Yes its the time of the year again…a time for reflections, a time for revelations and a time for new resolutions. As the end of the year draws near, one can’t help but look back at what has happened over the last 12 months. This is the time of year when people relax, unwind, preparing for the holidays and festivities to come. However, this is also the time of the year when the rains visit us again, the skies are grey half the time and sometimes, our moods follow as well.One of life’s many ironies.
Today we celebrate the winter solstice, 冬至. This is an important day on the Chinese lunar calendar as it marks the coming of winter proper. This is when families prepare themselves for the harsh cold to come. However, Singapore knows no seasons. But my family, being rather traditional, celebrates the day with offerings to the gods, most symbolically in the form of tang yuan, 汤圆 glutinous rice dumplings. When we were young, preparation started early in the morning, as my mother would knead the dough from scratch as my sister and I pinched off pieces from it, rolling them into balls, getting ready to dunk them into a hot pot of boiling water. Another pot looked on, exuding a sweet jaggery and gingery aroma from the broth that was bubbling along. Being Hokkiens, we enjoy tang yuan in hot ginger broth sweetened with raw brown sugar. My mother accentuates that we daun pandan. I remember being told by my grandmother when I was young that we had to eat the number of tang yuans (kueh ee she called it) in accordance to our age! Her little “ploy” to make us children eat more I guess!
Poached Pears in Red Wine is a signature french fruit dessert which is both easy to prepare and delcious to enjoy. Better known as “Poires Au Vin Rouge“, this french classic uses port or some other full-bodied fortified wine as a base for a thick syrup enriched with spices. Its origins can be traced back to another French dessert named Poire belle Hélène created by by Auguste Escoffier, named after the operetta La belle Hélène by Jacques Offenbach. Incidentally creating desserts after popular themes or famous people seemed to be Escoffier’s
favorite past-time speciality as he also gave us Pêche Melba, after the famous Australia prima donna. Jacky Wu of 囍宴 Xi Yan, a restaurant chain in Hong Kong and Singapore specialising in the concept of “private dining” decidedly gave this dish an Oriental twist with their restaurant signature “囍有此梨” 桂花陳酒燴啤梨 Poached Pear in Aged Osmanthus Wine, with the incorporation of 桂花陈酒 aged osmanthus wine from China. The palate experience provided is quite different from that of the original Poires Au Vin Rouge but no less enjoyable!