As I was traveling in the town of Colmar, in the Alsace region of France, with my friends, I had a good laugh when I saw this:
It reminded me of the bazillion roundabouts we have back home. But this one is better, there's a mini vineyard in the middle of it. Mmmmm....grapey!!!
Hey folks, sorry I haven't updated my blog in such a long time. I've been busy with school, work and travelling. I just got back from Europe a couple weeks ago. Had a blast touring with the orchestra in Germany, France, and Switzerland. I also got to hangout with my brother in Manchester and met up with some good friends at London. When I found out King Tut's exhibition was in town, I was so stoked!!! I had to extend my stay there just so I could go to the exhibit and go to Camden Market. The best part of my London trip was Borough Market, one of London's oldest market. I had really good Jamon Iberico. OMG, all I'll say is it's like butter. It just melts in your mouth....or rather...my mouth. I bought some as a gift. If I could get away with it, I'd bring a whole leg back in my luggage!!!
Quick updates on my take on what's happening in the food scene
- Read this on NY Times yesterday, pissed me off really bad. Geez!!! I can't believe they're closing down the mill!! I'm sure they'll still use the White Lily label but it won't be the same. Sigh.
- So, Stephanie won Top Chef 4. She and Richard were my top 2 choices.
- My favorite and most beloved radio show, The Splendid Table, won the James Beard Award for Best Radio Food Show. I have every episode on on ipod. Lynne Rossetto Kasper, you rock my Saturdays!!!
- It's no surprise that Grant Achatz, from the famed Alinea of Chicago, won Outstanding Chef Award.
- Isaac Becker (112 Eatery), Tim McKee (La Belle Vie), and Alex Roberts (Restaurant Alma) were nominated for Best Chef in the midwest. However, Adam Siegel ( Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, Milwaukee) won the award. I checked out their menu...hmmm...very small. I would like to see one of our Minneapolis guy win the award. I know they do good work!!!
- I finally got to eat at the newly reopened Cafe Levain. They have a wonderful tasting menu (including a vegetarian one) on Sundays. I didn't get to taste everything as I had to leave early but my favorite was the cold English Pea soup and the perfectly grilled scallops. Service was great. Thank you Chef Adam and his staff for the wonderful experience. Do drop by there. If you have room for dessert, drop by my favorite ice-cream haunt, Pumphouse Creamery, located around the corner from Cafe Levain and Turtle Bread Company. They have the to-die-for Sea Salt Caramel with Candied Pecans (pronounced P-cans). I had a scoop on Friday night and had to stop by there for another fix on Saturday. I got a friend hooked to it too. She had two cones on the same night and refused to share, lol!
Sushi breakfast. Just the perfect meal after wandering around Tsukiji all morning.
Toro, amaebi, some kind of clam,
Shamu the Whale Kujira, Grilled Toro
Anago (sea eel) - yummy!
Close up shot of the toro. It was very fresh but not as tender as I thought it would be.
For dessert, squid ink ice-cream. It doesn't taste weird at all.
I bet you're probably wondering, "That's all she ate?" Nuh huh!!! I had lots of sushi and sashimi there (didn't see fugu on the menu though). Unfortunately, I was so hungry that I only remembered to take a couple of pics!!
I highly recommend the sushi breakfast after visiting the Tsukiji market. Do check out the other wholesale stores there too. I managed to find moon salt at a specialty salt shop.
As I'm occupied with grad school at the mo, I won't be able to update as often. I'll try my best, k?
1931 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403-3747
Here I am, on a Friday night, searching for some grub, internet connection, and shelter from the rain. I was pleasantly greeted by the sound of music from the theater located on the side of the cafe and, of course, the great lineup of beers on tap behind the counter! When I saw that they had root beer on tap, I just had to try it. I was feeling a little hungry as well. So, I ordered the vegan veggie salad (guacamole, sprouts, tomatoes, onion, and lettuce on an onion bun. It came with a side of potato chips. Total came to $5.99 ($1.99 for the pint of root beer). All of this comes bundled with free wi-fi. Sweet!
My only complain is that they close too early. Midnight on a Friday???? But...but...but they serve beer!!! Oh well. I still like this place. I'll definitely come back here again. Maybe not an hour before they close.
Several years ago, I ordered some online. I moved several times in the past 6 years and totally forgot about the vanilla extract till last year when I organized a bake sale to raise funds for hurricane victims. Wow, the aged vanilla extract really made the difference!!!
Last Christmas, a colleague gave me some vanilla extract her parents got from Mexico. Sorry to say, it was not to my liking. I tried searching for that vanilla extract company I purchased from several years ago but their website now sells arts and craft. That's too bad :(
After doing some research, I decided to make my own vanilla extract. It's not difficult to make although it's difficult to find good and fresh vanilla beans. Good vanilla beans must moist, pliable and have an oily sheen on the outside. Avoid buying vanilla beans from the grocery store. You might want to try a gourmet food store or from a reputable online specialty store.
Here are some ingredients and items you'll need. Alcohol (vodka, brandy)
Vanilla bean (preferably Madagascar)
Airtight bottle or jar
Alcohol (vodka, brandy)
Most recipe used this ratio - 1 vanilla bean to 1/2 or 2/3 cup alcohol
I used a 750ml bottle of vodka. It's somewhere between 3-4 cups.
I did not skimp on the vanilla bean since I got a good deal on some organic Madagascar vanilla beans. Some people choose to cut up the beans to 1 inch segments but I chose to cut a slit on the bean. Careful not to cut too deep or you'll end up getting the seeds on the cutting board.
Insert the beans into the bottle of vodka.
Seal the bottle. Label it with today's date and store it in a cool dark place for a minimum of 4-6 months. Best is 1-2 years. Check on it every once in awhile. Don't worry about the sediments floating in the bottle. You can strain it out when you transfer the extract to another bottle(s). You can buy glass bottles from craft shops. Get the ones with the airtight lids. Tie a ribbon around the bottle and stick it in a basket with some homemade goodies.....Viola!!! One less Christmas present to worry about. Have a baker/foodie in the family and not sure what to get them? They will appreciate the homemade vanilla extract :)
A lot of people have been asking for my Mee Hoon Kueh recipe.
What is Mee Hoon Kueh?
It is a Hokkien dish. It is also known as Pan Meen (variations: Paan Min, Pan meen) or Mee Hoon Kerr.
Well, to be honest, I don't have a recipe. I learned by observing and helping my mom and aunties prepare it for our Sunday brunch. It's quite easy. Here's my sort-of recipe. Free feel to modify it to your liking.
Dough: all purpose flour, water (room temperature)
Stock: ikan bilis (anchovies), chicken or chicken bones (optional)
Ingredients/toppings (you can use anything you like): Choi Sum or any kinds of greens, chinese mushroom, mook yi (wood's ear, the black fungus stuff), thinly sliced pork or chicken, meatballs (good for kiddies), fried onions/shallots, fishball/fishcake, fried ikan bilis, green/spring onion etc
1. Put flour in bowl or on table. In the center, make a crater and add water in. Mix with fingers. Have some extra flour or water handy in case it gets too sticky or dry.
2. Knead the dough until a stretchy consistency. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, that'll save you a lot of work!
3. Put dough in a bowl and cover with a clean damp cloth. Let it sit between 30 mins - 1 hour.
1. Boil ikan bilis in water.
2. Strain the ikan bilis out and put stock back in the pot.
There are 2 ways to make the noodles - pasta maker or free-style. Most hawker stalls use the pasta maker because it's more efficient. I prefer the latter method because it's more fun when you get everyone in the family involved. Oh yeah, have a rolling pin or a clean bottle handy.
1. Cut the dough into small balls and roll the dough. It'll be easier to stretch out the dough and it won't be too chewy.
2. Make sure that the stock is hot (but not rolling boil). If the stock is not hot enough, your mee hoon kueh will come out sticky and gunky. You can season the stock if you'd like.
3. Put in meat/meatball etc. If you're using mook yi (wood ear) or mushrooms, put it in now.
4. Put in dough pieces. You'll know they're cooked when they float to the top. Crank up the heat. Stir the pot so the mee hoon kueh don't stick to each other.
5. Put in the veggies at the very last minute. Turn heat off.
6. Scoop mee hoon kueh into bowl. Decorate with fried shallots and green/spring onion. Serve with a side of soy sauce with cut chillies.
If you've tried this recipe, do let me know how it turned out! Enjoy!
I made Mee Siam, Veggie with Spicy Peanut Dip, and Tofu, Veggies with Scallops. Leena and friends made Yee Sang, Chilli Fried Crab, and Veggies with Shrimp.
Yee Sang with Smoked Salmon
Gung Hei Fat Choi
Pou Pou Kou Seng
Man See Yuee Yi
Nin Nin Yau Yuee
LOL, I can't think of anymore wishes!
It was amazing that we almost finished all the food except for some crabs, Mee Siam and veggies. Leena and friends came from an earlier dinner engagement. Wow! I don't know how they could stuff all that food in!
ps. more pics later
Here's what we order. Some greens with mushrooms, deep fried squid, fried rice, fried ramen with seafood and mango sago dessert (mong goh sai mai lou).
Overall, I liked the fried rice and ramen best although they were a little on the oily side. The deep fried squid was tasty but the batter was too thick. A dessert was a waste of money. It was like diced mango with some sago in thick starchy milk. The starch smell was very strong! Bleargh!
Hmm...I would go there again now that I know what to order. Just don't order dessert!
Check out the awards they have received.
Amaebi (sweet shrimp), toro (tuna belly) and sake (salmon) sashimi They salmon they used are not Atlantic or farm raised kinds. The ones we ordered were from Norway.
Check out the fat on the toro :P~~~
A visit to Kampachi will not be complete if you didn't try their Soft Kani Maki (soft-shelled crabs sushi). Forget about the ones you get at genki sushi. These are to die for!!!
I'm not sure what is this dish called. It's deep fried tofu with bonito shavings. Very good!
It was Sanma season when we were there. All the fish was flown in from Japan..FRESH!!!
Dad ordered. I'm not sure what it's called but it was freakin' yummy!
It's some kind of fish head soup.
It was soooooo good that we ordered 3 more portions. When we checked the bill, we found out each portion costs RM80. It was pricey but it was worth the price.
Here's everyone helping to make the Mee Hoon Kueh. It's also known as Pan Meen. Most of the Pan Meen you'll find at hawker stalls are made using pasta maker. It's more efficient and less labor intensive compared to our free-formed Mee Hoon Kueh! LOL!
The soup usually consists of ikan bilis (anchovies) or chicken bones. Every family has its own recipe.
Here's how the Mee Hoon Kueh turned out! Yummy!
My first aunt made steamed pomfret with ham choi.
My dad ta pau-ed some yong tau foo
The spread! I made a vaggie tray and chocolate cake. Look! That's my cousin Hong!
My dad read about this kopitiam on the newspaper and we went there for breakfast this morning. Unlce Lee Kopitiam is located in Taman Tun. If you're coming from PJ, take a right at the traffic lights after the Taman Tun Market...it's the second last shop on your left.
Overall, the food was ok. I'd go there again for the Prawn Mee. I wouldn't mind trying the Curry Mee and Yam Cake. I didn't like cold Teh Si though. The tea wasn't ready made so they made some on the spot and added ice to it. The ice melted really quick and tea didn't taste that good.