Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas!!

Happy Christmas!

We had our Christmas dinner last night with all the usual suspects, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, absolutely delicious and indulgent Cream-Braised Brussel Sprouts from Orangette, cranberry and port sauce and pickled red cabbage. For dessert, there was Christmas pudding with cardamon and ginger XTC gelato, chocolate XTC gelato with chocolate raspberry sauce. Cheese course was served after a Christmassy DVD of Wallace and Gromit as was present opening.

And in all, a fabulous food filled Christmas. Here's wishing you all a very yummy Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Our meaty friends

In other parts of the world, there are people who dress up as big furry creatures, sometimes to amuse children, like in Disneyland, and sometimes to titillate, which is very disturbing to the average adult. Sometimes, however, it is to promote something, to sell or to attract.

Usually they are dressed to be cute, cuddly and make people smile.

Last night, however I found a curious pair dressed up to promote a restaurant. What attracted a second look, however, wasn't the 'cuddly-ness' of the pair but rather the....for lack of a better word.... meatiness of the pair.

You see, one of them was dressed as a steak. And not just any steak, check out the marbling! That must be Wagyu or something, with his sidekick, the grill.

Only in Hong Kong would that be appealing, most of all, to me.

Japanese Yakiniku WAKO Restaurant
3/F Richmond Plaza
496 Jaffe Road Causeway Bay
Tel: 2117 4286
Fax: 2117 4269

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

F-odd: Snip and poke

I had an extremely short trip to my favorite snacking city in the world, Taiwan, recently.

Although I was only there for an evening, I did manage to sneak in a bag o' treats between meetings (or rather pre-dinner).

I had an hour between appointments to kill and decided to go to the infamous Shilin market. Besides picking up three pairs of shoes for a song, I was stopped in my tracks by a queue of people. Being the nosy busy body I am, I had to have a look at what they were queuing for. Once I found out it was edible, I naturally joined the queue.

It was a large plastic box, mounted above a moped which had all manners of ... brown bits.

I know it seems like brown bits isn't a very good description but it was exactly what it is. Bits which had been simmered in brown, flavored soy sauce for a long time, taking on the flavors of the sauce.

What kind of bits? Well, among the ones I saw, there were chicken necks, hearts, kidneys, livers, wing tips, pig skin, ears, and snout, duck gizzards, tongues, wings, dried tofu in a variety of shapes and some vegetables too.

These bits were cut into bite size pieces, tossed in the bag with a splash of chili oil, salt and white pepper and loads of tangy, sour-sweet preserved vegetables. You are given two skewers and a pat on the bottom and off you go. Actually you don't get a pat on the bottom. You pay extra for that. Two blocks down.

So what bits did I end up getting?

The pig skin, which you see as the bright brown red curls just above my skewers. These were lovely, all chewy, with no fat stuck onto the skin and the errant hairs plucked out (I've seen this being prepared before, they really do use tweezers on the stubborn hairs!).

Hey, before you go all "eww, grosss" on me, in the West you have crackling and pork rinds... leave me alone.

Nestled straight in the middle was a mushroom, next to a young bamboo shoot. Right at the bottom, the black speckled bit is congealed pig's blood with glutinous rice, above which is a delicious chicken heart. On the right, a bow type dark thing? That's wakame, thick, chewy seaweed. All the greenery you see there is the tangy preserved vegetables.

It was a highly satisfactory snack and reasonably priced at NT$80 for the lot (HK$20).

Long live brown bits!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Die, Tea, Die!

I was recently given a gift of tea.

Now normally, I would be very pleased as I do enjoy my tea.

However, it was DIET Tea.

Now I know I've put on a few, ahem, pounds, since Sui Mai but still, a gift like this is very telling. And deserves a gift in kind. Like a punch in the mouth or something of the kind, wrapped up in a lovely fist.

Upon seeing the not-too-grateful expression on my face, the gift giver took a huge step back and proceeded to exclaim...

"You asked me to!"

A split second later and I was thanking and apologising profusely.

I had forgotten that several months ago I had asked her to pick me up a box when she commented that her colleague had had much success with it.

So, upon my return from my eating spree in Montreal and with the looming certainty that I would have to fit into the dress I bought months ago for the boy's sister's wedding next week, I decided to test out the tea.

The first day I brought it into the office, I asked a colleague to translate the instructions regarding frequency and infusion. When she saw the box, she was immediately alarmed.

Apparently I'm not the most pleasant person to be around whilst on a diet. Who knew?

In any case, she felt compelled to tell me that this tea is very famous and that it has certain side effects which I should be aware of.

Particularly the effect which may send me running to the loo clutching my ample bottom.

I debated...

but I went ahead, risking the runs.

So, with great apprehension, I had a cup a day.

My apprehension quickly turned to doubt which then turned to annoyance.

I had been expecting that I may have to visit the throne on a regular basis but that was not the case. In fact, I felt no changes rumbling around in my intestines.

I quickly called up my friend asking about the effects. Not having been silly enough to indulge herself, she was not sure but somehow felt awkward asking her colleague if she had the runs, claiming that she didn't want to know. Disloyal cowardice is what I call it.

I became annoyed and impatient and doubled the dosage.

...still no toilet visits and no weight lost.

In conclusion, save your money to bribe photographers to use Photoshop.

(photos of non-pooing and non-diet tea to come)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Try, try again

I just won't give it up you see.

How can I not be able to bake? I didn't fail any of my chemistry experiments in school and I can follow instructions...well, kinda.

I tried Too Many Chefs' Chairman Mao Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies and yes, with substitutions... but only because I didn't have "chocolate formerly in the shape of a communist leader"!

However, like all good students, I know where I went wrong....

The instructions said to 'cream the butter with the sugar'

I know what that means: soften the butter and beat in the sugar (by hand as I don't have a Kitchen Aid mixer....ah HEM).

Did I soften the butter?

Well.....kind of. It was a little hard so I thought I would put it in the microwave for a bit. After just 5 seconds, I checked...nope, still too hard

Unfortunately just at this time, my poor sick dog decided to start an asthsma attack, which can only be soothed by a firm yet gentle stroking of his neck.

By this time the butter was liquid.

Needless to say, as usual, instead of waiting until the butter hardened, I thought I'd proceed... after all, what could happen?

Only that it spread into a big sticky mess and burn. No problem at all.

Luckily my poor office mates are very forgiving and always eat my attempts at cooking, no matter how disasterous.
And NO, I don't make it part of their KRAs..... you cheeky monkeys!