Meal of All Meals

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

The story of my life is one epic infinite feast. I count myself lucky that my tastebuds work. Food is very important to me. Every distinct memory I have is punctuated by a good meal, a home cooked dish or a thoughtful cake. So last year, with an encroaching 30th birthday, I plunged into a commitment to treat myself to a trip of culinary pleasures in a city I have dreamt of going for so long – New York. The next important decision – where am I going to splurge on a top meal. A meal that a 30-year old me so deserves, after well, living on this bloody earth for 30 damn years! My first point of reference was obviously The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It was meant to be a toss between Per Se and Le Bernardin. Then I met a lady who found out I was going to New York and started to rave about Eleven Madison Park. She had just dined there and insisted I go. In 2014, it was the 4th best restaurant in the world.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

My mind was set, my bags were packed. And on that day – 31 July (they were closed on my actual birthday so this would have to do), I walked through those doors. Those heavy doors with thick but very intricate handles.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

I am seated. The performance starts with a small white envelope with a letter opener. I open it and there’s a card with 4 symbols.


I am told to pick one and punch it out. I picked coffee. I feel like a culinary Sherlock Holmes. I am eager to uncover whatever whimsical edible mystery comes next for I won’t know the menu until the end.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

My server is Kevin. I learn that he is of Swedish-Irish decent because a couple next to me were nosy enough to question him through-out lunch.

The 14 course meal is very well orchestrated. Each wait staff has memorised their individual spiels and their delivery is so natural. Through the meal, I keep thinking of Cirque Du Soleil. It is as though this musical is directed and produced by the chef and his sous chefs executing the
multi-notes are the acrobats dishing out the delights I get to enjoy on this special day.

And for the sake of sharing this experience with you, I will go through it dish by dish.


CHEDDAR – Savory black and white cookie with apple.

It came in a tiny pastry box no bigger than a delicate ring box.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

The mind-meddling begins here. Instead of sweet, it’s salty and then the apple sneaks up on me like it wants to be more than just platonic friends.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

CORN – Custard with tuna and caviar

First thing that stood out were the glistening black beads. I can’t remember the last time I had caviar. But the black quenelle was accompanied by two other quenelles; one white and one a pastel yellow. They were mousse-like. There was a mother-of-pearl spoon for me to gently consume my luxurious gems. Immediately, I felt like royalty.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

I tried it with the tuna and then with the custard. If mermaids existed I’m sure they’d eat this everyday.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

In front of me was a tiny cylinder of rock melon wrapped with something that looks like parma ham. I looked closer and there were flakes of sea salt.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

This tiny morsel was held together by what looked like a bone. I am not sure if it’s a real bone. But at this point, I stopped wondering, and just immersed myself and let my tongue do the judging.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

CUCUMBER – Marinated with lemon and melon

Everything looks like it belongs to an art gallery and this dish was no different. There were about 6 to 8 tiny green balls that I am assuming are cucumbers. They looked more like goose-berries cut in half. They were covered by a sheet of something slightly translucent and they were topped with tiny buds of some kind. Refreshing is what I remember this bite to be.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

TOMATO – Tea with lemon thyme

Lemon thyme bunch tied and once infused with the tomato tea, transformed into a fragrant elixir. Packed with umami.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Tomato salad with strawberries and basil, Pennsylvania tomatoes and strawberries.

My favourite combi – savoury sweet. It tied perfectly with the slightly jelly broth. There was a vinegar note that elevated this dish. At this point, i’m invited to the kitchen.


I am greeted by the whole brigade. I am the guest of honour!


Using an antique ice shaver, I am served an ice cone that’s drizzled with blackberries, and lemon verbana.


This private experience was very memorable. Being treated to a behind-the-scenes peek. How’s that for a birthday lunch! I was very mesmerised by how orderly everything was. I did feel like an intruder though. And they were nice enough to take a photo of me with my ice-cone 🙂


When I am back at my table, heady with excitement at what I got to witness, I feel hot and I start scribbling more. I never want to forget this moment.


As I scribbled, a plate arrives.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Oh yay. It’s bread this time, wholemeal, with 2 neat pats of butter.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

One is made from a duck reduction and the other is pure butter. The bread is warm and I slather an exorbitant amount of butter so I can taste every note, every layer of flavour.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

The simplest things always astound me the most because if done well, it has the potential to explode my tastebuds beyond belief. At this moment, I am so taken by the reality of me being here, experiencing the fourth best restaurant in the world, I pause. I try to take in my surroundings. Looked around me, above me, to the left and right of me.


One word keeps popping into my mind – juxtaposition. Of old and new. It is a very old building with extremely high ceilings. Revitalising modern cuisine served in such a setting certainly draws one to appreciate both sides of the coin.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

BEEF – Pastrami with peppers, rye, mustard, and coffee

An ode to the New York staple – the beef pastrami sandwich. This had basil mayo. It was paired with a coffee cola.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

I had to assemble the sandwich myself and the first bite blew me away. The beef in my mouth, felt like suede (not that I’ve ever tasted actual suede) once it made contact with my tongue. Tender to the palate!

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

FOIE GRAS – seared with chanterelles and plums

Ahhh… one of my favourites. There is a smidgeon of brown that is both sweet and savoury. I can’t get enough of it. I have to use the bread to lap it all up. Waste not such a thing of beauty. Perhaps there is a little burnt sugar in there.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

LOBSTER – Boil with clams, shrimp, and beans

A young man brings out a copper pot. Starts pouring a whole load of scrumptious things onto a wooden ‘plank’ that has been laid with brown paper. I get really really excited as I suspect it is seafood boil. It is! And the gravy. I’m so glad I still had my bread to soak up the goodness.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

On a separate white plate, I am given a kind of mash with tiny potatoes, beans and bacon perched on top.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

SUNFLOWER – Braised with sun chokes and sunflower seeds

This was a thing of beauty. There were three sauces. I tried to guess what they were but could only figure that one was miso, another was fish and the green… something herby. I told you this was like a culinary Sherlock Holmes case!

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

BEEF – Grilled with eggplant, amaranth, and shallot 

Dry aged for 140 days, the beef was very well marbled. The young man comes out with the huge hunk of beef and I wished I could have it all.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)
He went back and out comes my actual dish which isn’t very big. But what it lacked in size it made up in flavour.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

FRESH CHEESE – Pretzel, raspberry mustard, and green tomatoes

By far my best part of the meal. I almost yelped when I saw the waitress coming over with a picnic basket. Yes this was what it came in! It was covered with a cloth so I had to open it and discover everything for myself.


Goodness gracious. I felt like a kid. I was grinning from ear to ear. There was a wooden case with home made goat’s cheese, and a pretzel made with pale ale (made especially for the restaurant).


I gobbled everything. The plates were something. Made out of ceramic, they are modelled after actual paper plates. So much attention to detail!


The raspberry mustard was really refreshing. I’ve never had it before.


WHEY – Sorbet with caramelised milk and coffee

A candle is on this plate because it was my birthday. Isn’t that sweet! Made from the milk solids left over from the cheese they made, they created this sorbet. It’s amazing. Amazing is cliche but don’t you dare think this dish to be cliche. At this point my mind has run out of words to describe the awesomeness of this meal!

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Kevin places a grill on my table.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Yes a grill. With charcoal. I’m like… erm am I to grill meats now? Then he comes back and places a slice of apricot on the grill, sprinkles some sugar, covers it and says he will be back.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

Moments later, he returns, opens the cover and there’s this smell. Have you smelt grilled apricot? By golly. It’s theatre for the senses. You taste, touch, smell, see and hear. Now I am brought a plate of sorbet and the apricot joins the rest of the plate. Warm, cold, soft, firm. The thyme flowers add depth and a herby final note.


APRICOT – Grill with lemon thyme ice cream and honey

DSC_0297Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

PRETZEL – Chocolate covered with sea salt

When this comes out I know it’s almost curtain call. This is pulverised pretzel coated with chocolate. I firmly believe that anyone who adds sea salt to dark chocolate knows what he is doing. It elevated the sweetness of the chocolate and I nibble the pretzel slowly, hoping it never ends.


An entire bottle of apple brandy suddenly appears. “Have it with your pretzel. You can have as much as you want,” says a server. I took a sip and that was it. I have a low alcohol tolerance level. Don’t judge me.

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

CHOCOLATE – Sweet black and white cookie with caramel

And so it is. My 30th birthday meal. My best meal ever. It ends on a sweet note. How lyrical can this meal get? It starts with a savoury cookie and ends with a sweet one. Both packed in the same white boxes and similar looking cookies. What’s different is the inside. Again, another juxtaposition. I feel almost philosophical at this point. I compare myself. The before and after. How I felt before the meal and after.


My life before this trip and my life that will be after. Before my thoughts drift, I am given a bag of goodies! In it is a bottle of granola (that I consumed only when I got back to Singapore. It was to be the most mind blowing granola I had ever tasted) and some chocolate that was a birthday gift. I also got the printed menu. They then asked me to approach the hot dog stand outside and tell him something (or give him a piece of paper, i forgot!).

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

I did that and got a lovely raspberry coated ice-cream!

Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)Eleven Madison Park (31 July 2014)

The performance just goes on and on. Will I ever find another experience such as this? Will this have spoilt me for the rest of my life? I think so. Chef Daniel Humm, you’re amazing. Thank you for making my 30th birthday a culinary dream of a lifetime. I leave you with more photos of the sour cherry granola (which I have sworn to myself to replicate. the recipe is in the Eleven Madison Park cookbook by the way) and my chocolate birthday bar.

DSC_0364 DSC_0403

I present to you the world’s best granola. I’ve not savoured another better than this.


My precious chocolate birthday bar. I lugged it back home just so I could eat it slowly.


The insides are made of marzipan.  Can someone please teleport me back to New York now. Oh what I would give to be able to spend every birthday henceforth in the delicious city that never ever sleeps.

Posted on 21st Jul 2015 in birthday, Holiday, restaurant, Uncategorized  |  Post a comment

Tasting Krabi


Suffice to say, anyone traveling to any part of Thailand is in for a glorious feast.

I was looking forward to our Krabi trip because the last time I was in Thailand was more than 5 years ago. I missed the authentic fiery tom yum and pad thai et al.


No pre-planning was done. We consulted the concierge and they recommended Wangsa Seafood. This was to be our first dinner in Krabi.


The cab driver dropped us off around the Ao Nang area. Wangsa Seafood faces the sea and it would have been perfect if the skies weren’t so teary. It rained cats and dogs soon after our arrival. But we managed to find a relatively dry spot. Yay. We most definitely were not going to let the rain dampen our first meal here.


As usual, he left the ordering up to me. We got squid, papaya salad, red curry beef, some vegetables and pineapple fried rice.



And as with most occasions, we couldn’t finish everything. Only because we always tend to over order. Ok blame it on me, heh. Everything came to only about SGD36, which is pretty reasonable.

The next day, while on our Phi-phi island tour, we chanced upon some pretty good eats.


Like this Pee Pee Bakery:



We did not have time to dine in but I had to take away the chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate donut.


I have very good sixth sense when it comes to food! Really!

The cookie was magnificent:


If only I had bought more. There were nuts and it was so crumbly and flavourful, I would even dare say it beats mine!


While strolling, we saw this cart.


The last time I had charcoal-grilled squid was last year in Hong Kong. I enjoy squid cooked this way and ordered one.


After grilling, the lady flattened it with some compressor:


She asked me if I wanted some sauce to eat it with. It was tamarind, with nuts and then some. Oo-la-la it was a tasty treat.


Even though we ate a bucket load in Krabi, it didn’t seem as though we put on weight. I really do think it’s because of the chillies. Chillies are known to boost metabolisms.

Throughout our 3 day stay in Krabi, we only had Thai food. And every meal included Tom Yum soup.

And my darling boyfriend got addicted to grilled cat fish:


We had cat fish two dinners in a row. We got it from a really authentic Thai diner that was just a stone’s throw away from our hotel. How did I know it was authentic? Well first of all, everytime we went past it, it was packed with locals and it was also quite rundown with no air-con. And we were curious about the food mostly because of the delicious smells that came from the place.

On our last 2 nights, we would walk out to this place, pack lots of yummy Thai dishes and bring it back to our hotel room to savour in our own air-conditioned comfort 🙂


Everything was SUPER SPICY. We were tearing non-stop. But we couldn’t get enough.


I do so miss the food right now.


Hehehe… check out the gorgeous pork in our Tom Yum soup…. My taste-buds are watering right now!

On the final day, in Krabi Town, I bought many small eats.


Most of which I had no clue what it was. There was a stall selling many Thai kueh and I wanted to try something new so I pointed at a leaf-wrapped thing. I really did not know what was in it. But thankfully it was tasty. It unfolded a portion of yellow sticky rice with a sweet egg custard and some coconut sides.


Then I spotted pig crackling. I bought some of course.


Happy 😀 I am a big fan of pork.


I spotted a bakery and entered to see if they sold anything interesting.



I ended up buying a cashew tart and it tasted good!


If you’re ever in Krabi, you can go there. See above for name and telephone number. Kanchanee Bakery.

We bought home some crisp toast for our families. I got the sweet chilli paste, butter and garlic ones. The garlic ones taste the best.


Krabi Town is the perfect place to visit if you really want something non-touristy and to savour a bit of local flavour. We walked the entire town and every turn offered something delightful, like these pink dragonfruit. Yes these are the pink-fleshed ones.



So pretty.


In my previous post, I wrote about the boat ride to the Fishermen Village. Well we ordered a fresh red snapper to try and it was good.


The guy picking out our red snapper.


Our red snapper, steamed, with lemon. So fresh.


We watched the sunset. Very romantic.


After the massage, we chanced upon the Night Market – which got me very excited.


We ate alot. And I bought alot of snacks back to the hotel. The barbecued squid above was super.




Durians! I bought some of course.



Adorable eh? Yes I bought these too.


The durians I bought were gloriously soft, creamy and thick. I had alot of it.


This sticky kueh was coated in the same bean used to make Tao Suan. Mung beans I believe?


My favourite kueh were these. They are not just starch balls. Bite into them and you’ll discover this:


Yep, banana 🙂

Though short, this holiday has been nothing short of amazing. Every day presented itself as an adventure. Although it was monsoon season, the weather held up pretty well. It was sunny when we needed it to be.

And it also helped that we were spoiled silly with a large spread every morning at the buffet breakfast Sheraton had to offer.


This is just the first serving.


This is his plate. He loves his bacon too.


Our second serving. Croissants.


Our third serving. And in his words, ‘Sherton’s waffles are amazing!’ haha.


Sigh. If only my usual breakfasts were that luxurious.


And that’s a wrap.

We ate a whole lot of Krabi and we are dying to come back for more!

Till then, I’ll suffice with planning our next holiday. If you ask me what the best part of this trip was, it really had to be the snorkeling and shiny stars in the night sky. Oh yes, and that other shiny star in my life. 🙂

Posted on 15th Sep 2011 in Holiday, Krabi  |  12 comments

Next Page »

Top food blogs
Follow cherylovescake on Twitter




miss bake-a-lot's items Go to miss bake-a-lot's photostream