Over dinner at La Strada, I told XLB that for the past 2 days, it almost felt like my birthday instead. On the night of her birthday, after my lesson, we were at Serene Centre. She surprised me (shouldn't it be the other way round?) by lugging some Ion Orchard take-outs; curry rice from Ginza Bairin, Vietnamese glass noodle salad with grilled pork from The Orange Lantern and pork ume burger from R Burger. The first of my birthday feast. Then, we headed to Island Creamery for some ice cream (too bad they ran out of our current favourite flavour, pierre sake) before ending the night at McD's with a slice of walnut cheesecake. It was the best birthday cake I could find at almost 11 pm. Before we left, I gave her the last 2 packets of my Wang Wang Rice Crackers, a snack I munch on between lectures. Not for nothing, of course. If you noticed, the packets are printed with some of the most auspicious Chinese greetings you can think of. Tasty as well. A pragmatic gift, I thought.
I chose La Strada because we've always wanted to try a Les Amis and that she was a pizza fan. If true, then the complimentary slices were a good preview of what the extensive selection of pizzas would be like. Delicious. Just the rich tomato sauce base itself is worth a mention. But we didn't order any that night because we reserved space for more interesting dishes.
If I had to choose the one dish that I'd come back to the street over and over again, I guess it'd be the Spaghetti Carbonara. It doesn't get any more orgasmic than the scent of truffle (I'm no sow) wisping from the warm plate of hand-made spaghetti, Spanish ham, shaved parmesan, confit of egg and ground black pepper. The truffle came from the butter, which when combined with the parmesan and yolk, translated into a carbonara that was rich with every slurp, without being cloying. I talked and dreamed of this for days. XLB had the Merluzzo, which was basically oven-baked codfish with asparagus, cherry tomatoes and clams. Only when it's fresh that one gets drips of briny and sweet juice from the seafood. It was good. Prior to the carbonara and cod was the satisfying starter of Tonno; pan-seared thick slices of tuna served with fine beans salad and drizzled with a sweet apple balsamic dressing.
For dessert, gelati of coconut, passion fruit, muscavado and yoghurt. The ice cream/gelato expert gave two thumbs up, especially for the coconut. I thought the texture was refined and the flavours rather natural (meaning, no artificial flavourings). As I placed the order, I asked for the piece of pre-ordered birthday cake as well. Yeah, I know. Never been good with this kind of birthday thingy. Back to the cake. I was hoping for the chocolate and zucchini that I've read somewhere but got just the chocolate instead. Still, a very dense, velvety piece and definitely spelt Valhorna.
Wishing you all the gelati and Rachael Yamagata songs in the world.
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