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Tokyo 2013 : A Pilgrimage of Ramen, Patisseries & Depachikas! — A Sneak Preview

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Hello everyone! Kindly excuse us for the long absence! Just realised that it had been 3 weeks since we last posted, only because we had been terribly busy trying to clear our work and run errands before we take a much deserved awaited break to Tokyo! The trip was planned to take place ahead of the hanami season as it was the only time when both of us could make it! Alas thanks literally to the freak weather, the cherry blossoms bloomed much earlier in Japan this year, allowing us to enjoy their beauty, amidst other spectacular floral displays along the way. The downside is, we had to cut back on several pastry joints which we had slated to visit. Nonetheless we had a really good time in Tokyo!

This trip to Tokyo is all about pastries, ramen and depachikas! We absolutely love depachikas in Japan, so they are surely a “must go” whenever we are in Japan! J lamented that we didn’t get to try any ramen joints during our last trip so I made sure that we had enough ramen this time round for J to remember by! And 5 years ago during our first trip to Tokyo, which incidentally marks the commencement of this blog, I wasn’t much into fine pastry making then. But I do remember being much in awe with what I saw at the display windows of dessert boutiques and patisserie sales counters at depachikas. The level of artistry and presentation in trhe Japanese patisseries then was already quite impeccable and very impressive. Over the years as I grew to appreciate and get involved myself in the French art of pastry making, the desire to return to Tokyo fueled on. So after a long wait of more than 4 years, we are finally back! I will be writing and sharing about the various patisseries and ramen joints we’d visited this time round over the next couple of months or so but here’s a sneak preview of what we’d tried and sampled in Tokyo 2013!
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Good Food for a Good Cause – Asia Pacific Breweries @ Violet Oon’s Kitchen

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For many, Chinese New Year is a time of feasts and festivities. This is when no reason is needed for pigging out with friends and family, or even gorging oneself crazy with a plethora of Chinese New Year goodies like pineapple tarts to bak kwa. Also, no excuse is required for enjoying the wide variety of Chinese New Year dishes, and most certainly no apologies is needed for indulging! How to resist all that good food?!

Last week, I attended an event hosted at Violet Oon’s Kitchen by Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (APBS), an appreciation lunch prepared by Ms Oon and her team for 60 elderly folk from the Kreta Ayer Seniors Activity Centre who had extended their help towards packing cookies for the annual ‘Cookies for Charity’ Programme. This lunch was a way to reward them for their effort and boy ‘o boy were they in for a special treat of delectable Nyonya dishes in an all-Peranakan spread!

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Kuih Menganang Terengganu

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Through researching for recipes to try out for Malaysian Food Fest Terengganu Month, I came across quite a number of dishes which I didn’t even know existed. I guess that’s one of the highlights of this monthly event, i.e. to push us to extend our culinary repertoire and explore previously unfamiliar and even unheard of terrain. Kuih Akok is a name that appeared frequently through the numerous google searches for authentic Terengganuan kuihs. But that is also the source of confusion.

Kuih Akok is a very popular snack along the eastern coast of the Malay peninsula. From Cherating in Pahang across Terengganu to Kelantan up north, Kuih Akok is well-liked and enjoyed by the locals, hence explaining their presence in both pasar pagis all the way to pasar malams. An all-day snack literally. Despite the common name, the texture for Kuih akok defers in Kelantan and Terengganu, due to the differing ratios of wet and dry ingredients used. Truth be told, I’d never tried Kuih Akok. But when Wendy of WendyinkKK reiterated her gastrorgasmic experience of plunging her teeth into one when she was in Kelantan, I knew I must make it to “relive” her experience. Alas the texture of Kuih Akok in Terengganus is supposedly firmer and less custardy, lesser desirable than the one in Kelantan which is more fluid and as Wendy puts it, almost like eating firm “kaya” ! Very very syok (shiok)! Then as we were researching more on this Terengganuan snack, she came across Kuih Menganang, a variant of Kuih Akok, which used mung bean powder “tepung kacang hijau”. Interesting! Since she was busy preparing for the Nutriplus Pastry Competition, the responsibility of testing out the recipe lies on my shoulder!

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30/08/2012 – Make and Eat Tau Huay Day! Join the fun!

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I remember being really excited when I first read about Diner en Blanc to be hosted in Singapore a couple of months back. This social-cum-gastronomic event which began about quarter of a century ago in France, has since being re-created and celebrated in several other major cities around the world. Surely it would be much of a hooha in Singapore too! Well, it most certainly did, but in a somewhat “gone wrong” manner, deriving the kinda publicity which I’m pretty sure the organisers weren’t expecting, and ain’t gonna be too please about.

A couple of weeks back, a fellow food blogger Daniel Ang wrote excitedly in a post on his blog about the Diner en Blanc in Singapore, to be held this upcoming Thursday in a “secret location” which would only be made known to participants just prior to the event. He went on to make suggestions on a possible menu for the day, including items like tau huay (soya beancurd), xiao long bao (mini steamed meat dumplings), soon kueh etc… many of which are familiar local delights, commonly enjoyed by the masses from all walks of life. Deemed as being too novel, the suggestions seem to have met with some not-too-pleasant responses from the organisers, who perhaps felt that the food being proposed by Daniel were somewhat against the organisers’ perceived notion of “greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette”, which they’d hoped for the event to portray. The PR company in charge of the event went to the extent of requesting Daniel to have his entire blog post removed, citing that “the local delicacies were not in line with the image of the picnic.” Finally, the organisers went all out to “uninvite” not just Daniel but all the food bloggers to the event, poorly excusing themselves for the “lack of available space“. duh…HUMBUG!

Well, I’m most certainly not one of the food bloggers invited to cover the event. Why am I wriiting about this then? Basically because I am in full agreement with what Daniel shared on his blog. This is a clear case of a lack of respect for local culture. Yes, tau huay is most certainly no haute cuisine. But who are the organisers to judge if it is too lowly to be placed on the tableau blanc. As what Irene of Moonberry wrote in her blog, tau huay is no more than an Asian version of pannacotta. If the latter is “elegant” enough to make it onto the table, why not tau huay? I concur with that! Surely its Asian cousin is in no way inferior to the Italian dessert? To impose upon participants to come dressed all-white, bring white based furniture, table cloth etc… chic! To impose a “no beer or hard liquor” rule but yet allow wine and champagne… understandable though not very logical! But to police and dictate what food one brings and puts on the dining table… that’s gastronomic imperialism! As much as it being the organiser’s dire desire to maintain the the utmost standards of social decorum, and uphold the haute atas facade of the event, the participants’ personal preference for food has to be respected. Having to lug one’s own dining table and chairs to the event, lay out one’s own table and prepare what one decides to feed oneself is hardly exemplary of fine dining to start with, so why be so anal retentive particular about the food? Surely the folks going would not be so ungracious or daft as to pack durians or smelly beancurd into their picnic basket for the event. That would be absolutely mental! Yet, I’m pretty sure those who’d signed up and paid for it (yes, one actually have to pay and yet, bring everything all by oneself to the event! that’s another bizarre tale altogether I know!), would exercise sound discretion to not bring what most would deem to be publically repulsive or even revocable. Other then that, why fuss over what people eat? The organiser’s notion that “local food is not in line with the intended image” is preposterous and completely unacceptable. Clearly, it is a case which stems from oblivion or even ignorance on local culinary demographics. Why should pot-au-feu or boeuf à la Bourguignonne be welcomed but kari ayam and rendang daging be loathed at and looked down with disgust? So it would be chic and classy to whip up a ratatouille but nyonya chup chye be deemed as a disaster? Though I would not be there to verify, I have a feeling that we are gonna see a lot of SPAM and cheese sandwiches at the event, so why not popiah or bakchang? Like I’d said, gastronomic imperialism!

I can fully empathise with what Daniel and some other food bloggers who had been “uninvited” without being “properly excused”. An intermingling of sour and bitter aftertaste and I’m not talking about the food! So, no I would not be silly enough to call for a boycott of the event, neither do I have a sphere of influence sufficiently big to do so. Instead, I appeal to one and all to stay grounded, remembering the foods which you’d grown up eating and to love, most of which I’m sure are local delights like tau huay, foods which you could always fall back on and enjoy, unpretentious and readily available, simple but yet close to one’s heart. So I would like to suggest a “Make and Eat Tau Huey Day” on 30th August 2012, on the very day which Diner en Blanc is to be held. Nope, this is not an act of protest or rebellion against the upclass social event, but a mere reminder to myself and everyone like me, the importance of mutual respect and staying grounded. Yes, it is basically a spinoff of the “Cook Curry Day” of what happened just one year ago on 21st August 2011, and I’m not ashamed to be stating so and I’m most certainly taking no credit for it!
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So do join in the fun on 30 August 2012. Buy yourself a tub of tau huay from your favorite dessert stall and post a photo of it on social media, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, pinterest, etc telling your friends how you enjoy it. Bloggers, please blog about it too! Or better still, make your own tau huay with the very many recipes available online and share it with your loved ones. Remember, that it is not who you are that makes the difference, it is what you are…
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Cute right? Created by fellow blogger Smith Leong, as shared on Daniel’s blog!


A new look…

Changed the color scheme of the blog after collating some suggestions and criticisms from fellow friends and bloggers. I loved the old color scheme with black as the backdrop but then again, the contrast with the words seemed a bit too jarring. Begins to play tricks with the eyes making it laborious to read. Changed it to something much lighter with black as font color. Let me know if this is better now. And as always, comments, suggestions and criticisms about the layout, content and photos are welcomed and much appreciated! Let me know how to make it more enjoyable for you!

Thanks everyone in advance for your comments and unfailing support!!


Cookbook Galore @ BookFest 2011

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First day at the book fair organised by Popular Bookstore and I would say “WOW!” to the selection available. Do not expect very niche titles from Pierre Herme or Laduree but I can say  that the spread is very decent indeed! See for yourself! 以下是我这台烂手机拍的。大家“加减”凑合看噜!
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Tarte aux Fruits Rouges タルト フリュイ ルージュ

Tarte aux Fruits Rouges

The weather has been excruciatingly warm all week and is becoming almost unbearable! Climatic patterns have changed and gone gaga around the world. Tornado and hurricane season coming too early whilst the rains refuse to come. How long more have we got to endure this…

On a more positive note, summer fruits from the northern hemisphere comes early this season. Just after we saw a massive shipment of Korean strawberries a month back, now comes the Californian ones, with our local supermarkets selling them very cheaply for punnets twice the size of those korean ones. This is too tempting an offer to resist. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are also available in abundance now. Californian blueberries are in season now when we saw their Argentinian or Chilean cousins just a month back. When else than now could be a better time for one to experience the summer berries galore!

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Sweet Musings on a Macaron Class

Macaron Class @ Palate Sensations

Yeah! I’d finally done it! I’d been wanted to attend a macaron class for ages, but just couldn’t find the right opportunity and time for it! Most culinary classes offered by the various local cooking schools conduct lessons mostly over weekends or weekday evenings, which is virtually impossible for me, owing to my own teaching schedule! Countless times have I looked into their websites only to find the timings unsuitable, or the classes already full. “Oh well… ” I tell myself and heave a deep sigh. No such luck.

About 3 weeks back, I saw a listing for a “Macaron and Petit Fours” class at Palate Sensations by Chef Lynn Chen on a friday afternoon, I knew I have to attend this! It was almost like God answering my prayers! So by some form of divine intervention, I secretly enrolled myself into the course and pray for the day to come! As the big day approaches, I actually found myself getting rather nervous and somewhat restless about it! Afterall, it had been many moons since I last stepped into a classroom setting as the student! And this is by no means a conventional classroom! Apart from watching Nigella swurving her voluptous curves or Gordon Ramsay swearing his bollocks off in the kitchen, as well cooking demos by those peddling pans and woks in Tangs and Takashimaya,  I’d never attended an actual culinary class before and this would be my virginal attempt! I think one can’t possibly find a better reason to have butterflies in the stomach than this!

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Taiwan May 2010 Day 3 – Lian Chi Tan, Guanghua Night Market, Formosa Boulevard

After breakfast at the hotel cafe, we set off to 莲池潭 Lian Chi Tan, a scenic lake dotted with pagodas, shrines and temples located near Zuoying. Unfortunately, meteorological forecast forebodes a grey and rainy day. Still we hope to visit some interesting places to get some interesting shots!

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Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Lian Chi Tan, 高雄,台湾, 莲池潭

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Intros

This being the first post, I figure some kind of introduction is standard. We are a couple who love food and travelling. We happen to live in Asia, on the sunny island of Singapore, where shopping and food is a unofficial national passtime.

I guess we’ve always wanted a place where our friends and family can “have a piece of us”, know what we’re into or where we’ve been or what we like….