Sunday, August 24, 2008

Siam Paragon, Central World, Breeze At State Tower

Colorful Rice At Siam Paragon

Today, I did as the Thais do. I hit the shopping haunts of Siam Square, not for want of a shopping spree as much as the need to escape the heat. First up, Siam Paragon. Or more specifically, the food basement.

The great find of the morning: colorful rice. Oh the little things that tickle me. They came in hues of rosy pink, deep-sea indigo, pea-sy green and sunshine gold. They also come in 2 versions, normal and glutinous, and are naturally dyed from plant pigments, no artificial enhancements here. I can't wait to get them home and cook them!

Thai Fried Carrot Cake

Next stop, Central World. They've got a food court set like the ones in Singapore malls, offering similar fare as well. I had the local fried carrot cake, and found their version more gelatinous (think or-luck, or oyster omelette), with a healthy serving of veggies and very spicy chilli at the side. Something I strongly recommend we incorporate into our version.

Desserts At Yaowarat

Done with the food court on the top floor, I ventured to the basement and found dessert at Yaowarat. They've got the usually expensive bird's nest going for Bht100, about...$2 in Singapore?

Bean Curd & Fritters In Ginger Syrup

I opted for something more humane and local, bean curd and fritters (again, just like Singapore's tau huay and you tiao) in ginger syrup. Love the syrup which wasn't too sweet, love the kick from the ginger.

Delectable Desserts

Their food basements here are massive, with local and international delights as far as the eye can see. Here's something very French, very exquisite...I would like to be able to make these some day... :)

Condiments & Small Bites, Breeze

Many Thanks to Lonely Planet for tonight's dinner choice, Lebua at State Tower. We made our way there with hopes of dining at the 63rd floor, world's highest al fresco restaurant, the Mediterranean Sirocco. Alas! To be turned away at the entrance coz the rain has made al fresco dining out of the question.

Fortunately, Sirocco was not the only available dining choice at Lebua. Few feet down at 52nd was Breeze, an Asian restaurant.

Vegetarian Dim Sum Basket

This has got to be the best veggie dim sum I've ever had. 3 uniquely filled and flavored dumplings (mushroom, chives and radish), folded into colorful dumplings, served steaming hot and absolutely delish!

Spinach Tofu & Yee Fu Noodles

The hand made spinach tofu was soft and flavorful, and the yee fu noodle was made with Japanese udon in place of the usual Chinese variaty. Both were good, but my fave would definitely have to be the dumplings, followed by the colorful shot glasses of cordiments and honey walnuts. :P

I've managed to see and taste a lot of what Bangkok has to offer, from simple and hearty street food to classy and tastefully plated fine dining fare. My verdict? This bustling, crazy, hot and happening city is well worth a visit at least once in your lifetime.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chatuchak, Chinatown, Beirut Restaurant

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Hey hey hey! Guess what I've been up to this weekend? I've been up to...Bangkok!

I made sure to arrive on Saturday to catch the renowned Chatuchak Weekend Market. Be there early, I was told, you'll beat the crowd and heat. So I was there at 10, and sure enough, the weekend crowd was barely building up, which was a blessing, coz I managed to navigate the massive marketplace in record 20 minutes.

There wasn't much to see, since shopping's not my thang anyway and the food stalls were barely getting started. I managed to grab a few colorful snaps before I left.

So far, not impressed. Next stop, Chinatown.

Delicate Flower Dumplings

Street markets are found throughout Chinatown, and I found myself drawn to one in particular, enticed by the smell of fried food and steaming dumplings. Magic begins for me here.

I have no idea what the above is really called, I just know it looks as good as it tastes. Made with a swift swoosh of the hand, the lady boss whips up countless sheets of the plain and colorful rice wrappers on a mini steamer, adds a little knob of sweet coconut in the middle, and with a deft sweep rounds up the edges and magically produces the final florets for your viewing and dining pleasure. Truly a feast for the eyes.

Fried Radish, Chives & Yam Cakes

This reminds me of the soon kueh in Singapore, the taste is similar as well. And just as I do back home, I prefer the pan fried version here for that extra crunch.

More Chives Cakes

A squarish, greener variation to the dish, the texture of this cake is thicker, like chewy, fudgy pudding. This is my choice of the lot simply for its funky color.

A Study in Botany


Evening came and I wandered into the Sukhumvit district, coming up to Beirut Restaurant, a Lebanese eatery packed with Middle Eastern expat. This has to be good.

The hummus was good, it usually is, though I especially liked the fragrance of the toasted pinenuts and paprika in this instance.

Falafel Wrap with Fries

In a perfect world, all fries would be thick cut and crinkled. Well, it isn't, but having your Lebanese falafel wrap come with some is close enough.

The Whole Shebang

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Oh! Pierre Herme!!

Revelation & Tarte Mogador

I Have Waited 10 Years For This Day. For the One True Master, The Legend and Living Legacy. He is here. He is Pierre Herme.

When Singapore's annual World Gourmet Summit announced PH as one of the hosts of a Master Class, I made darn sure to get my smitten ass a seat there. Oh I am so proud of my entry tag like a chosen one with the Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. I was 3rd to report for the class, 1st into the auditorium (elbow shoving some old ladies outta my way -- just kidding), and sat smack in the middle of the very first row with books, notes, camera and undying adoration in tow. And I waited with baited breath for my great idol to make his appearance.

Revelation made by PH Himself

When he finally went up on stage, I was gobsmacked. He was barely 2 meters away! This guy whose biblical "Desserts" and "Chocolate" cookbooks lured me into the pastry world and made it my passion, was before me in person!

With an unassuming air about him, he patiently went through 2 of his latest creations, Revelation and Tarte Mogador. The first one is like a deconstructed mille fille, with olive and tomato as the key ingredients. Ingenious, a dessert version of an Italian salad. He spent more time on this than its chocolate counterpart, no matter, a fascination to behold as the maestro went to work.

Tomato Puff Pastry, Tomato & Strawberry Compote,
Mascarpone Olive Oil Cream, Dried Black Olive

After the class we had a tasting session of both desserts and they were pretty good. It may be my untrained taste buds failing to raise to the challenge, for I could not make out the tomato addition of the puff pastry, nor the unique formula of 3 different and distinctly flavored vanilla beans used in Revelation. Tarte Mogador was rich and deep, but not unlike good chocolate desserts should be.

Disappointed? Not really. For once, really folks, just once, I was not there to eat. I was there to ogle at the one man who steered my life in a different direction, who has given me a passion that enriched my life with both purpose and enjoyment, and meeting him up close (and hogging his attention after the class to shake his hand, bombard him with my kabillion questions and photo taking requests, and finally, securing his autograph on my "Desserts" book) rejuvenated me with inspiration and hope that maybe, just barely maybe, I can make it as a pastry chef one day.

Revelation At Mezza9, Grand Hyatt Singapore

No good PH fan would ever pass up a chance to taste his wares, so the night before the Masterclass, Baby G and I begged and coerced our way with the Maitra d'of Mezza9 to secure a table at the last minute.

Not knowing what to expect in the Master Class, we ordered the most unique sounding item on the PH created dessert menu, Revelation. (And what a revelation it was to see it in the class the next day! Haha, oh my sense of humor.)

It tasted a lot like a sweet and cooling salad. That time, I could not make out the puff pastry to be tomato flavored, hence my repeated disappointed the next day when I again failed to do the same. IT was the olives that stood out for me.

Dessert Ispahan
Ispahan ~ Rose Flavored Macaron Biscuit,
Rose Petal Cream With Raspberries & Lychees.
Sorbet Ispahan ~ Lychee, Rose Petal Aromas & Raspberry Sorbet

This was my preferred dessert, mostly coz for the first time, I had macaron that did not do me over with the sugar overdose. It was meltingly fragrant with rose and I could make out the almonds in the taste and texture, and the icy aromatic lychee sorbet complimented the Ispahan and capped the evening for me.

While I take leave to continue swooning, I leave you with the remainder of PH's offerings that night.

More From The Dessert Menu

* Variation Autour Du Marron, Du Fruit De
La Passion Et Du The Vert Matcha *

* Creme Brulee Au Fioe Gras, Compote
D'Airelles Et Poires *

* Tarte Mogador *

* Emotion Satine *

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Me!

Goodness Gracious Glorious Chocolate Cake

It was me Birthday and Baby G, returning from a biz trip in the Philippines, brought me a cake from way back there. :) He does this every year and every year, I'm moved by the trouble he takes. I'm also amazed at his feat. Entrust me with a cake on a flight and we will disembark as one, if you get my drift. :P

And a cake of this caliber, oh my! Dense, heavy, sor-lidly chocolatey, leaving no space for air bubbles, and topped with dollops of whipped cream, not that it needed additional richness, but the cake becomes more luxurious as a result.

It's a Sachertorte, to be more precise, though the hint of apricot jam does not distract the chocolate from doing its job, that is, making this the best cake I've had this year. :)

Happy Birthday, me!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

All Corns Square and Round - Round 2

Corn Bread

True to my word, I tried something different with yesterday's cornbread, this time a sweeter take with bite. I used a different recipe from the same book, my adaptation as follows:

*100g Polenta
* 50g Plain Flour
*50g Sugar
* 7 1/2g Bicarbonate of Soda
*150g Semi Skim Milk
* 30g Unsalted Butter
* 1 Egg
* 140g Plain Yogurt
* 1 Can of Corn Kernels, Drained

1. Sift the day (polenta through bicarb).
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter in the milk.
3. Whisk the wet into the dry.
3. Beat in the egg and yogurt.
4. Mix in the corn kernels.
5. Tip the mixture into a 20-25cm round tin, or cute mini muffin cases.
6. Bake for 30-40mins, till golden brown and passed the inserted skewer test.

Corns A' Poppin'

Poppin' Out For A Walk

These babies passed the skewer test, and they passed the taste test as well. I still love the crunch of the polenta, and with the creamy corn kernels, they make a very enjoyable snack.

The best part of this, as is all my baking experiments, is packing them for family and friends. These sit pretty in the little boxes above and make neat little gifts. Me like.

Poppin' Ready To Eat

Yes I am poppin' mad about these little tykes. Poppin' happy too. :) Try it sometime and let me know if you have a poppin' time as I have.

Corny Poppins Hat

Saturday, August 2, 2008

All Corns Square and Round - Square 1

Buttermilk cornbread

I am fascinated with cornbread, just as I am with zucchini bread and carrot cake. Basically anything dessert that calls for veggies over fruits.

The first time I tried cornbread at an American restaurant, naturally, I was intrigued. It was a cross between the sweet and savory, a table bread and dessert slice. I loved it. And I tried my hands at making some over the weekend.

Squares of Corn

Adapted from The Cook's Book

* 150g / 5 1/2 oz Plain Flour
* 150g / 5 1/2 oz Cornmeal or Polenta
* 4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
* Pinch of Salt
* 50g / 1 3/4 oz Sugar
* 2 Eggs
* 250ml / 8 1/2 oz Buttermilk or Full Fat Milk (It's Full Fat or Nothing!!)
* 2 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, Melted

1. Muffin Method, guys. Sift the dry (flour through sugar).
2. Mix the wet (eggs through melted butter).
3. Combine the twine, but just barely.
4. Tip the goodness into an 8" square or 20cm round
5. Bake at 180 degrees for 20-25mins, or until golden and firm to the touch
6. Serve warm

Cornbread Scones

The final product had a thin and perfect crust speckled with the polenta grains. Buttermilk provided for a moist and slightly tangy interior, textured with the coarse grained polenta. I scaled down the sugar, as always, and let the savory undertone from the polenta and buttermilk do the talking. Good one. next time I may try it with corn kernels for added bite.

A Ode to Coffee

Triple Shot Cappuccino With Cinnamon

In a perfect world, I'd start off each day with a perfect drink, one so good it is fit for the Gods. Well, my world ain't perfect, but each morning, before the madness starts, I get my stolen moment of paradise, where nothing matters but me and my coffee.

I am blessed to be in a company with an in house cafe, where they procure the top of the roast beans, installs a state of the art, oh so pretty in shining silver monster of a coffee machine, employs a skill of a ninja barrister, and the result is heavenly bliss in a fine porcelain cup.

I am hooked to this stuff. It is whoop-ass killer good, the raison d'être for my being,the key to my sanity, the only thing keeping me from walking about in a manic depressive state terrorizing every creature in my path.

The coffee is strong with minimal water added, so it's straight to the good stuff. The foam is light yet substantial in body; eaten with a spoon, it is the closest you will ever get to having warm ice cream. Perfectly balanced in aroma and taste, this divine cappuccino is so satisfying, in my books it is no mere beverage, but food for my soul.

From Left: Americano, Iced Latte, Cappuccino

Afternoons treats, more good stuff.

Macchiato with Tiramisu Donut

This is my new afternoon favorite, triple shot (yes, never less) Macchiato. Donut's optional, and you know I don't like fried foods, but this had tiramisu creme filling (read: more coffee) thus a perfect pairing. But on its own, the Macchiato is all I ask for.