Sunday, July 19, 2009

Singapore Food Festival 2009

I was one of several food bloggers invited to attend the official opening of this year's Singapore Food Festival (SFF). It was an honour and privilege I happily accepted. The event was held in the evening of 17 July at beautiful Clarke Quay.

This year's theme is - no surprise - Peranakan! Thanks to the phenomenal success of the hit drama series, The Little Nyonya, the Peranakan culture is enjoying a mini renaissance :)

It being a Friday, the atmosphere was relaxed - almost carnival-like - with many people milling along the River Promenade, where the Singapore River Market was located. There were many stalls selling all sorts of handicrafts, accessories, and of course, FOOD! Yes, food glorious food! Let's walk through the events of the evening, shall we?

This is Clarke Quay by day. Thank goodness for lovely cool weather. For my overseas readers, this is a historical riverside quay that underwent restorations in recent years. The colourful buildings you see are actually restored godowns which now house restaurants and pubs. The photo on the bottom right is the G-MAX Reverse Bungy. I could hear shrilly screams every few minutes as I took these photos.

Beauty queen contenders, dressed in traditional kebayas, and sitting pretty in a row.

I don't think you can ever find a dull-looking kebaya. I love the rich, vibrant colours and intricate designs.

(Left) People were queueing for a place in the Peranakan Parade.
(Centre) Percussion band, Samba Masala, electrified the mood as they led the procession.
(Right) I walked behind this young girl who was dressed in her traditional dress. A real Little Nyonya!

This is Clarke Quay Food Street, which stands on Read Bridge. The stalls are located on both sides of this photo. You can buy and sample all kinds of Singapore favourites, from Chicken Rice to Satay to Kueh Chang. Take your pick - there are more than 30 stalls to choose from! The photographer standing on a chair was taking photos of the VIPs, who gamely took part in the Peranakan Parade.

The lady in blue and pink is Ms Violet Oon, who is synonymous with food in Singapore. (Right) The VIPs made a toast with their Kueh Pie Tees! LOL! I thought that was really amusing.

Here are some of the stalls I managed to photograph as I muscled my way from one end to the other. (Left) A stall selling briyani, (Centre) Peranakan favourites, (Right) Satay.

After walking through the food area, we arrive at Central Square @ Clarke Quay, where the official opening ceremony was to take place. Guests and performers gathered for what was to be a splendid evening ahead.

Gulp ... a moment of deja vu putting on that media pass.

The stage.

These are the real Nyonyas. You can be sure every single one of them can cook and joget!

Lovely ladies dressed in their resplendent best, with pretty flowers in their hair.

At the VIP table. And yes, the man standing in the middle of this photo is none other than KF Seetoh, founder of Makansutra. You may have read that he recently went on the Martha Stewart show and cooked laksa. Isn't that just awesome?

We were treated to a fashion show and the sweet chorus of the Nyonyas. I love those killer heels in the top left photo! Yup, a girl can never have too many shoes, especially elaborately beaded ones in red. OK, I digress ...

This must have been a welcomed sight to many guys. I was referring to the Chang beer.

Soon, night fell, and the entire place transformed into a twinkling wonderland of colours.

As you can see, there was a cooking demonstration on stage, but I was too busy talking to people (that's me in the brown dress on the right).

I let my hair down after 4 beers. Nah, just kidding! I don't drink, not even socially. These were cups left behind by others. THEY drank my share.

After the ceremony came to an end, I made my way back to the River Promenade. I saw people feasting on crabs, popiah, Hokkien mee and curries. The Peranakan stalls, in particular, were doing brisk business. Very crowded, but the overwhelming turnout can only mean good news to the organisers. Can you spot me?

Back at the River Promenade, I spied these tiffin carriers, which were given to guests of the event. How charming! I was given one too! Oh, happy day!

This is such a novel souvenir for guests to bring back. Kudos to whoever came up with this idea. I was stopped by passers-by several times, who wanted to know where they could buy it. And when I got home, my family oohed and aahed as they examined it. I absolutely love it!

By the way, the tiffin carriers were filled with food! Open them up and you will find these Peranakan dishes.

Tadah, dinner is served! The irony is, despite being surrounded by food, I didn't get a chance to eat anything until I reached home at 9pm! Too busy checking things out, you see. I have to say, the tiffin food was good, but the desserts were exceptional, especially the Kueh Dadar (the long green roll). Bliss at first bite! In fact, I went out to get more the next day.

Kueh Dadar, one of my favourite Nyonya kuehs.

The Executive Chef of Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore - who sponsored the tiffin dinner - being interviewed by a camera crew.

More food stalls lay in wait. This one sold beautifully packaged Peranakan specialties. (Top) Pineapple tarts presented in exquisitely wrapped jars, (Bottom) Packets of rempah for all kinds of curry dishes.

Final photo before I went home - The Little Teochew meets The Little Nyonya. Sorry, couldn't resist that!

Last but not least, my sincere thanks toNuffnang, and Singapore Tourism Board, for this invitation to a wonderful evening of food, fun and festivities!

For full details of the Singapore Food Festival, see here.


  1. Congratulations! Seriously, you had only just begun blogging and you were INVITED by the Tourism Board?! WOW.

  2. What great shots ~ I enjoyed them all..the colors..the montages.. just a perfect little tour.
    I have to add that you look beautiful:)
    I had to.You made me smile w/ the beer..not only the empty glasses but the young girl selling refreshments too.
    I had never heard of Tiffin carriers.. but wow how cute are those!!!
    And I must admit this Nana loves the Nyonyas beautiful sweater/dress sets:) So pretty~

    And the shoes.. a balancing act for me..:) striking photo!

    Thank you for this tour.. I had never seen anything quite like it..will you be making the pretty green rolls and teaching us?:)

  3. Wow, very impressive. If there's one thing Sg can do right, it has to be makan.... I'm not surprised you've gotten STB's attention so soon, you produce good content and you run a beautiful blog. :)

    The tiffin carrier is indeed gorgeous! And filled with food too!

  4. Oh I wish I were in Singapore! I miss all the kueh. Those tiffin cans are also adorable. Do they have other food-related festivals other times of the year?

  5. I'm sad! I've lived in Singapore for 9 years and I never got the chance to attend this festival!

  6. JL: Thanks! :)

    La Table De Nana: Merci :) I am glad you enjoyed the "tour". I hope you come to Singapore some day. I will be happy to meet you and bring you around.

    Leon: Thanks! :)

    Leneve: Singaporeans are indeed lucky where food is concerned. The 2 major food events this year are World Gourmet Summit (which has ended) and the Singapore Food Festival (which has just begun). Of course, we have many cultural food festivals throughout the year - the most recent being Dumpling Festival (yum!) and I believe the next one being Mooncake Festival (again, yum!) ...

    burpandslurp: Make a trip back to Singapore again, LAH!

  7. Can I come to Singapore too? Everyone is beautiful and the shoes ... oo la la! Congrats on being a VIP. So great!

  8. Ninette: You are most cordially invited to come to Singapore! Thank you for your kind words. I had a blast!

  9. Traditional costume, thoughtful souvenir, festive pic, thank you for the posting.

    I also enjoy a number of Singaporean foods; any chance to read your recipe on Laksa Soup?