Geri Tan is the creator of Spring Tomorrow, a food blog that I visit whenever I want to experience all the excitement and anticipation of taking a food excursion abroad from the comfort of my own home. The site’s frequent updates and tons of photos from Geri’s travels throughout Singapore where she resides always make me feel as if I’m being brought along to some new and wonderful place; someplace where good food and drink aren’t taken just as nourishment, but as crucial components in the lifestyle of someone who knows how best to treasure them. She talked with me this month about traditional Singaporean cuisine, the evolution of her tastes as a food lover, how her blog got its name, and more.
Flavorful World: When selecting restaurants to review, what criteria or characteristics do you look for?
Geri Tan: I eat whatever I feel like eating so most of the time, it is an impromptu decision to visit a restaurant. Sometimes, I get recommendations through family and friends or I come across a restaurant that I have not been to before. I am an adventurer when it comes to food so I just want to try everything.
FW: Annual gastronomic extravaganza the World Gourmet Summit is returning to Singapore next month, with “the classics” as its theme. Name and describe three dishes that are classic Singaporean cuisine, then tell us what beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) you’d drink with them.
GT: What can be better than to start the day with a traditional breakfast of Kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs. Crispy toast with coconut jam & butter, dipped in runny soft-boiled eggs seasoned with just a little white pepper and dark soy sauce. Best paired with Kopi O, a strong black coffee with just sugar.
Hainanese chicken rice is also a dish that everyone here loves. Imagine succulent, smooth and silky poached chicken on a plate of white rice cooked in chicken broth served with tangy chilli and ginger sauce. This started out as a street hawker food but it is so popular today that we can get them in hawker centres, restaurants, hotels and even on Singapore Airlines flights. It’s so good, I could eat this all the time. Best paired with chin chow (grass jelly drink).
Chilli crab is another iconic national dish of Singapore that seems to symbolise our multi-racial and multi-cultural society with its robust flavours of sweet, salty, sour and spicy that marry wonderfully. The fun part is to wear an apron as you eat with your hands so you don’t get your shirt messed up. Best enjoyed with a glass of ice-cold beer.
FW: What were your favorite things to eat when you were growing up? How have your tastes evolved over time?
GT: Fried chicken wings, potato chips and everything that my Granny cooked when she was living with me when I was little. I used to make bad (heart-unfriendly) choices of food most of the time. As I become older, I learn to eat sensibly and healthily. My palates have changed a lot and these days, I prefer vegetables, soups and steamed dishes to oily, greasy foods but my love for desserts has also evolved unknowingly and I can never resist cakes from my favourite patisserie.
FW: Anthony Bourdain is credited with the quote, “You have an impeccable argument if you said that Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo are food capitals. They have a maximum amount of great stuff to eat in the smallest areas.” Tell us about the smallest restaurant at which you’ve enjoyed a memorably delicious meal, and what you ate.
GT: It would have to be this tiny sushi bar located in an inconspicuous corner of a shopping mall in the heart of town. A hidden gem that serves up quality sashimi, air-flown from Japan. I had my best chirashi don here which consisted of a generous portion of fish roe, scallops, salmon, seared salmon belly, swordfish, yellowtail, tuna, crabstick and egg on a bowl of sushi rice. Truly a sashimi carnival in a bowl. Sweet, fresh and sensational. I literally tasted the ocean.
FW: Tell us the significance of your choosing “Spring Tomorrow” as the name of your site.
GT: Spring signifies hope and new life. Just like how flowers would bloom and trees would come back to life after a bitter winter. It never fails to remind me, no matter how tough the going gets, I will bounce back from any setback tomorrow. And these are the positive energies and good vibes that I wish to pass on to others through my site.
FW: In what city other than the one where you now reside did you eat your most recent, most remarkable meal? What made the meal special?
GT: I had the best English scones served with clotted cream and jam in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Getting a taste of olde England in Shakespeare’s hometown was something very surreal to me. While exploring the historic town on foot, I came across this Tudor house-medieval style cafe that specialises in home-made English food. Food presentation was unpretentious. Scones were moist, warm and crumbly. The clotted cream was a real Cornish classic, all creamy, thick and rich. Absolutely delicious.
FW: What is your favorite meal that can be prepared with exactly four ingredients? What makes it your favorite?
GT: A gratifying plate of simple fried rice. I would only need white rice, char siu (roasted pork), frozen mixed vegetables and eggs. This is my favourite dish to cook, not just because it is easy and cheap to make but this is the first dish that my granny taught me to make when I was nine. When Granny left the house we lived in, I was very much on my own during my growing up years so I’d regularly cook fried rice then as though she was still by my side. This fried rice is my favourite because it isn’t just food to fill me up, it is a story about a remarkable person who is an inspiration to me in the kitchen and who also means the most to me.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
GT: “To Food, With Love.”
FW: When you aren’t cooking and/or eating delicious foods, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
GT: Taking leisure walks along nature trails in Singapore. Many people are often mistaken that our small country is merely a concrete city of high-rise buildings but there are many nature reserves and parks here that we can explore. Get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life and enjoy the sights and sounds of flora and fauna. This is all I need to rejuvenate my mind and body. Besides this, I also enjoy writing poems which is a side of me that most do not know.
*Note to Readers: Take a food discovery trip you won’t soon forget, and do it with the click of a mouse: check out Spring Tomorrow to read all about Geri’s latest recipes, restaurant reviews, see her stunning food photos, and a whole lot more.