Lifestyle: Necessary Provisions

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(Photo from Necessary Provisions Facebook)

What makes a good life, you say? Well, for us over here at Wedding & Travel, a good cuppa (all the better for hitting those deadlines, right?), and some quality me-time from the hustle and bustle definitely rank high on our list! And that’s why we were delighted to visit newly-opened Necessary Provisions (for about a month now), a café-restaurant by the same people who brought us Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar.

Located in the midst of a quiet residential estate at Eng Kong Terrace, Necessary Provisions is a lovely place to escape the hectic city and while the time away with a cup of coffee and a good book. The café’s all-day menu includes the usual suspects, such as sandwiches, toast and paninis. But coffee aficionados will be impressed with the store’s Thumper espresso blend (consisting the Brazilian Fazenda Serrado, Sumatran Wahana Natural & unwashed Ethiopian Sidamo), which is freshly roasted on the premises. Also look out for the baked goods, which change every day — be sure not to miss their Pandan Chiffon Cake, which is the surefire hot-seller! (We heard that some customers even call to reserve a slice as the cake is freshly baked everyday in small quantities!)

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(Photo from Necessary Provisions Facebook)
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(Photo by Wedding & Travel)

The dinner menu (available after 6pm) serves up a modest range of good sincere home-made food — freshly made pasta, rice dishes such as sambal fried rice and Japanese-styled pork rice bowl, and pork and fish mains — that will cater to any appetite. The chef has also thoughtfully included the Summer Pasta (ingredients change from day-to-day and may include cherry tomatoes, arugula, cucumbers, or Japanese shiso leaves) for vegetarians in the house.

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(Photo by Wedding & Travel)
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(Photo from Necessary Provisions Facebook)

With a strong menu and attentive service, Necessary Provisions will make you feel right at home. (Psst, if you are intending to pop by for dinner, do try to get there earlier to avoid disappointment as ingredients are limited and may run out before time!)

Necessary Provisions
21 Eng Kong Terrace, Singapore 598993
+65 9231 7920

Travel: “You Are The Apple Of My Eye”

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One of the best-selling movies across Asia in the year 2011, we think you wouldn’t be too unfamiliar with Taiwanese novelist-turned-movie director Gidden Ko’s feature debut “You Are The Apple of My Eye” (《那些年,我们一起追的女孩》). Adapted from Ko’s 2006 novel, the movie tells of Ko’s personal teenage romance with the girl of his dreams, Shen Jia Yi. It is a nostalgic throwback into yesteryears, reminding one of lost youths and bittersweet romances.

W&T took a day’s walk through two places along the Pingxi Railway Line where Ke Jing Teng and Shen Jia Yi went on their one and only date-trip in the movie. All we can say is, we were absolutely thrilled! If you, like us, are ardent fans of the film, here’s where you can relive those onscreen romantic moments in your next holiday to Taiwan.

Pingxi (平溪)
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Slowly shedding its ancient past as a coal mining town in the early 20th century, Pingxi is evolving along with the attention it has received as a newfound tourist destination. A vivid contrasting scene of the past and modernity, expect to find old wooden shop-houses juxtaposed with colorful graffiti and be spoilt for choice between finger-licking street food and hip cafes in hidden alleys. A railway track that cuts through the middle of the town also gives one the rare experience of eating and shopping beside a chugging train.

Pingxi is also home to Taiwan’s biggest lantern festival. Crowds from all over Taiwan, and most recently tourists, pour into the small town on the 15th day of Chinese New Year to release huge sky lanterns, known as Tian Deng (天灯), scribbled with well wishes.

The movie buff itinerary:
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1. Release a Sky Lantern: Shops that sell sky lanterns are aplenty in this small town but to replicate your own Ke Jing Teng and Shen Jia Yi moment, find Shi Di Bridge (石底桥) which is only a 10-minute walk from the station.

If you also happen to be a K-Pop fan, you’ll be psyched to know that Hallyu stars Super Junior visited Pingxi to release their own sky lantern two years back. The shop patronized by the Korean boy group is located on a slope near the station. To reach, you just have to walk away from Shi Di bridge and go uphill before you find the shop adorned with pictures of SJ. If unsure, just ask around. Shopkeepers in this area are hospitable people who will point you in the right direction.

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2. Eat an ice ball: This is located directly opposite the sky lantern shop with the SJ poster. These oval-shaped ice balls, which Ke Jing Teng and Shen Jia Yi had in the movie, are sold about a dollar each and come in various flavors like chocolate and mango. It reminded this writer of the long ice packs I used to love eating in primary school. Nostalgic much.

Jing Tong (菁桐)
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The last stop of the Pingxi Railway Line, Jing Tong is a small town boasting of a glorious past and a national monument. Located near the mines, the town in its golden days was a prosperous market place but now, it is on most days peacefully quiet.

The largest draw of the town is the preciously preserved wooden railway station built in the 1930s. It is one of the remaining four authentic Japanese-styled railway stations in Taiwan and still preserves many original features from its heyday, including traditional train tickets and electrical railway block instruments.

The movie buff itinerary:
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1. Walk along the railway tracks: It felt like time stood still when this writer was here. Jing Tong might have passed its prime of being a bustling town but it now possesses a serene beauty that few places in Taiwan can rival. Try balancing on the train tracks, like Ke Jing Teng and Shen Jia Yi did, and just soak in the tranquillity.

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2. Pop by the post office: Movie goers should remember scenes of the couple having a good time walking down an old street. Relish that here in Jing Tong and be entertained by quirky post office themed shops, selling cute items that will do good as souvenirs.

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3. Make a wish: This might not have appeared in the movie but we thought this would be something romantic to do for couples. Purchase a bamboo stick, write down your wish and hang it carefully along the fences surrounding the railway tracks. We saw many couples doing the same when we were there!

Apart from these two destinations, do make full use of your railway ticket by popping by other stops along the Pingxi Railway Line. Shifen (十分), neighbour to popular tourist destination Jiufen (九分), is home to “Taiwan’s Niagara Falls”, a scenic waterfall nestled within greenery. One can also opt to alight at Dahua Station and hike through a hilly terrain of bamboo forests to see the legendary Dahua Potholes, which are odd-shaped craters due to natural erosion.

Pingxi Railway Line is accessible at the Ruifang Train Station, a 40-minutes train ride from Taipei Main Station. For those who have more time to spare, consider planning in Shen Keng (深坑), a small district famed for its smelly tofu, where you can take a 30-minute bus that brings you straight to Jing Tong. Do note that train services along the Pingxi Railway Line are infrequent, so time your stops well. Train schedules are available on the Taiwan Railway website and at every station.

If you’ve been to Pingxi and Jing Tong before, tell us your favorite memories. We’ll love to hear from you!

Enchanted Atelier

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Romantic brides looking for inspiration for your wedding dress, look no further than Enchanted Atelier. Enchanted Atelier has always been one of our favourite designers to look out for everytime bridal week comes around, and its Spring/Summer 2014 collection does not disappoint.

Keeping with its signature ethereal and whimsical styling, Enchanted Atelier’s SS’14 collection celebrates romance and femininity through delicate lace fabrics and vintage silhouettes that recall the charms of yesteryear. The accessories, always a highlight in themselves, likewise draw inspiration from the bygone eras, specifically, the roaring 1920s, with references to flapper fashion apparent in the collection’s feather headpieces, bejewelled hair combs and lace gloves. You may also wish to take a leaf from the collection’s styling, which is polished and elegant with simple up-dos, a brown-based smoky eye for day, well-defined eyebrows, and of course, the classic red lip.

If you’re the bride who is not into the razzle and dazzle, but prefer wearing an easygoing charm, we reckon you’re going to like Enchanted Atelier as much as we do. Check out their SS’14 lookbook below and be enthralled!

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Lifestyle: Food-O-Philia 2013

While award-winning British chef Gordon Ramsey’s face-off with three famed local hawkers was the talk of the town last weekend, we think that Food-O-Philia 2013 is one event you foodies shouldn’t be missing out on.

As the name suggests, Food-O-Philia 2013 is a buffet spread of talks, movie screenings, music and photography exhibitions centered upon the most inextricable component of the Singapore culture. A vibrant fete of arts and culture, it seeks to explore the relationship between our food and national identity and will be something that pleases even the most curious of palates.

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W&T visited The Arts House last weekend for “Edible Lit: The Exhibition”, which showcased 30 original works sieved out from 100 entries submitted by the public in response to an open call earlier this year. Far from just being beautiful pictures of delicious food, these pieces are recreations of food scenes from literature like “The Merchant of Venice” and invokes thoughts about the enduring relationship between the two popular art forms. It is also most inspiring to see how words are transformed into pictures.

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A scene from local movie “Sweet Dreams and Turtle Soup”.

We are also looking forward to discussions chaired by local connoisseurs on how the local food scene is evolving as well as screening of local food-themed movies like “Sweet Dreams and Turtle Soup” which is a coming-of-age film about a 16-year-old girl and her dreams of escaping work at her mother’s turtle soup stall.

So if you’re planning to ditch the usual eat-shop-movie routine this weekend, we think this would be one place you’d want to be. Visit Food-O-Philia 2013 and plan away!

Lifestyle: The Providore

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With its unassuming location at the Tan Boon Liat Building along Outram Road, you might be forgiven for overlooking this little gem — The Providore — that has recently been making waves in the local food scene with its tasteful selection of gourmet and artisan foods. Taking a cue from its namesake, The Providore takes pride in providing consumers with wholesome good foods that not only look good and taste good, but also celebrate the joy of eating well.

“The pleasure of discovering, creating and sharing good food was what inspired us to develop The Providore brand.” Bruce Chapman, managing director of The Providore shared passionately. “Here at The Providore, we don’t just love food. We adore food.”

The self-respecting food connoisseur or those with a penchant for the finer things in life will definitely appreciate what you can find at The Providore. If you have no idea where to start, Bruce highly recommends the jams and marmalades that are lovingly made from seasonal fruit in Yarra Valley, Australia. To preserve the natural flavour of the fruits, the jams and marmalades are only produced in small batches each time.

Another highlight would be the organic biscuits from Marchesi Di San Giuliano, which are exclusive to The Providore in Singapore. Staying true to its roots, these handmade organic biscuits draw their flavours from citrus fruits and nuts that grow either on the family estate, or in the surrounding areas of Sicily, Italy.

Good news for the foodie couples out there — The Providore is already working towards offering catering services moving forward, which means that including these good foods in your wedding line-up might no longer be a dream in the future! For now, you can still get your regular fix at the The Providore’s Tan Boon Liat warehouse store, or better, savour the many concoctions at their newly opened café restaurant at the Mandarin Gallery.

“Our chefs and bar staff have spent the past few months perfecting recipes that feature our products as well as fresh season items from the local marketplace. The result, we feel, is an interesting mix of food and beverages that is quite unique and something new to offer the Singapore dining scene.”

The Providore Warehouse
315 Outram Road #05-03
Tan Boon Liat Building
Singapore 169074
Open everyday, 10am – 8pm

The Providore Mandarin Gallery
333A Orchard Road
Mandarin Gallery
#02-05
Singapore 238897
Open everyday, 9am – 11pm

http://www.theprovidore.com/