Thunder Tea Rice

Hawker centres are such a fantastic to sample the local Singaporean delights. Before going to Singapore, I did some perusing online, and found this intriguing blog on Thunder Tea Rice. I couldn’t wait to try it – it sounded so delicious, super healthy and includes tea!! Yay!

Thunder Tea Rice involves an oversized bowl of brown rice, with all sorts of delicious ingredients: sprouts, soy beans, peanuts, green vegies and dried anchovies. Plus, a bowl of a soupy green matcha tea with basil and mint mixed in. We bought the set meal, which also includes a huge piece of tofu encrusted with a yummy topping.

The brochure tells us that the dish is advantageous for health and weight management by increasing your metabolism and detoxification, as well as treating a number of nasty diseases. I particularly like their quote: “The tedious way of preparing Thunder Tea Rice dish also contributes as a physical work out especially during the hour-long grinding to make the Thunder Tea Rice paste”. Nice.

This dish was so amazing that we’ve replicated it twice since coming back only a few weeks ago! Zac made it for our masterchef 2.0 challenge. When Zac replicated it though, we did the paste in the blender!

If you are travelling to Singapore and want to try it out, you can find it in the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre – Stall 12. It’s easy to spot, as there’s a HUGE queue at lunchtime.

Masterchef Beijing 2.0

As Andy won our first ever Masterchef challenge, he was given the honour of determining the next challenge. Everyone was given a colour and a key ingredient.

I was given ‘blue’ and ‘pasta’ and I haven’t forgiven him yet!

Being pregnant, I’ve been very conscious of trying to eat as nutritionally sound as possible. But think of a naturally blue food… blueberries. And they’re kinda purple anyway. Now think of another… exactly. Our genetics naturally steer us clear of blue foods, as we assume that they are mouldy.

So, I just decided to go silly and had an ‘under the sea’ theme and go nuts with some food colouring. Let’s call it prep for future children’s birthday parties.

1st course was a Collins Class submarine made from cannelloni tubes, stuffed with ricotta, lemon juice, dill, celery, walnuts, lemon rind and yoghurt, topped with a bechamel sauce. Cheese on cheese. And it was actually quite yum, until I added blue food colouring and made it look gross.

2nd course was a gnocchi oyster. I resisted the temptation to turn the gnocchi blue (this was the last thing I cooked, and I was starting to think the baby might be coming out with a blue tinge by now) and instead made blue sea salt. The gnocchi is sitting on a puttanesca-style sauce. And I was actually happy with this course! (I used the same gnocchi recipe that I wrote about here).

3rd course was a disaster. I wanted to make a chocolate lasagne, with blue cake layers, which would then kinda look like a coral reef. But the pasta part really just made it weird. It would have been much better as just a blue blueberry cake with chocolate sauce. And I’m pretty sure the colouring made the cake taste weird.

These are a sample of each of the courses (entree, main and dessert). Nic made black food with potato, Zac made green with rice, Andy made orange with tofu and Michelle (the winner!) made red with white bean.

My overall favourite dish for the night was Michelle‘s white bean dessert – I can’t resist posting a photo since it was so beautifully presented:

If you’re interested in our first Masterchef Beijing challenge, you can find it here!

A True Getaway

Happy New Year of the Dragon! Zac and I decided to spend some of our precious holiday time together in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. As usual, we didn’t plan in too much detail, but one place we did pre-book into was Mutiara Beach Guesthouse…. and man, was it worth it!

Sitting at the ferry terminal in Singapore, I have to admit that I was a little hesitant. We were surrounded by ads for resorts, golf courses and spas – not our idea of a quiet holiday. The other tourists on the boat were decked out in their Ralph Lauren polo shirts and designer shoes. Many of them were checking in golf sticks. The TV on the boat boasted packages for  families and spa treatments. It did not look good.

However, the smooth 50-minute ferry trip was followed by a 50-minute taxi ride on Bintan Island, where we were soon out of the ‘resort zone’ and dense greenery, local houses and flashes of crystal blue water whizzed past the window.

We were greeted with smiles and a welcome coconut drink! We were shown to our ‘Pondok Pavillion’, where we would spend the next six nights. The pavillion had a double mattress, covered with a mosquito net, and a simple table of supplies. The shared bathroom was behind the building. It also had an amazing balcony, where we spent most of our days.

 

The hospitality of the guesthouse was incredible. The staff did everything they could to make our stay comfortable. They follow the ‘slow food’ movement, so everything is totally fresh, and if they don’t have it today, you don’t get it. So, no old food or microwaves. Bliss.

The highlight for me was definitely the breakfasts… an amazing combination of crepe, banana, coconut, cinnamon, sugar and lime juice, topped off with a yummy cup of tea (maybe Rooibos tea? or something similar, at least). I will definitely be adding this to the weekend breakfast menu, as a pikelet alternative!

And even though you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s a massage spa built next door along the river. We had a beautiful aromatherapy massage amongst the mangroves.

 

The guesthouse also had lots of activities on offer: sports, snorkelling, hiring of bikes, motorbikes, cars, etc. My pregnant belly, however, urged me to spend my days walking along the beach, taking photographs, swimming and just absorbing the clean air and sunshine. Phew! Life’s tough!

Everyone we met (and there really weren’t many people around – see above pic!) was so welcoming and friendly. Children on the beach waved, men building boats from coconut palms grinned as we wandered past and even the local dogs came and said hi.

I would not hesitate to return when I’m next in need of total relaxation.