An entremets primer: Japanese cult pastry chef Hidemi Sugino’s Fruits Rouges

Hidemi Sugino Fruits Rouge mousse cake

I first discovered Japanese mousse cake savant, Hidemi Sugino (along with many of his other fans within the blogosphere, it seems) through Keiko’s gorgeous blog. I found myself repeatedly returning to her beautifully precise renditions of his recipes in Le goût authentique retrouvé. And when I finally had the opportunity to taste the master’s work in Tokyo, I was enthralled by the lightness of his creations, as well as the subtle and sophisticated layering of complementary and contrasting flavours. They were simply the best mousse cakes I’d ever tasted (here’s Nick’s superb dissection of some of Sugino’s entremets). I promptly bought a copy of Le goût authentique retrouvé on that fateful first visit in 2007—disregarding the fact that the recipes were all in Japanese. I somehow figured that I would be able to decipher them based upon the ingredients listed in French despite the fact that I don’t speak French either! Continue Reading →

Crab Fat Linguine (guest post)

I know I’ve been really delinquent with posting. I still have my truffle hunt to write about, plus some other recommendations from my recent trip to Perth. And I’ve just come back from Kyoto, so expect a Kyoto Guide in the coming month. But, to keep you entertained for now, I have begged a friend to step in with a guest post. Amazingly, this awesome hottie who usually charges quite a bit for her words has generously agreed to lend a hand. Originally from New York, Amy Ma is a trained chef and food writer based in Hong Kong (and a fellow college alumn–go baby blue!). She is a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post and Wall Street Journal (Weekend Asia). If you’re looking for a little less food and a little more Amy, check out her weekly HK Magzine column, where she muses on the underbelly of HK’s culinary world: http://hk-magazine.com/columnists/amy-ma?type=feature. Oh, and if you ever meet her, ask her about the “thong story”. Made me laugh until it hurt.

An Ode to Crab Fat
by Amy Ma

A lot of things don’t make it onto the official Chubby Hubby blog. Like the fact that he was kind enough to offer me a bottle of crab fat he picked up on his recent Manila trip. And that I was rude enough to accept, and make him send a care package all the way to Hong Kong.

Called aligue or taba ng talangka (in Tagalog), crab “fat” is really crab roe, or the coral-colored blubbery goodness you scoop out from underneath the shell and in between the body cavity of your crustacean friend. The Shanghainese have a similar product rendered out of the hairy crab, but it’s not to be confused with the Japanese kani miso or crab “brain” – really just crab guts – a grayish, liver-tasting paste from the Hokkaido crab. Not my favorite. (Keep reading)

Per Se, New York City

perse1.jpg

I’m skipping our trip to Los Angeles and Orange Country briefly in order to write about one of the most amazing meals that S and I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. (We do have a post on California in the works; that should be up by early next week.) This past Sunday, we had the honor of dining at, according to Restaurant magazine, the 9th best restaurant in the world. There are few things that need to be said about either Thomas Keller or Per Se. Both need no introduction. Better writers than I have described Keller’s skills, talent and passion in print and on the web marvelously. If you are one of the 4 persons on earth who hasn’t heard of Thomas Keller, pick up a copy of Michael Ruhlman’s The Soul of a Chef; a section of the book is devoted to telling this kitchen-magician’s story. Per Se is Keller’s New York outpost and one of only three three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the city.

Per Se is beautiful. From the moment you enter, you feel like you’re in a different world (which is a trait of some of the other, great three-star restaurants we’ve been to). Everything from the service to the interiors to the dining accessories are so perfectly polished and elegant. Upon sitting down, we were offered some Champagne, which we immediately accepted. And thus began a four and a half hour gastronomic extravaganza. The food was exceptional. The service was brilliant and we had three great bottles of wine. All I can really say about Per Se is that you must visit. Do whatever it takes to get one of their coveted reservations; it is an experience worth having and savoring. I’ve decided that instead of trying to describe every course (which would be a repetitive exercise of me writing, “yummy”, “sexy”, “delicious”, “gorgeous”, “witty”, and “brilliant” a dozen different times), it would be simpler to simply list what I ate (I say “I” because S and our dining companion J had slightly different things on their menu). I’ve also numbered the courses that are pictured (and grouped them) so you can easily refer to the pictures on this post. Continue Reading →

Super-Sunday truffle pizzas

What do you do when a friend gives you a couple boxes of uni (sea urchin) and a jar filled with not one but two and a half summer truffles? Well, after whooping for joy for a good half an hour, you call some equally greedy friends and invite them over for a super-decadent Sunday lunch. It also turned out to be one of the longest lunches S and I have ever hosted. We started a little after 1pm and only served dessert (which was very kindly provided by the gorgeous, skillful and (annoyingly) skinny J of Kuidaore) a little after 5pm. Continue Reading →

Just peachy

I like simple old-fashioned desserts. One of my favorites is peach melba. Firstly, peaches are one of the few fruits I really enjoy eating. (It’s a really short list: peaches, mangosteens, clementines, berries, musk melon, and mangoes. Oddly enough, while I’m not a great fruit eater, I love drinking fresh juices.) Secondly, my mother use to make peach melba for my brother and me when we were really young.

A traditional peach melba, as invented by the great Escoffier in 1892, consists of peach halves, served with vanilla ice cream and topped with a sweet raspberry sauce. My mother’s version is a bit of a departure. She topped hers with vanilla ice cream, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, peanuts and whipped cream. Not especially authentic but delicious nonetheless, especially for a kid with a sweet tooth.

S and I picked up some lovely peaches from our favorite fruit seller this past weekend. I decided to use one of them to make my own easy-peasy-Japanesey peach melba. My plan was to simply slather S’s lovely vanilla ice cream over the peeled peach halves and devour it with some whipped cream while watching America’s Next Top Model (I know, I know… not really intellectual fodder, but it is fun!). However, when I told S my plans, she quickly convinced me that my dessert should be as beautiful as it is delicious.

She had some chocolate mayo cake leftover from her Bavarian timbale; amazingly, it was also still very fresh. She cut a small round from it with a metal ring. She then used the same metal ring to shape some vanilla ice cream, which she placed over a thin disk of the chocolate mayo cake. A peach half went on top of this and to really make me happy, she drizzled some chocolate sauce over the whole thing. I also made a small batch of whipped cream, which I liberally spread over the peach right before digging in. It was wonderful.


While totally unrelated to food, I’ve decided to include a photo I just took of our younger Golden Retriever Alix. After coming home from work last night, S–who likes to do this every 6 months or so–asked me to help her re-arrange the furniture in our living room. She likes the novelty of regularly changing the seating arrangements in and tweaking the look of our apartment. This way, she argues, we get the experience of new things without actually having to buy anything. Our most recent arrangement has resulted in our coffee table being taken out of the living room and parked in our store room. This has, in turn, opened up quite a bit of empty floor space, which Alix immediately decided was her territory and flopped down in. And stayed in for the next hour or so, all the time looking very pleased with herself. I just couldn’t resist snapping a picture of the pleased pooch and posting it.

Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla

Happy New Year!

I hope all of you had a wonderful, delicious and fun-filled New Year’s Eve feast. S and I had the pleasure of dining at a friend’s house. She had engaged the services of chef Jimmy Chok for the night. Jimmy whipped up an amazing 6 course feast for the 16 of us gathered together: seared scallop on a wakame tart; braised pork belly topped with a fried egg on a portobello mushroom; lobster ravioli in lobster bisque; Atlantic cod with vanilla leeks and salmon roe beurre blanc; lamb shank and porcini wrapped in phyllo pastry; and warm molten chocolate cake. It was a fantastic meal, enhanced by great company. Continue Reading →

Gingerbread tidings

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Building from my last post, here’s a bunch of gingerbread cookies that S had whipped up, but which I secretly–in the wee hours of the night/morning–adorned. I figured instead of the usual outlines of people, I’d have some fun. I do have to admit that I was somewhat inspired by contemporary artists Barbara Kruger–who was in town this past week–and Jenny Holzer, both of whom I admire and both of whom create art through text. I also really enjoyed the look on S’s face this morning when she saw what I had done–somewhere between mirth and annoyance. Heh heh… Happy Holidays and good eating!