Sunday, July 30, 2006

Krazy Krispy Kremes

The lengths I go to for Sui Mai...

Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, I walked the walk of shame....all for you.

Due to the rainstorm and crazy weather conditions yesterday, my event was cancelled and so I decided to rush down to Times Square for the Krispy Kreme giveaway I posted on Friday.

When I got there, I was standing there in the pouring rain absolutely horrified by the greedy behavior of my fellow human shoppers. In the pouring rain, people were pushing, grabbing, and generally exhibiting shocking behavior in an attempt to get free donuts. Even worse were the number of people I heard who asked what it was they were giving away! People who did not even know what was in the boxes still decided to forego their dignity and any pride in order to grab as many boxes as they could. I saw one couple walk away with 4 boxes!! All grabbed by the woman, who ran into the crowd, pushing people apart to grab at a box, switch hands, grab at another before passing them back to her companion.

They too did not know what it was until they opened the box.

The overwhelmed, mostly Western team from Krispy Kreme struggled to keep the huge racks of donuts from being toppled while satisfying the rabid crowd and dealing with security personnel asking them to leave. All this in the pouring rain.

I *really* did not want to join the crowd but did feel it was my duty to get a donut and report back.

So I stood on the fringes, cringing inwardly and feeling very much ashamed. The goodnatured staff saw me but everytime they went to give me a box, it was grabbed away by greedy hands. All we could do was exchange sheepish looks while still waiting patiently. I have to admit that at one point I lost my patience and turned around to shout at a very professional looking man in a suit to stop pushing me and the old lady next to me (who, by the way, was trying to hand one box off to her family while grabbing another box).

I finally did manage to get a box but hung around, watching the panic die down as people realized there were no more donuts.

The manager, Matthew, told me that there were 1000 dozen donuts given away on Saturday and they plan for another 1000 on the Sunday. They were to be priced at $88 for a dozen and $9 for a single donut (I can't vouch for accuracy due to difficulty of hearing over the shouts of disappointment)

Instead of a single donut, each person was given a generous half dozen box of their infamous glazed donuts.

I shared mine with my Mom and the boy.

Was it Krispy? Was it Kreme-y?

I loved them. Tasted just like the ones in New York with gooey-soft goodness. Light glazing around the donut and soft yielding innards.

The boy loved them and we had to fight over the last one.

My Mom?

She said it tasted slightly uncooked and that she'd prefer a crueller from another donut shop. She wasn't sure it would fly in Hong Kong except for people like me, who grew up eating raw cookie dough, gooey cinnamon buns, barely cooked pancakes (a personal favorite) and monkey bread.

Your thoughts?

*As a sidenote, my Mom kindly offered to hold on to the box of donuts as we walked around in Causeway.....she said it was better that people thought an older lady fought off the pack of rabid shoppers for donuts than a younger, soaked, chubby girl. Yep, that's my Mom for you. Always looking out for me......I think.....

Friday, July 28, 2006

Public Service Announcement!!!

Unfortunately, as much as I'd like, I won't be there.

I'm volunteering at a charity event at that time so eat one for me! Actually make that 2!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Domestic goodness

Desperate housewives, domestic goddesses, all those modern SAHW (stay-at-home-wives).... none of which I am.

What I am, however, is hungry.

So to me that means the path of least resistance.

Too tired to make a trip to the shops, I thought maybe, just maybe I could do a simple aglio e olio (garlic and oil) with some of my chili olive oil. Maybe add some tuna cakes if I'm feeling up to it.

So I go home, look in the pantry, only a scant handful of dried linguini. Not enough for me and the boy.

Scrounging around some more I found giant elbows from a previous mac and cheese attempt.... this led to my 'classy' and quick bastardized tuna casserole.

It was too hot to put the oven on so I thought about making it from scratch but then my eyes lighted upon my beloved digital rice cooker.

In went the half bag of giant elbows, in went the almost over-due cottage cheese, a can of tuna, a few blocks of frozen spinach, half a glass of water and the rest of the cheese in my fridge, all crumbled, grated and jumbled together. Pressed the 'Quick Cook' button and 25 minutes later I was having a delicious, creamy yet light tasting pasta dish liberally sprinkled with red pepper flakes.

This revived me so much that I even used up the frozen ripe 'naners in my fridge to make Banana Oatmeal Bars for breakfast.

I can't believe it....what happened to days of drinking, dancing and partying the night away? Hang on....I think the closest I came to that was staring out of my dorm window and planning my next rib fest conquest......

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Treading in dangerous waters...

I went to my first blog dinner yesterday! I was invited to join a supreme shark dinner by the charming Cha Xiu Bao, together Sunday Driver and friends.

Being a complete amateur, I was enthused to go along to a one off special event organized by Hong Kong's leading blogger and was suitably nervous. This special shark dinner was available for one night only with the shark specially flown in from Norway.

The menu, as best I can translate consisted of 12 courses, accompanied by some wine courtesy of Mr. Bao.

We started off with the Shark’s Tongue. It was quite nice, with chewy bits (the tongue), crunchy bits (fried wonton wrappers and caramelized sesame walnuts), sweet/sour bits (grapefruit and pickled Japanese ginger) and fresh bits (julienned cukes). The mix was quite pleasant and enjoyable.

Next up was Lingzhi Shark’s Fin Soup. Lingzhi is a special type of mushroom that is revered for its healing properties and is can be found in herbal medicine concoctions. The soup was quite herbally and contained wolfberries to sweeten it up slightly. I love herbal based soups but it may not be to everyone’s taste, being a bit too much like Chinese medicine. The ‘fin’ was not the typical shark’s fin you find at Chinese banquets but more like the bottom bit where it is thick and attached to the shark.

*The picture shows the lingzhi on the left and the ‘fin’ on the right*
It was at this point that everyone started to notice how very warm it had become. Cha Xiu Bao convinced us that this was due to the healing properties of the Lingzhi and we were all impressed at how effective it was….

Moving straight into the next course was the Braised Premium Shark. This was prepared like the traditional abalone, a small piece of which was also served on the side with some green vegetable. The shark itself was quite chewy and could have done with a bit longer braising time to make it softer and more ‘glutinous’ if that makes sense.

Next up was Pan fried French-Style Asparagus and Shark’s Liver with Cognac Sauce. This was a piece of liver looking remarkably similar to foie gras with white asparagus and a thick slice of a type of mushroom we couldn’t identify. The liver tasted similar to foie gras but was more crumbly and gelatinous and much less rich, without the smooth texture and taste of the real thing. The liver was seared lightly so the insides were still pink. The asparagus and mushroom was fine but the cognac sauce congealed quite quickly and was nothing remarkable.

Osaka-Style Skewered Shark’s Spine (sounds painful) was next. This was about a foot long, inch wide piece of meat lightly tempura-ed and fried, served with a brown sauce. I quite enjoyed this bit as it was very tender with a texture like that of fish but more firm with less of a fishy taste. I felt that it was let down slightly by the greasiness of the oil.

The next dish was Steamed Shark’s Skin which was steamed with botan shrimp (thanks for the clarification Cha Xiu Bao!). This was again, grey and chewy. We were, to tell the truth, getting a little tired of the chewy texture and ‘sameness’ of some of the dishes.

We also noticed that we were all still quite warm…

Next was the impressively named Turkish Sauna. This was brought to our table in a bit earthenware pot with a glass of water poured over the top and on the sides at the table so it steamed the dish (I suspect it’s just a bit of showmanship to make the dish look nice). Inside were flash fried and cooked pieces of shark’s stomach with shallots, assorted mushrooms and tender bamboo shoots. By this time I was completely over the idea of so much shark and it was way too salty for my taste.

The following dish caught my eye for the quirkily named Red Date and Wolfberry Classically Steamed That Which Sees Not The Sky. My Chinese not being as good as I would have liked, I was extremely curious to know what this was. My mind, being of a less refined nature, thought it was the shark’s naughty bits (this didn’t put me off although the thought of swallowing a glace cherry took much more convincing). This misconception was due to phrase “where the sun don’t shine”, which is indeed naughty bits. I was informed that this was in fact, a shark’s chin. Unfortunately I did have to reveal to a table full of people I just met what I originally thought it was…. This tasted similar to the shark’s spine in terms of white non-fishy tasting fish.

Shark’s Tail was served next and I was lucky enough to receive bits of fin. This was quite textural with crunchy, chewy and fishy bits but I was feeling quite bored of the shark at this point.

It was at this point things got a little strange in the restaurant. All of a sudden, a man came on the microphone to announce lucky draws and prizes (gift certificates for whole baby roasted pork, fish and lobster). This was to continue throughout the evening much to my amusement.

When the waitress looked at a few of us fanning ourselves with red, red faces, she apologized for the broken air-conditioning. So. It wasn’t the lingzhi after all but in fact, broken AC. D’oh!!!

The next dish was the “Sun Duc” Home-style Baked Intestines. This was baked into a quiche like form. One bite of mine and I could detect a free hand with dried mandarin peel, a taste I am not fond of. Besides, after so much shark, I couldn’t face eating an egg heavy dish of yet more chewy shark-y bits.

The final savory dish was erroneously named Spanish paella with shark’s meat. Cha Xiu Bao took one look at the dish and inquired whether the sauce was thousand island…..not such a leap considering one of Pizza Hut’s most popular offerings in Hong Kong is the seafood thousand island pizza. It was slightly sweet and way too mushy with bit of …yep, you guessed it, shark’s meat. Two bites were enough for me.

As if the fanfare over the lucky draw prizes weren’t enough, all of a sudden, an incredibly loud version of a traditional Chinese hero type song entitled “Men must be strong” came on and the Chef of the night came out in full regalia and went around toasting all the tables. Very strange.

Finally came the dessert of Boiled Shark Soft Bones with Ginseng. Soft bones are the clear joint cartilage bits (deep fried chicken soft bones are a very popular dish in Japan and Hong Kong). This was double boiled with rock sugar, dried red dates, and ginseng to make a very viscous sweet liquid with jelly like knobs of cartilage (edible) and even bits of bone (inedible). It was very nice and smooth.

By this time, we were sweating bullets and very much looking forward to getting out of there. Despite our best attempts, we were yet again, humans defeated by a shark.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm gon-na par-ty like it's my birth-day..

For my surprise birthday dinner, my parents and the boy took me to Nadaman in Shangri-la for a teppanyaki dinner.

I apologize in advance for the horrid photos. I just received a new phone and haven't gotten the hang of the camera function just yet...nor the boy's iBook!

Onto the dinner!

We started with daily appetizer, which was, on the day, corn tofu and shitake spinach. Sounded simple but was not easy to make. The chef at our teppanyaki grill told us that it took 3 full days to prepare the spinach. The first day the spinach was quickly blanched and water drained while the shitake mushrooms were soaked and cooked. The second day the mushrooms were dried and grilled to get a smoky flavor before being soaked with the spinach to absorb the flavor. The third day other flavorings were added and the shitake sliced and the two combined. The result was spinach that was so flavorful and silky with an aroma that filled the mouth.

The corn tofu was nicely flavored but I felt that the grainyness of the corn diminishes one of tofu's biggest qualities, the silky mouthfeel.

The second course was sashimi, which consisted of approximately 4 slices of what I think is 'tai' (red snapper) and 2 'amaebi' (sweet shrimp). Extremely fresh, they were sweet and tasty.

Following that came the Japanese pumpkin cream soup. Velvety smooth but a touch too salty for my taste and I would have preferred that it was served slightly warmer as cream soups tend to taste a bit grainy when cooled.

The next course was beautiful 1.5 inch slices of foie gras simply grilled and dressed with a bit of soy and served with an unusual yam mash pancake, designed to help cut the richness of the foie gras.

The foie gras tasted so good that it was all eaten up despite seeing how much oil exactly came out of the foie gras when cooked!

Scallops grilled and then gently poached in sake was served next. The scallops were halved horizontally and then grilled before being put back into their shells with sake poured over them and poached in the shell. The scallop was tasty but slightly over cooked. I couldn't help thinking that I would have preferred that the scallop remain in one piece as it was so fresh, it just needed a light grilling on both sides before being poached.

What followed were some lightly grilled vegetables including asparagus, pumpkin and fresh shitake mushrooms, before leading on to the star of the meal, what the chef called Aussie Kobe beef. I asked if it was Wagyu but he said Kobe. It was beautifully marbled and grilled to be served with slices of fried Japanese garlic. When asked what the difference was, the chef went and brought back a clove for us to compare. The Japanese garlic clove was about 4 times the size of a normal garlic and said to be slightly milder with a sweeter taste but yet more fragrant at the same time. Sold for about HK$200 per gram, it was a pricey accompaniment. The beef itself was simply grilled with the fatty and less premium parts removed for a later dish.

The beef was cut into cubes before being served to us with the garlic slices.

Honestly I could feel myself drooling inside my mouth the whole time I was barely chewing it. It was just unbelievably delicious with the garlic to bring out the flavor.

Next came the fried rice, flavored with the less desirable parts of the steak, egg, onions and carrot. As much as I enjoy a good bowl of fried rice, especially with Japanese pickled burdock, cucumber and radish, I had just had way too much food and only picked at the beansprouts and spinach which came a little later.

I did manage to finish my red miso soup as it was quite different than other miso I had tasted previously. Tasting more 'earthy' and rich, it was also quite pungent and I could imagine some people taking a dislike to this stronger tasting fermented miso but I enjoyed it very much, especially the aftertaste which did linger.

It wasn't long until we were presented with dessert, green tea ice cream and fruit with sweet champagne jelly. As I've always believed, dessert goes into a different part of the stomach so there is always room.

Even with the beautiful cake that came at the end of the evening....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

From burgers to peppers

Last night I made a very white dish. Something I have eaten maybe twice in my life and I consider very American.

Stuffed peppers.

They were the result of my failed attempt at making hamburgers. My brother, who I hate to admit better at everything, including cooking, made me a batch last time he stayed at my house and between mouthfuls, I swore I could make them just as nice, if not better.

So after about eighteen months of supreme procrastination, I decided to test it on some lean beautiful fresh ground beef that I had bought. After putting a bit of this and that in, including grated carrots, cheese, worcheshire sauce, Montreal steak spice, etc.

Sounded and looked good but wouldn’t hold together. Even the addition of an egg didn’t help. Tried broiling a “patty” but that just resulted in a wet mess. Wasn’t sure what to do until I remembered I had a pack of 3 colored peppers in the fridge.

I cooked up a bit of rice, mixed it in with the failed burger and stuffed it into the peppers, topped them up with a smear of tomato paste (no, not ketchup) and dumped chopped tinned tomatoes over the lot.

It looked good and smelt good, and luckily for me and the boy, tasted good.

Now about those hamburgers………

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Olly olly oxen free

In a bid to refine my palate and to experience all sorts of yumminess, I want to begin cooking better. Having used up most of my oil, I am in the market for a good olive oil.

I need 3 types:

- one for cooking
- one for dressing, sprinkling, dipping of ze bread perhaps?
- one olive oil for making chili oil

I don’t know too much about cooking yet….I plan to sometime in the future but for the cooking oil, I’m guessing I just want a mild one for grilling, sauté and all that good heat-based things. I don’t want anything too expensive and am happy to go with something quite reasonable that I don’t feel bad using. Browsing through some blog recommendations, I read both here and here (wonderful “how to” guides) that Colivita may be a good choice. I will probably pick that one up.

I’m guessing that the most expensive one will be the one for dressing as we might actually taste the flavor of the oil in this. I am not sure which one yet but think I can probably wait a bit on this one to see if any recommendations pop up.

I am also thinking that to make chilli oil, I don’t necessarily need something really yummy tasting so am thinking of perhaps store brand (in my case Park and Shop) extra-virgin olly oil.

So if anyone has any thoughts or recommendations, more than happy to hear, try and buy!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Just desserts

My visiting cuz and I explored that pastime that girls like best when in small groups. Shopping.

The mission for the day?

A perfect white summer dress (Chloe inspired if possible), fed by the extortion of girly magazines since April that it was the ‘must have’ of the season.

Armed with what seemed like an easy mission with the explosions of white in stores, it turned out to be near impossible. First the shape was wrong (not enough strategically placed, boob enhancing darts), then the material and subtle print needed.

Our mission failed so we decided to partake in another girly pastime, dessert. As we were already in the mall (pronounced like ‘maul’ and not m-aahhhl, thank you very much!), we decided to head towards Thai Basil, a favorite for dessert of all things.

In the spirit of the mission, I chose the drink, ‘whiter than white’. It arrived a lot creamier than I expected and its bouquet consisted of guava, lychee (this sold me) and coconut crush. It seemed rich but was remarkably refreshing. The guava was barely present and the lychee seemed to lighten up the heaviness of the coconut cream. I had barely offered a taste to my cuz when she slurped up a mouthful and jumped to her feet. While I was left pondering what happened, my incredibly resourceful cuz had already rushed to the bar, in full flirt mode, determined to find out the recipe. Unfortunately, she also caught the eye of the manager who walked up just as the bartender was about to spill the beans. The manager himself was not one to be left out and turned on his own flirt mode in order to get the phone number of my cuz. However, all missions failed and my cousin, returned un-victorious but determined that I should have a go at coaxing the recipe. I promised to try experimenting at home but being a hopeless flirt, declined a more seductive method. (Stay tuned.....experiments coming to a blog near you...)

In any case, we had more important matters at hand. Like dessert. I ordered a steamed ginger pud with honeycomb ice cream. This may sound familiar to my regular readers so I can tell you that Thai Basil is owned by the same parent as Rice Paper.

It arrived as usually, spectacularly. It was good. However, it was a touch let down by the dryness (and I suspect slight staleness) of the pud itself and the bath of custard (not a bad thing in the boy’s mind) but was, as always, very satisfying, rich and delicious.

My cousin had the purple sticky rice with mango. Beautifully presented and gorgeous to behold but way too rich after my drink and after we had both demolished my ginger pudding (ice cream, naturally, had to be eaten first).

Although no dress was found, I feel that may be a mixed blessing. After all, after dessert, there is no way we would have fit into a dress we bought prior to the sugar rush.

Thai Basil

Shop 5, LG/F Pacific Place
88 Queensway
Hong Kong
Tel 2537 4682
Fax 2918 9418

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Smelly cheesy fishy goodness

The boy was getting ready to go, but being peckish, I suggested eating a quick dinner in before rushing off to fly halfway across the world.

Opened up the cupboard, there lay dinner. My guilty pleasure and the boy's somewhat horrified apprehension.

It was good ole KD. (that's Kraft Dinner, Mac and Cheese for the uninitiated)

The boy had, surprisingly, never had it before and in an effort to share my trashy food, I had bought the best of the best, the Deluxe version.

To be honest, I shouldn't have let him see the bright, unnaturally orange cheese before it was mixed in (making it a lot less orange really).

Bizarrely, we both thought it was somewhat less tasty than it seemed (I usually use ketchup, which makes it more tasty) but my boy, being the wonderful, odd one that he is, decided that it needed a bit of flavoring.

His choice?

Gentlemen's Relish

Yep, he's English alright.

Gentlemen's Relish is a spread that is based on anchovies and is delicious in its own right, especially for people who like salty smelly things like "ham yue" (preserved, salted fish).

Mixed in cheese mac? I thought it would be horrific but for some reason, the smelly, tangyness of the fish meshed perfectly with the salty cheesiness of the mac and cheese.

So we both ended up eating smelly, cheesy, fishy mac.

We most definitely smell.

However, I'm not the one going on a 12 hour flight.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Peace in a pack

I was browsing in Muji yesterday and was completely caught by a little sign posted below an off greenish package saying "100% Peas". Wow, if only world peace came in a neat little green package.

The odd thing was, it tasted only very very faintly of peas despite its dramatic claim.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Nummy nobu

After hearing so many raves about Nobu's famous black cod, I decided to replicate it after finding the fish on sale. I used this recipe and besides halving it, I followed (for once) it exactly, even though, to my nose, it smelt wayyy sweet.

In any case, after marinating it for 24 hours, I plated it with some basmati and some spianch tomato compote.

How did it taste? Well I did overcook it slightly and I still think it was too sweet but the boy ate it up nice and clean. Happy that I didn't try to experiment with more exotic foodstuffs.