Thursday, February 21, 2008

CNY. V Day. Malacca. Food

I haven't blogging for quite a bit and I don't think I'll be blogging in quite a bit, so here's a little treat for all of you. Me and my love, food! There's my Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner, a little lunch buffet, then there's the biggest consumerist dinner of the year fourteen-oh-two, and my dinners and a breakfast during the Malacca field trip. Lots of food coming up, and a little bit of pretty girls.

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner
cny reunion dinner

This year dinner was at home, and my maternal side was invited over for dinner. Usually we eat out with my paternal side, but with the passing of my paternal grandparents, well, well... Anyway, my dearest daddie did almost all the preparation and cooking while the hardworking mother helped in the kitchen. The night before, we were counting the number of courses that was to follow and we were shocked by the total number. At first we thought that there was only like 10 dishes. haha~

1. Ngor Hiang.
Wrapped and Rolled and fried by the daddie. For most of the food, it was prepared like three to four days in advance then fried on Chinese New Year Eve because we just didn't have the time to prepare so many things on the day itself. Food had to be bought early because everyone was hoarding food. We bought so much that we filled our fridge full with food, then we brought over a ton of stuff to store at the fridge at my late grandparents house. Ya, their house is still there, electricity is still running, but no one lives there. My parents pop by once or twice a week to light the joss and pray.

2. Sharks' Fin Soup with Crab Meat.
This was so so so good! Yes, I consume sharks' fin, and I love it, and yes, sharks' fin has taste, it's a mild fishy kind of taste, and I love it. We cooked a whole chicken for broth, then had a ton of sharks' fin in there. We bought the frozen packet kind so there was really a lot, we bought a few packets. We also bought a ton of frozen deshelled crabmeat, and my god, was it good. The best thing was that there was so much soup that I had like two huge bowls, and we still had half the pot remaining after dinner that I had another two huge bowls the next day. Ya, we had so much leftovers that we were eating leftovers for the following few days after Chinese New Year.

3. Yu Sheng.
We bought it from cold storage, salmon yu sheng, then for a good measure, my grandmother sponsored a can of abalone to add into the yu sheng. The abalone was good definitely, but the same cannot be said of the yu sheng. The vegetables was limp and suspiciously brightly coloured, the salmon was very fishy, the sauce was weird, almost a bit too little. But they had added in three packets of that crispy thingies, so the whole plate was like crispy stuffs. We didn't finish it, so a couple of us stood around the plate of yu sheng and started playing a game of who can find the fish and abalone. Winner gets to eat the fish and abalone. haha, only using our eyes, we were to search for fish and abalone then fish them out using our chopsticks. Well, we couldn't throw away leftover abalone right, throwing away the vegetables was still not so wasteful.

4. Braised Duck.
Pretty unmemorable. I only remember eating this for days after Chinese New Year, my mother refried them in dark soy sauce. We brought it over to my grandmother's for dinner on Chu Yi.

5. Roast Chicken.
Another unmemorable dish that we ate as leftovers days after Chinese New Year, also by cooking it in dark soy sauce again.

6. Roast Duck.

7. Roast Pork.
This was great! It was the first dish to be polished off, but but but, sneaky parents kept another slab of pork refrigerate for us to eat ourselves. haha~ I just love my sio bak so much that I am becoming a huge slab of sio bak myself. You are what you eat, hence I am what I eat, hence I am a piece of sio bak, thank you very much.

8. Fish.
I don't remember eating that, perhaps because I already had too much to eat.

9. Braised Mushrooms.
This was a dish prepared by my grandmother. I think the Cantonese has like certain items that are must haves on the dinner table and that was one of them, so she brought it. I didn't eat, but we had leftovers, or rather she cooked a lot extra, that we ate the next day and I had some then.

10. Abalone with Greens.
We had two plates of that, both covered totalled with abalones, there were like so many cans of abalone opened, wahahaha. I had so much abalone, I think that was the time I had the most abalone in my life, well, almost, I had almost one whole head of abalone that night.

11. Breadcrumb Prawns.
My daddie's signature dish. But but but, it wasn't as good as usual because the prawns were frozen, so there was this strong unfresh taste which I thought was pretty disappointing since I was so pampered with have fresh prawns almost all the time. Oh well, its still my love. And we had so much leftovers, my smart dad didn't fry all the prawns, so we freshly fried the prawns the whole week on. haha, but they were still frozen prawns la...

12. Curry Chicken.
Another of my daddie's signature dish, but I didn't have any that night. But I had it the next day.

13. Peng Dua Hai.
I don't know what you call that in English, but it's some cheng teng thingie, which sadly didn't turn out quite as expected. It was the first time my parents made it after modifying a recipe from Sam Leong. It turned out drier than expected, it would have been perfect had there been more water.

Not in picture, Pork Chops.
I don't know why but I forgot to take picture of the pork chops, there was just too many food on the table that I left it out from an oversight. wahahaha~ I was photoshopping when I felt that something was missing because I remember counting more dishes, damn... Anyway, I must talk about the pork chops because I love them. And there were a lot a lot of them. We were eating them for the whole week following the dinner, and I still loved them. They were so great for snacking, almost like chips like that.

With that I conclude my Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner, aren't you just so jealous of me?

Lunch at Straits Kitchen
cny lunch buffet

My paternal aunts brought me and my sister and cousin out for lunch at Straits Kitchen at Hyatt Hotel. It's the second time there, the first time for a Reunion Dinner, this time we still had the Chinese New Year menu but we had lunch instead. In my humble opinion, I preferred the dinner, there were more food, namely, seafood. haha, the lunch was humbler. Straits Kitchen, to put it simply is Hawker Centre food in a hotel with hotel ambience, hotel service and hotel prices. I was standing in queue for an egg prata when I got so tired of waiting and kept thinking that had I really wanted an egg prata, I could just get it from the hawker centre at $1.20, why should I stand in line for one?

1. Fish Maw Soup.
I love fish maw soup almost as much as I love sharks' fin. And that's probably the only thing not hawker centre-ish.

2. Yu Sheng
Erm, another not hawker centre food, but it's a complimentary item everywhere during Chinese New Year. It was pretty good, actually, better than the Cold Storage one of course.

3. Soy Sauce Chicken and Roast Duck.
The roast duck was so so so good!!! The roast chicken was pretty okay by high standards, but the duck just blew me away. It wasn't too fatty, and the meat was lean, and the skin was so crispy and nice without too much fats, and everything melted in my mouth and I floated to heaven. I especially love the duck breast~

4. Assorted platter. I got Fried Carrot Cake, some pregnant fish, assorted vegetables which was basically some baby corn and mushrooms and tofu, fried rice and fried noodles.
I don't know why fried carrot cake is called such when the main ingredient is radish and not carrot, but it was still nice, the pregnant fish was the best man. It was fried till crispy and filled with roe inside that was so flavourful that I floated to heaven again. But it also clogs up our arteries so I didn't dare eat too much of it, but still, omg, the roe!!! The vegetables was pretty normal by zi char standards. The fried rice too. The fried noodles was pretty good, but that might be because I'm partial to noodles over rice. lol~

5. Popiah.
I had mine with only the things I like since it was made on the spot. I like prawns, sweet sauce, egg, and crumbs~ Then the guy making the popiah asked me if I wanted the vegetables, hahahaha...

6. Roast Duck and White Chicken.
It was a mistake having the white chicken in the same plate as the roast duck because of the sauce of the white chicken. It was so salty that it drowned the roast duck in ajinomoto. The duck was quite a bit affected by the MSG in a bad way. I think this the the first time ajinomoto made something taste worse than it should be.

7. Satay.
Not bad, but not memorable.

8. Grilled Chicken.
Not bad, quite nice.

9. Egg Tarts.
The egg tarts weren't as nice as those I'd have in a dim sum restaurant, but it might be because I'm biased against the buttery crumbly tart like base for the egg tart. I prefer the more Hong Kong styled ones.

10. Barley.
I don't know why was the barley in the juice bar because it isn't a fruit juice. There weren't any ice provided so the barley turned room temperature after a while, and it wasn't a very nice taste.

11. Orange and Grapefruit.
Grapefruit by itself is very sour and a bit bitter, so it had to be mixed to be nicer. But the same problems with the barley, after it warmed to room temperature, the juice mix tasted horrible, and too concentrated. I had to ask the wait staff to help me add more iced water into the juice mix, but it still wasn't that nice. So before I finished it, I changed another drink.

12. Apple Juice.
I had asked for ice this time round, and I had a straw to drink with, so it was the best out of the three drinks I had.

And for a little treat after looking at all the food pictures, a girls collage.
cny with suelynn and jane
My sister was wearing my dress, but my dress was also very nice, and my cousin is very pretty. haha~

Valentine's Day Dinner at Menotti
v day dinner

We didn't know that they were only serving the Valentine's menu and not serving any a la carte until we were seated. We were not even informed about it when we made the booking a couple of weeks earlier. But well, the dinner turned out pretty nice and fuzzy.

1. Swimmer Crab and Tomato Tower with Spinach Frittata Rolls.
Translated it means, cold crab salad stuck between two slices of tomatoes and a green egg pancake like kind of roll. I disliked it. I don't like spinach, neither do I have great fondness for tomatoes, even the crabs tasted a bit weird.

2. Green Asparagus Soup with Lemon Cream and Spicy Croutons.
It was pretty nice and warm and fuzzy. I liked the lemon cream mixed into the soup because the soup itself wasn't too creamy and the zing of lemon blended so well into the vegetable-ish taste of the asparagus. I love croutons, just like I love you zhar kueh in my porridge, just like I love shallots in my soups, haha.

3. Salmon Ravioli with Pumpkin and Rosemary Sauce.
It the nicest thing I had that night, it's one really good pasta dish I had for quite some time. I love salmon, and I love pasta, and I love this dish. The nicest is the sauce mix. And I don't usually like pumpkin but with the rosemary, this was great, just nice to kill the fishy taste off the salmon. I was scooping up the sauce even after I finished the ravioli. Before it was served, S asked me what a ravioli was, my answer was that it's an Italian wanton kind of pasta, wonder if anyone has got a better answer to this question?

4. Atlantic Sole Rolled with Paprika and Braised Vegetables.
To me, good fish shouldn't be fried, fried fish couldn't be fresh, but fried fish is tasty, heck anything fried is good. Okay, it isn't spectacular, but there were some gems in the vegetables. There was zucchini! I haven't had zucchini since my days in Germany and it's so good to have it again. But I didn't like the other vegetables, I'm not a veggie person.

5. Chicken Piccata with Raisins and Pine Nue Sauce.
Wonder how is it that I had both the chicken and the fish? We shared of course, a pig like would of course want to try both mains and S couldn't say no to me. The chicken was quite tough and dry but still nice to me since I like my chicken tough and dry. The mash potato was moulded into a lovely heart shape, so cute, I almost didn't bear to take the first bite, but I still did la, haha.

6. Chocolate Love Pastries.
For such a simple name, I expected less, but this came out to be marvellous. It's basically a white chocolate shell printed with hearts patterns covering a chocolate mousse like cake and with a cherry sauce centre sitting on a fudge based cookie, and it was dusted with chocolate powder. The cherry centre was a tad too sweet but the taste fused very well with the bittersweet chocolate mousse, but the real gem was the base, it was so rich and so good.

The dinner came with a free pink rose, a nice big one, not a flat horrid cheap one, and a polaroid picture of us, and the table was decorated until very nice and romantic. The service was also very good despite the almost full house situation.

Dinner at Bamboo Hut Bistro in Malacca
malacca. dinner at bamboo hut bistro

In Malacca, we stayed at Aldy Hotel, which had a very quaint little bistro downstairs and we had dinner there on the first night, many thanks to "Mr Brian". I found it pretty amusing that all the hotel staff calls him that because it's just not right to use the salutation with the first name, although most angmos like to be called by their first names, but most Asian service staff like to call guests Mister and Madam.

1. Mushroom Soup.
I expected a normal cream of mushroom kind of mushroom soup but this turned out to be more like a Chinese chicken mushroom soup kind of thing. I think it's called fusion. There was a little dumpling in there too, not too bad.

2. Grilled Salmon with Sauteed Potatoes.
The potatoes was filled with onions, but it was not bad, I even had a little bit of the onions. The salmon was so nice, nice and flakey and melted in my mouth, but I'm partial to salmon in the first place, so it might just be me.

3. Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Potatoes.
Roasted Potatoes? It turned out to be wedges, but it was still very nice. The stuffed chicken tasted a bit weird but I personally have little liking for stuffings, so I might be biased. The chicken itself was still pretty okay. Likewise, I was able to have two mains because I coerced S into sharing with me. haha~

4. Chocolate Cake.
The cake was huge, but it was pretty nice, only complain that it came at room temperature. It might have been better had it been nicely chilled.

Thanks for the dinner Prof Farrell!

Breakfast at Bamboo Hut Bistro
malacca. breakfast at bamboo hut bistro

Big Breakfast Set
Two eggs, chicken ham, beans, two sliced of toast, hashbrowns, veges, and a 10-inch sausage! So filling, so good, so savoury. Actually the second day I had omelette instead of sunny sides and it was also very good, there were mushrooms in the omelette. haha~ Even though breakfast wasn't a buffet it was just as filling.

Secret Recipe in Malacca
malacca. dinner at secret recipe

Secret Recipe is so cheap in Malaysia. I forgot to number them, but you'll know what I'm talking about won't you? Oh, and I've already checked, all the items here can be found in the Secret Recipe in Singapore but at a higher cost.

Mushroom Soup.

There was too much minced meat! But it was still very nice, the minced meat was well cooked and there was the fluffy bread that went well with all the excess meat. But there was not enough sauce, it was pretty dry, too little cheese too.

Dory with Lobster Sauce.
This was really good, but the lobster sauce was a bit too jelak had I had it myself. But the fish was fresh and flakey and nicely grilled. It wasn't too oily. The vegetables was almost untouched, I only had the sweet peas. The fries was a tad too dry but I had them with the lobster sauce, so it was yummy, just that too much of the lobster sauce made me feel jelak after that.

Chocolate Milk Shake.
Normal I guess.

Apple Crumble Cheesecake.
S loved it. I would too if I love apples, but I don't so I didn't even bother trying a tiniest bit of it.

Oreo Cheesecake.
It was great! The cheese was really thick and creamy and very dense, so it turned out a tad bit jelak towards the end, maybe 85% this size would have been better. The whole bits of oreo cookies was really cool and gave a nice bite to the cheesecake.

Total bill came up to less than S$30 for the two of us, it was really cheap. I think I'd give the soup and shake a miss if I have Secret Recipe in Singapore, and maybe give the fish with lobster sauce a miss too and have something cheaper, but I'd still want to have the cakes though.

Nice long post have come to the end, happy eating folks~

Friday, February 15, 2008

This Blogger Will Be Out of Town

... but you won't miss much of me since I'm having lesser and lesser time to blog recently.

Yup, but I'll be off to Malacca for a field trip, I won't be buying many things since there aren't many things that I can get in Malacca. And I'll be more concerned with my presentation. Yup, I've a presentation, and it'll be held in Malacca since we are missing our class on Friday to go on that trip.

Wish me luck for my presentation, I think I'm freaking out already. I had two nights of less than 3 hours of sleep. I'll be so looking forward to a good rest in Malacca after my presentation. And well, catching up my sleep on the bus ride there. For once, I hope that there'd be massive jams en route to Malacca. wahahaha~


Friday, February 08, 2008

Lowering Standards of Living Or?

I spotted this headline on the papers today and discussed briefly about this issue with my father. The headline was something about PM Lee urging Singaporeans to buy frozen pork rather than fresh pork. My first thought was back to the comments made my a certain stupid minister who commented that Singaporeans should adjust our ways of livings to fit in with the economy and not keep complaining that prices are rising everywhere.

Immediately I thought that that was another ploy to get Singaporeans to buy the cheaper frozen pork rather than continue buying more pricey fresh pork and complaining that pork prices are on the rise.

But as my father pointed out, economics somethings is not purely economics. PM Lee's comments might sound like an economic reason, but the politics behind it might just be more profound.

If we look at pork, most of our fresh pork comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, and another bulk of it from Australia. Our frozen pork comes from all over the world, we all know the most *cough cough* place up north where people now have stopped purchasing most food items from, but our frozen pork doesn't just come from the region. Recently Singapore has been getting frozen pork imports from less traditional places such as Brazil and Chile, and it isn't just frozen pork but also frozen chicken and stuff. Indeed, frozen meat is cheaper than fresh ones, but for some types of cooking methods, using a frozen pig and a fresh pig makes little difference. In such a situation, why choose a fresh pig over a less costly one?

It does sound like an economics reason. But if we think deeper into economics theory, remember demand and supply? Fresh pigs are expensive because we don't have pigs in Singapore. If we want to reduce the price of the pigs without reducing demand, we have to try and increase supply, hence the increase in the supply of frozen pigs hoping to spoil the pig markets. Only if there isn't a different market for fresh and frozen pigs can there be such a spoiling of the market to reduce the price of pork.

Ultimately, it isn't just a reduction in price of pigs, but the message being sent out the the neighbouring pig suppliers. We all know the that the main suppliers have also been supplying lots of other stuff to Singapore, and they know that too. To them, they think that Singapore is reliant to them on everything, and hence they think that as long as they want to increase their prices, Singapore will have no choice but to accept it because we are in no position to choose or reject their price increases.

To a certain extent, this is quite true, whenever there are cases of animal diseases outbreak, Singapore suffers a great deal. The last time there was this Nipah virus thingie. I think it was after that incident that Airpork because a household name, well it was also due to advertising, and it was also since then that Airpork became the pork of my choice. I'm quite sure that we can rely on Airpork, but freighting fresh pork in from Australia is definitely much more expensive due to the logistics. So Singaporeans would still choose the cheaper neighbouring fresh pork over the more expensive Airpork. It's like why people choose to go to wet markets rather than supermarkets, cheaper, fresher, and all those other reasons.

Hence, cheaper frozen pork might just be an alterative to cheaper fresh pork if your cooking doesn't call for fresh pork.

Things sometimes are just what they mean at face value, but does have a deeper connotation, that's just a matter of whether you are able to pick it up. I must admit that my first thought is the face value meaning, and needed a little prodding from the father before I realised this whole series of deeper meanings behind those simple words.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Busy with Deadlines

It's not even the fourth week of the term and I'm swamped with work. This is so crap. I thought that by doing a couple of lower level modules I can slack off for my last semester and just enjoy my last days in NUS eating all the food I'll be missing after I graduate, now I'm so busy and so stressed that I don't even know if I can graduate.

Let's see what I have coming up:
- my EU and ASEAN tutorial presentation which I have yet read up on
- Farrell's presentation which I've yet done anything about and that we'd be doing it in Malacca. What crap of a presentation this will be!
- my European politics essay which I have yet even read the question

Then in between all that it's hunting for a job, trying to see when I can make it to start my driving lessons again. *sigh* I have to pick up the wheel again if not I'll turn obsolete. So much for me wanting to get my license before I graduate, now I don't even have time to learn how to drive. I don't even have time to blog.

Okay, we all have the time, it's just that I don't know how to use it properly. I'm just an expert in wasting time. I don't even know what I did over this weekend, it just passed by with me not doing anything at all. How absolutely marvelous.

And with CHinese New Year next week, Valentine's Day the following, and the Malacca trip the day after, and the Sarawak trip the week after, this semester will be a total buzz of a semester. I was planning to skip my EU and ASEAN lecture on Wednesday morning I won't need to go to school for the whole week next week, but because of the above mentioned presentations, I will be going back to school on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays. What a great way to spend my Chinese New Year.

Oh, speaking of Chinese New Year, I had one of the best Reunion Dinners yesterday. We had an early reunion dinner, and my god was it fantastic! Too bad no pictures because I hadn't brought my camera because I thought it was a simple affair, and I left my handphone in the car. Anyway, we went to my aunt's house and we had a whole lot of goodies. The quintessential abalone, no less. There was an extra serving of abalone on top of the abalone with vegetables, so all had a lot of abalone. Then the usual prawns, eggs, chicken wings, squid. Ho ho, then there was the steamboat.

Steamboat sounds pretty normal right? haha, we had amazing ingredients thanks to my little aunt who went to the Hokkaido fair at Shaw. We had Hokkaido crab legs! That was so good. The deshelled crab legs were so pink and so juicy and so sweet. Also amazing was the shabu shabu pork. Dipped in the sesame sauce, it was so tender and so good.

But I'm still looking forward to the feast my daddie's going to cook up on Chinese New Year Eve. It won't feature crabs and shabu shabu but he's doing up my favourite breaded prawn (I hope) and breaded pork chops, and much more abalone, and sharks' fins. Hoo hoo, and much more goodies. Then there's the Lo Hei dinner on the seventh day of Chinese New Year when we're going to Beng Hiang again. Much more of my favourite goodies in the form of Hokkien Mee and Kong Bak Pau.

I am so going to grow fat.

Haha, I started out this post as grumbling and whining, but as the topic changed to food, my whole tone lighted up and I started orgasming. This seriously explains why I'm growing so fat.