October 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
But listen. Listen – My fruit tart is singing! Please don’t say it was just a fruit tart – for fruit tarts don’t normally make me smile stupid like this. The strawberries, the kiwis, the rasberries and mandarines were mindblowingly fresh, and the custard – my god, an edible swimming pool in august. The whole thing was exactly what a garden on a swimming pool would taste like if it is translated into a dessert.
Hark the harold my cake sings.
Listen, going to Pastiche, is frankly the closest thing I’ve done to a pilgrimage in my life. It’s like going to church, but instead of bread and wine, you get cake. We worship at the altar of the old fashion coconut cake, and whisper prayers of faith into the depths of the banana cream pie. Our sermon? The beautiful crack sound that forms itself as the spoon hits the golden, caramelized surface of the butterscotch creme brulee.
I would travel 4 hours to Providence, trek over the supposedly famous river which I’ve forgotten the name of, pass street after street of Mafia operated restaurants – and behold, there it is – Pastiche.
Pastiche. Pas – teeeee – chhhhhhhhh. I would articulate Pastiche’s name like Humbert Humbert does Lolita’s.
Cakeism. My religion of the day.
June 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
6 a.m. Father’s Day. First thought: Why did I get salmon whyyy did I get salmon it’s not like sprawling it across bagels with cream cheese or throwing it in scrambled eggs or just curling it up like a flower on the side of the plate is not gonna make him fall asleep before he even arrives at the breakfast table. And then he’ll think, ‘What’s up with the breakfast setup- OH right, father’s day. Salmon… I was wishing I could have my normal, hearty instant noodles in MSG soup- UH OH… not scrambled eggs, I had been looking forward to poking that egg yolk from my sunny-side-up since 11 last night. Ah well, she tried. She’s a good daughter. Smile, just smile. Hmm What if I ask, would she-‘
So I tried to avoid that from happening.
Maybe it still did.
(Cream sauce was made from sauteed diced mushrooms, cream and a dash of soup powder.)
I have a certain affinity to crepes, probably because it is the only item my mom makes well, as mom is special in a way that she doesn’t, and basically couldn’t cook. And by that I mean she really doesn’t cook, at all. She would attempt to make congee and turn out something between soup and rice (which is i guess… the definition of congee – but it looked suspiciously like waterbugs in a murky pond). She would attempt to reheat a pork bun in the microwave and after two minutes, take it out and find it hard as crystallized bread. The next time, learning from her mistakes, she would attempt to steam it – and upon opening the lid of the pot after five minutes, find her bun swimming in boiling water and radiating soggy floury bubbles and her favorite glass bowl splintered into chunks because she couldn’t find the steam rack to hold the Chinese pastry up. (And she was using a pot because she couldn’t be bothered to use the proper steam wok.)
But crepes, she makes well. And apparently, according to myths of her recent attempts, vegetable soup as well.
I found the perfect crepe recipe on allrecipes.com. Click here for it.
But basically it’s mindblowingly simple. I’ve tried different flour-egg-milk proportions and so far, this has been the winner. Don’t follow the original recipe, you’ll find lumps in it. If that happens, put the mix through a sift.
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt
Beat together eggs, milk and water. Sift in flour. Mix well. Add butter and salt.
Heat up pan. Coat with butter. Pour in a (large) spoonful of mix. Make mix coat pan in circular motion. Around 1 minute on both sides.
And what is Father’s Day breakfast without some trace of intoxication involved?
I watch the stars from my window sill
The whole world is moving and I’m standing still
Some mornings… some mornings feel like this.
And others feel like this.
I can’t really say
Why everybody wishes they were somewhere else
But in the end, the only steps that matter
Are the ones you take all by yourself
You and me walk on, walk on, walk on.
The Weepies soundtracks my life.
June 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Scribbles from a while ago
I was in a kind of anti-macaron phase for a while when the pastries suddenly started popping up at every street corner in every spare bakery fridge space in Hong Kong. I got tired of its sweetness, its sickly sweetness.
Then this morning, my eyes picked out the word ‘macaron’ in mid post-breakfast stroll along west 23rd street, and given the scarcity of macaron availability in Manhattan (thank lord) (as in, relative to other sweet stars like cupcakes and donuts), I decided to pick out several.
Orange chocolate. Blueberry Vanilla. Lavender.
I was lifted back to the queue in Laduree, three years ago. The peek into the empty, dark, glowing Laduree Bar and its art noveau stools as the queue turns, the salespersons bustling around like Christmas elves behind the pastry bar and the rhythmic dance of gloved hands and colorful sweets and pastel green boxes on the counter. Then there was me, frenetically pointing at whatever that looks edible (everything), ordering in broken Fren-glish and nervously trying to look as untouristy as possible (like every other tourist in that queue).
But I came out on Champ-Elysee, alive, with my box of macarons.
Pierre Hermé, once dubbed by French Vogue as ‘The Picasso Of Pastry’, emphasizes that one should “[use] sugar like salt, in other words, as a seasoning to heighten other shades of flavor.”
The morning light from outside the window makes me squint a little. I closed one eye to scrutinize the cross section of the remaining half – the crumbly, cream-colored porous layers, and blueberry icing in between – threatening to melt while I waited for the sweetness from the last bite to die down.
Maybe, something glorious does happen with every pastel bite.
La Maison du Macaron, 132 W 23rd St (between Avenue Of The Americas & 7th Ave) New York, NY 10011
Price: 2.5 USD per macaron
Quote Source: Pierre Hermé website
There are just some songs I can never get tired of…
June 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
Look at this babe. Basking without the tiniest dollop of shame in butter and limelight. Not a hint of humbleness whatsoever. Bloody bastard…
Have I mentioned that I was, three months ago, a vegetarian? For environmental reason?
*Big, toothy smile*
My camera still hasn’t fallen apart. Might as well take advantage of that while it lasts. (Lost the lens cap though.)
I still don’t know how to spell ‘Häagen-Dazs’, I’ve to google it everytime.
Do you know, by the way, that the name ‘Häagen-Dazs’ is not a word of any language, that it is made to look Scandanavian to American eyes, and that its creator Reuben Mattus sat at the kitchen table for hours saying nonsensical words until he came up with a combination he liked? (An Ice Cream Show, 1999)
‘Hagoo..Haaaaaaagooooooo….Haaagaaah. Hagget. Hagega. Hagegen. Hagen…daaaaaaaaaaa….’
It’s a marketing strategy known as ‘foreign marketing’, as he thought Americans think highly of milk from Denmark.
Back to the pie – It is, to be honest, too sweet, too ginormous, too carby (carb-acious?), too gluttonous (a Rat has limits too) for my liking.
But then again, it’s an American steakhouse apple pie. The too-ness of the pie just seemed…hmmm, hugely appropriate.
To fathers all over the world as well.
One big gluttonous kiss from your favorite rat.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Shop 2&3, G/F, Lippo Centre, 89 Queensway, Admiralty
Decor: 5/5 (Love that shade of wood..)
Price: 500-900 HKD (dinner)
Five years from now, I’m going to remember: The steak…. I mean it’s a steakhouse. And they did put enough butter. And the apple pie, because it’s so, so, HUGE.
June 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
See I’m the kind of person who when it comes to making something to eat at home, finds herself confronted with several problems: I’m incredibly impatient, incredibly indecisive and incredibly fickle. In other words, I can’t eat the same breakfast twice in three weeks, I can’t be bothered to cook anything complicated, and when I have the luxury of time to stay home and make myself something, I would perch in front of the open fridge for half an hour deciding whether to use ham or bacon, and then end up pulling out 5 different type of cheeses, 3 types of meat, 3 types of bread or crackers, a few couple jars of seasonings and 2 eggs getting cooked in two different ways on the frying pan. Then I would take bits of this with bits of that and basically do a musical chair of breakfast items before settling on the combination that happens to suit my mood best that morning.
Usually when I am done with that, it looks like the inside of my fridge has come out for a carnival.
It was quite a romantic scene: the toast was just stationed there without expectations of any sort, then on comes a pink film of moist chicken breast, then several cool slabs of Stilton, then after a rather suspenseful pause — a cushion of scrambled eggs right off that richly buttered pan. It’s still not of age, and still a little shy and runny. The Stilton, obliged to melt under the heat, embraces the mellow yellow on top and the pinkness below in all its pungent goodness.
First comes the roughness of the bread against your tongue, then an eruption of runny eggs over to the sides at the top (you swear you hear the cooked part that thought it covered everything say ‘shit!’), and then a sudden sharp tug from the Stilton before it retreats apologetically to give you the sweet, humble taste of chicken breast.
Come to think of it, it’s not really scrambled… but it’s my way of cooking beaten eggs. It’s like making an omlette, but instead of having fillings inside, I leave some sneaky runniness in there.
Can you define joy for me in any other way? I think not. Not today.