Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Playing with Food - Meiji Chocolate House

When Y and her husband R were in Hong Kong recently, we partook in a couple of delicious meals together, and they also kindly and generously brought me this fun gift - a to-be-assembled "house" made up of chocolate pieces. Y says that her (super cute, super well behaved 5 year old) daughter QB really enjoyed putting this together, and thought I might like to try it, and thereafter enjoy the chocolate, of course.

I decided to tote it along one afternoon when J and I visited his family, so that we could do it together with his two nephews (3 and 7).

As it turns out, I took more pictures than actually partake in all that much of the assembly as J did most of it together with the older nephew.

The end result was quite funny, nothing like the coordinated, put together piece pictured on the front of the box, but cute in a messy way nonetheless. Everyone had loads of fun heating up the chocolate "glue" that holds the pieces together, gingerly putting the pieces of chocolate together, and finally, gently plonking on the colourful chocolate pebbles and strawberry flavoured cones on the roof. And of course, at the end, it got torn apart as the boys greedily descended upon the chocolate to gobble everything up.

Thanks again, Y and R!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The burger from Wagyu

I'd been looking forward to the burger from Wagyu for literally, months, since the first time I had it for dinner. Finally grabbed L and A last Friday for a late leisurely lunch, eagerly anticipating the burgers we were all going to order.

Wagyu is a restaurant from the Castelo Concepts restaurant group, which also owns the quite delightful Oola up on Bridges Street, one of my favourite venues for lunch and dinner.

We made our reservation at 1pm and the place was packed and noisily festive when we arrived - everyone is taking the opportunity to have a nice long lunch at the start of the weekend, very nice. The restaurant is an all day dining concept, open from breakfast and all the way through, which means you can satisfy your burger or wagyu steak craving at three in the afternoon, should the urge beckon. They also offer a 3-course set lunch at a very good value HK$145, which we were briefly tempted by, but we came to Wagyu for the burger, and so all three of us ordered the burger.

I ordered mine sans vegetables, the way I usually like my burgers - just the wagyu beef and with cheese (3 choices of swiss, cheddar or blue). And requested for french fries (skinny) instead of the fat fries which was the standard side. L and A's fat fries looked nice and succulent, and they said they were very delicious. The bread was lightly toasted, fluffy warm white bap, which complemented the meat very nicely.

The burger was as good as I remember, with the juicy patty from wagyu minced beef, and even though I ordered mine well done for obvious reasons, it wasn't dry at all, and was juicy and flavourful, with a nice hint of cumin and spice. The fries were nicely done and I gobbled up every single fry, alternating between ketchup and horseradish dip, as well the whole entire burger, though I had well meaning intentions to perhaps leave about.... a quarter behind. Yumyum!!

Actually, on a side note, L felt that the blue cheese which was her choice of cheese was a tad overpowering, but my cheddar went nicely with.

A quick mention about the dessert I forced my friends to "share" with me (actually I ate about 95% of it) - the apple crumble consisted of more crumble than apple, the way I like it, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a light sprinkle of strawberry and apricot sauce, topped with a decorative gooseberry. The sauce baked into the crumble tasted very slightly reminiscent of the Teochew taro dessert orh nee and was not typical of what you'd expect in an apple crumble, but I felt its warm sweet gooeyness was well incorporated into the entire concoction.

A return visit please!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Making chocolate pudding

Had 2 boxes of Valrhona dark chocolates squares in the fridge and discovered they were reaching the expiration in a few weeks - so decided to do something with them that would constructively use them up.

Used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen - followed the recipe closely except for pure vanilla extract - couldn't locate anything apart from artificial vanilla flavouring and I looked in four supermarkets.

Still very Valrhona chocolatey, and was a cinch to make.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Complicated Noodle at Greyhound Cafe

Greyhound Cafe in Siam Paragon is a must-go for a quick snack whenever I'm in Bangkok.  It's been awhile - more than 2 years since I've been to BKK, so when Greyhound Cafe opened up in Hong Kong, a visit is definitely imminent even though I was skeptical of whether the cafe's hip vibe of thai-western fusion would be able to be reasonably replicated outside of Bangkok.

Today, after running some errands in the area, I ended up in IFC just before the lunch rush and managed to grab a table.

The eatery was flooded with blazing light because it was along the side facing the harbour, and the chairs were a mix of retro fabric ones and clean hard structured ones. The general decor scheme was black and white, and naked bulbs hung from the exposed ceiling, with specials of the day were written in chalk on blackboards. Casual, hip, apt. Ok, I found it a tad toooo bright but I tend to find places too bright.

At Greyhound, I always order the Complicated Noodle (literally, that's what they call it on the menu), and so I did that. It's actually a typical thai minced pork stew, served with the lime and fish sauce chili on the side (this chili is the kind you'd find everywhere on the streets of Bangkok), and fresh lettuce. Greyhound serves it with a twist with square pieces of flat white noodles  - the same noodles you'd commonly find in a vietnamese pho or chinese noodle dish, except for the funky square shape.

Top: Complicated Noodle as served. Bottom: my attempt at piling everything unto the noodle
I guess it's named Complicated because eating it is not straightforward - I tried tearing up the lettuce and cilantro into little pieces, and sprinkled some chili and the pork unto the flat noodle piece, and folding the creation in half. Miserably failed to elegantly shove it into my waiting mouth with my hands though. It didn't work much better when I used a fork and knife but at least I didn't have pork stew juice running down my wrist.

That aside, it was as delicious as I remember, and I think they even dumbed down the amount of garlic in the chili. Even though you can see the pieces floating on top in the picture, I wasn't left with the stubborn lingering aftertaste of garlic, which pleased me tremendously. The chili was tangy and cut through the warm pork stew, and with lots of cilantro and bites of lettuce, provided a nice crunch to the entire morsel.

The rest of the menu looked interesting too, with pasta items that incorporated asian/thai ingredients like salty fish, Thai anchovies, fresh chilis and basil.

Must return to eat more!

2 locations - IFC Mall in Central and Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Please, the Cheese

I miss cheese.

Specifically, the smelly, gooey, soft ones. Like camembert, brie, and the rounds of goat's cheese that's practically liquid inside. The last time I was in front of a really delectable cheese platter was probably the last time I was in Paris in January - it was at the hotel we were all staying at for the fair, and there was a glorious cheese platter, mainly the soft smelly ones, at dinner each night. Resisted most of it at first because I was newly preggers then, and as the days went by I succumbed and had a little bit, just a little bit. Can't wait to be able to have smelly and soft cheese again.

Couldn't locate a picture of the cheese, so instead, in an unrelated fashion (sorry) here is a picture of the beautiful dessert platter that I found - they bring this out for your selection (so many desserts, so little time) at the Les Deux Magots on Saint Germain, which I always run to for the heavenly millefeuille (actually the pastries are from Pierre Hermes, but Pierre Hermes stores in Paris seem to offer only takeaway items, no sit down spaces, so I usually have it at this cafe) and a leisurely cup of tea.

This was the mac and cheese I made during the Basic Culinary class at the CIA last month - it was the first dish during that class, and when the instructor was calling out teams and the dishes the corresponded to each team, I immediately put my hand up to do this.

The picture doesn't quite do it justice (that's me holding it, by the way) but the combination of cheesiness and pieces of fatty bacon really made the difference. I find that mac and cheese without meat pieces tend to be a tad too rich. This mac and cheese was made with from-scratch bechamel sauce, that probably added to its deliciousness.

It's also best finished in the oven with a generous sprinkling of cheese and breadcrumbs on top, because then it begets a lovely crispy crusty topping.

I love cheese and a cheese+beef combinationso much that usually when I have a cheesy item like a burger, I sometimes ask for extra cheese but always always ask for just the meat and the cheese, sans other sauces, veggies and the other accoutrements that eateries seem to like to pile on.

What cheesy item to have for dinner tonight?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Missing Paddy

Here he is after we visited the vet to kill his tick infection. We took him to the park and had juice and iced coffee and he had some water.

The tick infection made the darling lose weight.

J would squish clusters of ticks - 4-6 each time - I'd sweep my fingers through his fur and point out the ticks, and then J would remove and squish them, yielding quite a lot of blood each time.

The vet prescribed antibiotics.

Wild Boar Sighting

The other night, in Singapore, we took the Old Upper Thomson route home, hoping to glimpse some wild monkeys (the ones the huge signs warn you not to feed), as there usually are quite a few along that route.

Suddenly, we saw a whole herd of these things Charge across the little road from the side with the houses, straight into the jungle!!! It was like - !!! what ARE those? we kept driving.

And then, just after the Prata coffeeshop row and before Upper Peirce Reservoir, we came across another herd - all 9 of them, just ruminating on the side of the (back) road. It must have been a different herd because it was quite a distance between the two sightings.

I was too scared (in case they erm, charge towards the open window??!) to roll down the window too much to snap images of them, but managed to get some quick ones even though it was really dark. There were adults and babies, all sniffing and scratching away.

Did a quick google search and apparently these sightings are irregular but have happened before.

For the rest of the trip, we kept driving by hoping to see them again - we didn't. Guess we got lucky that one night.