Wagyu and fries

I’ll be getting back to my posts on Shanghai over the next week or so, but first I want to write about one of the best meals I’ve had recently. One of the great things about it is that I had it at home. Which to me is the best place to eat good food. Don’t get me wrong. I love going out to eat. I adore discovering small, hidden gems. I get a kick out of eating in dingy street stalls and coffee shops that, in defiance of their appearances, serve fantastic food. I also love the almost theatrical experience of going to a high-class restaurant, from dressing up for the occasion to service that operates at a smooth hum to the unveiling of delicious and artistically plated food. But nothing beats eating at home, simply because eating at home is completely relaxing. You don’t have to dress up. A pair of shorts and a T-shirt is fine, even with the fanciest food. You don’t have to put up with any snooty sommelier when choosing what wine you want to drink. Just get up, go to the wine fridge and pull out whatever you feel like. You don’t have to deal with noisy, annoying customers at the next table. The only people in the room are the ones you invite. And best of all, you choose exactly what you want to eat. There’s no chance of sitting down, looking at a menu which has nothing appealing on it, or ordering something only to hear that the dish you’ve asked for is sold out. You (or your loved one) buy the ingredients. You (or your loved one) cook the food.

A few weeks back, thanks to famed-Nonya cookbook author and cooking instructor Shermay Lee, my wife S and I were contacted by a guy named Steve Loh. Steve is fronting a new company called The Upper Cut, which is bringing in top quality Australian Wagyu beef and selling it to both individuals and restaurants. The Upper Cut claims that most “Wagyu” on the market is actually beef from cows that have been cross-bred between Japanese Wagyu and Angus or a similar breed. Their Wagyu, they state, is genetically pure. And therefore much, much better, with better marbling and fuller flavor.

For those who don’t know, Wagyu (or Kobe) beef is famed for its marbling (which in layman’s terms refers to the wonderful streaks of fat running throughout the meat). It’s equally well-known for its ridiculously high prices. To put it really simply, the more marbled the meat, the more you pay.

After a few emails and a couple of phone calls, Steve generously offered to let us try some of his Wagyu, hoping that we’d like it and then tell friends and chefs about his company. He sent over two steaks each (each weighing about 220g) of 450 day aged grain-fed Wagyu Striploin and 450 day aged grain-fed Wagyu Ribeye. Each had a marbling grade of 7. For reference, a top USDA Ribeye would have a grade of between 4 and 5. Wagyu, on the other hand and at the top end, can have a grade of up to 12. Here’s a picture of two of the 4 steaks we were sent. The one on the left is the the Ribeye; the other the Striploin. As you can see, even at grade 7, these steaks are beautifully marbled.

We decided to invite two friends who we knew would really appreciate these gorgeous hunks of meat to join us. We also went out the day before our meal and splurged a bit, buying a brand-new Tefal deep fryer (model 4008002 pro-fryer). Both S and I are big fans of pommes frites. And while we’ve tried making them at home in the past, we’ve never been satisfied with our efforts. Frying them in a wok is just too messy. And oven-baking frozen ones has never really produced fries with the right texture. I’d been advocating for a deep fryer in order to make and serve better chips for quite a while, but S had always resisted. Buying a deep fryer to my darling and very health-conscious wife was the surest way to ensure that we’d never eat healthily again. (Oddly enough, the same idea never crossed her mind when she bought an industrial ice cream maker a few years ago–not that I’m complaining, her ice creams are out of this world.) So, I was slightly amazed when she (finally) agreed to buy one. I guess the prospect of eating a beautiful steak with substandard fries finally got to her. Here’s a (press) picture of our new baby.

To complement the steak and fries, I made a mushroom sauce and S whipped up a fresh batch of Bernaise. We also set out some mustard and some organic plum tomato relish. We seasoned the steaks with a little salt and pepper–meat this good doesn’t really need anything else–and seared them over high heat. I had been told by a chef-friend that I trust that this was the best way to eat Wagyu, seared almost to the point of crispy on the outside, but as rare or as raw as possible inside. After cooking, we let the meat rest for a good 5 minutes before serving it with a final sprinkle of Fleur de Sel.

The steaks were excellent. Full of flavor. Soft but not too soft. All of us preferred the Ribeye more than the Striploin. It seemed to melt in our mouths just that much more than the Striploin. But that’s kind of like saying, “I liked the Porsche and the Ferrari, but I prefer the Ferrari; it had more zip.” Quite frankly, we were damn happy to have both kinds of steaks and would have been equally ecstatic with either–just like I’d be happy with either the Porsche or the Ferrari. Of course, the problem with eating the Wagyu is that now, any other steak is not going to match up.

The pommes frites, I should also add, were exceptional. I can’t believe we hadn’t bought a deep fryer sooner. They were perfect, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. And easy to cook. We sprinkled them with some of the Murray River Lake Salt that I love and devoured them with the Bernaise and the tomato relish.

With the meal, we enjoyed a gorgeous wine, a Joseph Phelps’ 1999 Insignia (red table wine). This wine was rated by Robb Report in 2003 as the best domestic (American) wine released that year. It’s a beautiful, fruit-driven and jammy wine, soft and not too tannic.

As I said at the beginning of this post, this was a fantastic meal. Great company, beautiful ingredients, the perfect bottle of wine and all of it without leaving my home.

If you’re interested in trying Steve’s delicious Wagyu for yourself, please click over to the link below. While expensive, it really is worth it.
The Upper Cut

DMBLGIT #10 WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Greetings and salutations! I’ve just returned from a fantastic eating and shopping holiday in Shanghai. I’ll try and post about some of the great food I, my wife and 2 traveling companions consumed over the past week. But, first, something so many of you have been waiting for… the results of Does My Blog Look Good In This #10.

First, for those of you who emailed me on the 27th (October) or later, I apologize for not being able to sneak you into the judging. I had, before leaving town, emailed the judges the entries and while traveling could not add new pictures to the list.

And so, the best food shot posted by a food blogger in the month of September is a beautiful shot of apples taken by Andrew of SpittoonExtra.

Andrew is also our Aesthetics Champ this month. The first runner-up in that category is a shot taken by Cookie Crumb of I’m Mad and I Eat. It’s a great, slightly zen shot.

This month’s Eatability Champ was taken by Stephen of Stephencooks.

It’s a mouth-watering shot of some delicious-looking pear bread pudding.

Our Originality Champ is a delightful picture taken by Shauna of Gluten-free Girl.

Congrats to all the winners and many thanks to the 46 bloggers whose entries we evaluated and the few extras that came in a tad too late to take part. Also, huge thanks go to this month’s judges:

Laura from Cucina Testa Rossa
Michele from Oswego Tea
Monkey Gland from Jam Faced
Tara from Seven Spoons
Lynn from To Short Term Memories

All the best to all food bloggers, friends and readers. Stay tuned for my super-yummy Shanghai report.

DMBLGIT 10th Edition

Greetings from Cheltenham, England, where, while travelling, I’ve just been reminded (thanks Stephen) that I have agreed to host the 10th Edition of “Does My Blog Look Good in This”. It’s quite an honor to host this event and I am really looking forward to putting together a great team of judges and looking at all your yummy pictures.

Please send the URL to the image you are entering from your September posts to me at aun@chubbyhubby.net. Also, please include:

1. the name of your blog
2. where you are located
3. your name (or how you’d like to be referred)

As in all things, there are a few rules:

* You may only submit one photo
* The photo must be food/drink related
* The photo must have been taken by you
* The photo must have appeared on your blog in the month of September

The photo with the highest score based on the following criteria will be selected as the “Grand Champion”.

* Aesthetics – “Would it look good on the cover of Gourmet?”
* Eatability – “Do we drool just looking at it?”
* Originality – “Damn! I wish I had thought of that!”

The highest scoring photos for each category will be given the “Aesthetics Champ”, “Eatability Champ”, and “Originality Champ” awards.

Because I’m travelling, I haven’t had time to finalize judges but will be trying to do so in the next few days and will post who they are asap.

And the info you’ve been waiting for, the deadline for submissions will be October 25th. I will try and post the results by the end of October.

Many thanks and I look forward to seeing the pix.

SHF #12: Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Custard Pie

I rarely take part in Sugar High Friday. Unlike über-dessert chef-bloggers like Keiko or J, I’m much more comfortable cooking savory entrées and main courses. As I’ve written before, dessert is the domain of my darling wife S.

This month’s challenge is being hosted by Elise of Simply Recipes. Elise has asked us to make custard-based desserts. Digging out a recipe from Susan G Purdy’s The Perfect Pie, S prepared a really yummy Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Custard Pie.

I like pies a lot and pumpkin pies especially. It could be partly because of what it represents–wonderfully crisp Fall days and holidays. But it’s also because they just taste so durned good. I love the smooth creamy filling, not too sweet, slightly spiced, contrasted with a good, flaky crust.

S made the pie with a can of organic pumpkin purée that I had bought eons ago. Since then, every so often–only once or twice each week (yah, I know, I can be annoyingly persistent)–I’d drop a hint to S that it would be wonderful if she were to make a pumpkin pie from it.

The pie was delicious. And I think S is happy to have finally fulfilled my (repeated) request. In other words, I have a suspicion that she’s satisfied to have finally shut me up.

P.S. Elise’s round-up is up. Please click here to check it out.

A special dinner revisited

S and I got married on 9 September 2001. To celebrate our anniversary this year, we decided to recreate our wedding dinner–for ourselves and for two close friends who weren’t able to attend the wedding. We were married at the Sandalford Winery in Swan Valley, Western Australia. And unlike many other couples that we know, S and I not only got to eat all of our wedding dinner, we also really enjoyed what we ate. As two obsessive foodies, we had insisted on these two things. Firstly, we had set-up a little photo studio in the corner of the room where the dinner was being served. So, instead of moving from table to table to have photographs taken with all of our guests, we invited our guests to pose for photographs whenever they felt like it, throughout the meal. We had left a stack of white boards and markers with the photographer. Our friends were asked to write messages on the boards and pose with them. Secondly, we worked really hard on planning the menu, meeting Sandalford’s incredibly understanding and talented chef several times in the months leading up to the wedding. We planned a menu based on some of our favorite dishes. On the menus placed on each table, we then explained the significance of each dish.

Our first course at the wedding dinner was a squid ink linguini with fresh seafood and snowpeas. The menu description read, “A delightfully light dish Chef Margaret wowed us with on our last visit to Sandalford’s.” For last night’s re-enactment, we tweaked the dish quite a bit, making instead a spaghettini with prawns and petits pois (pictured at the start of the post). The prawns and peas were cooked in a paste made from coriander, curry leaves, garlic, chili, salt, olive oil and prawn oil. The pasta was then tossed with this and served with a bit of freshly grated parmesan.

Our second course at the wedding was confit of Atlantic salmon. Our menu read, “A signature Tetsuya offering that CH sometimes whips up in the kitchen–evidence that he won the girl over with his kitchen prowess.” For last night’s meal, I made a confit of salmon with nameko mushrooms. I marinated the sashimi grade salmon for a day in grapeseed oil infused with coriander, basil, garlic, pepper, and the zest of one orange. The salmon was then cooked for 7 minutes at 100 degrees Celsius. I covered the top of the salmon with a bit of chopped, shiso-flavored hijiki and a small spoonful of ikura. With the salmon, I served wonderfully fresh nameko mushrooms which I had sauteed in French butter.

Next at the wedding was a fillet of beef topped with coriander pesto. S had written on the menu, “The first dish, stolen from Peter Gordon’s Sugar Club, that S cooked for the boy. Thankfully, he survived.” For yesterday’s dinner, we had picked up some gorgeously marbled Australian wagyu striploin. I made the pesto yesterday as well, first crushing the fresh coriander, basil, young garlic, toasted pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan in a ribbed Japanese mortar, and then blending it into a smooth paste. To serve with the wagyu and pesto, I whipped up some yummy mashed potatoes (made with loads of butter).

To finish off the meal, both at the wedding and last night, we had a cheese plate and a cake. The cheese was Pavé d’Affinois served with fresh honeycomb. Our menu read, “CH’s favorite cheese, which quickly became S’s favorite too, after two beautiful meals at a little Thomas Keller-owned bistro in Napa Valley called Bouchon.” The cake was a Strawberry Shortcake, because as S wrote on the menu, “Wedding cake should always be yummy!” With the dinner, we had some Watermelon martinis (I love our juicer), followed by a Curly Flat Chardonnay (1999). While slightly tart, the buttery Chardonnay worked well with the pasta and the salmon. With the beef, we had a bottle of a Valentini Cerasuolo (2002) that I had brought back from my June trip to Venice. I had both read and been told that this wine was Italy’s best Rosé, so I was expecting quite a lot from it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that impressed. Nonetheless, it was a great meal, and I was glad to be able to share it with S again and to introduce it to two good friends who missed it the first time around.

Another cool site

While typing my last post, something kept bugging me. No, it wasn’t the golden retriever sitting on my foot asking me if, by chance, I had any treats at hand. It was the fact that I was forgetting to do something. This morning, it hit me. In that post, I mentioned three blogs that I’ve come to enjoy over the past month or two. But I realized, in a fit of panic and sweat, that I forgot to mention the newish blog that has made me chuckle more than any of the others (in a good way). That blog is Jam Faced by a fellow male food blogger who calls himself Monkey Gland. So, if you get a chance, check out his site. His current post on eating at St John has left me drooling over my keyboard. I also like the fact that he’s even more obsessed with changing his site’s header than I am.

Back after a break…

It feels like years since I last posted. In reality, it’s only been a little more than a week. But it feels much longer. The past couple weeks have been really busy. My team at work has been involved in a huge project that’s taken up days, nights and even our weekends. But it’s now over, so it’s time to start eating and cooking again.

S and I did manage to squeeze one great meal in recently, on Sunday night. A friend of ours, food writer Kevin Gould (author of Dishy and Loving And Cooking With Reckless Abandon), was in town for the Singapore Writers Festival. We had him and a couple of other friends over for a home cooked meal. Because I’ve been so busy, S did most of the work. I made only the first course, Scallops with Herb Dressing, from a recipe from Jane Lawson’s Yoshoku. S made the rest of the delicious dinner: Roasted Duck Ravioli in a Sage and Butter Sauce; Oolong Tea Steeped Quail Egg and Pork Belly; and Sago Gula Melaka with Coconut Ice Cream. Unfortunately, I was too busy enjoying both the food and the company of good friends and I forgot to take any photographs until after dinner was over, which explains the picture above. (Actually, S claims that since I was seated next to and opposite two gorgeous young women I forgot myself entirely.)

S and I are slightly obsessive cookbook buyers. A good chunk of my monthly paycheck goes towards supporting both Border’s and Kinokuniya. One of our favorite recently acquired books has to be Jane Lawson’s Yoshoku. When S and I first saw it, I have to admit that we weren’t inclined to buy it. After all, it was “Japanese food western style” written by an Aussie whose work we weren’t too familiar with. But once we took a look inside, we knew we had to pick up this easy-to-use and gorgeous collection. Ms Lawson’s recipes looked both easy and delicious while Mikkel Vang’s pictures were both mouth-watering and clean.

Since picking up this book, we’ve made Ms Lawson’s Scallops with Herb Dressing and Shichimi Schnitzel. Tonight, we made her Pan-fried Pork Cutlets and Nashi. It was, as the other two dishes were, delicious. I’ve posted a rather large picture of it above. I’ve also flagged Ms Lawson’s Japanese Hambaagaa with Mushroom Sauce, Lamb Racks in Miso, Slow Roasted Duck with Yuzu Peaches, Soba with Sauteed Pork, Eggplant and Chillli, and Oysters with Japanese Flavours. I’m hoping that over the next few months we’ll have time to make all of these. And I’m sure that they’ll all be equally yummy.

On another, and slightly random, note, a number of wonderful fellow food bloggers kindly mentioned me and linked to me on Blogday (which was on 31 August). I just wanted to thank all of them and very, very belatedly do my own little part by mentioning three blogs that I only discovered a while ago and have been enjoying. Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit is a fun site by a very talented baker who specializes in, no surprise, cupcakes… which I love. Sweet Oven is a fun site by a fellow Singaporean who has decided to spend one night a week in one of Singapore’s fanciest French restaurants. I really enjoy reading Nosheteria. She knows her food and writes passionately and eloquently about it. Her site not only makes me hungry but always provides something to think about.

No IMBB; Kylie Kwong and Jimmy Chok

It’s been an amazingly busy week. So busy in fact that I wasn’t able to find any time to take part in this month’s Is My Blog Burning? challenge. Of course, J over at K

uidaore created enough amazing dishes for a half dozen eager bloggers, so I doubt my lack of participation will even be noticed. Despite my crazy schedule, I did find the time to attend a pretty amazing dinner on Saturday night.

Aussie celeb chef Kylie Kwong is in town to take part in the Singapore Writers Festival. One of her events, and the quickest sell-out event in the Festival, was a dinner at Poppi, a Modern Australian restaurant in Legends (the former Fort Canning Country Club). The menu was a collaboration between Ms Kwong and Poppi’s head chef, Chris Millar. For starters, we were served 3 sharing platters of Sashimi of Kingfish and Ocean Trout; Salad of Squid, Chinese Pork, Baby Herbs and Nolans Rd Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil; and Tasmanian Spiced Chicken and Prawn Salad with Pomegranate, Figs and Cinnamon Spiced Almonds. For mains, we first had a Coconut and Lime Crusted Garoupa in a Smoky Coconut Broth with Asian Herbs. This was followed with a Crisp Skinned Magret of Duck with Fresh Ruby Grapefruit Sauce and Sauteed Asian Greens. This second main was particularly exciting because it was a variation of the amazing crispy duck that Ms Kwong serves up in Billy Kwong, her restaurant in Sydney. For dessert, we had Poached Stone Fruits with Creme de Framboise, Lime Curd and Vanilla Bean Anglaise. It was a good dinner with great company. I was fortunate enough to get seats at the table Ms Kwong herself was at. Other dining companions turned out to be famed New York Times writer RW Apple Jr and Makansutra founder KF Seetoh.

My luck only got better because Sunday, S and I had the great fortune of attending a private lunch in honor of RW Apple Jr (“Johnny” to his friends), prepared by one of Singapore’s best but often underrated chefs, Jimmy Chok. Here’s a picture of Jimmy explaining our menu to Johnny.

The menu, and the food, I have to say, was amazing. I’ve eaten Jimmy’s cooking many, many times. And I’ve always enjoyed his food. But it was never like it was today. Today, perhaps because he wasn’t cooking in a busy restaurant or perhaps because he was hoping to impress Johnny and then get written up favorably and famously in the New York Times or perhaps because he was just in a good mood, the food was particularly inspired. It was both terrific and inspiring. Here’s our menu:


Hot Seared Scallops with Prawn Ravioli and Clam Laksa Leaf Nage


Marinated Angel Hair with Australian Abalone


Tian of Lobster with Mango and Pea Puree, Lobster Bisque Emulsion and White Truffle Oil


Slow Cooked Chilean Sea Bass with Roast Duck Dumpling, Terrine of Duck Liver and Soy Mirin Reduction


Coriander Crusted Rack of Lamb

For dessert, we had a rather modern take on ‘goreng pisang’ (fried bananas). And to help wash down all this yummy food, we enjoyed some Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1996 and then some Torbrecks The Steading 2002. Jimmy is currently the executive chef of The Academy Bistro, which is on level 1 of the new Supreme Court building and just opened a couple of weeks ago. The Bistro is open every weekday for lunch and open Fridays for lunch and dinner. On weekends and on weeknights from Monday to Thursday, Jimmy is available for private catering. To reach him, you can email him at jimmy_chok@sal.org.sg.

SHF #11: vanilla coffee madeleines and warm mocha tarts

I’ve never been much of a baker. Baking requires precision. It requires having the patience to measure ingredients properly, which I’ve never actually had. I’ve always been one of those cooks who enjoys eyeballing his measurements. Terms like “salt to taste” were written for over-confident lazy guys like me (of course, some gals would argue that all us guys are over-confident and lazy). The theory is that with enough experience, one instinctively knows how much of each ingredient to add to one’s dish. Of course, it’s just a theory, which as soon as I pull out our lemon-curd colored Kitchenaid mixer is often proved wrong.

Let’s just say that my wife S, who is obsessively precise, is the baker in the family. Which means that, while we share kitchen duties, desserts are her domain. Which further explains why I’ve never taken part in Sugar High Friday before. Until now.

This month’s SHF is being hosted by Ronald of Love Sicily and is a coffee themed challenge.

I love coffee. When I was in university in the USA, I was a total coffee addict, drinking an average of 12 cups a day. Back then, I was a tad silly; my java of choice was made from those frou-frou flavored beans… you know, “vanilla hazelnut” or “chocolate peppermint”, things like that. Fortunately, a study stint in Vienna and an internship in Paris introduced me to proper coffee. Good, strong, small cups of coffee. My cuppa of choice these days is espresso. I like that it’s small, thick, and powerful. I also like mine sweet. I’m still not enough of a purist to take my espresso black. At home, we make ours with the most wonderful wedding present, a day-glo orange Illy Francis Francis.

For this month’s SHF, I decided to make one of the few baked goods that I’m good at, madeleines, this time flavored with espresso and vanilla. I’m a bit of a madeleine nut. I don’t get any Proustian flashbacks when eating them, no early childhood warm fuzzies. I just like, no, love the way they taste. The crisp surface, the buttery cakey insides. I particularly like mini-madeleines; not only is there more of that wonderful crunch, they’re also small enough to dunk in a small coffee cup. Plus they’re just plain more fun to eat.

For these delectable treats, I adapted a recipe from Patricia Wells’ Paris Cookbook, adding 3 tablespoons of espresso and a half teaspoon of pure vanilla essence instead of the lemon rind Mrs Wells asks for as well as a tad more flour to the mix. I made the batter last night, letting it sit in the fridge overnight in order to bake up this batch for breakfast this morning. There’s nothing more wonderful than the smell of baked goods early in the morning except the smell of baked goods combined with the aromas of a good, strong cup of coffee–which as you can see, I enjoyed with my madeleines.

Let’s just say that I had a really good morning.

To compliment my rather limited baking skills, S decided to surprise me after work with a coffee themed treat–something she knew I’d enjoy but also want to boast, er… blog about. Using a recipe from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich, she made a batch of Warm Mocha Tarts. Ms Medrich’s recipe is for one large tart. For ease of eating, S made me 8 small ones. She must have baked them in the late afternoon because they were still a little warm when I got home. The sweet smells of chocolate, coffee, sugar and butter still hung in the air. The dogs, greedy little beasts that they are, were definitely turned on by the tarts. They sat, refusing to move, by the dining room table, where S had left the tarts to cool. A puddle of drool had even begun to collect by Alix’s mouth. Ignoring them (for their own good of course–chocolate being toxic for dogs), I grabbed one of the tarts and quickly bit into it. The filling was warm, velvety and decadently delicious. The crust, made from sweet cookie dough, offered a delightfully light, crumbly, buttery contrast to the thick rich coffee-enhanced chocolate custard. While I would have been more than happy to eat my way through the lot of them, I managed to exercise enough restraint to stop long enough to take a quick photo. After which, of course, I ate another one.

Two great flavors… x2

Today’s post is about two sets of flavors that I (and I’m sure others) love pairing. The first is fish with green curry. Specifically, I love pan-roasting or frying filets of what Rick Stein calls “large round fish” (obviously for want of a more inventive way of describing them)–like cod or butterfish–and saucing them with a sort of green curry pesto that S and I came up with. In the past, we always served this delicious duo with cous-cous. Because I’ve been trying to cut down on carbs in the evening, tonight we plated the dish with some sautéed eggplant.

The dish is pretty simple to make. Just get some really good quality filets of cod or another similar fish. Cook them as you prefer–fry, bake, pan-roast, pan-braise, etc. My favorite way is to sear the fish skin side down in a hot pan. Then when the skin is nice and crisp, flip the fish over and add beurre monté into the pan until the fish are half-covered. Let them simmer for 5-10 minutes, depending on how thick the filets are.

For the green curry pesto, you can either make it from scratch or, if you’re lazy like me, buy a good quality paste and start from there. Chop up an onion and 4-5 cloves of garlic. Fry them up in a tablespoon of oil in a hot sauce pan. Then add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Chop up a small chili pepper and toss it in the pan. Pour in a half cup of chicken stock and add 4 tablespoons of coconut milk. Heat this but don’t let it come to a boil. Pour the curry into a blender, add all of a small packet of basil (around two handfuls), and blend until smooth. Pour the sauce back into your pan and add more coconut milk or stock according to your tastes.

The other flavor combination that I adore is chocolate and lemon. The above was my dessert this evening, and I gotta thank Melissa of The Traveler’s Lunchbox for inspiring S to make this SUPER-AMAZING chocolate gelato (It’s recipe #2 in case you too want to make this for a loved one). The gelato is paired with a simple lemon cookie, made from a recipe from Carole Walter’s Great Cookies. Years ago, a once-amazing French restaurant here in Singapore used to make the most delicious chocolate-lemon soufflé. I was obsessed with it, and despite the ridiculously expensive price (seriously, soufflés and coffee for two was around S$50), I had it as often as I could. I have to say that no matter how good that soufflé was, the above combo–a scoop of gelato and a cookie–simple as it is, was better by far. Come to think of it, perhaps it’s the simplicity that makes it so much more appealing.

Steak haché and a great gift

Ever since S and I first noticed that Isetan, one of the local Japanese supermarkets, began carrying minced wagyu, I’ve been dying to get some and make my own steak haché—which, unless you happen to wish you were living in Paris (like me!), or are Frasier or Niles (who don’t exist anyway), you’d probably call a “burger”. Last night, I mixed up two trays with an egg, an onion (diced), some Worcestershire sauce, some plum tomato relish we had picked up at Bunalun, bread crumbs, a bit of salt and a sprinkle of pepper and made two generous wagyu burger patties. Under the patties we mixed some rocket and spinach with some toasted pine nuts, all dressed lightly with a Champagne vinaigrette. Over the burger, we spooned a super-tasty truffle mayonnaise that S made from combining a recipe from the Balthazar cookbook with Tetsuya’s truffle salsa. It was a lovely, mostly carb-free, dinner and one of the more elegant burger meals I’ve ever had or made.

On another note, I was pleasantly surprised today by a package from a friend who has just returned from London. Inside were these gorgeous Nigella Lawson Serving Hands. S was especially thrilled; she’s slightly obsessed with all of Nigella’s beautiful products. And since we haven’t yet seen any of her products for sale in Singapore, getting anything from her range is a real treat. Isn’t it wonderful when friends get you great gifts that you’ve been coveting for a long time?