Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and share some of my recent loves:

Chocolate: Jean-Charles Rochoux, hands down... especially the fresh fruit bars available only on Saturdays and also, he's a lovely, friendly man

Wine: Still partial to the Chinon we bought from Monsieur Sourdais, particularly Les Cornuelles 2003 from the year of the 'canicule' (heat wave).

Bread: Pain au Levain from Au 140

Cheese: Please don't make me choose............

Meat: Filet de Sanglier, available at the Christmas fair at La Défense and at Place Saint Suplice. Delicious, more-ish, perfect texture wild boar.... soo good.... and so unfair of the stall seller not to give me a contact where I can get more. All I know is that they are at the Christmas fair, at the Salon de Agriculture and at the Bastille market for 1 month during May. GO GET IT NOW!!! So delicious.............

Restaurant: Still Biche au Bois

Best skincare discovery: Patyka Huile Absolue

Book I most enjoyed reading: Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Bill Bryson

Book which haunted me the most: We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver

Site which makes me almost wet myself laughing: Elf Yourself - you have got to try this!

Sorry this isn't a comprehensive list. I'll have to try harder.... yep, there's a New Year's resolution right there!

I do wish you all the very best Holiday Season with much overindulgence, laughter and of course, food.

Happy Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

F-odd: Haribo Zanzigliss

In the interests of fairness, seeing as I had written about the popular Bassett's Licorice Allsorts, I felt compelled to pick up the French offering, Haribo Zanzigliss.

First off. What the hell is Zanzigliss??? I wiki-ed it, I googled it, I can only conclude that its a stupid name.

Secondly. Why is there a English Queen's Guard on the front with these crazy licorice pieces trying to make him laugh. So the packaging begins by making fun of the English and tourists. Alright, I have no problem with that. And there's also a little icon with a weight with its arms (weights have arms? This one does!) on its hips, looking very proud that it weighs 300g.

Now we get to the inside. From the outset we can see it's a much, much heavier licorice to whateverthehellitis ratio, unlike the Allsorts, which were dominated by colored coconut *shudder*.

On closer inspection, we find an assortment of licorice wheels, licorice twigs, fondant-type flavored filled licorice as well as the sandwich of licorice. However, I also found these:

I know what you're thinking. WHAT THE *(insert epitaph of preference)* are THOSE???

Come on. Couldn't you guess?? A pointy hat, slanty eyes and a frowny moustache. It's a Chinese of course! Wow, Haribo has gone international! Wonderful!! I bet all Asians, myself included, feel wonderful at being part of a truly international bag of Zanzigliss.

But wait.......... there's more!

Hang on...... what's this?

Curly haired, big nosed thick lipped figurehead.... are there any stereotypes we haven't covered?

I'm not even going to go there.

Also, don't let us forget the mock Lucky Luke type character, which I believe, represents the West.

I don't know what the Haribo people were smoking when designing these type of things but I can't wait to find out what other crazy things they have going on in their fun packs. I've never picked up much beyond the Goldbears and cola bottles which I enjoy.

Can I just ask, who IS is the target market for these things? White supremacists?

Oh! I almost forgot to say how they taste... too distracted by the weirdness. The fondant is pretty gritty and awful but the licorice itself is fine I guess.
Oh and in case you want to know where to buy these, I picked them up at Toys R Us, you know, the place where you buy toys of learning and fun for kids.

Those crazy Europeans!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All Sorts of Coconut

As I shamefully admitted previously, I have succumbed to the lure of licorice. And although my former boss stopped short of pointing and saying "Ha Ha!" like Nelson from the Simpsons, I did figuratively get deservedly mocked in an email.

So, what do the famous Bassetts Allsorts taste like?

Well, in one word, coconut.

Nope, I have no idea why either.

Apparently, the story was that Allsorts came about when a salesman clumsily spilled his tray of samples and so all the flavors got mixed in a somewhat serendipitous accident. Formal story can be found here.

Now yes, although I am a beginner to licorice, I may not understand some of the subtleties.

Number 1 - Why SALTY licorice? No idea.

Number 2 - Why COCONUT licorice? No idea

Licorice in and of itself tasted quite benign with the coconut being the dominant flavor. In fact I strongly disliked the coconut and much preferred the little aniseed flavored gum drops covered in non pareils as well as the little licorice bits and of course, the adorable little Bertie, whom I ate before I could take a picture. Unfortunately these pieces were very few in my bag, which was instead taken over by the play-doh looking colored coconut.

Quite honestly, I thought they looked like fake candy used for decorations. Which, in my opinion, was probably all they were good for.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hairy crabs

Today's lesson is not about some kind of STD, thank you very much! We're a food blog so obviously we're going to talk about the hairy crabs you can eat..... um, hang on a minute ... I meant the shellfish once again.

So anyhow, back to the eating.

While I was back in Hong Kong (yes, I'm now back in the city of light), I was lucky to be there during the delicious hairy crab season. A delicacy enjoyed by my whole family... although I'm not sure my brother is so dexterous with the extraction of crab meat from its hairy claws. But yes, it is much loved by many and thanks to my Aunt and the absolutely charming Cha Xiu Bao, I got to eat them with much enjoyment.

I only had a total of 5 crabs during my 6 week holiday back in my homeland but they were memorable... not least because my Mom exclaimed her enthusiasm loudly in the middle of a popular spa that she "loved the males due to the sticky white stuff!". I shushed her immediately and lead her immediately to a quiet corner, admonishing her to refer to the CRAB please least they think her a woman of the street.

Anyhow, back to the crab. I was lucky enough to have all males, which made for lots of yumminess. You can tell the male in the picture I have on the left, which has a pointy middle bit. A female will have a rounded bit.

First though, we received them as per above, all splayed out and ugly, then we had to dissect it. Everyone has a different way of doing so. My aunt likes to rip off all the legs first and put that to one side, then rip off the shell and attack the insides.

Personally, I prefer to peel out the middle bit and ripped that off, then turned it over to rip off its shell then rip off the two, hairy claws. Then we have to remove it's 'heart' (not sure if its really its heart but it is inedible), its gills and all the tiny inedible parts.

Just look at that ooey gooey stuff and all that roe! Doesn't it make you want to attack it?

What I do after this is take a tiny spoon and eat everything from the top, then pour a tiny bit of the dark vinegar in its shell to dip the crab flesh in later.

Then, being careful to not let any roe spill, I crack it in half, eat all the roe then slowly start eating everything else. Very delicious and fun to eat (in my mind at least). I always wish I could eat more to my heart's content but given its high price as well as its high cholesterol content, it might be best to limit myself.

I'm very slow and messy at eating hairy crabs so it takes me approximately an hour to eat one. And apparently I really, REALLY shouldn't be allowed to eat this in public. The mess, the sucking and and the concentration makes me the worst dining partner ever. All I can say is thank you Cha Xiu Bao and others for still actually speaking to me. I hope that I'm not struck off the invitee list next time!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Saga au Allsorts

I read this and am still crying over it. Too funny

Of course I just *had* to go out and get my own bag of Cadbury Bassett Allsorts... you know, for research purposes!

Review to come...

*By the way, yes, I'm horrified that I've suddenly discovered a taste for licorice after much mocking of my former boss for bringing in salty licorice after his holidays...

Menu for Hope

Chez Pim is once again hosting Menu for Hope, a fundraising event in support of the UN World Food Programme. Gifts and prizes are offered by bloggers around the world to be bid on and won by donors. A much much better explanation is available here.

Its a great cause and it is so heartwarming to see the generosity of all the bloggers around the world. There are some great prizes *cough*Susan...elbulli*cough* by some wonderful bloggers, including of course, Umami!

Last year I was lucky enough to win a lovely set of books by Chubby Hubby and I fully intend on bidding again this year!

So, in between shopping for those elusive perfect Christmas presents, do some good, spoil yourself a little and get bidding!

Oh, and good luck!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

F-odd: Huh?

I was at the market the other day when I came across these:

I thought they were pickling cukes,

or baby courgettes...

I finally asked the stall owner.

They turned out to be stoneless, baby cocktail avocados.

Who knew?

They were slightly sweeter yet more bitter than normal avocados. Meant to be peeled and sliced into coins to sprinkle over salads.
I love finding foods I've never seen before! One of the many joys of having time on your hands to explore.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

F-odd: Bland Chips

Spotted this can of Pringles in Sogo.

I think perhaps their Marketing people need to do some work rather than depend on the Japanese-English dictionary.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

F-odd:Sweet and Sour

One of my favorite things to take on planes and rides are preserved sour plums. I get travel sickness quite easily and these help with the nausea.

While I realize these are not exactly the kind of 'treat' Western peeps usually eat, nor the younger generation (ahem, myself included, of course), I do believe that people are trying to make them less mouth puckering and more pleasant for the youths of today.

One of the incarnations that is popular is using the plums embedded in hardened (maltose). While I enjoy these separately, I find that together they just seem a bit wrong.

Which is why I was reluctant to try the black sugar and plum one that my Mom bought from Sogo's Taiwan specialty food exhibition.

Black sugar is very popular at the moment and treasured for its health properties (hehe, any excuse to eat sugar).

So, how did it taste? Surprisingly delicious! The dark, slightly burnt taste of the earth sugar went very well with the sour, tart and slightly medicinal quality of the preserved plum.

I went back the very next day and picked up the last pack. I'm afraid you lot in HK will have to get yours on your next trip to Taiwan!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

F-odd: Crashed juice

My Mom pulled a carton out of the fridge the other day and poured herself a drink.

I didn't think much of it until I heard a somewhat disgusting squelching noise coming out of the carton.

I turned around to find her squeezing what looked like congealed juice out of the carton. In alarm, I told her not to drink what I thought was rotten, conjealed juice.

Laughing, my Mom handed me the carton. It was:


A half jelly, half juice type drink which my Mom had grown very fond of.

I tried a glass.

It was flavored with that distinctive musky Japanese Kyoho grape juice. Not as sweet as jello and soft yet not too mushy so with enough interest to hold a child's attention to keep them quiet for a few minutes. Or in this case, my Mom's.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Malay Pit Stop - Part 2

The next day, we were jet lagged and didn't set forth from our hotel until the afternoon. As we didn't have too much time before we had to prepare to go to the wedding banquet, the boy and I went to to check out a recommended chain restaurant, Madam Kwan's, in the nearby Suria KLCC shopping centre.

Madam Kwan's was introduced to me as being a kind of upscale hawker stall food which was done very well. We ordered one of their signature dishes, Nasi Lemak, and then the Assam Laksa, which I remembered liking as a child.

The Nasi Lemak was good, with crispy skinned chicken and decent rice. To me, it tasted just a touch too plain. Especially when compared to the Assam Laksa...

All I can say is that my mouth is literally WATERING while typing this. I LOVE Assam Laksa. I can even place it as one my favorite things to eat in Asia. It is sooooo umami, so delicious that I ended up eating 4 bowls of it in 2 days. I even insisted on downing a bowl even though we were late for the airport. It is so freaking good. Pungent, spicy, sour and slightly sweet, it is the kind of food that makes one reel their head back and go, "woah...." before putting one's head down and slurping the entire bowl, unashamedly tilting the bowl back to get the last drops of soup.

I don't know if anyone knows how to make this but if you ever do, and invite me over, I will love you forever. FOREVER.

I don't recall if the boy ate any of it but I think that if he tried, he may have lifelong teeth marks on his fingers.

To finish off, we had to have the cendol, shaved ice with lots of beans and jellied bits with gorgeous dark, almost burnt sugar to sweeten the deal.

Then it was off to the wedding that evening to see the lovely bride and groom seal the deal.

The next day, I was determined to down more than my fair share of Assam Laksa. Being a little worried that I wouldn't find a comparably delicious bowl, I had a bowl at Madam Kwan's to start me off.... just in case!!

Luckily I found a mini-bowl elsewhere, which had a lighter colored gravy but was just as delicious, redolent of fresh herbs and bolstered by the meatiness of the fish.

My first introduction to Rojak was a bit... well, let's just say I didn't like it. Which for me, is a shock as I like almost EVERYTHING (except Turkish delight. Ick) . Not being one to shy away from foods, I was determined to try it at least twice more to ensure that I don't like it. My parents' rule was try to try it at least 3 times before making a decision of whether or not you like the food. I have adhered to it ever since.

The first time I tried it was at a little Indian Kopi Tan, or Coffee Stand. They had Rojak noodles, so the boy and I ordered a bowl to try. While it wasn't the best thing I ate, it was quite decent and the eggs went especially well with the slightly fishy and nutty sauce. A kind of bent twist on peanut noodles served in mall food courts that the West seem to the like and the East seem to gag at.

Then we tried a plate of traditional Rojak with fruits at quick drink stop at a mall restaurant. This one was more fishy than nutty although crushed peanuts were sprinkled on top. I can't say that I liked it but I didn't dislike it. It seem a little bit "wrong" and that's even to me, who enjoy sweet mixed with savory and especially fruits in savory dishes.

All in all, the boy and I agreed, we wished we had more stomach space to fit in all the delicious looking food we wanted to eat. At the end we were defeated. But Malaysian food seem to be very big and bold in flavor, the absolute opposite of that of English food. Rather than a friendly tap on the shoulder, it was more of a get up and smack you in the face food. While I enjoy subtleties of some of the more quiet food flavors, I also love food that yells. And Malay food definitely yells.

Sorry, no addresses for most but here's Madam Kwan's.

Madam Kwan's

- 65 & 65-1, Jin Telawi Tiga,
Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2284 2297

- Lot. 420/421, Level 4, Suria KLCC,
Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 5088 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2026 2297

- Lot. F-052, First Floor, Mid Valley Megamall,
Mid Valley City, 59200, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2287 2297/98

Malay Pit Stop - Day 1

The boy and I made a quick pit stop to Kuala Lumpur to attend the wedding of two wonderful people.

Armed with a map and a list from the boy's colleague, we were hungry and ready to eat.

First thing the boy ate? The first thing he saw, which made his heart sing and his stomach growl... Durian milkshake. Absolutely sure that he'd get a stomach ache after having traveled 3 countries in as many days and drinking the incredibly pungent fruit mixed with milk and ice drink on an empty stomach, I scanned the road for a bathroom. Amazingly, the boy just smiled after having downed the drink in what seemed like a split second and asked what we were eating next.

Lucky for us, there was a sidewalk vendor doing brisk business just down the road with a mouthwatering array of foodstuffs to be sold in a cone of rice. Of course we couldn't resist and over loaded our cone of nasi lemak (coconut rice) with lovely tangles of vegetables, smattering of spicy, perfectly cooked beans, beef rendang, crunchy ikan bilis (the little fried fishes), topped with a fried egg (the boy's oddly Cantonese inclination). This was surprisingly filling and we wandered around the city, slightly confused and suffering from a bit of food coma combined with the humid heat. In a moment of weakness, I am ashamed that we succumbed to the lure of an evil American coffee chain's lure of cold drinks and air conditioning for a bit of a rest.

Of course, we couldn't stay put for long. We had things to eat, after all! We went in pursuit of what the boy's colleague termed "a legend". Soong Kee, apparently famed for their beef balls, which we found deliciously springy yet tender with a good bite, accompanied with lovely slightly meaty and mushroomy lard slicked noodles.

We slurped them down happily, accompanied by a bowl of their beef stomach in soup. AHHHH....

Then, after pursuing some of the tat at the market in Chinatown, we went to the "food court" on one of the side streets where we were able to consume delicious char kway teow with lots of wok's breath, slightly charred, chewy and deliciously moreish. Sadly we were both too full to eat anything else and shamefully only ordered one plate to share between us. We just could not seem to consume anything else.

Of course that was before we came across the little stand selling all manners of cakes. We picked three to take home with us to accompany our tea. After all, couldn't very well not have dessert now could we?

The top piece looked a little like a thick hotcake with a browned top. Only slightly sweet and not too soft, it was perfect with tea. The lower 'brick' on the lower left made of dark brown sugar, was all texture, with what looked like a dense sponge and was wonderfully chewy and flavorful with a warm sugar taste. The coconut with tapioca on the right was warm when be bought it and soft and melting but a little too sweet and gooey for me. I tend to like my desserts to be either liquid or solids but not mushy goo. However, lucky for me, the boy will eat anything with coconut.
Shockingly all this food was just on day 1!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Box O' Pies

An actual conversation between me and my friend, sometimes contributing member, the Krispy Kreme Korrespondent.....

Krispy Kreme Korrespondent (i.e. the alternative KKK): oh i bought you a box of chicken pies

Krispy Kreme Korrespondent: from that pie shop

Sui Mai says: a box of chicken pies??

Sui Mai says: who do you think I am?

Sui Mai says: homer simpson?

Krispy Kreme Korrespondent: yeah but i forgot about your carbs thing

Krispy Kreme Korrespondent: so no worries ill eat them

I am now seriously worried. #1. Did she seriously think I could eat a whole BOX of pies?? #2. Is she now going to eat a whole BOX of pies by herself?

Yeah, about the carb thing... trying to avoid some of it in an effort to maintain a bigger bust to belly ratio. It's a constant battle I tell ya!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm smarter than you

I'm still here, I'm still in Hong Kong!!!

And still eating excessive amounts of food... Unfortunately due to a hiccup with my service provider (*coughpccwcough*), I have been struggling with some odd hours in which I can get online. Anyhow, back now.

Thought I'd start off with a quick Muji post. Muji, much loved by many for their practical, simple designs. Muji, much loved by me for their quirky and odd-ly named and manufactured products such as 100% Peas and Cheese and Cod snacks. I love the fact that I can find Muji in Paris but I bitterly mourn the fact they don't carry snacks.

This time it was an innocuous piece of "black charcoal cake", formally named:
In any case, my Mom is very fond of their Baumkuchen, multi-layered cake. However, peering closely through the packet, I was convinced it was all a con and there wasn't any layers, just a lump of cake. My Mom bet me there were layers.
I was sure I was right. After all, I had my contacts on so had the eyesight of a, um... thirty-something year old. While she, on the other hand, buys mobile phones based on the size of the numbers on the screen. Besides, I was university educated, read (comic books, to be sure) and unemployed while she is the manager of two offices, in Hong Kong and in China, raised two seemingly normal children but incredibly gullible, as evidenced by many odd purchases throughout the years, conned by fast talking salespeople.

So, here is the evidence.
I was wrong.
BUT, I said, I bet you can't eat the layers separated!
I hadn't even finished the sentence when my Mom pulled apart the layers, wrapped it around her finger and stuffed it in my mouth.
So, the conclusion is, Mom's always right. No matter how gullible they appear. As evidenced by her immediate purchase of a broken bit of wire the sales lady convinced her was a miracle hair tool.
Oh and the cake? Very nice! Not much sesame flavor, lightly sweetened and wonderful with a cup of tea.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Busy, busy...

*chomp, chomp*



Sorry, just got back to Hong Kong, am too busy eating to blog.

Off to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow!

Hope to check out a few fabulous recs from friends.... to work up your salivary glands for what I'm going to consume, check out the fab blog EatingAsia. Not recommended viewing on an empty stomach....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

An Ode to Cherries

I love cherries. Fresh cherries that is. And ONLY fresh cherries. Nothing except fresh cherries.

I loathe anything else cherry flavored, maraschino cherries (the only person I know who likes them is my Grandmother), cherries marinated in brandy, anything that has cherry in its name except for fresh cherries. Not that I tasted any. A friend brought over a pineapple and maraschino cherry concoction once for a birthday. To her outrage, I refused to try. Despite the fact that I will willingly put pig's snout, lamb brains and chicken butt, I refused the single vivid red, toxic looking cherry.

Yes, shame on me. I was scarred a long, long time ago by something called "fluoride treatment". Shout out to all those who went to school in the 80's. Cherry flavored fluoride treatment. Trust me, I did all I could not to vomit and the ungrateful dental assistant still had the gall to be angry about all the red spit which decorated the front of her pristine white shift.

In any case, I decided after that that I did not like anything cherry except for fresh, crunchy cherries.

A point of view I admitted to Umami, a lover of all things cherry. Well, not ALL things cherry but lets just say the girl loves her Griottes. Cherry jam, cherries macerated in liquor, the girl has got a thing for them.

"Ewww", I thought sadly, "We don't have the same tastes at all!"

Well, as it turns out (as in most cases), she's right and I'm wrong.

First of all it was Susan, mistress of all things yummy, who encouraged me to try Berthillon's cherry sorbet, which I have since become hooked on.

Then it was Jaden's Persian Sour Cherry Saffron rice, which so freaking delicious I gave myself a bellyache eating the whole thing in two days.

Then it was my beloved dish at Louis Philippe, duck breast with cherries and stewed apples.

So now, when offered a cherry at a food fair, I will no longer turn up my nose and instead, guided by food gurus Susan and Umami, I will be brave, take my stomach with both hands (trust me, it takes both hands to carry that thing), and open my mouth.

As my Dad always used to chant at my picky brother, "Never try, never know"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Murderous Fougasse

The other day, being peckish and between meals, the boy and I looked around the bakeries in our trendy neighborhood. Why so trendy, you ask? Well, all the cool boys hang out here. You know the ones...they dress well, take care of their bodies, generally talk very fast and use their hands a lot. The kind that don't even notice when you embarrassingly have one part of your skirt caught on your purse and its riding up so high, one of your butt cheeks is hanging out. Took a straight man with a gorgeous girl on his arm giggling uncontrollably to point it out. Niiiiiiiiice.

We very much like the shops around here. We are very fond of the baked goods and sandwiches from Legay bakery. That's no typo. It's Legay bakery, which on weekends, you can often purchase a 'magic' baguette, complete with decorative poppy seeds.

But that day we decided to go for something which caught our eye in the window. It was a fougasse loaded with olives. And I mean LOADED. No square inch of that thing was without an olive. We had to get it. It was delicious. On a slightly crispy bottomed foccacia bread topped with loads of juicy olives and a light hand on the cheese, it was just the thing to help us tick over to dinner.

Besides, as we found out later, the bakery has a murky past, whose story have only heightened its popularity.

Legay Choc

Artisan Boulanger Pâtissier
45 rue Ste Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004 Paris

L'Avion Delices

32 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75004, Paris

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sherbet Fountains

In my continuing education on British sweets, I picked up something called a "Sherbet Fountain". Pronounced "SURE-BERT" despite being spelt "Sher-BET"

Sound nice, doesnt' it? In my mind, I picture a nice ice cream dish piled high with lime sherbert, with a can of Sprite poured over, a cooling dessert for a hot summer day. That is not what a Sherbet Fountain is.

THIS is a Sherbet Fountain.


Described as a 'fizzy sherbet with a liquorice dip, it looked intriguing, all yellow and orange with these weird swirly things on it. It had a little tab on the end which something black was poking out. I secretly hoped that it be a very cool type of chemical reaction candy whereby you pull the black liquorice tab, which would mix the two chemicals and something wonderfully tasty would come flying out, fountain like and you had to catch it in your mouth.

That is not what happened.

It turned out to be far more mundane but yet compulsively addicting type of candy.

I unwrapped it to find that it was a roll of cardboard inside the wrapper, sticking out the 'liquorice dip', which is like a flat long piece of liquorice.

Inside the carton was powdered sherbet, the kind that is kind of like what was in pixie sticks. Basically a slightly fizzy, powdered candy. Despite being slightly disappointed that there was no cool reaction to speak of, it was quite good. The slightly bitter liquorice went astonishingly well with the fizzy sherbet and it was a fun, time consuming, albeit messy process.
Dipping in the liquorice stick and licking it off felt a tad mischievous, kind of like the feeling you get when you were 10, sleeping over at your friend's house and gorging on junk food outside of the view of your Mom. Maybe it was because dipping and licking seemed furtive or because my Mom never let us have candy of the powdered variety. In any case, I enjoyed it and it made the car ride a lot more pleasant.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Smoke Free

As most of the countries have now put limitations on smoking indoors, there seems a resurgence of interest in helping to kick the habit.

During a 15 minute (the boy timed me so we wouldn't be late) shopping spree at Morrison's, a supermarket in the UK, I saw a box of Chupa Chups. It was a small box of 6 mini Chupa Chups, sugar free, citrus flavored with extracts of lemon balm and lime blossom. As I only had a few minutes, I didn't hesitate and threw them in the basket, thinking that Chupa Chups have gone on to target adults.

It wasn't until upon closer examination of the box in the car that I remarked on the size of it and how similar the packaging seemed to be to a box of cigarettes.

Then I turned it over to read the back...............................................>

Chupa Chups marketing gurus have cottoned on to the idea of selling the lollipops not as a fun treat for kids but to replace the hand to mouth action habit which is an issue for smokers. Even endorsed by the NHS (National Health Service in the UK)!

A nice idea but not sure how cool people think lollipops are. Its hard to look tough while sucking a lollipop.

Luckily I always choose yumminess over coolness.

Monday, September 10, 2007

One of my Favorites

Due to a last minute trip to the Northeast of England to scout for wedding venues, I had the chance to catch up with the boy's family. I went on my own. Very scary I must admit, to be going on my own to visit the boy's family. Luckily I was welcomed with open arms. Staying at the boy's aunt's charming Guesthouse, I had also timed my visit to coincide with the boy's parents and drag them along to view venues with me.

While the boy has featured on this blog, the boy's family, less so. Except for, of course, the devilishly wonderful grandmother whose protests about not being able to finish dessert often taking up to twice the time it takes for her to inhale the dessert, beating out all the others at the tables.

The boy's family, in simple terms, are wonderful. Warm and funny and a bit nutty, just like one of my favorites from the market in Aix, a concoction called "Noix et Champignons". Noix et Champignon is like a pesto made of walnuts, mushrooms, olive oil, dried tomats and pine nuts. A jar of which the boy's thoughtful mother never fails to bring me.

It has been a lifesaver many a time, pulled out for guests to spread on crackers, mixed in with pasta and served either hot or cold, a spoonful mixed into a weak sauce to give it body and even served as a bruschetta for a first course.

Coming home to an empty fridge, the boy's mother saved me once again and I dug out the jar from my suitcase and dinner was on the table within minutes. As we sat eating our meal, I recounted to the boy how I was making fun of a hall named "Shafto" when his entire family (mom, dad, aunt, grandparents included) broke into song! Singing something about Bobby Shafto and buckles on his knee, the whole family joined in, finishing the song before resuming the conversation. Although a bit surprised, I found myself happy to be joining a family in which breaking into song, like the musicals I grew up with, was nothing unusual at all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Medley

For many, the return back to work and school after their holidays in August is a time of sadness. For me, it's joy as the restaurants begin to open again and the bakeries are once again wafting tempting smells onto the streets.
Don't get me wrong, I have been eating in August, just nothing so spectacular that I needed to tell you about it. So in this edition, a medley, if you will, of bits and pieces I have been nibbling at.

First up was the bottarga. First having spotted it in the market upon arrival, I had thought it was a relation to the Taiwanese delicacy. Turns out it is almost the same thing! I stumbled across a simple recipe on the talented Lobstersquad blog and proceeded to make her simple pasta recipe by grating it and mixing with olive oil. Unfortunately it was a bit too mild for my taste, perhaps my olive oil was too strong. However, thinly sliced, it was lovely with a crisp white wine, my favorite of the moment being a Vouvray I bought on our Loire Valley trip (for those of you who read that post, can you believe we're down to our last dozen bottles?!?)

The boy also took me to Marriage Freres one blustery rainy afternoon to partake in their tea menu. The open faced sandwiches failed to impress the tastebuds but not so their take on creme brulee.

Cut from one big circle of creme brulee 'cake', this was so rich, so decadent that the boy's eyes rolled back in his head so far I feared they'd never be the same again. He exclaimed it as "THE best in all of Paris" and I had to fight him for a bit of the piece as he kept moving the plate just outside of the reach of my spoon. Let me just say there was almost a brawl in the midst of the tea time calm.

I also finally tried Umami's "rice salad" using some leftover roast chicken (which was FABULOUS if I dare say so myself!). I think I used a touch too much vinaigrette as it was a bit too puckery with the apple and cukes I put in. Tasty all the same.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. I bought some Ile Flottant at the supermarket, curious as to what they'd look like and missing our neighborhood bakery's tarte fine au pomme for a post dinner sweet. It came in a little pot with caramel sauce to drizzle over. It was fine if a bit too much 'creme anglaise' to meringue-y bit. Although the boy complained that creme anglaise was most definitely NOT custard (Susan, you know what I'm talking about), he still licked the pot clean.

Walking past Pain au Sucre, we were delighted to find that it was open and picked up a wild strawberry tart and a lemon one. Both delightful if a little melty from the hot afternoon. The wild strawberry was not too sweet, perhaps a little past its season but nice and fresh with the simple buttery tart shell. The lemon tart was nice, tart and lemony and absolutely wonderful with a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

Another pleasant surprise was when we walked past the falafel street and saw one stand (I forget the name but it was on Rue des Rosiers closest to Rue Vielle du Temple) boasting of the "world's best falafels". Quite a statement to make seeing as one of the most famous falafel shops in all of France was just down the street. While the boy ordered one immediately, I went for the 'foie de vollaile', or chicken liver pita. Stuffed with a tomato-ey, cucumber and chili mixture along with melt in the mouth aubergine, caramelized, slightly crunchy onions and drizzles of tahini, it was topped with the most rich, perfectly cooked, deliciously soft chicken livers. An absolute mess, it was the highlight of my day.

And to end this medley of foodstuffs I have been partaking, is a newly discovered favorite of Umami's. The Affrogato at Pozetto. I cannot even begin to describe....

Let's just say that when confronted with a heaping cup of delicious gelato and a tiny pitcher of strong, gorgeously bitter coffee, there was only the sound of spoons and orgasmic "mmmmnnns" to be heard throughout the shop. Our smiles were as huge as the gelato cups themselves.

So, dear friends. I have to admit all the above has not led to any weight loss whatsoever. Let's just say I'm on diet hiatus. Until deliciousness ceases to exist.

And if you have not tried any of the above, all I can say is, you only have yourself to blame for not coming to visit.

39, rue de Roi de Sicile
Metro: Hotel de Ville

Pain de Sucre
14, rue Rambuteau
Metro: Rambuteau

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Shame on me...

Shame on me, not posting...

I know, I know... bad me.

Last 2 weeks in Paris, restaurants to eat, friends to see, places to visit and most dire of all, wedding venues to sort out.... bugger.

The interesting bit:

To hog roast or not to hog roast.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the question.

Picture taken from : Essex Hog Roasts

Saturday, August 18, 2007

La Langue Française (or the French Tongue...oh la la)

Those of you who have come here hoping to pick up tips on French kissing or to learn more about the French language, be prepared to be sorely disappointed.

I was at Carrefour the other day, picking up groceries for the week when the boy foolishly left me alone by the delicatessen counter. In the glass display a huge pan caught my eye. I leaned in for a look. It was tongue in vinaigrette. I had to have some.

I also strolled past all the glorious hams, dried saucissons and other delicacies when my eye fell upon another display. This time, it was a very pretty display of gelatin containing three cross sections of tongue. Had to get that as well. And also the one beside it, with smaller cross-sections of tongue dotted with pistachio nuts.

To her credit, the lady serving me behind the counter didn't blink an eye when a Chinese girl approached, asking for a single thin slices of both types of tongue along with a small potion of tongues vinaigrette.

Luckily they all came wrapped in little white plastic bags and the boy could not see what folly had befallen me.

Although outraged cries of "This isn't HAM!" and "You mean you didn't even buy ham or anything normal for me at all?!?" were heard loud and clear when sandwich fixings were required.

Contenting himself with a piece of cheese, the boy peered at the tongue studded with pistachios. "Isn't it so pretty?", I asked, to grunts of annoyance. "It's almost like art!" I continued, knowing full well the miserable time he had at the Pompidou Centre last week looking at modern art.

Aside from annoying the boy, I also tasted all tongue-y concoctions.

First up was the tongue in vinaigrette. This was quite tasty but not very "vinaigrett-y", may do well with more marinating. I was surprised to find that the texture was softer and had less of a "chew" than the ones I enjoy in my spaghetti with tomato sauce in Cha Chan Tengs in HK (Cue: Westerners, gag now).

Next, I tasted the long tongue cross sections in gelatin. The French enjoy jellied meats and vegetables as a dish in the summer, served with a side salad. I never really understood it as the texture of the food preserved in the gelatin always changed and tastes mushy to me. In the case of the tongue, it didn't change the texture too much and I would say it had more of a 'chew' than the vinaigretted tongue. I'm not sure whose or what animal's tongue this was. I'm still guessing pork (i.e. the magical animal who keeps on giving).

Finally it came to the prettiest one of all, the one with pistachios. This one was quite mild, with almost no chew, with a texture more like ham. The pistachios were an interesting touch and was nice with the tongue. I liked the look of this one best but overall I did prefer the vinaigrette tongues best.

I'm not sure if French pigs are just lazier and don't exercise their muscles as much but I still find that overall, the tongues didn't have the same texture or chew as the ones I've had previously. Perhaps they've been treated to make the tongue softer to suit the local palate but I still prefer the ones I get back home. MMmmm, can't wait for a big ole plate of tongue on spaghetti with tomato sauce.