Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sweet Dreams....

I have been suffering from an odd kind of stomach bug recently...I do get incredibly hungry but also very nauseous... so, I've been eating lightly and trying not to eat anything that may disturb my stomach. BUT, I am, at the heart of hearts, too waisik and this can be evidenced by my dream last night...

There I was! With a buffetbuff and other female friends, at a HUGE, and I mean HUGE hotel Chocolate Buffet!! There were piles and piles of chocolate of the most divine kind! Oh and little stations of different types of chocolate for you to taste! I recall eating this gooey, rich, dark piece of chocolate covered almond that is NOTHING like I have ever tasted in my entire life! However, I can still "recall" the taste and texture! I also remember huge green olives stuffed with anchovies (yes, yes, odd in a chocolate buffet but made sense during the dream) and big, big piles of multi-colored macaroons! It was absolutely huge and sooo delicious.

I tell you, the dream was so realistic and vibrant that I actually had a stomach ache by the time I got up.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Wasted stomach

My father, who suffers from high cholesterol, is not one to "waste" his stomach. While he realizes that he shouldn't over-indulge, he often does, much to my dismay. It is of very little comfort to me when he turns down sub-standard ice cream (i.e. in his mind, anything that is NOT Haagen Daaz) saying that he won't waste his stomach eating things he doesn't truly enjoy....like the vast pats of butter on his breakfast rolls.

As a family, we use the term wasting stomach ("sai tou" for those of you in the know) a lot for eating things that we didn't really enjoy and actually regret as it wasn't worth the calories and effort of eating it.

Last night was a case in point. A friend and I arranged to eat dinner at Thai Basil, a particular favorite of mine, especially for the desserts. A few hours before, the friend said she had a particular craving for string beans and asked if I minded going to Sichuan Garden (right next door) instead. I agreed with the caveat that dessert was going to be at Thai Basil.

We ate:

- Green beans with spicy minced stuff (pork, maybe?)
- 1 bowl of Tan Tan noodles
- Beef in pungent sauce (I was attracted by the name and the 2 chillis next to it)
- 2 bowls of steamed rice

The green beans looked wilted and stringy and just awful, like the remnants of someone else's dish. The beef was swimming in oil with chili and smelled nice but tasted of over tenderized, flavorless beef pieces. The tan tan noodles were acceptable and rice, unless you're utterly incompetent, you can't screw up too badly.

Bad meal, good company.

Unexpectedly bad as it was supposedly a nice restaurant and not cheap to boot. Too full and disgusted to have dessert, we contented ourselves with a walk around GREAT, the supermarket in Seibu and bought junk. Talk about a wasted stomach!

Luckily for me, I went home and found my lovely father had made my favorite, chicken in rice wine, a popular Hakka dish and one of his best dishes....unfortunately the wine was not the brand he usually uses but a piece or two of the chicken was enough to satiate me after such a disappointing meal.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bad lunches

I *HATE* bad lunches.

I have fallen victim to a bad lunch and am sitting here fuming. What a waste of good stomach.

As I have been on a money saving mission, I decided to unearth from my freezer a lunch sized container of stew which I put there a few weeks back. Got to the office yesterday and by lunch, it was still frozen and therein it remains today (I think I should toss...it's a bit odd lookiing at the moment).

So, frozen lunch I cannot have so out to buy lunch I go.

However, I forgot that I had the extravagant sum of HKD$35 in my pocket. But, this being a cheap end of town, I shouldn't have a problem. I decided to head off to Maxim's. I plumped for the 2 dishes + rice + soup/drink deal for $28. As the swiss chicken wings (no idea why they are swiss, they are just soy sauced wings to me!) were only $3, I added one to my order. Total: $31

I choose the corn+fried fish and the chicken cubes with celery, carrot and peanuts. It wasn't very good. I finished most of the fish, 2 bites of the chicken cubes, 1 spoonful of rice. I didn't even manage the soup. I did, however finish the chicken wing.

I dug around my drawer and came out with an extra dollar for a Coke Light ($5) for comfort.

Cheap? Yes. Cheerful? I hate my lunch.

Whole wheat pasta

On Monday I lovingly made bolognese sauce, ground beef, onion, garlic and minced carrots simmered in red wine, then crushed tomatoes and their paste. Simmered for a good 3 hours and it smelled divine.

Then, after that, it was wasted.

How you say?

By spooning it over whole wheat pasta. I'll announce it here: Whole wheat pasta is yucky.

I even bought the organic (hence expensive) stuff. DAMN. Unfortunately, the health food marketeers are very smart. It comes in a HUGE bag. So I'm stuck with it. I could not eat it, some of you are thinking but I must. Why? Well for one thing, I'm very skint at the moment and due to my preference for buying mascara over groceries, I am resigned to eating everything in my cupboard and fridge for the next few months until I have enough money to pay taxes. Good thing I'm an avid hoarder of food....

I washed the whole wheat pasta down with half a loaf of beautiful WHITE French bread and chocolate fondue. My healthy meal was a success.

Oh and I scored Haagen Daaz which my friend bought over (I think it was insurance against my cooking personally but I'll let it slide).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005



Alain Ducasse.

After have the great fortune, due to the kind generosity of my boyfriend's parents, to have dined at Louis IV in Monaco (an Alain Ducasse restaurant and voted one of the best restaurants in the world), we decided, as a special treat, to try Spoon in Hong Kong.

Of course, not enjoying the prospect of paying buckets of money, we found that they had a Sexy Sunset menu comprising of 4 courses and a glass of champagne for $450 + 10%. The caveat was to order between 6 and 7pm. This we found reasonable so a reservation made and we rushed in just in time.

We were seated and asked if we would like water, to which we assented and was asked for still or sparkling. Fearing that sparkling would fill me up (I'm a very well trained Chinese eater), I ordered still and some Antipodes (special water from New Zealand apparently) was presented. I mention the water as it is important later on.

I found it curious and a bit disconcerting that this was done as soon as we were seated, leaving us no time to think of what we'd like to drink and giving us no cocktail menu but I chalked it up to my fussy nature and moved on.

We were given little shooter glasses of sea urchin custard while we perused the menu. We naturally chose the Sexy Sunset Menu (especially after a quick peek at the high prices on the A La Carte menu) and ate our sea urchin custard. Very rich but flavourful.

The first starter was a foie gras mousse. This was good but a bit too rich for me, especially after the sea urchin custard. As the boy remarked, there's something really decadent about whipping up something like foie gras into a rich mousse.

For the second starter, the boy had seafood soup and I had the canelloni de salad with veal reduction. The other choice was melon with parma ham. The soup was good, rich and pungent....I wish I had the soup. My canelloni was average. I could taste cooked spinach and arugula but little else. Hmmmm. Was starting to get impatient with all the fancy small and unsatisfying foods.

My main came and I almost laughed. It was 2 small medallions of pork with chooped peppers and tomatos (high end salsa on top). The boy had cod, very tiny child's fist portion sized. Oh dear. This had better be good. I cut into the pork and it was very very tender so I was quite excited, thinking that it was going to be meltingly good. I put it in my mounth and the boy said he couldn't tell by my expression if it was good or simply awful. It was awful...but mostly because the soft pork I cut? It was a huge piece of fat. The food was not awful but was not good. I cut half of a medallion for the poor boy and cut all the fat off of the rest of the pork, which left me with about 4 mouthfuls. The bamboo salad? I don't even want to get into. The cod seemed ok.

By this time I was disappointed and a bit annoyed. Dessert was good. I had raspeberries (all 3 of them with a cut up half a strawberry!!) with lemon sorbet and fresh cheese, the boy had mango chocolate finger with vanilla ice cream.

So? As a conclusion? Not worth it. I'd rather pay about the same and go to other restaurants (Chez Moi comes to mind with superb food) at a similar price point. It was a deal for Spoon but I wouldn't go back and wouldn't recommend it. In Hong Kong, there's bound to be better restaurants in a similar setting.

A note on the service. The waiters/waitresses were friendly enough but lack of polish. They whisked away our plates as my boyfriend was still chewing, tried to take the plate from under me as I was drinking and served neighboring tables 2 courses as we sat waiting. The tables are closer together than I would have expected at such a nice restaurant. A much better option is The Derby House at the HK Jockey Club in Happy Valley whose service is impeccable but at the same time very warm.

Ah, the water. It cost us HK$140 + 10%. More than the glass of Chablis.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mid-Autumn Feast

This was it.

What we had been waiting and fearing the last few days/weeks...the big Mid-Autumn Festival feast.

These are usually family affairs and I dread them. I love my family but they are mad. Mad as can be and soooooooooooooooo Chinese. It's like a bad Chinese sitcom.

"Aieya!!! How come you gain so much weight? That's no good. Come, eat Auntie's food, it is very good and very expensive. You don't get this everywhere. What do you mean you don't want? Aieya!!!"

"Why don't you work for a financial firm? Or a bank? Those are good jobs!! You can meet nice rich men! What do you mean they aren't nice? How do you know?? Go work for a bank!"

Anyhow, it was an early dinner and my boyfriend, who knew what was coming ate barely anything all day. As usual, it was at my father's second eldest sister's house.

We started with tomato and preserved veg, deep fried pork ribs, marinated jelly fish and ginseng chicken soup as a starters. Oh and we had a bottle of red. Normally at these Chinese family dinners, no one drinks but the old stereotype of drunken Englishmen hold true and my family, out of supreme courtesy had to open a lovely red in case my boyfriend felt a bit homesick.

We then moved on to the abalone with mushrooms and veg (definitely my favorite), fish maw (I have no clue what part of the fish this is but it is very rich and a bit chewy and sticky), chicken, fish, 3 types of green vegetables, bitter melon stew with preserved vegetables and pork, and crab with bean vermicelli.

It was a huge meal. We waddled home and sat nursing teas until we could get the energy to go to Victoria park to see the lanterns.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Chewy, teeth bouncing noodles

Mid-Autumn Festival, my latest excuse to feast! Oh, and my boyfriend is visiting and he is very discouraging when it comes to curbing my enthousiasm about food (which is why I love him!)

In a fit of hunger yesterday night, we went out for a bite of food. Came to the Japanese Curry Bee about 40 paces from my house and indulged in a carb-fest.

I ordered the curry beef and cold mushroom udon.

Upon receiving them, I immediately picked out the mushrooms to put in my curry, took out the onions and slurped away. Lovely, chilled, teeth bouncing noodles (dan-ah in Canto). Nice spicy Japanese curry (bit sweet for those used to the other kinds of curry) to counterbalance. All in all, very nice.

However, after a curry, one always feels the need to refresh the mouth. Off I dragged my boyfriend over to the sweet shop (trust me, it didn't take a lot of convincing).

I ordered the boring but yummy mango-pomelo-sago while he got the...ew....durian pancake. It was mildly disturbing to see how much he enjoyed that thing.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dreaming of lobster nachos ...

My friend convinced me yesterday to ditch my yoga class and vegetable dinner to join her for a bout of shopping, dinner and girl talk.

I was strong, people! I resisted....for about 5 minutes.

It was the nachos that got me. For days now I had been dreaming about the lobster nacho's at Jaspa's. Huge plate of stacked tortilla chips with melted cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and with divine pieces of lobster scattered throughout. I'm still drooling at the thought!

But first, business. Off I trotted to use my friend's discount card to buy desperately needed shoes (guess what I have on my feet today?). Spent about an hour dithering about which ones would be best and ended up with 2 pairs of shoes...in black of course!

Ok, then a quick taxi ride to Jaspa's where we had the dubious table of honor at the front... open area....with a "view". Actually, it was just Staunton street so all we got a view of was other people looking at our food (the nachos are MINE, MINE I say!) and cars. Yipee! But that was a minor concern. Scarcely had my butt touched the chair that I rallied up one of the boys to order up some nachos. Followed up by a cheese plate. Did I mention that I adore my friend? What a fantastic dinner!

However, when I looked down at my belly this morning, I felt slightly bad...until I remembered the lobster nachos. They are worth it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Comfort food

Was feeling rather odd today...

I had breakfast (Multi-Grain Cheerios........yum, gotta love that "lightly sweetened" stuff)

then a snack...

Slice of emmenthal cheese and a low GI cookie....not great

then it came to lunch and the most bizarre thing happened. I wasn't hungry. Not only that, I was getting incredibly nauseous. This was bad. Very bad. In addition, loads of people at work are sick at the moment, which does not bode well for me... drastic action was needed.

I ventured outdoors for a walk...to the famous spicy noodle shop. I ordered a huge bowl of "suen lat mai seen" (sour, spicy rice threads) with pork, fish balls and bamboo pith (me trying to describe this to the poor noodle man was a comedy in itself......."Is it duck? Can you read? Is it tofu? Can you read?" .... "No, I can't read...it's squishy and comes in flat-ish sheets, no, I can't read Chinese...I'm illiterate you see.")

It was wonderful. So. As my poor neglected home-made chili sat in the office fridge, I was slurping down hot, spicy, sour soup noodles, sniffing all the while. When I finally grasped the last strand of noodles and popped it in my mouth, and blew my slobby nose, I knew I was going to be all right.

I love bread.

Had a girlfriend over last night for dinner who is vegetarian (what IS she thinking?) and I offered to, ahem, cook for her. Those who know me, know that while I am definitely an expert at eating, cooking is a whole other story (doesn't make sense, I know).

Anyhow, I rushed out of work, grabbed a loaf of French bread from that lovely bakery downstairs from Sogo and some basil....was lining up to pay when nearby the counter, those slimy marketing bastards put some Bugels on sale.......Bugels, nacho cheese in flavor.....they were calling to me. Do I risk sneaking out of the long queue to get some? Should I? But I've been working out...do I want to waste all my efforts? But nacho cheese!!! At the end, I got to the head of the queue and clumsily grabbed a jumbo bag and paid and left in a fluster of guilt.

On a good note, I made a very healthy and fabu meal yesterday, put tomatoes, chopped up peppers and garlic with salt, pepper and olive oil in hot oven for a bit while I cooked whole wheat pasta (not great tasting but better damn well make me healthy if I have to sacrifice taste!!). Then halfway through, put in some chopped up basil and balsamic, stuck in oven for another 15 mins then put in some marinated artichockes, dumped the pasta in, mix, mix and voila!!! Too bad by the time this was done, my vegetarian friend and I had finished the enormous, 2 ft long loaf of French bread!!

The lovely girl brought over chocolate pastries! Yay!

Oh, and for those wondering, I hid my Bugels. I'm waiting for an especially depressing day at home where I can indulge, dipping them in cottage cheese and salsa. Hehehe.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hungry Hippos

Breakfast: yogurt with unsweetened muesli (with 42% dried fruit!)

How do people do it? Last an entire morning with no snacks.

I can't. Unfortunately in Hong Kong, we eat at 1pm and I cannot go on without my snacks. My snack of choice today?

A slice of cheese and half of an usually sweet dragonfruit. Yum.... still, I was counting down the minutes until lunch.

Lunch was reheated chili I had made over the weekend. However, being the cheapskate I was raised to be, I think that the plastic leaked into the chili, giving it a horrendous plastic taste. Yuck indeed.

So now, here I am, after lunch, considering what to do. Run out to the nearest Circle K for some chocolate or a diet coke from the machine.

Such are the trials of life.