Posh nosh: Tasty tea bites from Tsujiri

Meals from FoodMatters include (clockwise from top left) Unfried Fried Rice, Tom Yum Pasta with Tempeh, Vegetarian Quinoa Bibimbap and Assam Laksa.

More and more cafes do Earl Grey desserts now - cake, cupcake, ice cream and more.

I like Paris Baguette's offering, an Earl Grey chiffon cake (right) that is airy, silky and aromatic. I don't eat it with a fork. I pick it up with my hand, which will smell of bergamot afterwards.

Can't take tea in any form? Try the bakery's vanilla chiffon, which is soft yet crackly from crushed vanilla seeds.

Earl Grey chiffon and vanilla chiffon, $10 each, from Paris Baguette, 02-20 Jem, 50 Jurong Gateway Road, open: 10.30am to 10pm daily, tel: 6734-7765

Tsujiri, the Japanese green tea company, does two tea cookies, green and black, which couldn't be more different.

Crusted with almonds, the green-tea cookie is ample, firm and crunchy, like a heavier love letter.

The black-tea cookie is buttery and crumbly, with a strong scent of tea.

Cookie set, $12, from Tsujiri, B3-53 313@somerset, 313 Orchard Road, open: noon to 10pm daily

Lunching at the office desk is a depressingly common practice with a cute tag - "dining al desko" is one of the suggestions by Urban Dictionary, the online compendium of slang - but this makes it no less sad.

Hitting the same canteen or coffee shop for drearily alike options is less disheartening, but only by a little.

And so it was that for a few months recently, I had lunch envy every time a friend received paper lunchboxes from FoodMatters that seemed packed with surprise and variety.

One day, it was Moroccan Meatballs with Couscous Pilaf, a dish off the beaten track of most eateries in Singapore, and another day it was Tom Yum Pasta with Tempeh, an unfamiliar dish pulled together from familiar elements.

I started stealing bites of my friend's lunches and taking over when, for instance, she couldn't finish her box of Unfried Fried Rice: Yep, the name is a Zen koan and the dish is a paradox too. How can a brown rice salad with toppings as joyless as skinless chicken breast chunks be such a delight? But it is, maybe because the rice is flecked throughout with spring onions, carrots and other bits of flavour.

The lunch service can be a hit-and-miss, contingent on what you choose from the daily menu. At its best, it does find the sweet spot between home cooking and organic cafe food.

Actually, it is like having adventurous, health-conscious friends who cook. They appear well-meaning and you can forgive them on days when they add too much salt to your food, perhaps.

As for me, my days as a lunch thief have ended. This month, I took out a subscription to the service and, until now, there have been more hits than misses.

Unfried Fried Rice and Tom Yum Pasta are as good as I recall. The Moroccan Meatballs, made of minced lean beef, are gristly though. Vegetarian Quinoa Bibimbap, with beancurd slabs and sesame seeds, is pleasant enough, even when lukewarm.

Assam Laksa really hits the right acidic, fishy notes. My friend and I ordered it last week. Let's just say I was glad I had a bowl to myself and didn't have to rob her of her lunch.

A monthly subscription to FoodMatters begins at $40 for four meals. For more information, go to sg.foodmatters.me


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This article was first published on Nov 22, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.