmarket Cold Storage outlets like Jasons, Paragon, Tanglin, and branches in Takashimaya, Centrepoint and Great World City.

    Canada has been exporting its pork for years, and has a world market share of pork exports of 22 per cent, just behind the US's 23 per cent.

    On the basis of taste, the top runner in the pork stakes would have to be Japanese kurobuta, or black pig, which is widely considered to be the Kobe of the porcine world. American and Canadian pork seem to share second place, and while there may not be a huge difference between the two, Canadian pork seems to edge out its competitor in terms of taste.

    At yesterday's pork launch in Swissotel's Equinox restaurant, chefs cooked up a veritable pork buffet, featuring the different cuts in all manner of recipes. Taking into account the buffet set up and the inevitability of meat being left to overcook in warm chafing dishes, the verdict was positive.

    Leaner cuts like the loin will always be dry, although the Canadian pork managed to retain some resilience. The sure-fire winner would be the pork belly - roasted like siew yoke, the combination of juicy meat and fat (not a lot of it) would put your favourite hawker stall to shame.

    What makes Canadian pork so good? The producers attribute it to many factors, including large farmland, sustainable agricultural practices, diet of local grain, and generally happy animals. Whatever. If you've been eating mostly chicken, now's the time to re-visit the other white meat.

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