Christmas gift ideas: give a pair

A good pairing

We were getting last-minute grocery for dinner at Cold Storage Takashimaya when we saw outside the cashier’s, a stall selling Crescendo flavoured olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars.

The company’s representative in Singapore has stalls like this all over town, but for some reason, we stopped for the first time, for a sampler.

Unlike many temporary stalls at department stores and supermarkets, this one was manned by a very knowledgeable young man called Promoter (seriously, why do they bother with name tags?) who very patiently paired as many combinations of flavoured oils and vinegars for us to try.

We finally settled for a 100ml bottle of truffle-flavoured (not real truffle extract – we’re told the oils are merely flavoured by soaking white truffles in them) extra virgin olive oil and a 100ml bottle of 16 year old balsamic vinegar.

They’re not exactly cheap (ok, I can’t remember how much they were and I can’t find the receipt) – we had some at lunch but treated them as if they were some precious potion of youth – but accompanied by a few drops of each, we had an absolutely gorgeous lunch of poached eggs and spinach and rocket salad with crusty bread this afternoon.

Something else that got our attention was the fact that the company says you can bring your own glass bottles to buy your oils and vinegar. In fact, it’ll be $6-8 cheaper if you do, because that’s what they charge for the glass bottles they sell.

Eco-friendly Christmas vendor, I thought. Until I saw the stack of plastic spoons piling up in a little tray – used by the dozens of people sampling the offerings. Oh well.

Customer care

Billy Bombers @ Central

There were two incidences of good customer service that we experienced recently that we have to talk about here because sekali people say we only know how to complain.

First up, last night, because the queue at Ramen Santuoka was so long, and because we were so hungry, we went and dined at Billy Bonkers Bombers at The Central Not To Be Confused With Central Mall instead.

Two waiters served us. Jeffrey from Philippines and Tika from Nepal, and it has to be said that the two of them serve with big smiles on their dials and were prompt and attentive as they took our orders, served our drinks and asked if we needed anything else.

The test of the restaurant’s service came when our burgers were served. We had asked for them to be done medium, but on slicing the buggers (yes, we fork and knife any burger not gotten from a fast food joint), discovered the meat patty to be raw on the inside.

June, one of the managers there, took our complaint and asked if we needed our meal replaced, or whether she could offer us any dessert or tea, on the house, for our troubles. She also asked us to complete a feedback form so that she could pass it up to management, because, as she explained, sometimes when you just tell a chef something, nothing gets done about it, and so it has to go to the top or something, I can’t really remember because by this time I was so full from the breaded mushroom, chips and malted shake that my ears were sorta ringing.

When we asked for the bill, we were told that she’d given us a 50% discount on the offending burger. Nice.

And on to the other incident of good customer service. Now, good customer service means good service whether or not the customer actually buys anything off you, right?

Well the nice people at Nespresso got that part right. We were shopping for pods for their corporate coffee machine (which is not for sale by the way), and was told at their Takashimaya kiosk that the pods are also not for sale. And that the only things for sale were the home consumer machines and the capsules for which to use with them.

I chucked a mini-fit, and the salesman at the kiosk, a Peter Kwong, helped out in a way which I will not elaborate further because I don’t have faith in the decency of other Singaporean shoppers who I think will take advantage of his generosity and rort the whole effort.

You just need to know that Peter Kwong is a darn good salesman, and I’d buy a coffee machine off him the next time our Krups goes on the blink.