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Singapore's delightful in January. I've never been so early in the year and find that it's not too humid and the warm air feels like weightless cashmere, cosseting one and making one feel as though the very molecules of the atmosphere are looking after one and making sure one reaches one's destination in a happy frame of mind.
Two meals of note, the first at a new restaurant called Gunther's in Purvis Street. Now, my geography of Singapore is far from perfect, but I assumed that should the taxi driver not know the location of Purvis Street he could always look it up in his A to Z, or as our American cousins undoubtedly call it, Ay through Zee. The taxi driver did, indeed, know where Purvis Street is; it's roughly two minutes walk from my hotel, but he took me there anyway.
Gunther's is the brainchild of Gunther Hubrechsen, who used to be head chef at Les Amis, the most celebrated upmarket eatery in Sing. And his new place is a goodie. Simple décor, slightly crepuscular lighting, well thought-out menu and chunky wine list majoring on French classics go to make a visit here a rewarding one. Okay, the wines are far from cheap. Single pages dedicated to individual bordelais châteaux reveal lofty tickets.
We start and finish with pink champagne - Delamotte and Taittinger - and between drink 2004 Chablis Mont de Milieu from Billaud-Simon (clear, snow-fresh, mineral mouthful), Cloudy Bay's Pinot Noir (I had forgotten how good this wine is; one so rarely finds it in the UK) and a 2003 Gevrey Lavaux St Jacques (an especially successful terroir in this torrid vintage; I am embarrassed to say I have forgotten the maker).
I ordered a langoustine starter and it was a langoustine. When it arrived I thought okay, so it's a big langoustine, but it's still wouldn't cut the mustard with Noah, who preferred his beasts in pairs. Each mouthful demanded relishing, however, and not a little dexterity. Couldn't they have provided a finger bowl? Lacking such a luxury (or the sort of gauntlets vets use for examining cows that are experiencing difficulties in labour) I ended up thoroughly greasy/garlicky almost from finger-tip to wrist. It was small penance, however, for such a well-prepped animal. Main course was a rustic French meat-and-taters stew and good, but not exceptional. Cheeses were well kept. I will go back.
The next evening, a welcome return to that wine-lovers sanctuary: Mag's Kitchen in Circular Road. No one with even an atom of interest in fermented grape juice should miss this place. It is a haven: neither flash, nor precious about either the food it serves (generally 5 or 6 starters and a similar number of mains) nor its extensive wine list, but instead a relaxing place to eat delicious food and drink sensibly-priced wine. Sadly, Mag is in Burgundy, so we missed out on the catch-up, wine-related conversation that is usually par for the course. The course (first) instead was a scallop salad, the bivalves cooked to perfection, offering perfect flavour and a texture somewhat gentler than room temperature butter. A piece of pork thereafter was tender and just the thing for the criminally young 2005 Beaune Clos des Mouches from Joseph Drouhin. After Gunther's, the prices on the wine list look to be for half bottles, but aren't. There are few places in the world where I would rather find myself at table. Long may she run!
After dinner, a couple of made-on-the-premises IPAs at Brewerkz at Riverside Point and then a taxi ride to have a look at an Indian festival, Tai Pusam. A procession of men supporting vast, ornate headdresses concocted from peacock feathers, or hung with pictures of Hindu gods passed us. Most of the men sported skewers through their cheeks and metal hooks on chains piercing the flesh of their backs and chests, sweating with either the weight of their gargantuan headgear or the pain of their piercings, the latter an act of penitence, I believe. All-in-all, the evening was something of a sensory overload!