Peekture: Whiskey Night

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My company organised a whiskey appreciation night. We had someone come in and give us the 101 on tasting notes of several types of whiskeys. Unfortunately, I didn’t come away being smarter about whisky. ‘Cos I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on as I was fully occupied with eating my sushi and catching up with some colleagues whom I haven’t seen in a while.

I like whiskey neat. Or occasionally, diluted with some water. I know next to nothing about it though. If I like it, it is good. And if I don’t, then it is not very good. This is one of those few corporate events where I left feeling quite happy that I turned up for it.

xoxoxoxo

Seoul: Club Expresso + Sanmotoonge In Buamdong

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One of the places that I wanted to visit during this summer trip was Buamdong, a quiet but quirky neighbourhood in Seoul that is nestled between two mountains. I read that it had lovely walking trails, leading to a number of historical sites and other attractions in that area. Sounds like my kind of place.  There were two places in Buamdong that I really wanted to visit – a coffee place called Club Expresso and a cafe called Sanmotoonge.   If you have watched the popular Korean drama, Coffee Prince, you’ll remember Sanmotoonge – this awesome-to-death house that was featured in the drama as the home of one of the leads.

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I ♥ Tsui Wah

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I have been glued to the computer watching several animes recently, and haven’t gotten around to updating some of the posts that I have been working on.

Plus work hasn’t altogether been terribly inspiring, which simply means that it is mentally draining (and more often than not, emotionally draining).  So I have been seeking solace in my usual place at home – in front of the computer and my iPad.

Two weeks ago, I had to go to Shanghai for a work conference. I didn’t see anything of Shanghai on that trip. I spent one day flying up, another day in the conference, and the next day flying back home.

The trip was quite a waste of time. The good thing about it was that I managed to eat a bowl of my favourite Tsui Wah noodles while transiting in the Hong Kong airport.  I love the fish soup vermicelli from this chain  – the broth is soooo fabulously tasty.  As I had only ten minutes to eat before boarding the plane, I wolfed down the bowl of vermicelli, and not being to savor the broth properly.

*sigh*  Maybe it is time to make a short trip to Hong Kong.

One more day to the weekend…I am so looking forward to the arrival of Friday.

Dutch Babies For Breakfast!

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I made Dutch babies for breakfast over the weekend, after reading about them in a food blog! They are soooo easy to make and I wonder why it took me so long to learn about these German pancakes, or Bismarcks. (Wiki explains why these pancakes are called Dutch babies.)

Unlike the classic pancakes which have to be cooked over the stove, the batter for the German pancakes are poured into an oven-proof skillet and baked in the oven, till they rise, all golden and puffy.  The one in the photo above looks flat, having deflated after being taken out of the oven.

Dutch Babies
(Recipe from here)

Makes 2 large pancakes, 4-6 servings each

4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Lemon wedges
Powdered sugar
Berries
Pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Whisk eggs, milk, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, or whiz in a blender. Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Divide butter between two 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillets, glass baking dishes, or one larger rectangular roasting pan. Place in oven until butter melts. Remove pans, swirling butter to coat sides. Divide batter between pans. Bake on lowest rack until golden brown, set on center rack and allow to bake until sides rise high above the sides of the pans, 12-15 minutes. (The skillets have to be very hot for the batter to rise properly.)

Slice pancake into wedges and serve with dusting of sugar, berries and a squirt of lemon juice, or just some good maple syrup.

We ate ours with icing sugar and some lemon juice, accompanied by coffee and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Scrumptious.  I like that the batter, made using basic ingredients, is very easy to whip up.  And because it cooks in the oven, I don’t have to wipe the stove afterwards. 🙂

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^ An iPhone photo of the Dutch babies rising in the oven.

Social Print Studio: Instagram In Print!

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I am in the midst of cleaning up my Instagram photo stream. I currently have over 1000 Instagram photos on the Instagram photo stream, most of which are food photos while some others are trial-and-error photos that I randomly take to play around with the Instagram filters.

I have a series of Instagram photos which I took at the wedding of a couple friend last year. I shared these photos on Facebook with them but I have always wanted to do something nice with these photos so that I could give physical copies of the photos to the couple as keepsake. I was about to use the services of Tiny Tiles and turn these Instagram photos into fridge magnets, then I came across Social Print Studio, a company based in San Francisco that prints Instagram photos.

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Social Print Studio makes it very easy for you to order photos online. I ordered the prints online by selecting the photos on my Instagram photostream, having first given Social Print Studio access to the photostream. They offer several print options – squares, greeting cards, posters, stickers, calendars, mini albums. I chose to print my photos on squares so that the prints look like Instagram photos. It costs me US$12 for 24 photos plus another US$12 for international shipping.

The photos turned up by FedEx within a week. On thick, good quality paper in a matte finish. I am happy…and I don’t think this will be the first and last time that I am using their services.  It is a super fun way of getting my photos printed.

xoxoxo

Chicken Basque-Style (Pollo A La Vasca)

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In the last year or so, thanks to Kaixo, I have the opportunity to enjoy the very tasty flavours of Basque food without having to be in San Sebastian. I have come to love eating peppers, onions and tomatoes sauted in olive oil. The fragrance and flavours produced from this combination of vegetables are so delicious and comforting.

To satisfy my curiosity about Basque food, I bought a cookbook featuring Basque recipes called The Basque Table sometime ago. There is a chicken recipe in the cookbook that I have been meaning to try out in the kitchen for a while and I finally got around to doing so this weekend.

Chicken Basque-Style
(Recipe from The Basque Table)

Ingredients:
One 3 to 3.5 pound chicken, cut into pieces
Coarse salt
3/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, cut into strips
2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
Salt
1-1/2 tsps sugar
1 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsps chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
1. Sprinkle the chicken generously with coarse salt. Set aside.

2. In a skillet, heat 6 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes, until it turns golden brown. Add the onion and sauté it for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the red peppers and tomatoes, mix well, and season with salt and sugar. Cook, stirring, for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes release their liquid.

3. In a deep skillet or stockpot, heat the remaiing 6 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the chicken, and cook it for 10 to 15 minutes, turning it, until it is lightly browned on all sides. Add the pepper-tomato mixture and the wine, and mix well. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover the pot, and cook for about 40 minutes, until the sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through.

4. Gently stir in the lemon juice and cook 5 mintues more. Serve the chicken and sauce garnished with parsley.

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The method of cooking and flavors of this chicken dish remind me of the Italian version known as Chicken Caciatore (which I also love), except that the Basque version is slightly lighter in flavor. Instead of a dry white wine, I used Txakoli, the classic Basque white wine which is crisp and delicious. I can drink an entire bottle on my own and I almost always have a few bottles in our wine fridge.

We paired the chicken with white rice and it was yummy! The gravy goes really well with rice. I have alot of leftovers from lunch which I will be freezing for weekday dinners. I am sure the dish will taste even better after a few days when the flavours come together.

xoxoxo

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

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I haven’t been posting as regularly as I would like to because I have been spending most of my spare time reading the Lady Julia Grey detective novel series AND watching and rewatching the ongoing Korean drama The Master’s Sun.  I love my addictions even though they take me away from things that I ought to be doing.  Like doing the laundry, ironing the laundry, cleaning the house, going cycling, etc.

It has been a while since I found a detective novel series that I cannot stop reading. Having an iPad Mini and a constant supply of iTunes gift cards make it easy for me to indulge in reading every book in the Lady Julia Grey series.  I am enjoying this week-long reading marathon while lying on my sofa with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (which I really shouldn’t be drinking because of a persistent cough that just wouldn’t go away).  Whenever I take a break from reading, I glue myself to the computer, watching and re-watching The Master’s Sun.  I am such a Korean drama addict.  I am less of an addict now, as compared to what I was before, but I cannot un-glue myself from the computer screen whenever a drama has my favourite male and female leads, and is written by my favorite scriptwriter.

Anyway, I managed to tear myself away from the iPad Mini and the computer to do some baking.  I had some strawberries that were languishing in my fridge and I thought it a pity to throw them away. I don’t like eating fresh strawberries, unless they come from Japan or Korea.  These ones sitting in my fridge, unfortunately, were from neither country.  They were kind of sour and tasteless.

Recently, I had two friends who shared photos of buttermilk cakes that they baked – one was a blueberry buttermilk cake and the other a roasted strawberry buttermilk cake.  Both cakes looked luscious.   So I decided to bake one using the fast expiring strawberries.  I Googled for a recipe and found one on a blog called Sugar & Spice by Celeste.  The recipe looked fairly simple and straightforward, something that I could certainly manage without  turning the kitchen into chaos.

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Ta-dah!  The buttermilk cake turned out really well. It was light, airy and quite delicious. I whipped a little cream to go with it but I like it plain just as much. Unlike fresh strawberries, I find roasted strawberries to be fragrant and tasty. I am definitely going to make another one this weekend. It keeps quite well in the fridge for a couple days and we had a slice for breakfast several mornings in a row.  Perfect with a cup of expresso.

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Fresh Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar, divided
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. strawberries, hulled & halved
2 cups freshly whipped cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch spring form pan (may also work in a 9 inch cake pan or deep dish pie pan), set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, add flour, baking powder & salt and whisk together, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter with 1 cup sugar until fully incorporated and light & fluffy. Add in the egg, buttermilk & vanilla and beat on medium speed just until incorporated.

Reduce mixer to low and gradually add in the flour mixture, beat until just incorporated. Remove bowl from stand and pour batter into prepared pan.

Place the halved strawberries cut side down on to the top of the batter. Arrange them in a single layer, you may not use quite all of the strawberries, but should use most of them. Sprinkle remaining 2 tbsp. of sugar evenly over top of the cake.

Bake cake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 325 degrees and continue baking for 50 more minutes, until cake is lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Keep cake in pan and place pan on cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, release outside of pan if using spring form pan. Store cake in airtight container. Serve topped with freshly whipped cream.

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Melaka: Nameless Kway Teow Mee Soup

Melaka is all about eating.  We think about what to eat every second, every minute, every hour when we are there.

After a big dinner and in anticipation of an even bigger lunch, we decided to have something really light and soupy for breakfast.  Following a recommendation on a Malaysian blog for kway teow mee soup led us to this place…which turns out to be someone’s front porch!

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This place doesn’t seem to have a name.  The blog gave us a pair of GPS coordinates which we punched into the Garmin, and that’s how we ended up there.  By the looks of the place – one simple stall, several makeshift tables and plastic chairs, I could tell that the kway teow mee soup was going to be smashing-ly good.  🙂  

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I am not a fan of kway teow mee soup.  I like my kway teow mee to be dry and spicy, with a bowl of soup on the side.  And I don’t like the yellow mee that is sold in Singapore – these noodles have a ammonia odour and leaves an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth.

But the kway teow mee soup served in this nameless stall is SO GOOD, I polished off everything in the bowl.  The kway teow was very smooth, the noodles seem to have been made by hand ‘cos it doesn’t have the usually unpleasant taste associated with such noodles but tastes somewhat like soba, and the broth was sweet and tasty.  I could tell that it was made from chicken bones and there wasn’t any MSG added to it.  I love the fresh pork balls, rolled by hand  given the uneven shape of each pork ball.   This stall also added crunchy fried prawn fritters to the dish which gave the flavors an added oooomph.

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Love, love…LOVE this bowl of noodles! If only we had something like that in Singapore…such places where everything is made from scratch are almost extinct in Singapore.

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Address:
Noodle Soup Stall
Jalan Tenkera
(opposite BAM and Wesley Church)
GPS Coordinates: N 2 12.148 E 102 14.162

Melaka: Teo Soon Loong Chan Teochew Restaurant

Last weekend, we went with our friends on our annual whirlwind 1-night pilgrimage to Melaka to eat and catch up.  Pity I was ill throughout the trip and was unable to fully appreciate the gastronomic delights which I had planned and made reservations for!  As it was just over the weekend, we usually have enough time, and space in the tummy, to fit in two good meals – dinner on the day we arrive and lunch the following day – without feeling the ill effects of gluttony.  We really should make it a longer trip the next time we drive up to Melaka so that it would be less hectic and having more opportunities to eat…

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The last time we visited Melaka, we wanted to eat at Teo Soon Loong Chan, a famous Teochew restaurant but weren’t able to get a table just by walking in as they are almost always fully booked.

For this trip, I made it a point to make a reservation for a table AND order one roast hog a week in advance.  Whenever I make reservations, I prefer to take the first seating, where possible.  We arrived 15 mins early for our 6pm reservation and hung around outside the restaurant where our Teochew-speaking friends had an opportunity to chat with the chef – one of two sons of the old man who started the restaurant.  I cannot speak Teochew but I can understand the dialect.  Strange.  I have no idea where I picked it up ‘cos no-one in my family speaks Teochew regularly.

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Teo Soon Loong Chan is a small restaurant located in a back alley very near Jonkers Walk.  Red lanterns, red tablecloths, plastic chairs, mosaic tiled floor.  Perfectly old-world, 1970s look that one can hardly find in Singapore today.  The place is so tiny that there is only space for 8 tables and the kitchen had to be situated right outside, at the front, of the restaurant.  We sat down and the Teochew Ah-hia amongst us ordered our dinner.

The food was E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T.  Every dish was lovely, fresh and flavourful.  The style of cooking was comforting, as though I was eating home-cooked food.  I would say that this is hands-down, one of  the best Teochew food that I have eaten.

Succulent, unctuous, artery-clogging roast pig.  Cooked over a pit in the home of the owners.

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Oyster noodles, with plump and juicy oysters.  Orh-mee that is org-asmically good!

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Braised duck with beancurd.  *sigh*  This is probably the husband’s favourite dish.  How do they make the sauce so light and tasty?

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Stir-fried sweet potato leaves.  We usually eat this with cooked with sambai chili, but this garlic-version was just as tasty.

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It would be a travesty to enter a Teochew restaurant without ordering their steamed pomfret.  As expected, the fish was super fresh, tasty and came with a spicy ginger broth.  Some of my friends felt that the broth could have been perked up with more sour plums but I loved the ginger-flavored broth – it gave the traditional dish a slightly different twist.  I love ginger anyway!

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Melt-in-your-mouth bittergourd braised with pork ribs in a tau cheo sauce.  It was SO GOOD.  Heck, I could have eaten the entire plate of bittergourd by myself.

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Orh-nee with pumpkin and gingko nuts.  By the time the orh-nee was served, I was feeling unwell again.  I didn’t eat my portion of the orh-nee as I felt that would greatly increase the likelihood of me throwing up my fantastic dinner.  It was a huge PITY ‘cos I love orh-nee, especially when it comes with pumpkin.  I couldn’t resist a small bite and honestly, it took me alot of self-restraint not to wolf down my portion.  The texture of the orh-nee was so smooth and creamy, with a light fragrance of the fried pork lard used to make the puree.  

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Being one of the first customers certainly has its perks – personal attention by the old man himself.  He hovered at our table, making sure that we ate up every morsel!

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We will definitely be back again.  Blogging about the food is making me drool.

Address:
55 Jalan Hang Kasturi, Melaka 75200, Malaysia
+6062822353

Update on 17 December 2015: A friend of mine is in Melaka this weekend and he tells me that the restaurant has moved to new premises at No. 42 & 44, Jalan KPKS 1, Ko,pleas Perniagaan Kota Syahbandar, Melaka 75200, Malaysia.  

Telephone No.: +60 62880209

The Cuckoo’s Calling

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I stopped reading Harry Potter after the second book because I lost interest somewhere along the way. I might pick up from where I left off one of these days, but before I do that, I am going to read her detective novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, written under a pseudonym. I am hoping that the book will be good ‘cos I enjoy reading detective novels a lot. 🙂

I am so glad that it is Friday. We are driving up to Melaka with some friends this weekend to eat some pretty awesome meals!

xoxoxo

Seoul: One Chu, Churros Bar In Garosugil

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Having discovered the eclectic Churro 101 in Hongdae which serves up some darn good churros, I wanted to see if I could find other churros bars in Seoul. I did some research and the one name that kept popping up on various blogs is One Chu, located in one of the back lanes of Garosugil.  Thanks to the excellent directions on this blog, I managed to locate One Chu without difficulty on one hot summer afternoon.

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One Chu has an edgy, masculine, industrial-looking vibe.  Reminds me a little of Kaixo.

Sweltering from the heat, I was dying to plonk myself in a cool and quiet spot with a chilled drink in my hand.  I was really glad not to see crowds thronging the place during the lunch hour and I could have some place quiet to hang out for a while.

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Happy Birthday Singapore Potluck

Whenever I need motivation to spring clean my house, I invite friends over for dinner.   🙂

Due to Hari Raya Puasa and National Day falling on Thursday and Friday respectively, it was a 4-day long weekend in Singapore this week.  (It’s going to be insanely difficult to crank up the engine to start work next week after this break.)  I took the opportunity of the long weekend to invite some close colleagues over for potluck and *lots of* drinks.  The good thing about holding such events in your house is that I can easily haul my inebriated self to bed, just several steps away.

Moscato.  Champagne.  Red wine.  Moscato.  In that order. 🙂  Drinks filled our bellies quite quickly.

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Start of the pot luck.  Succulent pan-seared scallops tucked between buttered rolls!  Think lobster rolls, but with scallops instead.  This is a great idea to serve as a canapé.  I am gonna try making some myself soon.

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Smoked salmon with sour cream and dill on blinis.

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Pork and chicken satay.  I loooove pork satay.

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Damn good century egg from a one Michelin star Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong.

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Roasted Spanish pork loin ribs.  Oozing with fats and porky goodness.

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Chinese-style pasta with flank steak, red peppers and an oyster sauce gravy.  This is really yummy!

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Platter of cold cuts, cheeses, fruit, nachos tangy onion-and-tomato dips, and an assortment of spreads from Little Provence.  After eating jamon Iberico, I find prosciutto kind of tasteless. 🙁

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We hate cute mini Cornettos for desserts.  As usual, there was waaaaay too much food.

It was a tiring day but we had fun.  When work gets overwhelming, all we want to do is to hide at home and do nothing all weekend.  Once in a while, it is nice to get some friends over and enjoy good company.  A little tiring to clean up the house for the guests but it’s worth the effort! 🙂  I have already scheduled the next massive clean up exercise to take place in September, for another group of old friends.

xoxoxoxo

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