December 30, 2009

My Christmas Tree and Happy 2010!

Yes, I know it's a bit late, but there are 12 days of Christmas right?

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I haven't been blogging much as I've just been busy meeting up with friends and pigging out on food back home in Singapore. Didn't take many pics either so none to share so you'll just have to imagine it!! Bah, 2 more days before my holiday is over, dreading the return to cold dreary London...

December 19, 2009

Paris Weekend

A couple of friends and I went to Paris during the end of November for a short chill-out and eat weekend. All of us had been there before so we didn't have any must-see touristy things on our agenda. So guess what we grativated towards - searching out good food as usual!

After reading good reviews about Chez Robert et Louise, I made a reservation for this restaurant which was located in the Marais. It's known for its hearty meat dishes, notably steak. When we arrived at 9pm, the place was filled and we were shown to the basement where there was more seating in a cellar-like dining room. We of course ordered the various cuts of steak on the menu and it was amazing. Juicy, fatty and wonderfully delicious although some parts of our meat came rarer than we'd like and we had to send it back to get it cooked. Other than that, no complaints! It was one of the best ribeyes I've ever eaten!

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We also went to Bofinger, which came quite highly recommended as well. It was a traditional french brasserie/restaurant which had an amazing dining room and these huge huge seafood platters (if you look carefully in the first picture, you can catch a glimpse of it) which had lobsters, oysters, crabs, clams, mussels, prawns, whatever seafood you can think of it's on there. It was so hard to get a table, and we had to settle for a 1030pm seating (!!). The food was so-so, quite typical French fare (we didn't get the seafood platter which was probably the bestseller) but we experienced horrible service. The waiter who served us either was the most unhappy person on earth or he was racist. Probably the latter because he didn't give any attitude at all to our neighbouring tables but when it came to us, he was slow, and had the audacity to roll his eyes and make faces everytime we requested for something. I was majorly pissed and felt that we should have left at one point. But we didn't. Anyway, the meal was pretty much ruined by that.

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We were treated so much better at the Asian eateries we went to, no racism there! We went in search of vietnamese food in Chinatown (13th arrondissement) and there were massive queues outside this restaurant at the junction of Avenue de Choisy and rue Tolbiac, Pho 14. We decided to go into another Vietnamese restaurant 2 doors away instead since the queue looked quite ridiculous and we were hungry. This place also served pho and even plonked down a huge plate of beef brisket and bones as an 'appetiser' on the house! The meat was tender and flavourful since it had been cooked quite long in order to make the stock presumably. Good use of items they don't need. We ordered the standard staple of Bun Cuon (minced pork rolled in rice paper), vermicelli with spring rolls and pho, which were all pretty up to scratch. However, we could resist doing a comparison with Pho 14, and so we went back for a second round of pho the next day. The queue at Pho 14 moves pretty fast, and we were seated after 10 minutes or so. The food here was marginally better and for slightly lower prices. I guess that's why it's popular with everyone, but there wasn't any free beef brisket here. I would say that if you had time to queue, then try Pho 14 but if you don't fancy a wait and like big portions, then go for the one 2 doors down (note that there is one more in between but we didn't try that).

The other MUST-TRY when you're in Paris and a fan of barbecued meats (shao la) is the Roast Pork Rice (shao rou fan) at Tang Gourmet at 192 Avenue de Choisy (just outside Place d'Italie metro stop). Tang Freres is a chinese supermarket chain in Paris and Tang Gourmet is their quick dining selling takeaway chinese food (or you can eat in as there's some seating). The Roast Pork (shao rou, not char siew) is AMAZING, possibly the best roast pork I've ever eaten in the world. I discovered this when I was a student in Paris 8 years ago where I ate it at least once a week, and I'm happy to report that after all these years it is still as good. The skin crackling is crispy and salty (not hard and chewy like some versions), and the fatty part of the belly is pretty much melt in your mouth and indistinguishable and not rubbery/jelly-like (which I would usually remove in roast pork cos I really don't like the rubbery taste). If you're ever in Paris, you really have to go try it for yourself.

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No trip to Paris would be complete without the requisite dessert pilgrimage. This comprised most definitely of paying homage to Laduree and Pierre Herme, two internationally renowned macaron (and dessert) wonderlands filled with all sorts of delicious, colourful and beautiful creations. But the third and best-kept secret would be Sadaharu Aoki, a Japanese-French patisserie tucked in a little innocuous shop in St Germain. They do the most amazing tea and other asian flavour macarons, as well as these chocolate truffles that are made and shaped to look like crayon pastels, which a wide range of colour and flavours. Their cakes are also very exquisite and delicious (see second row, right picture). I guess I have a soft spot for japanese-french pastries. All in all, I think we ate like 30+ macarons the whole trip between the 3 of us and quite a few cakes. Yum. And we didn't even go to Grande Epicerie at Bon Marche or the Galerie Lafayette Foodhall. I'm sure there are countless smaller patisseries that I missed that I will have to track down and add to my tasting list the next time I'm back in Paris. Can't wait!!!
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December 17, 2009

Going Home!

Wheeeeee!! I'm finally going home tomorrow! Can't wait. I only hope the snow doesn't stop transport and flights :( Usually I'd be happy to see snow but today as the flurries got heavier and heavier, my heart was sinking lower and lower, what with all the warnings for a snow storm (by london standards) overnight. Praying very hard.

Can't wait to get back home and eat more goodies, see all my friends and family and relax a little, as well as catch up on all the backlog of posts! Yes, yes, there's so much backlog, I've uploaded my pics already so all I need to do is WRITE! Lots of food from Eugene's Leaving Eating Marathon. Akan datang (coming soon)!Now I leave you with the Red Velvet cupcakes (using Hummingbird Bakery cookbook's recipe) that I made as my last bake in London for the year! They were really very red this time since I added a lot of red food colouring (though still less than what they stated in the book) and didn't taste as chocolatey as it did the last time I made them. Need to try again. I also really need to figure out how to get a nice lighting at home since I'm always shooting at night.

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November 30, 2009

Raspberry White Chocolate Macarons

In my last post, I mentioned I made macarons last weekend as well. Was saving the pics for a stand-alone entry on them :) I bought a punnet of raspberries and decided to put them to use in my Raspberry White Chocolate Macarons as part of the Mactweets challenge that Jamie of Life's A Feast and Deeba of Passionate About Baking are hosting. Seeing I haven't taken pictures of any macs I made in a while, I decided to use this opportunity to motivate my lazy self.

I used the trusty recipe from Cannelle et Vanille to make the macaron shells and made a basic white chocolate ganache (1 part cream, 2 parts white chocolate) and added some raspberry puree. I also added a small piece of raspberry in the centre to enhance the fruit flavour.

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I was happy with this batch of macaron though there was some air pockets in some of the shells (think I overcooked them and the meringue fell) but it wasn't that noticeable. They got pretty good reviews from the people I gave them to, which means this flavour is a keeper like my Chocolate Peanut Butter & Banana one.

Lots of Cooking

Last weekend was a weekend filled with cooking and baking. I stayed at home and made scones, bread, shepherd's pie, mac & cheese, macarons and creme brulee. Unfortunately I was too lazy to take photos of everything. So here's a selection.
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I made matcha (green tea) creme brulee with the egg yolks left from using the whites for the macarons. It's a really simple recipe that I've adapted from various recipes in books and on the net.

Basic Creme Brulee Recipe
(you can just proportionally adjust the recipe)

2 egg yolks
24g granulated sugar
200ml cream
1tsp vanilla extract (or substitute other flavourings)

Preheat oven to 150 deg C.

Whisk egg yolks with sugar until thick and pale.
Heat up cream over stove to a simmer. Add the vanilla essence (or other flavouring) to the cream. Turn off the heat once you see small bubbles, be careful not to burn the cream. Let the cream cool.
When the cream is cool enough to touch, slowly temper it into the egg yolk mixture, adding it little by little so as to not cook the eggs.
Strain the mixture and pour it into 2 ramekins (or 3 if you prefer smaller portions).
Place the ramekins into a deep oven-proof dish and pour boiling water into the dish until halfway up the ramekins to create a bain-marie.
Bake until the side is set but the centre jiggles when you use a tong to shake it, about 20-25 min.

You can use experiment and flavour the creme brulee with different things, like steeping an Earl Grey teabag into the heating cream to infuse Earl Grey flavour, or 1 tsp of green tea powder like I did. If you other pretty teacups or shallow bowls (make sure they are oven proof!), you can also use it in place of the usual ramekins. Just make sure you adjust the cooking time accordingly.

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The mushroom risotto in the picture above was somewhat of a disaster because instead of adding white wine, I added white wine vinegar!!! The two bottles were next to each other in my drawer. I was horrified when I smelt the sour smell and realised I made the mistake, I was completely not thinking. Luckily I didn't add all THAT much but it was enough damage. In order to repair it, I added some sugar to counter the sourish taste, and then after some 911 searching on the net, I decided to add baking soda to neutralise the acid. I wouldn't say it completely got rid of the vinegarish taste but at least it was edible. Sigh, next time I'll pay a lot more attention when I'm cooking. The other dish is a Truffle Mac & Cheese, though the truffle oil wasn't strong enough. I also tried the Shepherd's Pie recipe from Gordon Ramsay's Cooking For Friends and it turned out pretty well. Didn't take any pictures of it but maybe when I unfreeze another portion to cook, I will.

And the below is my loot of cookbooks (and other books) that came from Amazon! Yay! Can't wait to try it out...
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November 21, 2009

A Quick Meal

For a quick meal last night, I defrosted the japanese hamburger patty I had made earlier this week, cooked some rice and fried an egg. While the rice was cooking, I threw together a salad with beetroot, avocado, corn and lamb's lettuce. The beetroot was pre-cooked so I just had to heat it up the packet in boiling water. I like the type cooked in its own juices not the ones with vinegar added. Everything was ready in less than half an hour.

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For the hamburger patty, I made it based it on Chubby Hubby's recipe (think I blogged about it before when I first made it). While I'd love to be using wagyu beef and Berkshire pork and I'm sure it tastes damn good, it is very expensive and I can't be splurging like that on a simple meal for myself. I usually just use regular beef mince for the entire patty, and regular breadcrumbs. Quick and simple, and suitable for the freezer.

November 20, 2009

Online Shopping

I seem to have lost my mojo for regular street shopping cos it seems like everytime I get myself to the high street, I can't really focus or nothing seems to grab my attention. Unless I go equipped with a list of things to buy (and boring necessary stuff like socks or a whisk), I inevitably get very tired after an hour and will end up in a supermarket or something and spend money on groceries instead.


To combat this, I've turned to online shopping instead. Online shopping rawks! You just need to click click click and tada, the stuff's being sent to you! Yes, you might not have the instant gratification of regular shopping but nothing beats eagerly anticipating parcels in the post (even if you know what they're going to be), and ripping apart the layers of brown cardboard and bubblewrap to find the presents you've bought for yourself :)


I can't wait for my tomes of cookbooks that Amazon slyly suggested I buy to arrive and also the photos that I finally got around to printing so that I can hang them up in the frames that have been sitting around the house for a while now. I'm now contemplating if I should buy a small ice-cream maker as well on Amazon... more presents since Christmas is coming?

November 18, 2009

Entertaining Myself

This past weekend was pretty quiet. I took a look at the bad weather and decided it was probably a better idea to stay home than venture out. But I did pop downstairs to the farmer's market to get some produce and flowers when I thought it cleared up for a bit (bad idea cos it started raining the moment I stepped outside I swear). Btw, the roses I got were the most amazing scented roses. They were pretty small when I got them but by Sunday they had bloomed into huge roses and smelt great!

I was also still nursing the flu and cough so I decided to entertain at home with some nice food and flowers, except that it wasnt a dinner party but just a quiet lunch with me myself and I.

I had a chicken thigh that was already sitting in the fridge so I decided I would make some sort of Roast Chicken. Flipped through various recipe books but didn't find a satisfactory recipe so in the end I kinda just combined the stuff I had randomly for what turned out to be Honey Soy Glazed Rosemary Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash and French Beans as pictured below. I really wanted to make oeufs en cocotte (eggs in cocotte) from the cocottes recipe book I brought back from Paris. And since I was already cocotting, why not do a potato gratin as well!

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The great thing about oeufs en cocotte is that you basically can add anything you want in the base - be it cream based or tomato based or whatever other sauce, just saute the ingredients in some butter/olive oil and then add the liquid and simmer a little. I chose to do a cream based one with leeks and pancetta bits (since that was what I had in my stash) and that was also what I used as my base for the potato gratin, but topped it off with jarlsberg cheese (a type of holey cheese like emmental). They turned out pretty well, except that I overcookied the egg a little as I'd have liked it more runny. Will start a habit of sharing recipes so that I can remember them as well.

Honey Soy Glazed Rosemary Roast Chicken
with Butternut Squash and French Beans

(this is for a single portion so just multiply for more)

Chicken
1 chicken thigh
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp light soy sauce
dash of lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary
pepper and salt to taste

Vegetables
1 small half of butternut squash, chopped into cubes
handful of french beans
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 220C.
Marinate chicken with all the seasoning and ideally let it rest in the fridge for 1 hr for the flavours to soak in (I didn't rest mine but it turned out ok). Place chicken (skin side up) on well-oiled baking or roasting tray (I prefer to line with foil as well so that cleaning up is easier). Roast for 15min at 220C and lower temperature to 180C for another 20 min more. If you're cooking larger cuts of chicken or more chicken you probably would have to cook for longer.

For the vegetables, toss them in olive oil and seasoning, making sure everything is well-coated. Spread out the vegetables onto another baking tray and make sure they're well spread out and roast at 180C for 30 minutes. You can combine the cooking of both the chicken and vegetables when the oven temperature is down to 180C.

Oeufs En Cocotte Base Recipe
serves 2
2 eggs (or 4!)
80ml cream
butter
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter the insides of 2 cocottes or ramekins. Spoon half of cream into each cocotte. Gently crack an egg (or 2 if you're feeling decadent) into each cocotte. Spoon remaining cream over the eggs (I like to make sure the yolks aren't covered). Top it with a knob of butter (I like to sprinkle it with truffle oil instead! Yum!)

Set the cocottes in a roasting pan or ovenproof glass dish. Fill the pan with hot water until it comes up halfway of the cocottes. Bake in oven for 15 min if you like it runny, or 18-20 if you want it more set.

Variations
You can create any flavours you want really, depending on what's available in your fridge or pantry at the time. I had leeks and pancetta (like bacon) so I decided to saute them in some butter, and then add the cream to it. You probably can do the same with garlic, mushrooms, bacon, asparagus, cheese etc. I then spooned half the cream mixture as the base, cracked my egg on top of it, and spooned the remaining over the eggs and added a few drops of truffle oil.

Potato Gratin
serves 2
1 potato
1 clove of garlic, chopped
olive oil/butter
150ml cream
2 slices of jarlsberg cheese in small pieces(most other hard cheeses will work as well)

Preheat oven to 180C.

Slice potato into thin round slices. Saute the chopped garlic in olive oil or butter on medium heat. Add cream to the pan and let it simmer a little, taking care not to boil the cream. Remove pan from heat.

Butter the inside of each cocotte or ramekin. Arrange slices of potatoes in overlapping layers. After a couple of layers, spoon some of the cream into each cocotte and add a layer of cheese. Continue alternating until about 3/4 full (you'll probably get to 3 rounds) making sure you end with cheese. Bake in oven for 30 min.

November 15, 2009

Bad Day

Although Friday the 13th is over, the bad luck did not leave and had instead multiplied manyfold. Today will go down in history as THE DAY that I broke the most number of things. I really don't know what's wrong with me (or my slippery fingers) but first I broke a plate while washing up, and just minutes later I broke a cup while trying to hang it back onto the cupstand.

I thought that would be the end of it but no, that was not to be. As I was trying to drink my pi pa gao (cos my flu seems to have evolved into a cough), while I was lifting the bottle out of the box, somehow I managed to drop it onto the countertop (mind you it's not from a great height) and it broke, causing the gooey brown ppg to spill all over the counter and onto the kitchen floor, mixed with glass shards. Brilliant. I must be the MOST clumsy, butter fingers idiot around. And the bottle was pretty full and new, I had only drank twice out of it.

Sheesh man, 3 broken things in one day. I really don't know what to make of it. I don't think I've ever broke so many things at the same time. I only hope that tomorrow will be a better day. I need to avoid anything that's breakable.

November 12, 2009

Lazy

I've been quite lazy about taking photos, even of things I make. I made my first ever batch of macarons in London last week (or rather almost 2 weeks ago), and I didn't take a single picture :( Lazy to style, lazy to even pick up a camera. I blame it on the bad lighting and darkness prevalent for most of the time.

Anyway, I made 3 flavours - chocolate peanut butter banana, matcha buttercream and salted caramel. The first two turned out well but I went a little overboard with the fleur de sel in the caramel. Need some inspiration for new flavours.


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But I did manage to get a picture of the cupcakes I made last weekend. An attempt at red velvet but they weren't very red at all despite copious amounts of red colouring. I really didn't want to put anymore. I did take a picture though but it was just hurriedly taken, no natural light (there is really very little light in this place bah) and little styling. The other prettier dessert was store-bought from the William Curley cafe that just opened near my place. It's supposedly Britain's best chocolatier - artisan chocs and very pretty desserts. It's a husband and wife team, both patissiers and the wife is Japanese so there's lots of cool jap flavours like sesame and green tea as well. Will find some time to go hang out there.

Now that I have a bit of free time with no plans today and this weekend, I am at a loss of what to do. Guess time to catch up on sleep and get well.

November 8, 2009

Singapore Food Festival Chez Moi

Tomorrow will be the 3-month mark since I've been here in London. How time flies. I think I can say that I'm more or less settled down here although I definitely haven't gone to a lot of the places I want to yet. This coming month will be quite manic for me in terms of work so I apologise in advance if blogging will be sporadic and short.

Here are some pics from my camera that I haven't put up yet. Just some food and flowers at home - made some soy saunce chicken and sting ray the other day yum yum! And the uglily frosted cake is my first attempt at frosting. Can't take full credit for the baking though as I had a friend over from Singapore who did most of it. We made like 2 chocolate cakes (actually 3 since I turned one big one into 2 smaller ones) and it was really fun! Those who want to have an even better version and properly frosted one, go to Truffs at Telok Ayer St and you can buy one for yourself along with handmade chocolate truffles! (Ok end of plug)

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I think I twittered or blogged about how I miss doing flowers and so I bought some flowers on my way home from work and created the following arrangements. The combinations weren't really what I envisioned when I bought them but I think these work better.
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Last night, I had people over to my place for dinner. I ambitiously tried to cook for 12 and the menu for the night was Singaporean local food. Without the help of my capable sous chef Eugene, I think I wouldn't have made it, so thank you! I didn't manage to take pictures of everything since I was busy cooking and trying to make sure there was enough crockery and cutlery for everyone.

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The menu included Rojak, Chwee Kueh, Bak Kut Teh, Chicken Rice, Kai Lan, Char Kuay Teow, Chai Tow Kueh, Laksa, Stingray and Pulut Hitam. Very ambitious and I think Eugene thought I was nuts trying to attempt to cook so many dishes. Well we made it in the end though slightly late as I was still cooking when guests came. I made the chwee kueh and chai tow kueh 'kuehs' the night before and we started cooking all the rest of the stuff at about 4pm (aiming for a 7pm dinner service).

The chicken rice ran into quite a few hiccups as I discovered at 4pm that I did not have any Prima chicken rice packs that I had intended to use. For some strange reason, I thought I had 3-4 when I had only bought 1 and I had used it up (I blogged about it a while back). Luckily I had the small chicken rice mixes for the rice. Then at about 6pm when I wanted to cook the rice, I realised that I had only enough rice for barely 3 cups. Brilliant. I had all sorts of other rice - japanese, risotto, white glutinous and black glutinous but NO thai white rice. The capable sous chef ran down to the corner shop and got some normal long grain rice (that looked yellow) but heck, we mixed it in. When the rice was cooked and I opened up the pot, it was swimming in liquid still. I cooked 5 cups of rice (albeit mixed) and added liquid up to the mark for 5 cups and till now I still dunno what went wrong. By now I was a little freaking out as people had started to come and I had chicken rice porridge. We scooped out the excess liquid and tried to cook the rice some more. Luckily it managed to dry out somewhat and was edible, albeit a little salty.

I think Singapore food needs to be eaten hot and probably in small portions. The chai tow kueh and char kuay teow especially. They were really good as I was cooking them (I snuck in some tastings) but by the time people were eating them they were more or less cold. Another case in point is the laksa I'm eating for lunch right now. It wasn't as shiok eating it last night as it is now after I have just nuked it and made it all hot and warm again.

Anyway, suffice to say that I have tons and tons of food leftover because I probably cooked for 20 instead of 12 and my fridge is piled up with tupperwares of leftover food. I really have NO idea how I'm going to eat it all before it goes to waste. Next time, I'll know just to cook a little less, just a tad less.

October 27, 2009

Parcel


Look what I just got in the mail! so cute and pretty! I love Asian Food Channel, now I wish I was back home watching it, they've got some pretty exciting programmes coming up! Do look out for it if you have it on cable!

Posted by ShoZu

A 6-Star Week Part I

This post has been long overdue (and warning to all, it will be long). Where do I begin? To tell the tale of 4 foodies (well 6 if you count the friends who joined us), 8 days, 2 countries, 6 stars, countless restaurants and 20 courses of food and countless pintxos (pronounced pinchos), not to mention many pounds poorer and heavier. That sort of summarises the gastrohedonistic week we started in San Sebestian and ended in Bray. Of course it was so much more than these numbers, but it would be difficult to describe with justice all the wonderful flavours and foods we savoured.

San Sebestian is truly a food capital. With bars lining the street serving all sorts of pintxos, we really didn't know where to begin or stop. I think we must have eaten at more than ten restaurants in all walking around in the 2 days. We'd walk into one, gawk at the wide array of colourful pintxos, proclaim that we should try one for posterity sake, and then proceed to eat about ten as we couldn't stop ourselves. Most of the bars served classic pintxos, which were different combinations of jamon (ham), egg, cheese, peppers, anchovies, salami, prawns and generous dollops of mayonnaise, served open faced on a slice of baguette or in sandwich form. How can one go wrong with these ingredients?

Our favourite bar however, Fuevo Negro, served more modern interpretations of these little snacks, their signature being a Mak Kobe - a mini kobe beef hamburger (which we doubt was really kobe since it was so cheap) served with fried banana chips and an elusive mushroom, ham and egg pintxo, which was always not available during each of the THREE times we went there. During our three visits, we managed to try their tortiilla, which was essentially potatoes in scrambled eggs, a salted cod dish, almond coffee with sweetbread cookies (yes brain), jamon with sundried tomatoes and cheese, a slowbraised vanilla pork with lemon foam, some chicken dish. Their stuff was pretty innovative (they won the most innovative cookbook recently) and it seemed pretty popular with the trendy set. We left a message in their toilets (since it has a blackboard wall inviting people to graffitise) on how much we loved them.

Some of the more memorable classic pintxos we had were a scrambled eggs with mushroom and bacon, a jamon, egg mayo and prawn skewer and basically anything with ham and egg haha. Feast your eyes on all the various incarnations of the pintxos we ate.

09 San Sebastien & Bilbao (Eugene)

Of course, other than food, there was also the usual tourist sights to take in. A pretty seaside town, with beaches, hills and of course a old city centre that were filled with cute shops and many pintxo bars. A very colourful town, with nice sunny weather. As you can see below, the foodies turned into Gap models for the weekend lying in the sun.

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Foodies that we were, we had tried to get a table at the famous Arzak (the chef was the mentor of Ferran Aria of El Bulli fame) but lost the last table to some unnamed persons. Nonetheless, we managed to book Martin Berasategui, another 3-star Michelin restaurant (SS has so many of them that you can just throw a stone and hit one) and boy, was that the best ever decision made. With the same 4 foodies that went to Fat Duck last month and a guest foodie, we were all prepared for a showdown as we sat down in a beautifully decorated dining room that resembled a stately dining room. Cosy but not stiff, points to Martin over the blah nondescript small dining room at Heston's.

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Once seated, our maitre d', who was this serious man, friendly while creepy at the same time, came and asked us whether we'd like the tasting menu and if we had any dietary restrictions. Three of us promptly said no cheese, no oyster and no bananas respectively and to our surprise, he said he will get the ktichen to change the dishes to suit our requirements. Wow, once again, points to Martin.

Lightly Smoked Cod with powder of hazelnuts, coffee and vanilla
Mille-Feuille of Smoked Eel, Foie Gras, Spring Onions and Green Apple
Peach Gazpacho with Cockles and txakoli
Squid Soup, creamy squid ink ravioli with squid crouton

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The appetizers were pretty amazing. The foie gras terrine with apple and eel (top right) really stood out. The textures and flavours really worked well together. The squid ink dumpling, which was full of flavour bursting in your mouth as the skin was delicately thin.

Little Pearls of Fennel in raw, risotto and emulsion
Cheese and Carabana Oil Bubble with endives, red onion juice and iberian bacon
Fam's Egg with beetroot and liquid herb's salad, carpaccio of basque stew and cheese
Warm Vegetable Hearts Salad with seafood, cream of lettuce hearts and idionised juice
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Martin seemed to like serving 'bubbles' or 'pearls', basically they were these sacs of liquid that would burst in your mouth as you bite into them. They were a joy to eat as you don't know what was going to come! His dishes were also full of colour, like a painter's palette as you can tell from the pictures above. You can't really see from the pictures but the dishes that the food were served in were shaped like shells. The dish in the middle was one of his signature dishes (similar to Sound of the Sea at Fat Duck) - pretty to look at but I wasn't a big fan of the gel it was set in.

Roast Red Mullet with crystals of soft scales and juice of white chocolate with seaweeds
Roasted Araiz Pigeon, fresh pasta with mushrooms and spring onions, touches of truffle cream

There were 2 main courses as part of the degustation - a fish (can't remember what fish) with these deliciously melt-in-your-mouth pork morsels, and pigeon. Yes, pigeon again, what's with pigeon and Michelin-star chefs this season?? Luckily, Martin's pigeon was much better than the one we had at Fat Duck, at least it didn't taste raw but if you ask me, I wouldn't really opt for pigeon if I had a choice.
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Warm and Cold of Apple and Roots
Coal Crumbs with frozen yoghurt and little acid touches of strawberries, lemon grass and passionfruit
As a Cold Soup, banana and vanilla stew, with citrics and ice cream

The desserts were not traditional, quite bold with non-traditional pairing of flavours and again, playing with textures - foam, bubbles, granitas etc. Refreshing and interesting. I really liked the acidic and sweet, hot and cold, smooth and rough interplays. Very clever.

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And a picture with the man himself! Such groupies we are. By the end of the night, we were really enthralled with Martin and his food and all unanimously agreed that Heston was wayyyyyy behind. Fat Duck was an experience in itself but the food here was pure, clever, simple and flavourful.

Stay tuned for the second-part of the 6-star week - where do the foodies go next?

Home Made Food

You can probably tell I'm trying to clear my backlog of posts. Here are some pictures I took around my neighbourhood one Saturday as I explored the farmer's market downstairs my house (Pimlico Farmer's Market) and the Partridges Market at King's Road.

09 Neighbourhood

I haven't gotten around to baking much but I did manage the below. Made a blueberry and fig tart with some figs I brought back from Barcelona. They were squashed on the way back so I had to quickly do something with them. I made a shortcrust pastry from scratch which was surprisingly quick, easy and came out well. The lattice was also fun to weave and turned out really pretty. Also made a brownie for a quick dessert the other night using a recipe from my Hummingbird Bakery book, which also turned out fudgey and chewy.

09 London Homemade Food

As for cooking, I've been trying to cook and eat at home but it's been quite hard since my schedule isn't very fixed and it takes planning to buy the ingredients, defrost things and portioning the food. Most of the time, I cook too much, which means I end up eating more than I should, or I throw out quite a lot of stuff. Like bread, I hardly ever finish any loaf I buy.

Well, I don't take pics of everything I make but here is a selection. I should start keeping recipes and blogging them down. Like the chwee kueh I made that day, turned out pretty well except I overfried the chye poh. Will try again and take some pics. I also finally got around to using one of the Prima pastes that I brought with me. Tried the chicken rice mix and it was really quite decent. I felt like a real hawker as I was deboning and smashing my chicken thigh and chopping it up haha.

09 London Food2
The top pics are actually of a beef stew I attempted over the weekend. I finally took out my Le Creuset pot to make the stew :) A stab at Boeuf Bourguignon, but not really true to the traditional recipe since I didn't have mushrooms so I used a root vegetable mix. Put in a bit too much tomato paste but otherwise really yummy. Paired that with a simple potato gratin made in my mini Le Creuset, a gift from a fellow foodie. It was a good dinner and I had plenty more stew for 2 more meals. The other 2 pictures of the ham was from the stash of Jamon Iberico de Bellota that I lugged back from Barcelona. Shared it with the San Sebestian gang at a pintxos party at my place before we trooped off to Waterside Inn. I need to have another party soon to finish up the stash :)

October 26, 2009

YAY!

The cable tv has come back!!!

Trials & Tribulations of Living in London Part II

I can't believe this. After I waited about 2 months to get my broadband (and thank God it is here and working), guess what? My cable tv decides to go kapoot on me. You can truly never have the best of both worlds, can you?

Since it was installed, it had on occasions decided to go on holiday especially when there's inclement weather but it always returned within an hour or so. Not this time. It's decided to take a permanent holiday. Since yesterday, I've had the ominous "No satellite information is being received" blue screen permanently on my tv everytime I switch it on. Initially, I thought it was the usual tantrum so I left it alone for a while, but each time I tried to coax it back, it never came back.

Today I called Sky up to ask them what's up, and after going through a whole bunch of steps to check the system health and resetting the box, it STILL couldn't work. I was told to check if anyone else in my building was not getting Sky and if it was just me, to call up the vendor who sold me the box to get it fixed (gosh, I can feel another 1 month wait in there). What's worse, now the box seems hung! I couldn't even switch it off after I put down the phone with the helpdesk. I've resorted to just switching the power off. Sigh. And what's more, my almost new work laptop gave me the blue screen of death today. And my gmail doesn't load properly on my Mac. Urgh. Technical problems SUCK.

October 25, 2009

Dreams

I dreamt of my friends and family last night. In fact I think there were several dreams, the first involved Aniki and there was also this whole thing about catching mice. Apparently wherever I was at was overrun with mice and we were told to catch them for a reward. I can't remember if it was one or two dreams, you know how they all sort of melt together?

Next it segued into this big party in a house I don't recognise where my friends (the girls) and my family (including extended) were present. I had apparently made a cake and brought it to the party, and so I was going around telling everyone to go eat cake but no one wanted to (as it happens in real life hmpf). Afterwards, I realise that my cousin had also brought some other cakes and so everyone started eating. I somehow distinctly remember FY playing a guitar in a corner hiding from everyone else. Yes, quite weird.

We got one more hour last night since the clocks went back, I could do with more free hours though. It's quite nice and sunny today, hope it stays that way.

October 20, 2009

Chilli Crab Invasion


I just thought the sight was too cute to pass up. Packing all these crabbies to Paris with me. Now I just hope the customs doesn't stop me and accuse me of crustacean cruelty.

Posted by ShoZu

Travelling again

It's been quite a busy couple of weeks so I haven't really blogged or twittered much. Got a few posts backlogged on draft mode, mostly from the San Sebestian trip and foodie posts in Waterside Inn. It takes a while to pull together all the pictures so pardon me for the silence. Those who've told me I haven't posted for a while - I hear you, I will endeavour to put it up this weekend.

Actually, what do people like to read about? Food? Travel? Trials and tribulations of living in London? Do leave a comment and let me know so I know I'm not boring you all with my rants.

I'm off to Paris for a 2 day work trip tonight, am feeling quite anxious as I'll be expected to present and engage the participants in French. I haven't really gotten all my terms and jargon memorised yet - seems like back to when I had to do Chinese presentations to clients back in china. Shudder butterflies in my stomach.

Posted by ShoZu

October 8, 2009

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya


While I haven't really been able to see much of Barcelona during this trip since the conference is tucked in some ulu corner of the city, we did go out to an amazing venue this evening for the conference host dinner. As it was being sponsored by Barcelona Turisme and all the various federal/state/provincial tourism entities, they were pulling out all stops to impress the British travel trade. The dinner, which was for approximately 1000 pax, was held at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. This means 100 banquet tables, no mean feat by itself in trying to find a venue that can accommodate this many tables. I was trying to think where in Singapore we could do something similar other than boring ole Suntec or Expo. This wasn't a run of the mill hotel function room or convention space, it was a historical building, working museum, that overlooked a large fountain piazza (something like Washington? or Vatican), which was superbly grand in the night with the lighting. Inside, other than the galleries, there was this huge cavernous space that had a high domed ceiling which could accommodate 100 tables (with room to spare) and tiered arena seating. According to wiki, it was built in 1929 for the World Fair, but it definitely looks older than that.



Other than the amazing space and architecture, the night ended spectacularly (at midnight, after dinner was served at 10pm in timely Spanish fashion) with a Cirque du Soleil-esque performance. 5 performers rappeled down slowly from the domed ceiling, where trusses and structures had been rigged (in a historical building no less) and entertained the captivated audience with different acrobatics that involved swinging, twirling, somersaulting, all while suspended in the air. One of the performers then twisted and twirled without a harness around a hoop and was followed by other feats performed on bungy cords. It was really quite awesome. Much better than the human towers that were the first part of the entertainment. I really wonder how long it took to rig up all those structures, I'd say the floor-to-ceiling height was probably about 4-5 stories. In Singapore, it would be a nightmare getting clearances and all that I bet. It does help that the museum is run by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Now if only we had the same sort of spaces to play with in Singapore.

October 4, 2009

Home Sweet Home

*commercial break from food*

Long overdue post on my apartment. Many have asked me to post pictures of my apartment so I finally got around to taking some pictures, it's hard to get proper lighting since London is grey and dreary quite a fair bit.

The first set of pictures is from when I first moved in, before I changed the furniture layout, moved in my things from Singapore and added in some touches to make it more homely. Like I mentioned to some of you, I think it's getting a bit cluttered now, the 'before' pictures do seem a lot more spacious compared to the 'after pictures. What do you think?

Before

09 Apartment

After

09 Apartment1

09 Apartment2

09 Apartment3

I turned around the couch so as to separate the dining space from the living space. It looks smaller now cos it's hard to get a through-picture from one end of the hall to the other. I originally envisioned a lot more white and bright furniture but since the apartment's tables were mostly in dark wood, it was quite hard to add in white. The kitchen is getting quite cluttered as I don't have much counter space to put my appliances and frequently-reached for food. I will probably need more free weekends to reorganise. Need to make more space!!

October 3, 2009

San Sebestian - food capital of Europe

A quick hello from SS. Here on a foodie weekend eat-out with 4 other gastronomes (is there such a word?). We spent the day eating and eating non-stop. Renowned as the foodie capital of Europe with the highest concentration of Michelin starred restaurants, it's not hard to see why this beautiful seaside city earned that reputation. With tapas bars at lining the streets serving exquisite and delicious pintxos, which is what tapas are know as here, we were completely spoiled for choice as we wandered from bar to bar eating these little meals on toast. We must have had at least two dozen or more different pintxos in the five or six places we stopped at. Ranging from jamon (ham), anchovies, prawns and mayo, sweet peppers and sardines, to avant garde creations like ham and almond coffee with sweetbread biscuits, mini hamburgers with banana chips, they were a joy to share and savour in a group.

The city itself was beautiful and quaint. With less than 200,000 population and not overrun with tourists, it is pleasant to walk around the city, admire the pretty architecture and stop for pitstops at the bars. most of the spanish brands are here too so you can shop to your heart's content. There's also the beach for those who want the sun sand and surf. Too bad I didn't bring any shorts or flip flops. The city isn't very big so you can see it more or less in 1-2 days. We trekked up to Mont Urgull, where there is an old castle and a staute of Jesus overlooking the city. Great view from up there and peaceful since it wasn't crowded with tourists. Having worked off what we spent the entire day eating (yah right!!), we started eating again after we came down the hill haha.

Well, the food part of the trip deserves its own entry with pictures so till then, we are off to eat some more!

Posted by ShoZu

September 29, 2009

First House Guest

I had my first house guest this past weekend! My colleague Serene from Singapore extended her work trip over the weekend and stayed with me. She's into vintage stuff and markets so we went to Portobello on Saturday morning. The last time I went to Portobello I didn't really manage to see much of the vintage and antique shops and wasn't very impressed. I was quite amazed to see all these alley ways of shops in the snaking galleries behind the main shop front. Much larger than I thought they were and full of all sorts of trinkets and furniture and jewellery from yesteryear.

I managed to pick up a few nice pieces of jewellery for myself and Serene also scored quite a few purchases. Wan headed straight for his German food truck with another friend and we only managed to catch up just before we were due to leave for our lunch appointment. I had a proper undamaged Hummingbird Red Velvet this time and it was truly moist! I need to make cupcakes like that. This second trip opened my eyes its treasure trove and I will definitely be back.

We left my friend shopping and the 3 of us headed to Launceston Place (off Gloucester Rd) for lunch with other members of FAT (Food Appreciation Team, more on that next time). Launceston Place is part of the same group of restaurants (D&D London) as Orrery (which wasn't that great) and quite a few other nice restaurants. The chef Tristan Welch was previously from Petrus so it was something I was looking forward to after a friend recommended it highly. A 3-course lunch for £19 sounds like really good value at this restaurant. After some initial confusion, we managed to claim the table and got our order in before the kitchen closed. What followed was possibly one of the best meals I've had in London since I arrived (have I said this before?).

All of us had similar variations even though there were 3 choices for each course. We were served pickled cucumber in a yogurt sorbet as an amuse-bouche and for starters it was pumpkin soup or crab risotto. I personally had the pumpkin soup, which was amazing, very smooth and velvety with the right sweetness, accented by the tender beetroot cubes and finely grated cheese for slightly more creaminess. The crab risotto seemed pretty good too, full flavoured and served in a crab shell with a wasabi-laced pesto puree.

09 London Food

We then had our main course, which was poached chicken breast (yes all 6 of us had the same thing) with girolles in a hollandaise sauce, accompanied by some kale and baby carrots which we ordered as sides. While it sounded simple, the chicken breast was very tender. Usually I tend to avoid chicken breast as it is usually dry but this was juicy and tender, without the fattiness of the thigh. The baby carrots were really delicious as they were caramelised.

09 London Food1


The palette cleanser was a lime and raspberry sorbet, a little too sour for me but did its job. For dessert, most of us ordered the roast peach with almond ice-cream while there was also 2 people sharing the gigantic apple tart. The apple tart was excellent, handmade flaky puff pastry with chunky pieces of caramelised apples served with clotted cream. Yum. My roast peach was alright but next time I go back, it's going to be the tart. I was quite wowed by the food, although the same could not be said about the service. Patchy at best, and not very friendly.

I was so full afterwards (we only ended lunch at 4.30pm) I had to walk around to be debloated. I went home and 'exercised' by potting my plants, which caused a massive backache afterwards. Stooping over the step and scooping compost into pots in the dark was not exactly fun. I had gotten some lavender, herbs and small flowers the previous week and just chucked the pots on the balcony. I only recently managed to buy my compost and long container so I wanted to transplant the plants. Unfortunately, I don't think I have very green fingers and my plants look worse after repotting. I must have overwatered most of the plants cos the lavender's drooping (apparently it likes well-drained dry soil) and the violas are also wilting. Sigh. At least the herbs look ok.

I can't believe after that we still went out for dinner at Cha Cha Moon that night (one of my fave cheap eats) albeit a little later than usual. I finally got to try the Chiu Chow Rice Cake, which was chwee kueh! I had spied it on my last visit and was determined to see if it matched up to the ones back home. Sadly, they were served cold, and small (they probably made it in a petit four tart shell) and the chye poh was mixed with bean sauce and a bit salty. The chicken satay salad was not bad but the winner of the night was the tea. Advertised as Hong Kong Milk Tea, it was really teh tarik (HK Milk Tea usually has another taste) and it was good! My constant gripe about Cha Cha Moon is that there is no dessert :( They really need to add dessert (are you reading this Connie? heehee) and it would be perfect!

September 24, 2009

Summary of the Week

I know I'm rubbish at updating. It's been quite manic these past few days. I've quite a bit of backlog in terms of posts - at least I try to tweet more regularly...

The weekend went by in a flash, spent mostly unpacking my stuff (yay!) and going to markets (Borough and Columbia again) and buying some plants. I got a small olive tree (which I actually wouldn't call a tree, more like a plant) and some lavender and calla lilies. I stuck them in my balcony, waiting to be repotted when I have time to go get the supplies. I hope they don't die before that.

On Tuesday I went to Paris for another day trip for work. Everything that could go wrong went wrong that morning. The taxi I booked was 20 min late (I think they completely just forgot about my booking) and I left my tickets in the office. Arrived at St Pancras with only 15 minutes to departure and sprinted (with a bad back) to the ticket office to beg them to reprint my tickets and sprinted to check-in and clear customs. Luckily I made it. And all this before 7am, sigh.

Work aside, I managed to spend some time after the show at the supermarket. As Le Bon Marche and La Grande Epicerie was en route from the show venue to Gare du Nord, I did some marketing there. The French definitely place a lot more emphasis on food so it was a joy to browse and shop there. There was so much specialty stuff available, from baking to world food etc, I was like a kid in the candy store. And molecular gastronomy is like the latest food fad to hit Paris with a few shelves dedicated to tools for making espuma (foam), gelatinising things and turning foods into weird texture using gums, chemicals and whatnot. Amazing. Everywhere I went, they were selling foaming canisters (like the stuff you get whipped cream out of). I never imagined that molecular gastronomy would be accessible to the home cook, but there it is! And now I know where to get supplies if I ever venture into that field.

I didn't have enough time to visit FNAC to pick up some cookbooks :( (I did go a little crazy the last time I was there bringing back tomes on macarons and other yummies) Honestly I think nowhere can you find good patissere books except in France though most are in French. The cookware section in the store also beats the ones in London hands down, just so many more varieties of cookware and dinnerware and much better designed. I wanted to get some pie/tart moulds but I clouldn't decide whether to get a few small ones or a big one so didn't get any. I seriously have a kitchenware hoarding problem. Need to make use of then stuff I already have.

Oh, and also managed to squeeze in a quick visit to my favourite home store Maison Du Monde! I love love love love it. I would buy everything there if I had endless supply of money haha.

September 17, 2009

Why Everyone Needs a Phone Line in UK

I can't wait!! My shipment arrives today! Or at least it's supposed to... one more hour.. counting down! Maybe by the time I finish this post, it'll be here!

After yesterday's fiasco with the Internet guys, my confidence is not very high in the systems here (what systems??). I took the day off, or rather it became more like working from home, to wait for the Virgin Media guys to come and install internet. There I was, all happy to finally get real broadband, instead of my 3G dongle thing. But as the time passed, and I waited and waited, I finally called up the hotline to find out when they were coming cos in this country, no one really gives you a specific time and you have to just WAIT. The lady on the phone told me they'll come before 1pm but specifics she won't give me i.e. just be PATIENT.

Finally they come and they start poking around the house looking for the correct socket. After climbing up and down my small balcony to examine the wires running outside and testing every single hole in the wall, the guy told me it seemed like I couldn't get Virgin Broadband in my house though from my postcode it seemed like I could. What?? After I had waited 3 whole weeks for this appointment you tell me I can't get Virgin broadband??? (background: they're the only ones that do fibre-optics cable, the rest of the providers give you ADSL through the telephone line, which means you need an active phone line first but more on that later) Anyway, they poke around outside some more and finally they call me over to the common corridor, and point to a bunch of wires hanging from the ceiling opening, looking pretty despondent, "Ma'am, these are our wires. Unfortunately, they don't go anywhere. You'd have to get permission from your landlord for us to drill some holes through the ceiling and door and run these wires in the common area to get it into your house. I doubt you'll be able to get that permission though." Geez, thanks guys! So what do I do now??

The background to it is that UK has like 3 major TV/Cable/Phone providers (like Starhub back home) - British Telecom, Sky and Virgin Media. The rest of the telcos like Vodafone, O2 etc do some mobile and internet but not that comprehensive. Since there are these major providers who do everything, you'd think that you can just call up one company and get it all done in one installation and one bill right? WRONG. Apparently, whilst everyone has 3-in-1 packages, for most of the internet here, it's all through ADSL. And what does ADSL need? An active phone line. And here's the punchline - only BT provides the phone line. So that means that before you can do anything at all with anyone, you have to get BT to activate your phone line (and pay them while at it, this is the hidden cost that NO ONE tells you when you see all those cheap packages - £11/mth!!), which is why everyone ends up getting BT internet and phone. I was totally resisting this monopoly cos I really don't think I need a home phone line, since I had my mobile. After a lot of research, I thought I could bypass this by getting cable internet through Virgin (I wanted TV too but apparently I can't get their TV from where I am) and TV through Sky. Which brings us to yesterday's fiasco. And now I'm back to what I was trying to avoid i.e. getting a phone line. I don't even want to think about how long more I have to wait for the phone line and THEN the internet.

I proceed to call up Sky (my provider for Cable TV who's coming to install TV on Sat) to see if they can do an all-in-one installation for me when they come around. I get passed from one person to another and everyone I speak to has thick Scottish accents, which for the life of me, I cannot decipher over the phone. I kept going "Sorry? Say that again? I don't understand," to them and they must have thought I was a nincompoop. Finally after a long time, this is what I understood - I'd have to get my Sky TV and become a customer first, before he could send an order to BT to activate my phoneline (through Sky) and this will take 10-15 days. After my phoneline is active, then he will set up my broadband order and send me a self-installation package through the mail (another 3-7 days) and I will be all set! Errr, that's another 2-3 weeks if my maths doesn't fail me. By this time, I was totally exhausted and told him yah, whatever you need to do, go ahead. I just want my broadband, with or without a stupid phone line. The system just tries to wear you down with all its silly rules and regulations and waits to the point where you just surrender and let them do whatever. And this is supposed to be a first-world developed country??

That's the story of my Internet/TV/Phone fiasco, which I hope will not be repeated today with the movers. I had similar problems with them, having to call them up once every few days to check where my shipment was and everytime they told me they'd call me back with the information and not once did they call. I always had to call back to chase. So I'm really praying very hard that it comes today, and I'll be having TV from this weekend onwards! Plus my Kitchenaid, containers, vases, books, coats and toiletries!!! Oh and I watched Julie & Julia last night, so I'm quite inspired to cook, which means I want my things!! Please please please let it be here today!

September 14, 2009

Monday Blues

Just a quick post to let people know I'm alive. Work's beginning to build up and honestly, I feel kinda swamped at the moment. A lot of the time I feel inadequate to make decisions, not having the background knowledge or relevant info but I suppose I need to bite the bullet and survive this baptism of fire (I hope!).

Despite endeavouring to spend more time at home, relaxing and just doing nothing, I've not been able to do that. The days just fill up (which is good in a way) and even during weekends, I find myself out more than in. This past weekend, we went to Bicester Village, which is the factory outlet near Oxford and boy did we shop. On Sunday, we went to Greenwich and though it was grey and cold, which meant we couldn't sit around the park, we spent a nice couple of hours walking the market and town.

This was followed by a meal at The Gun, a gastropub at Canary Wharf. The Gun came highly recommended and it was all in all pretty good. Good flavours hearty food. I had the Pork Belly which was this really well cooked errr seo bah for lack of a better term. The meat was soft and came apart quite easily and the skin was very crispy. The fat was also melt-in-your-mouth though I cut away most of it since I really shouldn't be eating so much fat. My companions had a ribeye steak and veal rump. The accompaniments for each dish was very good - shoe string potatoes and onion rings and hand cut fries. For dessert we shared a chocolate pistachio tart with honeycomb ice-cream. It was as good as it sounds, not overly sweet and the ice cream was great! Overall, a nice dinner and pretty reasonably priced (we spent about £25 per person).

The Gun
27 Coldharbour
Docklands London E14 9NS

T
: 020 7515 5222

September 10, 2009

Midweek

I've finally kinda caught up on the housework, put away the leftover laundry, cleared the table somewhat and *almost* cleared the boxes. My new white table and fuschia pink chair from Maison Du Monde came yesterday, which was a nice surprise when I returned home and saw two big ass packages awaiting me. Amazing that I got my furniture from France before stupid UK Ikea (still another 2 weeks!). Go figure.


The chair is even brighter than in the picture. I contemplated for a long time if I should get the grey (other than black above they also have this dark grey) instead of the pink. I wanted a pop of colour in otherwise pastel/white room. Well, it really erm pops. the colour in the above looks more like a very strong pink, and well mine is BRIGHT almost flourescent pink. Guess it's also cos of the light shining on it. Regret it a little :(

I've had quite a few busy days at work, lots of networking which tires me out cos I'm not so good at it. Didn't manage to catch the window to watch 2-for-1 movies today, really can't bear to watch on any other day and spend £13 on a movie. Came back home after my event and actually cooked beehoon. I had opened up my fridge and the vegs (which have been sitting there for quite a while) were calling out to me. So I finally made the beehoon I had been planning to make since Sunday. As usual I made way too much, will bring the rest of it to work for some friends tm. Can't wait for the weekend, plans to go to Bicester, which is the factory outlets though the sunny weather is gone. Has the sizzle really fizzled?

This blog is kinda turning into I did this, I did that blah blah chronicle huh. Not very interesting I must say. Oh well. Boring life, what to do.

September 7, 2009

My Weekend

It was quite a packed weekend, starting once again with an outing to Ikea on Friday night. Background - I had gone there just on Monday since it was Bank Holiday and we rented a trusty Zipcar to carry back all the stuff. Somehow we managed to spend the ENTIRE day in Ikea, like from 10am - 7.30pm, and we still didn't manage to get everything cos errr I was quite indecisive plus several pieces of the furniture were going to be too heavy and big to lug back by car. The VW Golf, however, did manage to fit in all the small barang barang which somehow added up to a mountain of stuff. And since I didn't have access to my house carpark with my key yet, we had to unload by the street and wheel 3 trolley loads across the street and parking lot.

And yes, we went there again on Friday as I couldn't get all the stuff online (what's the point of online shopping if you can't get stuff online??). Got my boss's car for the weekend so off we went. Once again, we came back with a whole load of stuff. This time, at least we got into the carpark and there was only one load. I spent a good part of Saturday evening building the furniture until my hands hurt. I had never wanted a power drill more. Then more hand torturing on Sunday evening as I set out to do laundry. I never liked doing laundry since college days, and my old fears came flooding back when I had to wring dry my handwashing. My hands were still smarting from the previous day's furniture building and it was not fun at all. I think I put too many things into the washer-dryer as well cos my things didn't really dry and I had to hang dry most of it still. While the laundry was drying, I proceeded to scrub the limescale and water marks off my bathroom glass divider and the bathtub. Again, not fun. I can't imagine having to do this on a regular basis - it'll eat up all my weekends! I haven't even stayed there for 2 weeks! The kitchen probably needs some wiping down as well, and I'm sure it'll get worse the more I cook. Gah.

Yeah, so lest people think I lead a glam glam life, I don't! It only seems that way cos I blog about the highlights. On regular days, I wake up, take the tube to work, spend the day at work in meetings or in front of computer, go home, unpack/clean/run errands/cook, sleep and then it starts again the next morning. Occasionally here and there I do go out for nice dinners and try to do some shopping (I think Saturday will be marketing/shopping day). I will also try to cook more. Can't wait for shipment and all my cooking equipment to come!

Oh, and we went to Datchett and Windsor on Sunday, the former for a work-related social event in this huge huge house with big grounds, where there was free flow drinks, food, ice-cream, entertainment, bbq, the full works for about 150-200 pple. We even took a steamboat up the Thames (yes the house is right on the Thames further out where Thames is a narrow river) to Windsor. Neighbours with the queen, now that's a prestigious postcode. The place was just amazing, and we even got to take back vegetables from the hostess's garden!

We left early cos we wanted to take a look at Windsor Castle, but unfortunately it was already closed :( We walked around and had tea (or rather I had coffee, yes travesty I know) & scones at this really cute place called The Crooked House of Windsor. It really is quite slanted and crooked. According to its history blurb it was built in 1592! Apparently it's the place to have tea in Windsor and is featured as one of Britain's must-go tearooms. Well the ambience was great, the scones were not too bad though we thought it would have been better warmed. The Americans at the next table had the full-fledged tea set, sandwiches, cakes, pastries the whole works. I do need to do tea at one of the institutions here in London one day.

After tea, we walked around and unexpected came across some cheap wall art that we bought. It was a nice way to spend the Sunday afternoon. I will be back to actually go to Windsor Castle next time.

August 30, 2009

Desire: Laura Ashley Cupboard


By request, here's the picture of the cupboard....


August 29, 2009

End of Week 3

Time flies. It's been 3 weeks since I got here. The past 3 days I've been busy trying to move into my new place. What that means is lugging lots of luggage and things back and forth. I'm thankful that my friend helped me with quite a fair bit of the heavy carrying when he can. One can't imagine the number of things that you would need to make a house a home. Ok maybe it's just me since I seem to need more things than normal people.

Over the past few days, I've had to go to the department stores and supermarkets and lug back duvets, sheets, pillows, broom & pan, frying pan, kettle etc. Some of these things are pretty bulky and it's been quite a feat trying to bring it home, usually I bring my expandable sports bag and stuff the things in. I haven't even gotten my crockery and cutlery yet cos I'm going to Ikea only on Monday so I'm living off my tupperware and plastic cutlery I got from the supermarket.

Yesterday I went to a big Sainsbury to try to get some basic groceries like tea, coffee, sugar, cereal and cleaning stuff like detergent and cleaning liquids. I was a tad ambitious in the amount that I thought I could carry. After I paid and put everything into bags I knew I was in trouble. Nevertheless I carried what seemed like 20 kg (no I'm not kidding) and attempted to make my 15 min journey home. Mind you, I was in heels (after work) and the plastic bags were cutting into my fingers. After about 10 minutes, my fingers were numb and I looked around and it seemed as if I had gone the wrong way! By this time, my arms were about to give way and I thought there's no way I'm going to backtrack and potentially face an even longer journey. So I stopped and tried to flag a cab. Luckily one came by and I quickly got into it, relieved. It turns out that I was walking the correct way (luckily I didn't try to 'backtrack'!) just that I wasn't familiar with how the road turns. Finally I was home. I'm seriously contemplating buying one of those trolley things to carry my marketing. Very auntie I know.

Enough of the unglam stuff and onto more glam things. I was in Paris for a day trip for work yesterday (before the supermarket saga). It is amazing how one see Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees in the afternoon and then Westminster, Big Ben at night. It was really quite rushed, with 4 meetings back to back but I enjoyed the sunny Parisian weather (London was grey and rainy) and just soaking the French air. I do miss Paris and come to think of it, it's been exactly one year since I went last year. The trip where I learnt how to make macarons :) Hopefully I'll be able to take more leisure trips to Paris soon.

I'm hoping to get the kitchen and house stocked up asap cos I can't seem to concentrate on anything else. Though I know it's quite silly and I should be able to just do other things but somehow it's become an obsession. I need to tell myself I can slowly do it, and just need to get the essentials. There's this cabinet from Laura Ashley that I would really like to get, it's light aqua blue and it's really pretty. Except it's going to take 9 weeks for delivery. I shall go and contemplate tonight. I need instant gratification.

August 24, 2009


Char Kuay Teow from Kiasu
A little burnt, too salty and not sweet enough. Prawns were fresh and big. Probably not fried with lard. Probably a 3 out of 5.
The curry puff I ordered was the flaky pastry sort, the curry wasn't terribly tasty, again more salty than fragrant. Not enough chicken or potatoes, no egg.
Ice kopi was passable, made from coffee bag and using condensed milk at least. A little diluted since I asked for it iced.



Jom Makan
Nasi Lemak came with Rendang, the requisite ikan bilis + peanut but not fried with chilli, sambal with squid and half a hardboiled egg. The rice tasted more like chicken rice than coconut rice, it had a lot more galangal, ginger and spices than coconut. The sambal was quite good, sweetish just like how I like my chilli but the squid was squishy. The rendang was a little dry.

We also ordered chicken satay whic was better than the nasi lemak. The meat was well marinated and tender. The peanut sauce wasn't that spicy. The curry mee was a tad oily.
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