Lantern: A Tranquil Beacon


Singapore can feel so densely packed and swathed in concrete that it's hard to find a place that's truly tranquil.

The moment we stepped out into Lantern, the rooftop bar at the newish Fullerton Bay Hotel, however, we knew we'd found one. The 360-degree view of the city — with the Marina Bay waterfront on one side and Singapore's towering skyline on the other — was breathtaking. The blue glow emanating from the hotel pool was immediately calming. I could almost feel my heartrate slowing as I heard the sound of the live band's strumming guitars drifting over. 

Just minutes before, I was outside the hotel, tiptoeing between cars and nudging my way past financial district pedestrians to get to the hotel. But now, just minutes later, my friend Vino and I found ourselves in idyllic waterfront bliss.

We decided to stay for a moment to check out the scene…

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Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Cheddar & Blue With Asian Pears & Rosemary Honey


There's a lovely little bar near my Brooklyn home that serves the most brilliant grilled cheese sandwiches — the bread is sliced thin and grilled to crisp perfection. And the melted cheddar within is curled around slender slivers of green apples, which lend the sandwich a nice tartness that cuts through the rich cheese.

I think about that sandwich often — and it came to mind again when my Let's Lunch group, a bunch of far-flung bloggers who gather once a month for a virtual lunch date, decided on creative grilled cheese sandwiches for October.

The version I had in mind had a few twists, however …

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Wedding Soup: The Bitter And The Sweet

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When a man loves a woman, in Singapore, it often ends something like this:

The man and his entourage pounding on his loved one’s door, waving red packets of money as bribes, demanding to “buy the bride.” Once they’re inside, a number of the dishes ranging from the downright vile to the sickeningly sweet are set out.

Their task, of course, is to consume what’s set before them with as much gusto as they can muster. Only then have they earned the right to claim the bride for the wedding to proceed.

While it sounds like a prank, the practice actually is a legitimate part of Singaporean Chinese wedding traditions — by eating items that are “suan, ku, la, tian” (sour, bitter, spicy and sweet), the groom is symbolically acknowledging that he expects to go through these phases with his bride in the years ahead. (It’s something of a literal take on the “for better or worse” contract of Western marriages.)

I could say that the women involved in these proceedings often feel sorry for the poor sods–but I’d be lying. The only thing I feel sorry about when I think of my husband and his Singapore groomsman having to down a large spoonful of wasabi (spicy) and immediately chasing it with a pint of Guinness (bitter) was the fact that as the bride, I was locked in a bedroom and unable to watch how green they got.

As a result, whenever I’m a bridesmaid helping out with the “suan, ku, la, tian” bit of the buying of the bride, I relish the opportunity to really stick it to the boys.

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