Okay… I’ll admit it. I was actually a huge fan of the fusion food movement when it first emerged in the 1990s. But I think that’s also because my first experiences with fusion food — or East-West cuisine — were with chefs whose abilities to pair ingredients from the Orient and the Occident were actually (especially in retrospect) pretty exceptional. I’m talking about guys like Peter Gordon and Roy Yamaguchi. And while fusion became a bad word for a while, because of a whole slew of not-so-talented chefs who threw ingredients together without really understanding them, today, combining products and ingredients from around the world has become standard fare for many of our most celebrated chefs. But what’s important to understand is that way before someone decided to label East-West cuisine, it existed. One of my favourite early fusion dishes, and admittedly one of the oddest, is taco rice.
I have probably used this Dutch baby recipe every week since I first received a copy of Herbivoracious, fellow blogger Michael Natkin’s vegetarian cookbook, a few months ago. As T’s appreciation for food gradually extends beyond purees and other soft foods, I have amassed a range of breakfast recipes that appeal to both T and CH. Michael’s Dutch baby ticks a number of vital boxes for me.
When I read that the folks behind Papa Palheta were opening a new coffee bar on Tyrwhitt Road, I was thrilled for many reasons. First and most important, I live a stone’s throw away from there. In fact, my wife S and I like to take our 17-month old baby boy T to the surprisingly, extremely well-maintained public swimming pool on Tyrwhitt Road; so we know the area really well and are already frequent visitors to the street. Second, and related to the first reason, I’ve been advocating the Farrer Park neighbourhood to just about any and every restaurateur I can corner (some friends are quite sick of me). And while Tyrwhitt Road isn’t really in Farrer Park, it’s within walking distance. My hope is that, over the next year or so, more and better groovy cafes and boutiques will sprout up in the ‘hood, making it an even cooler area to live in. Third, I’ve been a fan of Papa Palheta and its founder Leon since he started out in the coffee business. So, I’m very happy to see how successful he’s become.
The curry mee I regularly partake in at the O&S Coffee shop in Paramount Gardens, Petaling Jaya is my security blanket. Comfort food is so much more than tracking back nostalgia or missing mum’s cooking. It’s an amalgam of senses that envelops us in safety, calmness and satisfaction. This dish is the perfect representation of Malaysian soul food. And for me, nothing quite hits the spot like a bowl of curry mee. Curry mee is basically noodles (mee=noodles) – usually a choice between several types such as egg noodles and rice vermicelli – submerged in a rich spicy broth. It comes served with a variety of condiments such as blood cockles, chicken, as well as shrimp and fried tofu.
Have you been to one of the ubiquitous tailors in Asia, perhaps in Singapore, Hong Kong or Thailand, or even Vietnam and China? Have you ever left less than satisfied? I have. Until I met Anthony Moynihan. Anthony is a fashion stylist extraordinare based in Shanghai, China. He has worked for top Asian fashion magazines, styled music videos and ad campaigns, created his own line of couture sold in Japan, done custom designs for Japanese pop stars and has helped many a client and friend learn how to look their best.
When my darling wife S and I choose a hotel to stay in, one of the most important factors (for us) is the food. While I realise that there are many that choose not to eat in the hotels they stay in, we tend to have at least one real meal (other than breakfast) if not more on property. To me, the food and beverage side of a hotel is as important as the room size, the service, and the architecture. When I choose to stay somewhere nice, I want to experience all that the hotel offers. And that means checking out their restaurants and bars (as well as their spa, gym, etc). When S and I checked into The Siam a few weeks back, knowing that the owners Kriss and Mel are real foodies, we were very much looking forward to exploring the hotel’s restaurants.
Over a decade ago, my next door neighbor, a stunning half Chinese, half British gal from Hong Kong met an equally handsome Thai rock star and fell in love. A number of years later, Kriss (the rock star, now also an actor) led S and me on a fun, rather amusing tour of his favourite old buildings in Bangkok, which culminated in us being chased out of the former Russian Embassy by security guards at two in the morning. Another couple of years later, Kriss showed us an amazing plot of land, on the river and in the old part of the city, that had been in his mother’s family for decades. He told us how he wanted to build a truly stunning, riverside, five-star urban resort there – something that would fit within his mother’s hotel company but that would also embrace his love of antiques, architecture, vintage glamour and luxury. That dream would eventually become The Siam, one of the most stunning hotels in Asia and easily the most significant new property to open in Thailand this year.
Two months ago, when we happened to have some extra Japanese cucumbers and carrots in the fridge, I thought I’d take advantage of T’s nap time to try out this quick Japanese pickle recipe. CH’s mom—who’d hung up her apron decades ago, long before I’d first met CH, and adamantly declines to cook—happened to be spending the day with T and offered to help. It was to be the first time in over a decade of marriage that I got the chance to cook alongside my mother-in-law.
A quick snapshot of a good friend tucking into a plate of some amazing linguine with fresh crab at Il Lido restaurant in Sentosa (Singapore). Il Lido’s always been a favourite of mine and my wife’s.
During a recent trip to Perth, I picked up a jar of Providore’s brinjal pickles. Once home, I had a taste of the pickle with plain white toast. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste – it was a mix of tomato flavours and mild curry spices. The brinjal (also known as eggplant or aubergine) itself was not too mushy. On its own, I do find the pickles slightly acidic (perhaps due to the pickling process), so I needed something to balance the acidity and elevate the curry spices. And the first thing that came to my mind was curried meatballs.