Fire up your taste buds, there’s a new kid in town

The word supper club conjures up images of an exclusive members only venue in London or America. Somewhere dimly lit, full of stylishly elegant people, smoking cigarettes and sipping cocktails. The actual American definition of supper club is ‘a small, expensive night club.’ However, to many others it refers to a kind of mix between a restaurant and having dinner at a friend’s house – a friend who’s a really good cook. Often at traditional supper clubs there would be entertainment provided too in the form of cabaret or live music.

More recently, supper clubs have undergone a resurgence in popularity and tend to refer to ‘underground restaurants’ that are more intimate than ordinary restaurants and offer diners a cosier, more homely feel, with service that is less Maitre D’ and more ‘you matter.’

Inside The Ottomani

The beautifully decadent interior of The Ottomani.

The Ottomani is one of the latest, and most stylish supper clubs to open here in Singapore and is set in the heart of Tanjong Pagar, one of Singapore’s favourite neighbourhoods known to foodies and trend setters alike.

Hidden in the back of a heritage shop house on Peck Seah Street, the entrance takes you through a neighbourhood establishment where you could be forgiven for wondering if you have come to the wrong place. But, no sooner do you give your name than you are whisked away to one of the most stylish and desirable dining rooms you will ever see.

Low, dark wood tables edged in gold, leather sofas laden with pillows and turkish rugs all offer a dining experience that feels intimate and homely. Golden lights twinkle from the many low-hanging pendants and table lights and the whole room exudes warmth. Standing proudly around the room are huge polished drinks trolleys that are heaving with gleaming glasses, bottles of all variations and all the accoutrements that are needed by the best cocktail makers.

The Ottomani - Türk Kajvesi G&T

A simple G&T takes on a new meaning here.

With no bar as such, the bartenders instead bring the bar to you preparing your drink on the mobile trolley. With a selection of cocktails and fine wines to choose from, this isn’t the easiest choice either – so let the staff at The Ottomani do what they do best and advise you on what to have. Service is where the restaurant comes in to its own. Capturing the experience of days gone by, everything comes with a personal touch.

I was lucky enough to experience this when myself and my guests – who were visiting from the uk – ate there recently. We were served by Thomas, the Slovakian head bar man who was happy to recommend dishes that he thought we should try as well as suggest how much of the food to order – you really could over order very easily.

This is due to Australian Chef Nic Philip’s ever-changing seasonal menu which is full of food you just have to try. The menu comes from a lifetimes of experience in Middle Eastern flavours and ingredients from his childhood family table as well as from his experience at leading London venues such as #26. He has a love of light and fresh cuisine with a passion for spice and this is reflected in dishes such as ‘Mum’s’ Spinach and Cheese Triangles and Burnt Carrots.

The Ottomani - Cabbage Sprouts

Who doesn’t love sprouts?

Spinach and cheese triangles

Just like mum used to make?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire features strongly at The Ottomani – from the oil lanterns that burn around the room to the wood-fired earth pit. In this custom-designed pit, every night before he leaves the restaurant, Chef Nic buries the next night’s menu leaving it to slow roast over night. This gives a depth of flavour that just cannot be replicated in an oven and leads to melt-in-the-mouth dishes made for sharing such as Sticky Pork Belly with a rub of turkish coffee, palm sugar and Szechuan pepper.

The Ottomani waiters and bar tenders

The service is attentive without being intrusive.

The end of the night comes too quickly at The Ottomani but also with a flourish. We ordered a sorbet pudding that was prepared at the table offering a spectacle of dry ice and popcorn popping in front of our eyes. It tasted great too.

Everything we ate tasted amazing and was served beautifully and with care; the service being just the right side of attentive. We were all in awe of the decor and the whole ambience of the restaurant. In fact, I can’t wait to go back.

If you go along, do let them know that 5 Go Mad recommended you.

The Ottomani, 48 Peck Seah Street, Singapore, 079317

+65 9231 9316.

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Time to get your crazy on

RiccardoTinelli@CrazyHorseParis_FastyWizz

Sexy not shocking

A recent Facebook post on a Singapore Expat site has got me thinking. It was about the iconic Parisian cabaret show Crazy Horse, whose Forever Crazy tour is coming to Singapore very soon. The post questioned if it was ‘suitable’ for women to go and see or is it regarded as tacky or non pc?

In this age of female empowerment why are women shying away from the idea of going to see a show like Forever Crazy? Let’s get to the nuts (no pun intended or I would have said crutch) of it shall we? 

Is it that really, as women, we don’t want to be seen as sexy?

Why not? We are!

Maybe not when we’re worn out after no sleep and have baby food (or our own food) smeared over our tops, but it’s there sometimes right? In my mind we should be proud of our sexuality  – be that on a stage dressed only in lights or at home dressed in a pair of jeans and t-shirt.

Is it that we think the show is exploitative?

This is not a show that exploits women, it’s a show that celebrates them. The dancers who perform are at the peak of their careers, having trained for years for this kind of gig. They are now touring the world doing what they love. Oh and they get paid for it too. Where’s the exploitation in that?

Are we scared that if we take our partners they might enjoy it a little too much?

So what? If they didn’t, wouldn’t you be more concerned? You never know you could be pleasantly surprised by the resulting mood…

RiccardoTinelli@CrazyHorseParis51

Don’t keep it secret, this show is fabulous!

Do you think it’ll just be a sex show?

It’s not, ask anyone who has seen it either in Paris, Las Vegas or on this current tour. With one of it’s most famous dances “God Save Our Bareskin” choreographed by a former lieutenant of the British Army no less, do you really think us Brits would stand for that? (Ahem, cough, cough, moving on)

No, seriously. The show is a celebration of women and their bodies yes. But it’s far from tacky. There are routines choreographed by the likes of Philippe Decouflé – writer and director of the Cirque du Soleil show Iris. A spectacle of light, colour, sensuality and Joie de vivre the show is sexy, fun, clever and unlike anything you will have seen before. 

Come on girls, grab your friends and book a girls night out – or book a date night with your other half that you’ll both enjoy – and celebrate all that it is to be feminine, sexy and have fun.

RiccardoTinelli@CrazyHorseParis19

Girls night out or date night? You choose

If you need more convincing, here’s a short history I wrote for Base Entertainment about the show.

The Crazy Horse cabaret, or ‘Le Crazy’ as it’s commonly known in France, is an iconic Parisian cabaret show founded in 1951 by painter and art dealer Alain Bernardin. Unlike other cabaret shows of the time, Bernardin purposefully opened his show just off the Champs-Élysées, thereby distinguishing it from the tacky strip joints or risqué burlesque shows found in the Pigalle district.

In fact, the story goes that Bernardin wanted to present a show that the president could watch without compromising his situation – and one where he could return the next week and bring along his wife. High standards indeed!

Bernardin conceived a show unlike any other that featured classically trained dancers performing stunning choreography, using lights and projections that played with the shapes and curves of women’s bodies. This gave the dancers an aura of mystery, the audience a spectacle unlike any other and the result was a show that was stylish, elegant and witty. 

The Golden Rules

The dancers, referred to as The Crazy Girls, come from all over the world including the UK, US, Russia and of course France. From the very beginning Bernardin was very strict about what look he wanted for his Crazy Girls. They had to be classically trained dancers and were chosen for their likeness to each other; they had to be the same height, shape and even have the same breast size.

Bernardin’s (or maybe his teams?) criteria for the perfect Crazy Girl was that they should be around 1.7m tall, with no more than 21cm between nipples and 13cm between naval and pubis.

Go on girls – get the tape measure out and see if you would qualify.

These “Golden Rules” as they were referred to, have stood for more than 60 years but have thankfully developed to include dancing and acting skills, sophistication and personality.

Still, would you get in?

RiccardoTinelli@MikaDo

Do you have what it takes to be a Crazy Girl?

Each year Crazy Horse receives over 500 applications from aspiring dancers who want to become a Crazy Girl – out of these only a handful actually make it in to the ‘family.’  If chosen, the dancer is then put through three to five months of intensive training – a Crazy Parisian dance bootcamp if you like. Only then, after successfully completing the demanding training, are the dancers given their ‘nom de scéne’ (stage name).

This nom de scéne, is given right after their very first public stage performance and is regarded as a baptism for each new dancer. Every girls name is unique to that dancer – a few of the names to look out for include Mina Velours, Loulou de Paris, Psykko Tico and Taina de Bermudes.

Famous Faces

Many of the dancers are quite rightly recognised as being the best in their field. Some of the most famous Crazy Girl dancers you may have heard of include Rita Renoir, Bertha von Paraboumm, Rosa Fumetto, Lova Moore and Polly Underground.

The show has also become famous for its celebrity guest stars who have appeared on stage. These have included Dita Von Teese, Pamela Anderson, Conchita Wurst and Kylie Minogue. Demi Moore reportedly learned the ropes for her movie Striptease by watching the Crazy Girls in action.  

2010 saw the start of the Forever Crazy worldwide tour. Conceived as a tribute to Alain Bernardin, it consists of a selection of the best acts from the cabarets 50 year repertoire. According to Crazy Horse; “the result is a distinctive show that delights the mind and enthralls the eyes!”

“God Save our Bareskin” – a dance choreographed by a lieutenant of the British Army – kicks off each show as it has done in Paris since 1989. Another dance to look out for is “Crisis? What Crisis” which was inspired by the world financial crisis.

 The show has won rave reviews all over the world. Don’t miss your chance to catch it in Singapore while you can.

Forever Crazy is showing at MBS Theatres Wednesday 11th – Sunday 22nd October. Tickets available here.

Photo credits: Riccardo Tinelli

 

Joining the Sisterhood

Sister Act The Musical

Come join the sisterhood

There is nothing I enjoy more than a night (or day) at the theatre. Musicals in particular have an appeal like no other. I swear I must have had some connection to the theatre in a previous life. Sadly I don’t think I was high kicking with Liza Minelli or serenading Michael Ball; probably more like running around polishing shoes or sewing sequins. So it is with much excitement that I have recently been talking to the company who bring all the best shows to our little red dot, Base Entertainment. Today I was fortunate enough to be invited to the press call for its latest show at the MasterCard theatre, MBS, Sister Act  – sequinned wimples and all.

Anyone too young to have watched the movie Sister Act needs to get themselves a couple of hours on the sofa right now as it’s a rare treat. Real old school comedy, fine female (and some male) actors and fabulous music. What more could you want? Obviously Whoopi Goldberg is forever associated with the film – but did you know it also featured Maggie Smith (pre Dame hood) and Harvey Keitel?

So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that a musical based on the film is also a must see. A huge hit from Broadway to the West End this production features the cast direct from the Broadway show. Obviously I’m not going to give too much away about what we were shown to say but suffice to say I’m more than a tad excited to be seeing the show.

From a 16ft tall Virgin Mary (with a not so dark side), to racks bursting with sparkling habits, our tour backstage was fascinating. Molly, the production stage manager showed us where she cues stage crew, audio and actors alike from left of stage (or right of stage if you are her as she has to do everything backwards) and the ‘God mike’ – for when things go wrong.

Gondola row – or wardrobe walk – was much smaller than I had imagined. This is the area where actors do quick changes. I can only imagine the swan like activity that goes on – with calm changes on the surface and utter panic underneath. I spotted a Wurlitzer (which looked original and I immediately coveted) bar stools upended, bottles of drink and glasses, Dolores coat and lots of slippers amongst many other gems. I can’t wait to see where they all feature in the show.

It was fascinating to hear how the sets, costumes, props, lighting and so on are all shipped around the world in five sea containers. How parts of the set are moved on and off stage and how the huge cast and crew work together to ensure the show is as good in one country as the next.

With shows as good as this hitting our shores I for one will make sure I’m supporting them – please go and do the same so this sister can carry on feeding her ‘habit.’

Look out for my Facebook post for my thoughts on the show itself.

Sister Act is on at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands from 9th – 28th May.

Costumes back stage

Watch out for the wimples!

Sister Act The Muscal

Part of the scenery

Props backstage

An original Wurlitzer?

Scenery, backstage at Sister Act the Musical, Singapore

A different view to usual

Wires, cables, musical

Can you imagine trying to find the fuse that blows in this lot?

Delores Sister Act Costume

You can never have too much fur and fringing – Delores costume.

Scenery, backstage at Sister Act the Musical, Singapore

She’s looking very virginal right now – but she has a hidden side. All 16ft of her!

sister act

Not to be missed!

Jigger & Pony

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As one of the older kids on the block Jigger & Pony is the go-to place for those in the know. Since it’s opening a few years ago, this warm and welcoming bar has proved to be a venue that has firmly ensconced itself in the popular cocktail bar scene for those looking for a classic cocktail.

If it’s a classic Martini you are after then J&P should be high on your list.

Located in the oh so trendy Amoy Street, Jigger & Pony is one of those bars you could easily walk past. Not in the achingly trendy no real door way of some of the bars in Singapore, but in an unassuming, not bigging ourselves up way.

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We visited on a Saturday evening after dinner and the place was packed. Even so, we got a spot at the large bar and made ourselves as comfy as you can on bar stools. We were immediately greeted by the bar staff – who were all busy mixing up drinks – and a waiter handed us a menu to take a look at. The choice is wide but not so vast that you can’t choose. All of your favourites are on there including Gin Fizz and Martinis, as well as some more unusual offerings like a French 75 (gin, lemon and sparkling wine).

They have an extensive whiskey menu, featuring various Japanese, Scotch and Bourbons, to name but a few. In fact, the list of other spirits, wines, beers is pretty extensive too.

The selection of bottles behind the bar really is a sight to behold. My husband and I did our best to decipher some of the labels, suffice to say they have some very special home blends. Although we were tempted by the Punch Bowls that were on the menu – serving 15-20 people no less! – we settled for one cocktail each. Hubby chose a classic Gin Fizz and I went for an Airmail, which claimed to be the ‘fastest way to your happy place.’

IMG_3233The drinks arrived and although not quite as quirky as some of the cocktails we’ve had, it made a pleasant change to see drinks served up in a simple and elegant way. They also tasted great! The Airmail pretty much lived up to its claim too 😉

If you do decide to pay a visit to J&P do also pay a visit to the IMG_3228bathroom. In the ladies at least you will find the walls papered with pages from The Savoy Cocktail Book. With recipes for all the old classics right there it makes a mundane task that little bit more interesting. Huge bonus points for cuteness and quirkiness here.

Overall we really liked the vibe at Jigger & Pony and will definitely head back there. In fact, we found out they have happy hour between 6-8 with cocktails at just $14. Add to that the happy hour snacks that include a Bikini Sandwich and Beef Skewers, we could be back there sooner than we thought.

Oh, and interesting fact of the day – why the name? It’s all explained rather handily in the menu…

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I do love a random fact.

Jigger and Pony
101 Amoy Street
069921
(+65) 9621 1074
www.jiggerandpony.com

Bitters & Love

image3This place was one of the first cocktail bars I visited here in Singapore. My husband and I were looking for somewhere to go where we could chat, have a few drinks and just spend some time together. We hit the jackpot straight away. Since then the bar has actually moved venues, but it still has the same relaxed vibe.

Bitters & Love is run by a guy called Ernest. He came over to us that first evening and introduced himself. Now here’s a guy who loves his job. He was so enthusiastic about the drinks he was serving, the venue, the food, the staff and his customers that we ended up chatting for quite a while. He told us how he’d started the bar himself and wanted to provide a space where people could have a good time and feel at home. It was then he introduced my husband to Geranium gin – apparently its the stuff of dreams. As someone who doesn’t drink gin I couldn’t tell you, but suffice to say it’s now one of hubby’s favourite drinks.

As for the cocktails, the bar staff – who will make you feel welcome immediately – will ask what kind of drink you like, what base, mixer etc. But they don’t need specifics as its the detail they’re good at.

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The perfect alternative to my beloved tea.

I requested something with white rum or vodka base, fruity but not too sweet. I admit to being a bit sceptical at first as wasn’t sure I’d get a drink I’d actually be able to drink, let alone like. But I needn’t have worried. What I got was a little slice of heaven. I don’t know how they knew about me and my tea thing but really, could it have been more ‘me’? It tasted amazing with just the right amount of rum along with something that gave it a kick. The passion fruit gave it a nice fruity edge with enough sharpness to not make it sickly. Yum!

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Bread and jam with your cocktail – why not?

The next one I chose from their cocktail menu. They call it breakfast in a glass – a little jar full of Singapore. For me, it was a little too sweet but hey, that’s Kaya jam for you, but I loved the presentation. The rest of the evening was spent trying some other flavours whilst hubby tucked in to more of the gin. Overall we had a fab night and agreed we’d go back again soon.

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Look out for the subtle sign!

A few weeks later some girlfriends and I were meeting for cocktails and I suggested we try out the ‘new’ Bitters & Love (having heard it had moved home). It’s a bit hidden away and hard to spot – as all the best bars in Singapore are – and it did feel a bit like we were stepping in to a building site. But I quite liked the lack of pretension and the quirky scribble on the doorway letting you know you were in the right place.

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We were ‘quackers’ about this one (sorry!)

Once inside, Fiona, one of the lovely bar staff (who was quick to apologise for the lack of ‘real door’) showed us to our table. Luckily we’d booked ahead as it does get pretty busy. We all ordered different drinks and again the service was helpful, quick and friendly. The drinks we got were completely different to each other. This one was a particular favourite. Despite it’s ‘rock’ name (Tuscan Trident) it was a bit of a cutie – and tasted amazing.

We all loved the atmosphere of the bar and could have happily spent the night there. The only negative for us was that we were sat right under a speaker and couldn’t hear each other properly. However, as soon as we mentioned this to Fiona she turned it down a touch for us.

The food at B&L is worth a try too. With cubes of beef, potatoes ‘chips’ and other yummy favourites on the menu, it’s comfort food at its best.

Overall, as a bar goes, B&L is up there with one of the most comfortable, entertaining (the staff can really throw those bottles around) and friendly joints in Singapore. Add to the mix the amazing cocktails they serve, it’s well worth a visit in my opinion.

If you go along, tell them Five Go Mad says hi!

Bitters & Love
118 Telok Ayer Street
Tel:6438 1836
https://www.facebook.com/BittersandLove?fref=ts

 

Aside

Err… Yes

The life of an expat wife in Singapore is getting more fun there’s no doubt. I have friends that I feel comfortable with, more going on day-to-day, getting lost a bit less, I am actually starting to feel like I live here. With my new years resolution being to say yes to more things I’ve kicked it off with my first proper ‘ladies night.’

In the UK, this ladies night malarkey doesn’t exist. Well, not in the way it does here. There are those ladies nights where groups of women get together and scream embarrassing stuff at male strippers whilst drinking copious amounts of alcohol and dancing around handbags*. But, that’s never appealed to me, I’m just not in to that kind of thing – the stripper bit, not the alcohol (as if!) So I was a little wary of the ladies nights here, wondering if they are similar in their playful debauchery.

*no offence to those that enjoy this kind of shindig!

And as a service to you all I felt obliged to find out.

True to my ‘say yes’ to more things mantra, I forced my butt out of the house midweek. I won’t lie, it was a struggle. Drinking, on a school night and everything. But apparently it’s what us expat wives do here.

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Those in the know are fully conversed in which bars offer the most or best ‘free-flow’ (I’ll come back to that), pizzas and cocktails on ladies night. I don’t, so I just went along to one someone else had organised hoping it would be alright.

I’d met one of the ladies who was going the day before and she was bringing a pal. Lucky she did as numbers started to drop first thing Wednesday morning. By mid afternoon many of those that were coming were bailing. it looked like there would be just the three of us. All good though, I was still going. YES I was.

When I arrived at the bar – The Exchange at Asia Square for those who want to know – it was heaving and I hesitated before going in. After a quick shifty around I spotted another ‘lost’ looking woman and approached her. Something I probably wouldn’t have done before becoming an expat. Turns out she was the friend of the lady I was meeting up with. Lovely, we’d found each other and we chatted whilst waiting for our mutual pal to arrive. We must have looked a bit lost as another woman approached us and asked if we were ok. We admitted we didn’t have a clue so she gave us a quick run down of how it was done.

This is what is great about Singapore, people are willing to say ‘hey, you ok there, do you want some help?’ – especially amongst the expats. So, this very helpful lady explained how this particular ladies night worked (they are all different apparently).

X marked the spot

Branded!

We simply had to go to find the lady with The Stamp. She was to be found behind what looked like a sink full of beer dishing out stamps to women and buckets of beer to men. X marked the spot quite literally. She branded us (our other pal had arrived by then) and gave us a (plastic!) cocktail glass each and nodded towards what looked like juice dispensers.

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Dangerously innocent looking

Red, milky white and bright orange and green were our options. Cosmo, lychee martini and no idea as wasn’t going to drink anything that glows like that.

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Lychee martini’s – yum!

We opted for lychee martinis and boy were they good. This is where ‘free-flow’ enters your vocabulary. Turns out, just because I have a pair of breasts, on a Wednesday I can drink as many of these rather lovely concoctions between 6-9 and NOT PAY A PENNY! Weird right? It’s free-flowing you see? There are free-flow brunches, free-flow ladies night, free-flow parties galore here.

You just have to know where and when.

So, there we were happily quaffing our free cocktails and rather enjoying ourselves. Another lady joined us which made us a merry gang of four. Perfect.

But, come 9 o clock they shut you down. Take away your glass (plastic thing) and you have to slide back in to the reality of paying through the nose for a drink. By then, of course, you’re quite happy to do so. After all you’ve had a few freebies, so why not? The bar definitely emptied out though after the 9 o clock curfew. There are some very astute drinkers in Singapore you know.

We stayed put though and had a fab night of girly chatter and got chatting to some other expats – again something that just seems to happen here. There may even have been a spot of volleyball going on somewhere, but that could have been a rumour.

To top the night off, in a nod to my Essex routes – and the insistence of the Aussies I was with – we did what would be the equivalent of going for a bag of chips and a kebab back home. We hit the hawker centre and devoured some pratas. They were gooooood! Sitting outside on plastic stools in what was essentially a car park, we had the best tasting chicken and banana prata’s ever. Think we may have been ripped off with the price, but still, a bargain late-night meal!

Regretted them the next day though…

So, yes I went out midweek – on a school night and everything – when I didn’t really feel up for it. Yes I went not really knowing anyone. Yes I went along to a bar I’d never been to on my own. Yes I met some great people. Yes I had a great time.Yes I’d go on a ladies night again. And yes, I felt like the proverbial you-know-what the next day. But it was worth it.

See, this saying yes thing is working for me.

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Playlist…