Tag Archives: review

400 Gradi Neapolitan Style Pizza

We have been craving for pizza and decided to go out for our date night. I had read about 400 Gradi in CNN Travel. They were featured after they won the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza (Pizza World Championship) in Italy in 2014. The owner and Chef Johnny Di Francesco won the top Margherita title. He beat some of the world best pizza chefs so our expectations were quite high.

400 Gradi by Photosaurus Studio

Photos by Photosaurus Studio

We made our reservation online and the place was packed when we got there at eight o’clock. I loved the modern décor with the polished concrete surfaces. The only problem was the accoustics of the main dining area. The sound bounced around so much that it was noisy compared to the bar area in the adjacent room.

400 Gradi Margherita verace pizza

Margherita Verace Pizza $22

We ordered the Margherita Verace Pizza, Spaghettini al Grancho and Tiramisu to share. The Margherita Verace Pizza was made with Sam Marzano tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and basil. It was a delicate sauce but it was flavourful and delicious. We both loved how fresh and light this pizza was.

Spaghettini al Granchio $36

Spaghettini al Granchio $36

The Spaghettini al Grancho was made with Spanner crab meat, chilli zuchinni, cherry tomatoes, white wine and lobster bisque. The dish is served with some chilli and parmesan cheese on the side. I wish there were larger chunks of crab meat in this dish. I would recommend adding a little chilli for a little kick and as crazed cheese lovers, we couldn’t help but add a lot of parmesan cheese. We would order this dish again for sure.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu $16

The Tiramisu was made with mascarpone cream, savoiardi biscuits soaked in coffee and marsala wine. It was a delicious dessert but I would have preferred it if it was served in a different container. It was difficult to get all the layers with one spoonful.

The service was quick even though 400 Gradi was packed and our server was friendly. The food was great and we will definitely come back again.

400 Gradi

  • Website: www.400gradi.com.au
  • Address: 99 Lygon Street, East Brunswick VIC 3057 Australia
  • Telephone: 9380 2320

Chalkboard Art Tools

I made my chalkboard art piece for Orange Karinderia last December and I’ve been eager to make another one using different chalkboard art tools so I can experiment with other materials. I planned to make a smaller piece since the last piece was about the size of a poster. I wanted something that we could put at the start of a buffet table or snack corner during parties, workshops, and events.

Eat Drink and Be Merry Chalkboard Art

Eat Drink and Be Merry

I chose “Eat Drink and Be Merry” since it was one of my favorite phrases. I like how this version of the expression gives a very welcoming message to guests. I made my initial sketch on paper then transferred the design on the chalkboard by lightly tracing it.

I didn’t want to order the popular chalk pencils I saw online since I really wanted to make the piece immediately so I decided to go to Art Friend at Plaza Singapura and asked the shop assistant whether they have any chalk pencils in stock. She pointed me to the Cretacolor White Chalk Pencil. I just snapped it up together with the small chalk board. I didn’t want to make my own chalk board using chalk paint since this is just an experimental project and I didn’t want to invest in so many materials.

Hoechstmass Chalk vs Creatacolor White Chalk Pencil Chalkboard Art Tools

Hoechstmass Tailor’s Chalk vs Creatacolor White Chalk Pencil

Lex and I were discussing how to do this project the night before I bought the supplies and he mentioned that maybe tailoring chalk would work so I went to Sing Mui Heng, which is a sewing and jewelry supply shop at People’s Park Centre, to look for some tailor’s chalk that would work with this project. I saw the Hoechstmass Catridge Chalk Set and decided to try it since I also have a sewing project I wanted to try and I knew the it would not go to waste.

Testing Phase: Chalkboard Art Tools

I tested both chalk materials on black paper and on the chalk board since I wanted to see how both performed using different surfaces. I have been planning on incorporating chalk art with calligraphy in another project.

Brand Derwent Black Paper Generic Chalk Board
Hoechstmass Tailor’s Chalk ($12)  - Looked greasy however it did not write a solid white line but writes easily. - Worked better for filling in the design since it gave a solid fill.
Creatacolor White Chalk Pencil ($2.50) - Wrote solid white markings on paper. Worked best on paper. - Worked better for outlining the design since it wrote a solid line but was more difficult to use when filling larger areas.

Conclusion

With the generic chalk board, a combination of both the Hoechtmass and the Cretacolor pencil worked best to produce the fine lines. I don’t think that using just one brand would have given me the effect that I wanted since each material served a specific purpose as discussed in the table above. Using the pencils were definitely a thousand times easier than using a regular stick of chalk but for larger pieces you might want to outline using the Hoechtmass Tailor’s Chalk then fill in with the middle portion with regular chalk sticks.

Eat Drink and Be Merry Chalkboard Art

My Precious

I am so happy with the final piece that I don’t think I would erase it. Time to get another chalk board. I’ll be fixing it permanently with a spray solution. I didn’t like how hairspray reacted in the Save Room for Dessert piece so I will be trying either a fixative spray used for calligraphy that I’ve been eyeing on or a matte spray paint recommended by Minifanfan. I’ll write another post about it when I decide which spray to buy.

Please leave a comment below if you have any recommendations for chalkboard art tools or if you would like to share your own chalk art projects. We would love to hear from you.

Art Friend:

Sing Mui Heng

  • Art Friend Website: www.singmuiheng.com
  • Operating Hours: 09:00 am – 06:00 pm (Mon – Fri) and 09:00 am – 06:00 pm (Every 1st & 3rd Staurday of the month)

Modern Calligraphy Workshop Reviews

It gives us great fulfillment whenever we receive good reviews for our workshops since we sincerely want to impart what we’ve learned to our participants. We don’t want to conduct workshops for the sake of doing so. Our primary objective is to always add value.

Here are some reviews from our Modern Calligraphy workshop participants in our workshops in January:

1. Jael

Jael from Instagram:
With @katrinaalana :) well organised, packaged and paced class. Highly recommended

2. Kristine

Kristinel from Instagram:
ending Jan2015 wit smudges participated in Modern Calligraphy Workshop by @katrinaalana today and learned a whole lot from it. While it’s good that you do you own researches and watch tutorials online, nothing beats the teacher-student kind of learning. the practice sheets are the best! just what i exactly needed. and oh, that left hand technique revived my almost dying interest in calligraphy… thanks so much Lex and Katrina! hope to see you around. :)

If you have attended our workshops and you would like to give us some feedback or suggestions, please email us. We will greatly appreciate hearing your voice.

Two Face Pizza & Taproom

We were at the Tiong Bahru area last week for a project and decided to have dinner at Two Face Pizza and Taproom. This place is a kopitiam(coffee shop) during the day hence the name Two Face, since it transforms into a restaurant at night.

Two Face: Koptiam by day, restaurant at night

We read some mixed reviews about this place but decided to try their food anyway. Since it was convenient, we had dinner there twice. During our visits, we didn’t really experience poor service. I think that the staff were not friendly but also not rude. The service can be described as perfunctory.

We ordered the Pork Belly with Maple Mayo. I didn’t like this dish. I guess I expected the pork belly to come with a twist but it was just fried. Lex liked it though.

Pork Belly with Maple ($8)

The Spicy Buffalo Wings was OK but we wouldn’t order it again. I think the ranch dressing they served it with did not complement the dish.

Spicy Buffalo Wings ($8)

The Bismark pizza was ok but again it is not a memorable dish. I would it eat if it was served but I wouldn’t order it again.

The Carbonara was delicious. I would come back to try the other pasta dishes but I’m a bit put off by the food so far.

Carbonara ($14)

Striking out three out of four dishes seems to be a very poor percentage for a food joint. Maybe we will drop by just to order the Carbonara, to go, when we’re craving for pasta.

Two Face Pizza & Taproom

  • Price Range: 20 / pax
  • Website: www.twoface.sg
  • Address: 56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-48, Singapore 160056
  • Telephone: 6536 0024
  • Operating Hours: Tue – Fri: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Fri – Sat: 5:00 pm- 12:00 am, Sun – Sun: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, Closed: Mon

Flexible Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy: Not all fountain pens are suitable for use in practicing calligraphy. Some fountain pens work better with certain styles of calligraphy. This post is focused on flexible fountain pens that is typically used in styles like Modern Calligraphy, Copperplate or Spencerian.

Practicing calligraphy with a dip pen and a bottle of ink is ideal but it is not always convenient when you are on the go. A good alternative would be to use a fountain pen with a flexible nib that somehow mimics an old fashioned nib.

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Most fountain pen manufacturers these days are cautious in labeling their fountain pen as flexible and even some advertise that the nibs are flexible but they do not cut the mustard. So to help you decide what fountain pen to purchase, I’ve decided to share a review of the flex fountain pens that we own.

Test Parameters:

- Point of comparison for hand writing pressure to flex the nib: soft to medium pressure
- Paper: Muji dotted notebook
- Fountain Pens: Vintage Waterman 92, Pilot FA 742, and Noodler’s Creaper Flex

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Vintage Fountain Pen (Waterman 92)

This pen was a present for Lex which I bought from sizer65 on eBay. I got good recommendations on where to buy vintage fountain pens online from the Singapore Fountain Pen Lovers page in Facebook. This group of fountain pen enthusiasts is very friendly and helpful so you may want to check out their page if you’re looking for fountain pen recommendations and reviews.

Guidelines for buying vintage fountain pens online:
- Look for pictures of writing samples that show line variation
- Look for terms like flexible, flex, super flex, or wet noodle
- It must be described as fully functional or restored
- Google and see if the pen really performs as described by the seller based on reviews by other owners
- Check the sellers feedback
- Check with the seller if the fountain pen requires soft pressure to make swells and hairlines
- Ask the seller questions when in doubt

It was reasonably priced however the line variation was not what I expected. I thought that it would produce the same line variation as the Pilot FA 742 or better, but it produced a thinner swell. The pressure required to create swells would be from soft to medium but the tricky part is in creating hairlines since the fountain pen required a light touch to maintain a thin and consistent hairline. I know this sounds contradictory but this pen is just a tad quirky.

Vintage Waterman 92 Summary:
- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Good line variation
- Dislikes: Takes any ink however a medium pressure is required to make line variations
- Line Variation: Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Medium pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
- Ink: Works with most fountain pen inks
- Price: $60-100
- Where to buy: Online or eBay (sizer65)

Pilot FA 742

I bought the Pilot FA 742 after some intensive research online. It is a great flex pen that is comparable to old fashioned nibs. It is pricey compared to other flex pens in the market but I think it is worth it.

The line variation I get from this pen is still the best compared to all other fountain pens that I’ve tried. This is my favorite fountain pen so far.

Pilot FA 742 Summary:
- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Great line variation
- Dislikes: Picky with ink and railroads if you write in flex mode really fast
- Line Variation: Thick Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Soft
- Ink: Works best with Pilot inks
- Price: USD $190 or SGD $236++
- Where to buy: Online or local fountain pen shops (Fook Hing Trading)

Noodler’s Creaper Flex

 We were so excited to get the Noodler’s Creaper Flex since it was the cheapest flex pen with good online reviews. The pen requires heavy pressure to make it flex. Lex can easily make the pen flex but I struggle to make swells as I need to insert heavy pressure and only get minimal results. I must say that I am a bit disappointed with this pen

There are some folks here in Singapore, like Urner Hoo, who provide nib grinding services to make nibs more flexible. He sells modified Noodler’s Ahab pens at $80.

Noodler’s Creaper Flex – Original

- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Ok line variation and great value for the price
- Dislikes: Required heavy pressure to write in flex mode. Ladies may have a hard time making this pen flex as opposed to the Gents.
- Line Variation: Small to Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Medium to hard pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
- Ink: Works with most fountain pen inks
- Price: $20
- Where to buy: Online (Goulet Pens)

Updated on May 1, 2014
Sponsored Section: Urner’s Modified Noodler’s Creaper Flex Pen

I got a Noodler’s Creaper Flex from Urner. I was excited to try the ground-down nib and see how it compares to the original pen. My original complaint was that the unmodified pen is hard and difficult to flex making it harder to practice calligraphy.

Modified (Orange Ink) vs. Unmodified (Teal Ink) Noodler’s Creaper Flex

Below is a comparison on the performance of the modified and unmodified version of the pens.  You get a slightly thicker line with the modified version as opposed to the original pen but the big difference would be on how easy the modified pen is to flex.

Modified (Orange Ink) vs. Unmodified (Teal Ink)

The modified pen came loaded with Calli Ink which is a calligraphy ink and not a traditional fountain pen ink. It dried quickly as opposed to the other fountain pen inks that I used before. It could have something to do with the modified feed which had a small piece of tissue wedged-in to reduce ink flow but I’m not an expert on ink. I was told that the surface tension of Calli Ink (Orange color only) works well with this fountain pen and I’m glad to report that it does. Since this pen is a modified one, it would be best to get some guidance from Urner on what inks he recommends as it may not work as well with just any off the shelf product.

Noodler’s Creaper Flex – Urner’s Modified Nib
- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Ok line variation and easy to flex as the nib is soft
- Dislikes: Since the pen is modified, you need to tune it to ensure a smooth flow. This does not faze us as we like to tinker with our fountain pens. You also need to be very conscious on how you hold the pen because if you use the wrong angle you may damage the nib over a period of time. This maybe overwhelming for first time fountain pen users, however Urner provides an instruction sheet and he will give you tips on how to use and maintain the pen when you pick it up. You can also message him if you have any aftercare questions or concerns.
- Line Variation: Small to Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Light to Soft pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
- Ink: Works best with Calli Ink
- Price: $80
- Where to buy: Urner Hoo (Facebook Message)

Summary:

Overall, I think that the best pen is the Pilot 742 FA however it is pricey. Vintage pens would be the next best alternative but buying them is a bit troublesome and results do vary. The Noodler’s pen is the most affordable and if you don’t like how it flexes, you can always get it modified.

The original Noodler’s Creaper Flex is difficult to flex as it requires more pressure to make the tines part as opposed to the modified version which is very easy to flex however the modified pen requires more maintenance and care.

Stay tuned for my post on the Noodler’s Ahab and Platinum Cool Fountain Pens in the upcoming weeks. These pens are flex and may be used for calligraphy.

Platypus Gourmet2Go and Lobster Shack

We walked past Platypus Gourmet2Go and Lobster Shack a few weeks ago when we went out for a brisk walk. I’ve never tried a lobster roll before so we had to have it for dinner the next day.

Platypus Lobster Shack

We ordered two lobster rolls and to our surprise we got a complimentary bowl of Lobster Bisque. Our server told us that they were gathering feedback from customers since they wanted to put it on the regular menu. I love crabs and lobster but I’ve never really liked bisques so I was a bit apprehensive when I tried it but I really really really love it.

Best Lobster bisque ever!

The bisque was creamy and well balanced. I loved how the roe did not overpower the soup. I’m not familiar with the taste of sea urchin so I can’t really comment on how well the ingredient tasted but all I can say is if they sold a large portion of the lobster and sea urchin bisque, I’d be a regular at their restaurant.

The Traditional Lobster Roll

The Traditional lobster roll had some butter-poached lobster meat with roasted garlic mayonnaise and chives. The bun was buttery and slightly crunchy since it was toasted. The lobster was delicate and a splash of lemon really brightened the flavors.

Smoke Paprika Lobster Roll

The Smoked Paprika lobster roll had butter poached lobster with Spanish paprika with Hollandaise and chervil. I preferred this one to the Traditional Lobster roll since I like strong flavors, but what I really liked about this roll is that although the flavors were strong they did not overpower the taste of the lobster. The dish was well balanced so you could still taste most of the ingredients.

The sides deserve a special mention since they were excellent as well. The truffle chips had a strong truffle flavor and it had a spicy kick which made it taste like truffle and BBQ. I’ve never really liked the taste of truffle until I had their spicy chips. The salad was fresh and the citrus dressing was light and refreshing. You will really feel stuffed after having such a huge meal.

They serve a different menu during the day and the lobster rolls are only served after 6 pm. We were talking about how it would be great to bring guests here. Unfortunately, they are only open on weekdays and they only accept cash so you need to withdraw some money before coming to this place, but it is worth it.

I like how the restaurant is very intimate and the staff is very friendly. The Platypus Gourmet and Lobster Shack is a must-try in our book. If you’re in the Telok Ayer/ Chinatown area, we would recommend trying this place.

Platypus Gourmet2Go and Lobster Shack

  • Website: www.platypuskitchen.com
  • Address: 3 Pickering Street #01-31 Nankin Row Singapore 048660
  • Telephone: 6438 796
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: Lobster rolls are only served after 6 pm

Sponsored Post: Beauty Biotics

The Sample Store sent me these Beauty Biotics products to test and review. I don’t usually try or buy products until I’ve done some research on them and I was eager to try these products since they seemed very promising and the are deemed safe for sensitive skin. I’ve tested and used these products for more than 3 weeks and here is my complete review.

My skincare for the past few years has been focused on hydrating my skin since my cheeks tend to get really dry no matter what hydrating product I use. I’ve tried so many soaps, toners and creams, and last year I found an effective regimen combination of products that addressed all my skin woes. I’m interested to see if products from Beauty Biotics will work for my skin without jeopardizing its quality.

I don’t like to spend too much time putting my face on so I look for effective products that are easy to apply. I’ve only started wearing foundation this year after I got a really bad sunburn during our holiday in December and my skin is still uneven. I’ve already sampled different foundations like cakes, liquids and primer-powder combos but I find them too troublesome to put on especially when I’m rushing off to work..

The red spots on my cheeks is covered up and my complexion looks more even

I loved how light and easy it was to put on after moisturizing. It gives my face a radiant glow and it did not dry out my skin. It provided medium coverage so I didn’t look like I had too much product on. I hate it when I check my face in the mirror and I find those foundation streak lines, but I didn’t experience that with the BB/CC Beauty Balm Colour Corrector since it was easy to blend. I guess the light texture came with a trade-off which was complete coverage but I would rather have a light product that is easy to put on with medium coverage and evens my skin tone as opposed to full but heavy coverage. I think that the Beauty Balm Colour Corrector is a great everyday product and I am adding it as a staple product in my make-up kit.

BB/CC Beauty Balm Colour Corrector Summary $39:

  • Timesaver: Yes
  • Hydrating Effect: Yes
  • All Day Coverage: Yes
  • Easy to blend: Yes
  • Texture: Light and breathable
  • Effective Coverage: Medium
  • Sun Protection: SPF 40
  • Happy with the product: Yes
  • Will I use it until I finish it: Yes
  • Will I recommend it: Yes

Love the light texture and the soft powder puff. I carry this with me everywhere I go.

Over the past few weeks, I conducted calligraphy workshops and went to a few events so my face had to be presentable and oil free from morning to evening. After completing my skincare routine and make-up, I finished it with the BB+ Nano Luminescence Mineral Pearl Powder. What I like about this powder is that it takes the shine away from my troublesome T zone and it is so easy to put on since it comes with a great powder puff. I don’t usually like putting powder on but I am loving the BB+ Nano Luminescence Mineral Pearl Powder and I carry it with me every day.

BB+ Nano Luminescence Mineral Pearl Powder Summary $45:

  • Easy to apply: Yes
  • All Day Coverage: Yes
  • Texture: light and fine
  • Sun Protection SPF 40
  • Happy with the product: Yes
  • Will I use it until I finish it: Yes
  • Will I recommend it: Yes

The fine pearl powder gives my face a radiant glow

I also bring the UV White Nano Mineral Powder with me because it is so small and portable. I love the small compact packaging where the puff is connected to the bottle soa you can dispense the product directly to the puff. The nano pearl powder reflects light, giving my skin a luminescent glow.

UV White Nano Mineral Powder Summary $49:

  • Easy to apply: Yes
  • All Day Coverage: Yes
  • Texture: light and fine
  • Sun Protection: SPF 50
  • Happy with the product: Yes
  • Will I use it until I finish it: Yes
  • Will I recommend it: Yes

I’ve used these products daily for more than 3 weeks now and really tested these out so that I can give an impartial review. I really love the BB/CC Beauty Balm Colour Corrector and BB+ Nano Luminescence Mineral Pearl Powder that I will be adding these as staple products in my beauty arsenal. The UV White Nano Mineral Powder contains light diffusing powder, making the skin look more even and radiant.

You can buy Beauty Biotics products exclusively at Watsons Singapore outlets and like their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkinbioticsSG

Beauty Biotics

Savour 2014

We went to Savour 2014 last Sunday as a treat after a very busy weekend of workshops, meet-ups  and running around the city. It was our first time at Savour and we were very excited to try the wonderful dishes we’ve heard so much about.

Savour 2014 at Marina Bay

The first dish we tried was from Chef Emmanuel Stroobant  of Saint Pierre and Blue Lotus. The lamb dish was tender on the inside while the crunchy Five Spice exterior enhanced the natural flavor of the meat.

Slow Roasted Organic Lamb Short Ribs Crusted with Five Spices

We had to try the pork dish from Chef Kentaro Torii of Forlino next. The suckling pig dish was tender however I was expecting a more savory dish. It was not as flavorful as I expected and the meat looked pale underneath the harsh sunlight.

Roasted Suckling Pig Loin Porchetta with Sherry Vinegar and Roasted Vegetables

The aged roast beef from Chef Mark Sargeant of Oxwell & Co and Rocksalt really intrigued us. I’ve never tried Yorkshire pudding before and the puffy pastry complemented the 32 day aged Sirloin quite well.

32 Day Aged Roast Sirloin of Angus Beef in a Yorkshire Pudding with Horseradish & Watercress

The homemade honeycomb was crunchy and the fresh cream combined with the dark Valrhona Pudding was surprisingly refreshing on such a hot day.

Valrhona Chocolate Pot, Fresh Cream & Homemade Honeycomb

Since it was so sweltering, we wanted to try another cooling dish and the crab and potato dish from Chef Daniel Chavez from OLA fit the bill. It was refreshing and delicious. Perfect for such a hot day.

Crab and Potato Salad with Spicy Aoli Sauce

We could not pass up the cheese and bread from Chef Christope Paucod of Lugdunum Bouchon Lyonnais. The fresh cheese with chives, garlic and parsley was a great dip for the fresh baguette.

Cervelle Des Canuts Et Sa Baguette De Campagne

The best dish of the day belongs to Chef Christoper Millar from Stellar@1-ALTITUDE. The short rib was so tender and savory that it blew off all the other dishes we’ve tried.

24 Hour Black Angus Short Rib with Soy Caramel

Some of the other dishes we were eager to try were already sold out by time we got there. We would recommend going to this event on the first day at dinner, if it will still be held at the same spot, so you can enjoy the excellent food in the cool night overlooking the stunning Marina Bay vista.

Dr. Ph Martin’s Pen White Ink Review

I was glad to find Dr. Ph Matin’s Pen-White at Art Friend for a project I did last month. It was too thick to use out of the bottle so I transferred it to a small bottle and diluted it with water.

When I got the consistency right, I added a few drops of gum of arabic to make the solution more permanent. I was glad to be able to make hairlines and swells using the Nikko G nib.

The ink cakes on the nib pretty fast so I had to work fast and clean the nib every now and then. It’s a good thing that clean-up was easy as the ink comes off the nib and pen holder when you run it under water.

What’s your experience with this ink? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Workshop Review by Hey Jayel

I was checking my comments and pingbacks at lunch when I saw a ping from Hey Jayel. She attended our workshop last weekend and I was keen to read what she thought about it. Please note that this is not a sponsored review from Elle. This feedback is her own.

Source: Hey Jayel

Elle: “It was also great because the class was held in smaller groups so Katrina could provide us feedback and advice as we practice our strokes. During the first part of the workshop we covered the differences between Modern and Traditional Calligraphy and also the different materials needed. I loved the tips that she gave us about nibs, inks and pen holders. I learned more in that half hour she was talking then when I did my research online!”

I was happy to hear that our 2 hour workshop was able to meet its objectives. We made sure that the class size was small so I could check up on each participant’s progress. It means a lot to me that one of our participants felt she learned a lot.

Read her complete review at her blog Hey Jayel.