Monday, March 28, 2011

Luscious Brunch at TWG (And An Interesting Meet-up)

I guess this post left no space for introduction. Meet the world renown brand of tea and their emerging tea salon & boutique, TWG (The Wellness Group). Yes, Tea Boutique & Salon, that's how they differ themselves from countless similar cafes, and they really mean business. You'll be astounded as I was when presented with the extensive selections of more than 300 varieties of tea, picked from the best tea producing countries in the world. India, South Africa, China, Nepal to name a few. For this particular occasion, I chose their recommended 1837 White Tea. It's a specific house blend, meaning you can only find it here. I remember the clean hint of fruits, flowers, with the soothing aftertaste of berries.

What a perfect start for the day.

It was a little after ten at TWG Marina Bay Sands, they were only serving brunch menu which look quite fulfilling. I decided to try out all their macaroons.  And then a very interesting meet-up happened to me right after. One of the waiter served all eight minus one macaroon saying that the color palette looks nicer with seven of them if I wanted to take photos. Very thoughtful of him. This guy is different, I whisper to myself. And so we ended up chatting for quite a while.

Him: "So, you are a food blogger. To which website you contribute to?"
Me: "I sorta have my own domain. Its if you want to have a look."
Him: "Oh, I see. I enjoyed browsing through foodblog as well. So where are you from? Japan I suppose?"
Me: (you know deep down I wanted to say yes =p) "Naah, I'm from Indonesia."

And this where it gets all spiced up

Him: "Really?! Saya juga aslinya dari Solo." (Really?! I actually came from Solo - a city in Indonesia)

That changes the whole atmosphere and I felt home in an instant. He shared how he came to Singapore when he was little and how he started in business major but then fell in love with food & beverage world. With every word he unraveled the story, I can see how passionate he is with his job. So contagious that reminded me of the very reason I'm writing this blog. Such a lovely, warm person he is. If you happen to visit TWG, please please please say hi from me. His name is Sutomo. Don't forget to leave him big tips. =p

Enough with the side notes. Here comes all seven wonderful-luscious-heaven-sent macaroons.

Every macaroon was simply a treat. The layer of skin was in perfect softness and thick in flavor. Not to mention their generous portion of fillings. My personal favorite is the Black (Napoleon Tea & Caramel) and Brown (Chocolate Earl Grey & Chocolate), no explanations needed. Haha. Alternatively, go for Purple (1837 Black Tea & Blackcurrant), Yellow (Lemon Bush) or Hot Pink (Grand Wedding Tea, Passion Fruit & Coconut) for those with a sour tongue. With the Pink (Bain de Roses Tea), it was almost as if I was chewing on rose leave. Its the epitome of flower buds melting in your mouth. The last on the list is White (Moroccan Mint). I never liked mint on cakes, drinks, etc so this easily leave no impression on me.

I'm glad that I've tasted one of the best macaroons in Singapore as acclaimed by Epicurean magazine. It successfully uplift my mood for the rest of the trip. This reminds me of Bittersweet's macaroon. Would Indonesian macaroon stand in par with this? Or how would this compare to Pierre Hermes'? I'm having a hard time to decide especially when the tastes are not apple to apple. But I can say TWG's selections of macaroons is definitely exquisite and few steps ahead. Its a flavorblend quite impossible to get anywhere else.

Also from business point of view, I loved how they separate themselves from competition by focusing to specialize in one area, tea. This set TWG as the standard of the category, and then slowly outgrow their core strength to other delicacies. Here comes the tea-infused macaroons. Its a natural perspective of growth. Just like you and me, we should find one thing that we could be expert in and then use it to serve different areas of our lives. Think about that everytime you have macaroons. Or not. =p

But know that with this strategy, they have over-demand themselves all over Singapore. Started out with one cafe in Raffles City, they've branched out to Ion, Takashimaya, Marina Bay Sands, and about to open one massive store right at the centre of MBS mall. Pretty soon, they will arrive in Jakarta. I have a good feeling somebody will make it happen (maybe me =p). If any of you ready to start, I'm ready to take part. Before that happen, don't miss this place if you happen to be in Singapore. =)

Smile on, Shine On

Fellexandro Ruby
Food Blogger & Photographer
Munch on my tweets @Wanderbites

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Singapore - Every Visit is Different

Greeted by the sun I walked off the aircraft, flight TR2275, safe and sound. With an expectant heart I knew this trip would be short but worthwhile. And indeed it was. Staying at the Marina Bay Sands simply refine this getaway into a whole different perspective.

From the moment I queued in line to check in I've already astounded by the magnificence of this establishment. A glassful of complimentary champagne welcomed me plus a pack of hot towel to wipe off my tired face from waking up early catching the first flight. The height of the ceiling was almost endless creating a majestic look. Having done feasting my eyes with the first-timer excitement, I ran myself to the 16th floor where I was staying. Here, meet the super comfy room. =)

Having traveled to several countries for the past few years, going through sleeping in Eurotrain and airport waiting lounge, plus having spent the past one year sleeping on plywood to heal my backpain, I must say this bunk is a celebration. Clean white sheets, soft pillows, and foamy bed where I can sink all my body weight along with my burdens. Yummy! (I'm sorry I can't escape the foodblogger in me when describing things =p) And so after tasting the bed for a quick while I took off right away to the top, the most wanted place in the hotel complex ... yes, none other than the epicly-awesome 150 meter infinity pool. =D

Went down the elevator. Lower and lower and lower to the basement connecting the mall shops. Yes! Its shopping time!  I didn't plan on buying anything actually. My eyes were rather fixated on one foodplace to another. Browsed through Bean-stro, a developed bistro concept from the original Coffee Bean, then moved to High Society with its plentiful of colorful macaroons and dessert on parade, and finally ... stopped at the one that I can't resist. Eureka! I shouted loudly inside of my head and put a full smile on. =D Here's a little teaser for my upcoming dedicated review of the emerging foodplace, TWG.

Well, I guess one photo is more than enough. =p You just have to wait.

Even when I finished with all that, the night was young. With all the extra dose of excitement left in me and the one hour difference between Jakarta and Singapore, I was more alive than sleepy at 1 a.m past midnight. With nothing to do and nothing to eat, boys night out it will be. And so I went to the famous Marina Bay Sands casino.

It was funny how the securities stopped me at the entrance and asked "Where are you studying in Singapore?". I take that as a compliment, Sir! =P Shocked at first with the amount of cash traded from one table to the other, I held my chips tightly and slowly observed the types of the games. Roulette? Hmm, the stakes are too high. Bacarat? I don't have a single idea what it is. Slots? That would be too boring. Poker? Nah, not in the mood to go gaga. I finally landed my first $25 on a Blackjack table. Learned the easy way that two poke on the table means 'hit me' and a wipe means 'enough'.

First bet. My heart pound. And I won it.
Second. My heart beat faster. And I won it.
Third. I sat on the hot seat.
And as I just began to drown in the game, it was all the way downhill from there.
But anyway, good game. Experience is priceless. Taught me a pretty good lesson. You'd never win in the long run, so cash in as soon as you win enough and leave. =P Greed is the mother of failure here.

Closing on the trip I took a long stroll around the city. Had a nice Chinese dinner by Clarke Quay. Caught some nightlight snapshots. Enjoy the warm breeze. I also realized that with every visit I made to this city, it has always been different. There's always something new to catch.  A new place to go to. An incomparable adventure than before. I guess that's what Singapore is, the constantly developing city. Anywhere you go you'll most like find construction work on progress. This is an ever growing nation and city of its own. One of its kind.

This is Singapore, one thousand and one different ways to enjoy. I love this city already. Don't you? =)

Smile on, Shine On
Fellexandro Ruby

Extra Tips: 
1. Book from Jakarta or any of your local travel agent for a considerably lower hotel booking
2. The room for two is actually big enough to fit four to five.
3. Don't miss the light show started at 6 pm and 11 pm daily
4. Try the Creme Brulee and Roasted Lamb with mint & peppercorn sauce if you have buffet at Rise
5. Free drinks in the casino! =D
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