Lunch with Tatler
This is my inaugrual column for Singapore Tatler; a monthly feature where I have lunch with three members of Singapore’s society. There is no script and there are no pre-prepared questions. Conversation flows and topics jump from one thing to the next. Pull up a chair and join my lunchtime chat with Ginny Wiluan, Elaine Kim and Sharanjit Leyl.
The venue for our lunch is Oso: discrete, delicious and, as it turns out, somewhere everyone loves. “I vote for Oso every time I’m asked what my favourite restaurants are for the Gourmet Summit Awards and Singapore Business Review” BBC’s Sharanjit says upon sitting down. “Richard and I came here on our very first date; we love this place” adds Ginny when she arrives, oblivious of Sharanjit’s earlier praise. Elaine announces that she has been longing to come back since the restaurant’s refurbishment, but hasn’t yet found the time - and it’s hardly surprising. Elaine Kim is a lady who fits a lot into her day (mother of two, she is also a doctor specialising in paliative care for HCA Hospice, Singapore’s biggest home hospice and works part time, five days a week). I commented that her orange dress was beautfully bright, perhaps à propos Chinese New Year; she smiles, “my patients love it when I wear happy colours. It’s uplifting.”
Talk turned to fashion (see ‘Bite Size’ below for details of what everyone is wearing) and we all briefly discussed the virtues of the eponymous DVF wrap dress that does office desk to lunch table, and back again, so beautifully – Sharanjit had come straight from reading the news. “I am looking forward to meeting Diane von Furstenberg when she’s over in Singapore for Fashion Week this May” she announces. The fashion festival may be a stand-alone event but the mass of activity happening this year for SG50 is exciting. Sharanjit adds, “I’ve been flat out working on a documentary that the BBC are doing for Singapore 50. It’s been a real journey and looks at Singapore across the board, from the very wealthy to the people with a more humble background; we’ve tried hard to cover every aspect of Singapore and retrace the steps that have carried it from third world to first. There’s even some footage of me jogging around a few old haunts in my running shoes.”
Looking more chiselled than usual, Ginny also confesses to donning a pair of running shoes, although hers are used for long evening walks: “Richard [her husband] and I have a rule that, once a week at least, when we go out to dinner we walk all the way there and all the way back again. We made it to Mozza at Marina Bay Sands recently.”
Very topical, Chinese New Year crops up in conversation. Ginny, a lawyer, has to squeeze in two reunion dinners this year - one pre-New Year’s Eve as well as the traditional one on the 18th. With three children, her festive shopping has fallen horribly behind: “It’s not much fun braving the queues in Chinatown so late in the day, but there’s so much I still need to buy”. Her top stop for stylish last-minute treats this holiday season? “It’s not traditional but I love Hediard for goodies.”
A holiday destination that we all agreed on was Bali. An island that differs wildly according to where you base yourself - I never tire of hearing what works for different people; Elaine adores Alila Villas Soori, hidden away in Tabanan: “It’s so tranquil, I love going there. It’s miles from the hustle and bustle of Seminyak.” Ginny, by contrast, favours either the Oberoi or the Legian and Sharanjit choses Ubud every time.
And with that, lunch was over. I shut my journalist’s notebook to adoring shouts of “where’s that from?” (It has my name ‘FROG’ embossed in silver caps on its apple green front cover, off-set with a spine bound in a bright orange). It was custom-made by the Society for the Physically Disabled, who are sadly about to discontinue their beautifully made, bespoke, handbound books painstakingly created by disabled people in the charity’s Tiong Bahru headquarters. “Tell me more,” said Elaine “I’d like to help them.” (http://www.spd.org.sg)
What’s the one piece of make-up that makes a real difference to how you look?Ginny: false eyelashes Sharanjit: red lipstick Elaine: concealer Frog: blusher.
Top spas in Singapore?Ginny & Elaine: Remède Spa St Regis (http://www.remedespasingapore.com)
Sharanjit: LS Philosophy (http://www.lsphilosophy.com) Frog: Joanne Chiam for facials (+65 9734 8075)
WE WENT TO: Oso Restaurant. For bookings, see here
WE ATE: Crab meat and panzanella salad, pasta with beetroot-basil pesto and gold dust, pan-seared scallops and finished with pana cotta and caramelised black pepper. WE DRANK: N.V. reserve brut Billecart-Salmon WE WORE: Roland Mouret (Ginny), Vanessa Bruno (Elaine), Diane Von Furstenberg (Sharanjit), Lulu Yasmine jumpsuit (Frog)
The BBC documentary on SG50 airs on 28th Feb at 5:10PM and then again on March 1 at 10:10AM and 11:10PM.
Frog Michaels is a freelance writer and digital editor who has worked at the BBC and writes for a number of titles including The Telegraph. She has lived in Singapore for six years and considers it home. Her blog changmoh.com, which charts the musings of an English girl in Singapore who thinks she’s local, was voted one of the country’s top ten lifestyle blogs after only one year of blogging.
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