Christmas traditions with a modern twist
Christmas is for many people the celebration of the year and often spent with family. Whoever it is celebrated with, everybody has certain traditions of how to celebrate. Living abroad gives you a chance to experience and be introduced to many different customs and create your own Christmas traditions, in a modern way.
When thinking of Christmas traditions, one of the first things that comes to mind are the food and drinks customs from around the world. Different nationalities, countries, and families all have their own specialities when it comes to what to serve as Christmas dinner. And is this dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
It’s interesting to see that these dinner traditions are often the starting point for new dishes or flavours. Singapore, being the melting pot of nationalities, has no shortage of restaurants and brands from around the world. Each with their own interpretations of these dinner customs. Whether it’s an alcohol-free version of Mulled Wine, special editions of a Panettone or a Thai inspired Stuffed Turkey. They all showcase modern interpretations of traditional Christmas servings.
Sipping Glögg to stay warm
Glögg or mulled wine originated in the 2nd century by the Romans. They would heat up wine to keep their bodies warm against the cold winters. Its popularity grew across Europe in the next centuries and countries created their own recipes, adding herbs, spices and even flowers. It wasn't until the 1890s though that glögg was associated with Christmas and it became popular around the world.
In the warm weather of Singapore glögg was not that popular. Luckily, in the last years more and more restaurants started serving it during the month of December. T2, a premium tea brand from Melbourne, has created a Mulled Wine blend this year as ode to this Christmas tradition.
T2's Christmas collection takes inspiration from the natural world. Forests, flowers, herbs and spices all form the basis for festive blends like Christmas Breakfast or Mulled Wine.
The Mulled Wine blend takes you on a delicious fragrant journey. When sipping the tea, there's a touch of warm spices and a big squeeze of tangy citrus. Add extra Christmas spices like cloves, star anise and cinnamon sticks when serving, or add orange peels to bring out the citrus flavours even more. T2 Mulled Wine is the perfect blend to get into the Christmas mood.
A sweet Italian staple
The Italian Panettone is a high, cylindrical, fruity cake that was popularized in Milan in the early 20th century. A legend tells the story of a Duke in Milan in the 15th century whose cook burnt his dessert while preparing a delicious banquet for the Duke and his guests. The cook’s little kitchen boy Toni suggested using the sweet cake he made for himself that morning and to their surprise the Duke and his guests loved it. They called it 'the bread of Toni', which evolved to Panettone.
It's a relatively light dessert and thus the perfect way to end a sumptuous Italian Christmas dinner. Italian restaurants see it as a chance to show off their own, unique interpretations. Gattopardo and Bistecca both created a unique version for their Christmas menus this year – it will be difficult to pick a favourite.
Italian Seafood Restaurant Gattopardo serves a 6-course menu that captures the heart of Christmas in Sicily. One of the highlights is a Zampone di Maiale. A festive pig’s trotter dish that is believed to bring good luck in the coming new year. The menu finishes with a traditional Panettone, served with sesame nougat.
Tuscan Steakhouse Bistecca reopens its doors just in time for Christmas (Wednesday 20 December). When dining here Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a must order. The 1kg T-bone is prepared in classic Tuscan style over a wood fired oven and is great to share with a group. Their Christmas Panettone is served with Spiced Rum Ice Cream, Golden Raisins, and Brown Butter Crumble.
Stuffed Turkey the Thai way
A very Western and traditional dish for Christmas is the Stuffed Turkey. Families have their secret recipes, shared from generation to generation, and celebrity chefs introduce new interpretations every year. Interestingly though, it wasn't until the 1950s that turkey became this popular. Initially, people served turkey instead of cow or chicken because they needed the latter for their milk and eggs. So instead of killing their livestock they used a turkey.
While a Western tradition, being in Asia there are many Asian interpretations available. Tamarind Hill's Christmas menu includes a medley of Thai influenced festive dishes. Think Thai-inspired Stuffed Turkey - a turkey breast stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, Thai spices and served with a Tom Kha Gai reduction. Or try the Tom Yam Prawn Bisque served with Scallops for the Christmas season.
Like many restaurants nowadays, Tamarind Hill is conscious about where their produce comes from. This is why the Barramundi on their menu comes from Kühlbarra, Singapore's largest commercial fish farm. The dish is served with Thai herbs, which are from the restaurant's own garden.
Tamarind Hill promises a celebration with a twist. Located in the unique and leafy enclave of Labrador Nature Reserve and the well thought of menu, it's easy to see they will deliver on that promise.
Modernizing Christmas Traditions
Traditions are important to keep and honour – it unites people from different nationalities and families bond over them. This doesn’t mean they can’t be reinterpreted as T2, Gattopardo, Bistecca and Tamarind Hill show. They honour the past, while inspiring their guests to be open for new variations.
This article was written by Karin Van Vliet behind Table Tales. Table Tales is a yearly publication with a selected recommendation of restaurants and is perfect for date night recommendations. Find our more details here and gift it to your loved ones this holiday season.