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T Suggests: An Evolving Black-and-White Dinner, Beer Made of Leftovers and Watches as Art Pieces

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

Part of chef Fernando Arévalo’s “Monochrome” summer menu, this dish sees a degustation serving of pan-seared Scottish halibut drenched in prawn broth that has been simmered for 12 hours. On top are shavings of fresh almond and macademia. On the side is chargrilled purple tomato filled with Genovese pesto and studs of white chocolate drops that Arévalo names the dish after, Anëo.
 
Preludio
Part of chef Fernando Arévalo’s “Monochrome” summer menu, this dish sees a degustation serving of pan-seared Scottish halibut drenched in prawn broth that has been simmered for 12 hours. On top are shavings of fresh almond and macademia. On the side is chargrilled purple tomato filled with Genovese pesto and studs of white chocolate drops that Arévalo names the dish after, Anëo.

In Singapore, a Colombian Chef’s Evolving Monochromatic Dinner

When Fernando Arévalo opened his restaurant, Preludio, during the latter part of last year, sceptics were quick to dismiss his newfangled concept of dining. The Colombian chef had proposed offerings that would continue to evolve. This meant anchoring his menu on a transient theme, inventing playfully intricate dishes around it.

“People would say, “This guy is crazy,” or “It sounds pretentious.”,” admits Arévalo. “But I wanted all that. We needed that controversy so that we could really make a difference amid Singapore’s culinary superstars.” Preludio is to be Arévalo’s culinary tome of defiance. His menu’s themes, its chapters. Each ephemeral theme is planned to last for 12 to 18 months. The shaping of Preludio’s gastronomy narrative is something for him and his team to toy with.

Creating dishes almost strictly in black and white, the first chapter is aptly titled “Monochrome”. Ahead of their dinner, guests are intentionally not made privy to what would be part of their degustation menu, only receiving detailed verbal introductory once the plates are served before them.

At Preludio, the element of surprise is fundamental. What one sees is not all there is to it. Agnolotti pasta, stuffed with butternut squash and amaretto, is drizzled with a type of balsamic vinegar that has been aged for 25 years in an Italian cellar. Guests are invited to swirl it around in an elegant stem glass, designed specifically to bring out the vinegar’s bouquet of scents. This experimental slant goes beyond its menu, stretching to even their wine list, of which is stripped from its traditional categorising of colours, and is instead, grouped by the hues of the terroirs the wines flourish in: “black” for dark volcanic grounds, or “white” for chalky terrains.

Fast forward some nine months later, “Monochrome”’s lineup has undergone a transition. While its signature al dente pasta and slow-roasted Iberico pork staples remain, several seasonal additions have spiced it up. In “Make It Pop”, the classical foie gras terrine is glazed with house-made coffee kombucha — and crowned with popping candy. While “Anëo” serves a lovely serving of pan-seared Scottish halibut that comes drenched in a rich prawn broth that has been simmered for 12 hours. On its side, an unassuming purple tomato bursts into rich pesto laced with white chocolate drops, of which the dish is named after. 

What perhaps was sparked by Arévalo’s personal ennui in the kitchen — the chef previously helmed Tuscan Steakhouse and Artemis Grill, and worked for Daniel Boulud in New York — gave way to the creation of his own space, where everything is mouldable for him to shape, or even break and start over with a clean slate when needed.

“A lot of people think it’s very limiting to have these chapters. For me, it’s liberating,” says Arévalo, noting that he wouldn’t have invented his best dishes without coming up with his risky monochromatic slant.

“The restaurant is about change, really,” he enthuses. “The whole idea is to have the opportunity to improve, to see things differently, be seen differently.” — Bianca Husodo

Preludio, 182 Cecil Street, Frasers Tower #03-01/02. The summer menu of “Monochrome” runs until mid-October. Afterwards, a two- to three-week transition into the next seasonal menu for autumn will take place. Preludio’s second chapter is set to be announced later this year, and will be implemented in February 2020.

A Singapore-Made Craft Beer Made from Off-Cut Bread and Leftover Orange Peels

Tung PhamA bottle of Singaporean microbrewery Binjai Brew’s new beer release, “Set B”.
A bottle of Singaporean microbrewery Binjai Brew’s new beer release, “Set B”.

The year is 2019 and the public debacle on climate change is unceasing. With consumers becoming more educated on conscious consumerism, the hypergrowth of reducing and reimagining food waste in professional kitchens, which shows no signs of slowing down, seems almost pre-ordained. And beyond the professional kitchens, the mainstream is becoming increasingly palpable in the alcohol industry, too.

Enter Binjai Brew, a microbrewery in Singapore, which has recently concocted a craft beer that comes imbued with a sense of environmental consciousness. Coined “Set B”, after the classic local breakfast at coffee haunts, the new brew is made using off-cuts of bread from Sing Hon Loong Bakery, one of Singapore’s oldest bakeries, as well as orange zests from the leftover peels that were taken from orange juice dispensers around the island.  

Interestingly, the idyllic dalliance with brewing a bottle of beer in a sustainable manner began as a spontaneous response toward a challenge. “Set B started when this café, which sells sustainable food, challenged us to explore crafting sustainable beer. It took us three months to come up with a craft beer aimed at reducing food waste,” says Rahul Immandira, one of the co-founders, who is presently an undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, and had interned at a small brewery in California.

“Bread was added into the mash. And together with the usual barley malt, a sweet, fermentable liquid — known as wort — is produced,” explains Immandira on how the unusual flavour is made. “Orange zest was then added to the wort as it was boiling to infuse the beer with a citrus aroma.” 

The result? A balanced, silky smooth, and delightedly light concoction with ample citrus notes, resembling the likes of a traditional Belgian Witbier. 

In Singapore, where only 16% of the nation’s food waste was reportedly recycled in 2018, small forward-thinking businesses such as Binjai Brew is kickstarting new conversations, where sustainability does not take a toll on quality. 

“By incorporating food waste in a product that's so familiar to so many, we hope to start the big conversations about what can be done to reduce our impact on the environment,” Immandira adds. “Of course, beer always helps, too.” — Sng Ler Jun

Binjai Brew’s Set B six-pack beer is available online.

Watches as Immersive Art Pieces 

Patek PhilippeA rendering of the “Singapore 200th Anniversary Room” at Patek Philippe’s Watch Art Grand Exhibition.
A rendering of the “Singapore 200th Anniversary Room” at Patek Philippe’s Watch Art Grand Exhibition.

Long renowned for its illustrious watchmaking history since 1839, Geneva-based luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe will be hosting its fifth showcase, entitled “Watch Art Grand Exhibition 2019”, in Singapore. This is the brand’s inaugural exhibition in Southeast Asia, which comes after successful debuts in Dubai (2012), Munich (2013), London (2015), and New York (2017). 

In the world of Patek Philippe, where exceptional heritage and impeccable craftsmanship coalesce, guests to the exhibition can immerse themselves into the prestigious artistry behind the family-owned Genevan watchmaking company. Here, 10 thematic rooms, spanning across a 1,800-square-metre arena in Marina Bay Sands Theatre, invite visitors to celebrate the watchmaker’s rich heritage and admire the brand’s eclectic assortment of collections and movements. 

Some iconic headliners slated to be featured in this exhibition, which are kept in the vault of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, include rare timepieces from the mid-16th century and a few of the watch world’s first innovations. Enamelled pocket-watches like the world’s first Swiss wristwatch made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary in 1868, as well as the Calibre 89, which was known to be the most complex, portable timepiece with 33 complications at that time, are among some of the other illustrious collections in the museum. Live demonstrations by acclaimed watchmakers and artisans of their finesse and skills for the horological artistry will also be one of the highlights at the exhibition. 

A special-themed Singapore 200th Anniversary Room will be made part of the exhibition to celebrate both Patek Philippe’s and Singapore’s histories and key milestones as this year marks the 200th anniversary of the first time Sir Stamford Raffles set foot on the island. — Sng Ler Jun 

Patek Philippe’s “Watch Art Grand Exhibition Singapore 2019” will run until 13 October at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre. Admission is free. Book tickets here to reserve timeslot.