To be honest, I had kind of avoided Chopsuey Cafe when it first opened. Early reviews by both press and bloggers weren’t entirely favorable. But, a few months ago, my sister-in-law J, who has impeccable taste, recommended that we go there for brunch. And I’m so glad she did. Since then, I’ve been back several times, each time becoming more and more enamored with this elegant yet oh-so-kitschy restaurant tucked away in a corner in Dempsey Hill. In the end, I’ve come to the conclusion that all of those critics who pooh-poohed this marvelous little Chinesey eatery, well, just simply didn’t get it.
My family’s just returned from a whirlwind trip to Fukuoka over the long weekend, and boy, did we love it. It was a shamelessly gluttonous getaway spent, among other highlights, slurping our way through seven different bowls of Hakata-style ramen over two hours; stumbling upon a fruit farm in the countryside; and devouring what I am prepared to swear on my immortal soul is the best damned wagyu tenderloin steak on the planet…in a town with a population of less than 130,000. But we also ended up meeting some of the most colourful, amiable characters this side of Asia – from a steak chef who almost cooked for Obama, to a family of grape-growers who happily allowed us to pick our own grapes from the vine, to Satoshi Tokunaga, sushi chef-owner of Uotoku in Fukuoka city and my new favorite restaurant.
Even I’ll admit, there are days when I’ve simply had too much cheesecake, and a few too many croissants and deep-fried chicken wings. I’m often left feeling bloated, clogged up and frankly, quite disgusted with myself. To remedy this, I switch to temple-mode and focus on clean, fresh, light foods. Although I always aim to drag this phase on for as long as I can, it realistically only lasts a couple of days. I cram in as much goodness in this time as I can muster, and this minestrone features frequently as a temple-mode lunch.
There are few events that make it to the household calendar, but when they do, they’re often labeled by default as ‘extremely important – forget if you dare’; and this includes La Mother’s birthday. Having a mother with high expectations and exquisite tastes can be very intimidating, and it fell on me to deal with the arrangements after losing a battle of rock paper scissors with the father.
I might very well be the last food blogger in Asia to write about Soul Food Mahanakorn in Bangkok. Which is really kind of pathetic since I consider owner Jarrett Wrisley a friend. And I’ve known about this swanky eatery since before it even opened three years ago. Circumstances, however, had kept me from getting a chance to actually eat at Soul Food until just recently. The meal was really great, which is why I’m now, finally, able to give Jarrett a shout-out here.
I made biscotti for the first time when I was looking for a baked good to whip up that didn’t involve butter (I’d run out and was too lazy to run out for some) and utilised whatever ingredients I already had in my pantry. What’s great about biscotti is that the options to customise the flavours and additions to suit your current fancy are really quite myriad. Pistachio, cashew or almond; dried cranberry, apricot or orange zest; chocolate dipped or otherwise, etc etc etc. My first couple of attempts at making biscotti was the classic almond recipe from the Kitchenaid recipe book that came with my little red baby; and subsequently, I moved on to this more decadent version that would be chocolatey enough for a post-meal sweet.
Farmhouse is the new kid on the block; aside from being cool and chilled out, this new kid has a big, warm heart.
A number of years back, when I was in Bangkok on an overnight work trip, a good friend there took me out for a magnificent meal at a restaurant I had (at that time) never heard of. She in turn had first visited there as a guest of our mutual friend Chef David Thompson, who had hosted her along with a celebrity chef visiting from London. In the years since, Krua Apsorn has become one of the most celebrated restaurants in the City of Angels, and yet remains to this day one of its most modest and affordable.
Burma or officially Myanmar is on my travel list for the longest time. Unfortunately, it will be a while before I can make a trip there. In the meantime, I savour bits of Burma via their food. Recently, I was bestowed with Naomi Duguid’s Burma. I have yet to finish reading the (cook)book but I am quite taken by the pictures and the recipes. As Burma shares her border with China, India, Thailand and Bangladesh, Burmese cooking involves ingredients such as shallots, fish sauce, and limes that are familiar to those of us in Singapore. However, the preparation for some of the dishes is unique to Burma.
I am a total ice cream addict. On top of that, since my wife S makes some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted, in the years since she first bought her commercial ice cream machine, I’ve become a rather discerning (or spoiled depending on who you ask) ice cream lover. Which means that any new ice cream has to be pretty damned good if it is going to impress me. Which is exactly what the flavours I tasted from Singapore’s newest ice cream brand, The Inspired Chef, did.