Hello readers! Awhile back I was invited as media to join a food trail. I got a couple of my friends (J, G, and B) to join me in the food trail as well. I wouldn’t say the air electric, but there was definitely some excitement as foodies from SMU and NTU gathered for the flag-off of Delicieux 2015, a café hopping trail-come-race hosted at SMU. After an early morning briefing, we were given clues about where the café to visit were.
Our first clue that was a maths question, and none of us were any good at maths. After much ado, we finally headed to Paddy Hills, whose postal code was the answer to the question. Located along a row of shop houses near Kent Ridge Park, Paddy Hills has a rustic charm with a contemporary touch.
Served in a rough ceramic bowl was Berry Ricotta Hot Cake, a moist and dense vanilla sponge cake with crispy buried under various berries and garnished with flower petals and jam. A milk filling complimented these toppings. With shades of blue, red and yellow and green, the cake is an especially colorful dish.
Our next destination was PoTeaTo. With brick walls, metal grills and teapots, the café seemed to invoke an ambiance of a bygone era. Here we sampled three types of burgers and Fish and Chips.
The juicy Beef Slider was a well-made patty that didn’t crumble even after several bites and being manhandled, and the cheddar and nacho cheese blend complimented the flavors and texture of the patty without overpowering it. Marinated in BBQ sauce till its sweet natural flavors oozed out, the Pulled Pork Slider was a great combination. Spoilt for choice? Tender on the inside and grilled to perfection on the outside the Chicken fillet Slider is your burger next door. Fish and Chips were fresh as well.
Our next stop was one of the many café located near Bukit Timah – Revelry. “Lively and noisy festivities, especially when these involve drinking a large amount of alcohol” was our clue, and in this image of merrymaking the ambiance of Revelry was created – bright, multi-coloured elephants (Pink Elephants on Parade, anyone?), balloon-like lights and a circusesque logo.
We were served a mountain of fried chicken on a bed of vegetables and belguim waffle. The portion was generous and the fried chicken was well breaded and fried, and smelled absolutely delicious. We would have been able to verify this with our taste buds if not for the unfortunate whims of our team mate.
Instead we got a waffle with a hearty scoop of a premium chocolate ice-cream and maple syrup on the side. Extra crisp on the outside with a nice soft and fluffy interior, every bite melted in the mouth.
Just a stone’s throw from Revelry is East Manhattan. With an interior of brick walls, guitars and vintage prints, the café aims to capture the east Manhattan feel inn the ambiance of the café.
One of the more amusing challenges, a teammate was to prepare a jam sandwich blindfolded, guided only by the voice of his team. Of course this leaves much room for exploitation, such as “flip the bread over, you’re spreading it on the wrong side”. In all honesty the sandwich tasted pretty good.
On completion we were served Squid-Ink Pasta. Coated in squid-ink and served with fresh squid, prawn and fish, the pasta glisten, and tasted, like a Caribbean seaside. It gives a full taste of the ocean; freshness, with a hint of savory and satisfaction.
Our next destination was Bell’s Cottage, in the Clementi area. The café had a cozy, friendly ambiance - striped coffee-coloured wallpaper with photos and Polaroids. While one of us shifted uncooked rice from one cup to another, the rest of us were served chunky Churros with cinnamon sugar served in a rather plain cup, in stark contrast to the decor of the café.
Back in town for the last leg of the race, we stopped at The Quarters for their one-of-a-kind Durian Crème Brulee. The before trying the dessert we tried our hand at caramelizing the sugar found on the dessert with a kitchen blowtorch. The esteemed Crème Brulee itself seemed to be a hit-or-miss affair where some like its unique flavor while others found it too strong.
Our last stop was Sinpopo, a rustic café with a dark interior illuminated with warm lights and wooden benches. Food served here was of a similar nature – rather simple and traditional yet hearty dishes. After a game of picture charades where the topic was local foods, we were served Potato and Curry which was quite simply fried potatoes in a mild curry and absolutely delicious, and the Sambal Fishballs were fresh enough as we stabbed them with our forks to put them down once and for all.
After this we headed back to SMU for the closing ceremony and dinner. Unfortunately we did not have the time to visit the last two locations, which seemed very promising.
The dean of NUS ended his speech asking if we would attend event the next year.
“I’d think this was more like a food race than a food trail. I was quite disappointed with the student in-charges for the first station we went as they were not properly briefed. We were told by the student in-charge that she was unsure of how to handle the media team. After checking, she informed me that the media team were not given food but instead, to work and take photos of students participating and eating. However, a photographer witnessed the incident and helped us by informing the café to prep our food. (Thanks!)
Another incident occurred while I was away; my team were treated differently at Bell’s Cottage. Instead of serving on proper churro meal like the rest, my team were given a cup of Churros and told that was it. To take note that the cafes were located far apart from one another, and we were invited to participate, but not treated proper. (My team was given few pieces of Churros in a cup to share).
Overall, I think it was a fun experience and I was able to spend time with my friends. I wouldn’t mind participating food race next time, but I’d still pay attention on how the media teams are treated.” – Angelus
“I suppose it really depends on the direction the event takes. I felt the race tried squeeze in too many cafes, which resulted in insufficient time to visit all.
It also begs the question if café hopping should be a race at all. A café is a place where one is to relax and take in the ambiance over good food – haste were necessary, I’d recommend a fast-food joint or food court. Nevertheless, the experience was tiring but enjoyable.” – G
“Despite the great effort done by the team, traveling the whole of Singapore sounds a little far-fetched. Yes, sure there are people who could complete them in short of a 6 hours, but I believe not many could complete it in time. Bonus on putting up signs in the cafe so teams know that they came to the right cafe but the setups of the game could slightly be a little more organized and professional.” – B
“The event was poorly planned out- the first station as far as I remember, failed to engage us in the activities. The media group was not given proper portions of food at Bell’s Cottage, who was overly stingy on the servings and food presentation. The rest of the cafes we went were fine. Students stationed at the other cafes apart from the first station were attentive towards the media group and students.
Overall the event would have been enjoyable for the current students and not for external and marginalized circle (media/ public) as there were no cohesiveness.” – J
, by Angelus Chan