Friday, September 25, 2009

Taipan (HK) 香港大班冰皮月餅: Orange, Cheese and Bean Paste Snowy Mooncake

Orange, Cheese and Bean Paste Mooncake
Taipan (HK) Snowy 香港大班冰皮月餅

The healthier choice for mooncakes will definitely have to be Taipan's Snowy mooncakes. Thanks to King's Creameries for bringing in these seasonal delectables from Hong Kong to Singapore, there is another choice of snowskin mooncakes that are blast-frozen at -18oC and bears a signature pearly white skin. This new style of mooncakes was pioneered by Taipan and which gained popularity in Hong Kong as well as Taiwan. Soon after, many other traditional bakers followed this award-winner and started their own line of Snowy mooncakes.

Instead of Taipan's trademark Mung Bean (green bean) paste, this particular one has got regular bean paste with cheese and generous bits of orange embedded within. With every mooncake purchase from Taipan, a reusable chiller bag is supplied. Taipan (HK) has an incredible range of Snowy mooncakes, sadly we in Singapore only get a fraction but good enough to entice any consumer. A perfect gift will be the Elite or Premium box sets that comes with bird's nest Snowy mooncakes.

Get your Taipan Snowy mooncakes from Mid-Autumn Festival fairs at:
Junction 8
Tampines Mall
Lot 1
Plaza Singapura
Sembaway Shopping Centre
Tangs Vivocity
Isetan Parkway Parade
Isetan Scotts
NTUC Finest Bukit Timah Plaza
NTUC Finest Thomson Plaza

Photography & Editing by William Tan
©William Tan 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Win the new Blackberry Storm or Curve and more prizes by simply using your mobile phones!

For the 3rd year running, our national service portal NS.SG will be hosting the mobiHunt adventure - this is a fun-filled treasure hunt that will see participants relying on mobile technology to submit answers and receive clues in a bid to cross the finish line first.

mobiHunt 2009 is open to all NS Portal Lifestyle members who can simply log in to to register for the event and a chance to win attractive prizes. Anyone can sign up for a free NS Portal Lifestyle membership, and not just NSMen. The event hopes to build better public awareness over the various mobile services available on the NS Portal, and also to deliver a fun-filled event day for family and friends. Here's what's going to happen:

· Using location-based solutions via MeSH (Mobile eServices Hub), all 80 participating teams will be guided throughout the race which flags off on 21st November ’09.
· Teams with the most questions answered correctly, in the shortest possible time, will stand a chance to win Fastest Challenge cash prizes totalling up to S$5000. All participants are also eligible for a Lucky Draw, with up to $2500 worth of prizes up for grabs.
· All successful registrants will also stand a chance to win a Blackberry mobile phone (Storm/Curve) with a total of 8 sets up for grabs.
· Prior to the event, all NS Portal Lifestyle members will also get a chance to participate in a ‘Predict the Winning Team’ contest on the portal. Members can log in from 19th October to 20th November to guess the winners.

mobiHunt 2009 is open to all NSP Lifestyle members who can log in to to register. Registration closes 30th September 2009.

(Image Source: Blackberry)

Mid-Autumn Festival Mooncakes Fair @ Takashimaya B2 Recommendations

The annual Mid-Autumn Festival Mooncake Fair is now on from 17th of September till 4th October 2009, at Takashimaya B2 event atrium. This show brings many popular mooncakes to the heart of Orchard Road. I patronised every stall and recommended a few good selections. Click on the image above to check out the locations of my recommendations*.
  • TWG Tea - Pure and Illumination snow skin mooncakes are interesting frothy mousse cakes infused with TWG's finest teas with a unique taste . Definitely not your average mooncake taste and texture. These mooncakes comes in a very classy Euro-modern style packing. S$48 (4pcs; Regular size)
  • Royal China Restaurant - Mini Snow Skin with Cranberry Fruit & Pine Nuts smells and taste very close to Majestic's Mini Snow Skin Mooncake With Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur, but a different dimension to texture. It is not as overpowering sweet and has both soft texture of the red paste and crunchy pine nuts. No red wine inside? My taste buds got me fooled! Definitely next in my shopping cart! S$40 (8pcs; Mini Size)
    I would not mind going for the Mini Snow Skin with Low Sugar Green Apple Paste & Olive Seed at the same price, or mix it in a combo of 4 flavours. S$41 (8pcs; Mini Size)
  • Kia Hiang Restaurant - Fresh Durian in Snowskin is one of the finest durian mooncakes at a damn good price! Their durian puree has got the fibrous texture and strong aroma of its ingredient 猫山王 durians. They have upgraded from last year's D24 selection. Kia Hiang's makes standard items in my shopping cart every year. S$40 (9pcs; Mini Size) Link
  • Goodwood Park Hotel - Snowskin with Durian, Cempedak, Mango with Pomelo, Soursop (new) are the best fruit mooncakes around. These combinations are also must-have items in my shopping cart every year. Similar packaging to previous years, with the same free cooler carrier. S$44 (4pcs; Regular Size) Link
  • Home's Favourite - Black Durian Mooncakes are the premium of the premium durian mooncakes around. S$52 (4pcs; Regular Size) Link
    Real lychee fruits embedded in a custard is the only one among other lychee-related mooncakes where you get to bite on real lychee fruits! The cute western-style cake box carrier is a eye-catcher! S$50 (4pcs; Regular Size)
    Home's Favourite is definitely expecting patrons to pay a premium for their mooncakes bakd from their small bakery in Joo Chiat, but with years of supporters, they can't be wrong!
  • Hong Kong Mei Xin (Maxims) - Endorsed by Celebrity Kelly Chen and a fancy selection of snowskin mooncakes, these mooncakes from Hong Kong are definitely worth looking at. Nice tin box packaging with recyclable carrier bag included. S$38 - S$58 Link
  • Tai Pan Snowy - Another brand from Hong Kong with fantastic snowskin-only selections of mung bean paste mooncakes such as Lemon Chocolate, Yoghurt Chocolate, Orange & Cheese. Their packaging is similar to Maxims, tin box with a reusable cooler carrier.
    Their finer selections includes bird's nest. S$52 (9pcs; Mini Size) or S$63 (6pcs; Regular) Link
  • Casahana - Do not be mistaken this as a Japanese interpretation of mooncakes. However, its Japanese inspired mooncake packaging are fabulous and good to make anyone pay an inexpensive price for it! Casahana sells only baked mooncakes with a good variety of flavours but shy to its selection of packaging. This Malaysian pastry maker is sure putting effort into marketing! Kudos to them! Perfect gifts! S$36-S$98 Link

    Have you visited the mooncake fair at Takashimaya Shopping Centre** yet? If not, there is plenty of time to make your way down and battle the growing crowded. Bear in mind, while stocks last!

* Recommendations are strictly subjected to my liking and taste is subjective. You might find a different opinion and I strongly suggest you try it out.
** Do note that many participating merchants give out credit card promotional discounts, however, only available at other retail outlets except Takashimaya S.C. Please enquire on promotions when making purchases.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Majestic Restaurant Mooncake 2009: Mini Snow Skin With Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur

Mini Snow Skin Mooncake With Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur
Luxurious Dutch Finesse in an Oriental Delicatessen
Majestic Restaurant

From admist the heritage shophouses in the Chinatown, a gem is hidden away. The New Majestic Hotel is one of the coolest boutique hotel in Singapore, probably not known to many locals but attracted many trendy globetrotters and modern businessmen. Its resident restaurant, Majestic Restaurant, owned and headed by Chef Yong, is also reputed for its fine fusion cuisine. This finesse in culinary skills is naturally translated to creating one of the most delightful alcoholic snowskin mooncake, "Mini Snow Skin With Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur".

I am blessed to be the first who held a wedding solemnization there and to get a chance experience staying in some of their rooms. Hence, I must definitely try their "Mini Snow Skin With Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur".
Petite, pretty, pink snowskin mooncakes infused with the luxurious Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur. Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur, from De Kuyper Works (Netherlands), is a light and soft liqueur (20% alc.) with a light pink color attributed to the essence of fresh lychee fruits in a sweet natural tasting liqueur. Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur is also used in the Rose Petal Martini cocktail.

The sweet aroma of the Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur fills the box and is immediately detected when the box of gems are unravelled. That sweet frangrance reminds me of the old school Grape-flavoured bubblegum balls (3 gumballs in a white box). As if one's soul is being captivated by the lovely cute scent, I cannot help but to immediately sink into the soft pink snowskin and savour the rosy red wine-infused 'flesh'. As my senses were drown in the sweet taste, a burst of white chocolatey cream spills into my mouth, recreating a different dimension to the taste! Divine!

The "Mini Snow Skin With Kwai Feh Lychee Liqueur" is no longer a snowskin mooncake.
This is a fine dessert!

So fine that this deserves to be served in every posh restaurant as a closure to any finest course!
However, the only places in Singapore that makes and sell these exquisites are
Majestic Restaurant and Chef Yong's latest restaurant, Jing.

Photography & Editing by William Tan
©William Tan 2009

Raffles Hotel Mooncake 2009 Special: Snow-Skin Apricot Mooncake with Popping Candy

Snow-Skin Apricot Mooncake with Popping Candy
A remarkable creation of flavour and sound!
Raffles Hotel Singapore

When it comes to 'The Paramount of Gourmet Snowskin Mooncakes', no one comes any closer to that title than Raffles Hotel Singapore. Their legendary "Snow-skin Mooncake with Champagne Truffle & Ganache" was phenomenal and led to many reputed restaurants replicating the same. Last year, I experienced the Sze-Chuan Court (Fairmount) version of the same and they had their share of fame. This year, a few more other versions sprouted from other kitchens, while Sze-Chuan Court became another common name to 'mooncake-foodies'. This year I decided to skip Sze-Chuan Court and return to Raffles Hotel Singapore. While many restaurants touted their versions of the 'must-try snowskin mooncake', Raffles Hotel Singapore decided not to take snowskin mooncakes to a new level! They created the "Snow-Skin Apricot Mooncake with Popping Candy", the first ever mooncake that 'pops'! A remarkable creation of flavour and sound!

Like gems in an iconic traditional-themed tin box, 8 pieces of the "Snow-Skin Apricot Mooncake with Popping Candy" sits in a golden tray. The banana flavour from the pink snowskin seeps out. Encased in the snowskin layer is a chocolate ball surrounded by soft white lotus paste with generous bits of real apricot fruit. Take the crunch through the chocolate ball and you will be treated to a very nice surprise as you started to experience sizzling, cracking and popping in your mouth. These are the popping candy! Like fire-crackers bursting in your mouth, this incredible and enjoyable sensation surprisingly lingers in your the back of your mouth for quite a while.
It sure puts the smiles back to our friends and even older folks who gets tickled like a kid enjoying candy.

Nothing comes close to divine pleasure savouring Raffles Hotel Singapore's new "Snow-Skin Apricot Mooncake with Popping Candy"!
A 'die-die must-try' of the year!

Get yours from booths at Raffles Hotel Singapore now!

Photography & Editing by William Tan
©William Tan 2009

Read all about my2008 and 2009 mooncakes post here.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1: Ultra-Compact DSLR - The Legacy Lives On!

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1
The Legacy of Lives On!

Introducing the second of the two recent/upcoming digital compact cameras that will put the "Legendary Point-&-Shoot" Panasonic Lumix LX-3 to contest. From the same Lumix family, but a new GF series. The Lumix DMC-GF1 is a Panasonic's answer to a compact point-&-shoot + DSLR camera. Earlier on, Olympus took the compact professional photography to a new level with the introduction of PEN E-P1. Like the PEN E-P1, the Lumix GF1 is built on the same collaborative Micro Four-Thirds mount. However, when it comes to creating that nostalgic vintage appearance of the Panasonic Lumix LX-3 or PEN E-P1, the GF1 have to take a back seat. While preserving much of the appearance of the LX-3, the GF1 looks more modern but its worth it for the beefed up specifications.

At a glance, the GF1 bears a 12.1 Megapixels Live MOS sensor that produces pictures at a high signal-to-noise ratio, meaning cleaner pictures at high ISO (max. 3200). The sensor also allows the GF1 to capture High-Definition (HD) videos at 1280 x 720 AVCHD Lite file format (MPEG-4/H.264) with Dolby Digital Sound, attributed to the new HD Venus Engine image processor. The image processor employs two CPUs to make operation smoother and last longer.

Unlike the PEN E-P1, the GF1 comes with a built-in flash (GN 6.0) in its small frame. Incredible! The flash pops up like some fancy Transformers robot! Flash output can also be adjusted over a range of 2 EV at 1/3 steps, giving users more control over flash photography.
If you love the functions and features (such as iA-Mode, Face Detection, etc) of Lumix cameras, Panasonic retains all of them and throws in My Color Mode and Live Exposure Graphic Meter. The controls are more sophisticated than the LX-3 and gives the user more control with the a rear control dial and dedicated buttons.
The GF1 utilizes interchangeable lenses just like a DSLR. Dust getting onto the sensor during lens changing is addressed by incorporating a Supersonic Wave Filter for dust reduction. GF1 comes with two options of kit lenses: Lumix G20 20mm (40mm at 35mm equivalent) f/1.7 aspherical "pancake" lens, 14-45mm zoom lens (to be announced). Unlike the PEN E-P1, the Mega O.I.S. is built into the lens instead of the body. Hence the f/1.7 "pancake" lens becomes an ultra-fast lens capable of capturing shots in extremely low-light without the use of a flash or tripod! With the good noise control, Panasonic has now got winner in the low light, flash-free, tripod-free photography!
While the PEN E-P1 seemed like the perfect stylish camera for the savvy photographer, the PEN E-P1 was plagued by the worst problem that can happen for any camera: slow-focusing. The Lumix GF1 clearly has the edge as it auto-focuses and tracks subjects faster than the E-P1, attributed to its contrast-detect AF system successfully deployed in the earlier Lumix G1 and GH1. This is advantage is good enough to blow smoke into PEN E-P1.

To spice up things for Panasonic supporters, users can now hook up the GF1 to their Panasonic VIERA HDTV via a mini-HDMI cable. The camera communicates with the VIERA TV via VIERA Link and be controlled using your TV remote! Alternatively, VIERA TV equipped with the VIERA Image Viewer SD card slot can accept the SDHC cards from the Lumix camera. You can now show-off your pictures and HD videos with family and friends over your big screen!

I definitely want to get my hands on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1!
If this brief description is not sufficient to convince you of a winner, hope on to:
DPreview Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1 Hands-On Preview

Canon PowerShot S90

Introducing one of the two recent/upcoming digital compact cameras that will put the "Legendary Point-&-Shoot" Panasonic Lumix LX-3 to contest. These days, more and more general consumers are cashing into the once professionals-dedicated DSLR market. Paradoxically, professionals are in turn seeking a more powerful compact point-&-shoot camera to complement their heavy equipments. Nevertheless, there are those who will just be contended with 傻瓜相机 (an "idiot-proof" camera) that costs as low as S$100-200. How about an "idiot-proof" camera for the professional photographers? Indeed, Panasonic gave us the Lumix-LX3 that took the photography world by storm. It's incredible success led to subsequent release of compacts camera with the same concept: professional-class compact camera.

Canon announced the release of the Canon PowerShot S90. The name probably does not sound too unique to significantly stand out from the PowerShot library. However, the fact that the S90 has a couple of neat features to stand out from any PowerShot, even the leader-class G-series system compact cameras (e.g. G9, G10 and coming G11).

Canon PowerShot S90 houses a brand new 10.0 Megapixel sensor coupled with Canon DiGiC IV Image Processor chip with an enhanced i-Contrast (Intelligent Contrast Correction Technology) capable of capturing a wide dynamic range. All these, part of Canon Dual Anti-Noise System. Is it another fancy terminology? So be it, but this is definitely not the selling factor.
The feature that puts the S90 to contest with the LX3 is definitely the incorporating of a fast lens. An f/2.0 wide angle lens makes all the difference to low-light photography. The lens is capable of allowing twice the amount of light into the sensor, hence allowing the use of faster shutter speed and a more shallow DOF (depth of field). The zoom lens extends from the body for a 3.8x zoom (28mm - 105mm) and retracts completely into the body when not in use. The lens is armed with Canon's Image Stabilizer which is capable of delivering 4-stops advantage. Altogether, these features allow users to shoot steadily in low-light with the need of a tripod or flash. Nevertheless, the lens itself cannot deliver miracles. However, when combined with the low noise level from the Canon Dual Anti-Noise System, you can expect miracles!
Another great feature of the S90 is a Control Ring that sits at the base of the lens. Twisting the selector ring to the left or right allows a more convenient control of several customizable functions: manual zooming (5-steps), shutter speed, aperture, ISO (1/3 stop increment), exposure compensation. To add more fun into using the Control Ring, the ring can be used to access menus quickly and even shoot in various filter modes when in Nostalgic Mode.
Last but not least, the large 3.0" Pure Color II LCD display is definitely a comfort to shoot with in a small 100 x 58 x 31mm chassis weighing at just 175g.

It is not hard to decide which to bring to a nights-out party. It is definitely the Canon PowerShot S90 over the Canon PowerShot G11. The official sample pictures looked fabulous! No wonder renowned reviewer Ken Rockwell calls this the "World's Best Compact Camera".