bread yard

I’ve never been a huge fan of bread, and the last time I ate bread regularly would probably be in primary or secondary school when I would bring lunchboxes to school.  So when I first heard of bread yard opening up their new outlet at Fusionopolis, my first question was “Do they sell other stuff?”  It was only after I found out that bread yard was opened by friends of friends, and that some friends had even worked there before (one even helped plant a mini herb garden! – but it no longer exists), that I started to become more interested in visiting bread yard.

IMG_7352So when Benjamin (don’t know who he is? click here) asked me if I’d like to join him at bread yard with another church friend, I jumped at the opportunity, and even kept bugging him to arrange a time for us to go.  We finally settled for Saturday morning, nice and early at 9.30am.

FotorCreated1Upon arriving at bread yard punctually at half past nine, I was quite happy to see that there was no one there yet – I like quiet cafes, and also I feel less paiseh when taking photos.  I had done my research into their menu the night before, so I didn’t need to look at it again – I knew what I wanted to get.  Or I thought I did, until a staff member told me (after I asked) that they smoke the chicken and duck themselves.  You see, whenever I go out to eat, I try get something that I can’t make myself.  If the chicken and duck was store-bought, i.e. smoked in some factory, why couldn’t I buy it myself and assemble a sandwich for myself at home?  But the chicken and duck were smoked in-house – perhaps this could be indicated on the menu.  A minute ago I was so sure that I’d get the chimichurri steak sandwich, but now I was wondering.  But the steak is sous vide-d in-house too, so I went for it!  They also have the option of having roasted potatoes, salad or soup for an additional $2.  I don’t know why but I thought that for $2 I’d get the potatoes and either the salad or the soup – but it wasn’t like that.  You pick one side out of the three.  I’d heard that the roasted potatoes were really good, so I had to leave the soup for another time.

Coffee-wise, bread yard does not have espresso coffee.  They specialise in filtered coffee only, with two blends – single origin El Salvador, or Sumatra & Brazil.

Filtered black coffee 3.5
Filtered single origin black coffee 3.5

If you’re getting black coffee like me, you’ve only got the El Salvadorian blend, but for coffee with milk you can choose either blend.

Chimichurri steak sandwich with country bread 10, (Clockwise) Dark chocolate, Lemon Crinkle, Oatmeal Raisin 2 (each)
Chimichurri steak sandwich with country bread 10, (Clockwise) Dark chocolate, Lemon Crinkle, Oatmeal Raisin cookies 2 (each)

And here we are with the food.  The steak sandwich was delicious – the steak was tender and still slightly pink, and the chimichurri seasoning was just nice.  I felt the country bread was a bit tough but I reckon it’s my fault for taking too many photos, allowing the toasted bread to get cold.  The roasted potatoes were quite good, but the sauce was even better.

As for the cookies, the owners gave them to us on the house.  My favourite was the dark chocolate cookie, but I’d advise sharing it with someone because if you finish the whole thing yourself you’d probably not be able to sing in the shower for the next week.  It is just so rich, but so good!!

Overall, while bread yard has not changed my attitude towards bread in general, they definitely spice things up with their creative homemade, made-to-order sandwiches.  For my next visit I think I’ll go for the duck & orange sandwich with the soup.  And that dark chocolate cookie, of course :)

bread yard

  • 1 Fusionopolis Place,  Galaxis #01-23/24, Singapore 138522
  • Tel: 9773 5318
  • Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm
  • Saturday 9am to 3pm

Revelry

IMG_7185Revelry was the first cafe I visited after my return to Singapore (before Stirling Highway), but being caught up in the midst of unpacking, I completely forgot to blog about it!  Prior to my visit to Revelry, I did not even know that row of shops and cafes even existed – and on the way towards Revelry I passed Carpenter and Cook, and finally got to see what everyone was talking about.  Well, with excellent coffee and impeccable waffles, I’m sure Revelry will soon be the talk of the town.

IMG_7183

Revelry’s decor is somewhat inspired by the decor of a cafe in Perth, where owner Jia Yi did university – and I can see why – those light “balls” hanging from the ceiling providing indirect lighting to the interior gives it a special kind of ambience that suits the cafe really well.  I was also really surprised to see the large sharing table outside the cafe, reminding me of Bluebird Espresso in Fitzroy, Melbourne, where I first sat around such a table.

Visiting Revelry on a weekday, it was rather quiet.  And I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I actually like quiet cafes.  There was only one other customer in the cafe while I was there, and just as I was about to leave a group of about 4 or 5 youths came in – and I felt happy for the owner, because for anew cafe like Revelry, it sure does need the business.

Deciding to go for my usual macchiato, I was really thrilled at what I was served.

Macchiato made with a double ristretto
Macchiato made with a double ristretto

Macchiatos served in glasses are hard to come by nowadays.  I suppose it’s got something to do with the way they’re made.  Once in Melbourne I ordered a long macchiato and the barista extracted a shot the usual way, then topped the takeaway cup all the way up with hot water, then proceeded to add just a little froth.  What a failure – but I guess it was partially my fault, ordering coffee from the coffee stand at the tram stop.  Some places make it like a long black, then add the froth, and some add so much milk and froth I sometimes wonder if they know the difference between macchiatos and cappuccinos.  But here at Revelry, you get a proper macchiato.  In terms of volume a double ristretto is the same as a normal espresso shot, but it should be doubly strong.  I’ve realised now that in Singapore the term “long macchiato” doesn’t exist, and I’ve unintentionally confused baristas here by saying that, then asking if I get a double shot etc.  I think the safest way to get what I want is to ask for a macchiato with a double shot.

Anyway, back to Revelry’s macchiato, the double ristretto was perfectly extracted, and was so full of depth and flavourful undertones.  And while I thought the middle layer could’ve been slightly clearer, Revelry has definitely still done well.

It beats all the cafes who serve macchiatos in porcelain cups – and it should be proud to know it certainly beats Di Bella Roasting House in Melbourne (photo on left).

Now for the food, we decided to go for the apple& cinnamon waffles and a tiramisu, which was served on the house (because the friend I went with is the owner’s NS friend!).

IMG_7191Living up to its description, the waffles were crispy on the outside yet light on the inside.  The apples were stewed beautifully, retaining just a very slight crunch for texture.

Tiramisu
Tiramisu

Served in a mug, without the flowers the tiramisu may look rather plain, but the taste is quite good.  I’ve never been a huge fan of tiramisus though I’m a coffee lover, mainly because I don’t think the coffee flavour comes through enough.  I think tiramisus are generally not served with crunchy stuff (or are they? I don’t know), but I wonder if there could be more texture to the dessert if there were some rice crisps or something else that plays to the “flower pot” theme.

Overall, Revelry is definitely a place I would visit again for its amazing coffee, and also for their chicken waffles.  Though the owner didn’t think it’d be the best seller, it is, and I want to give it a try.

Revelry

  • 21 Lorong Kilat, #01-02, Singapore 598123
  • Tel: 9278 0466
  • Email: find_us@revelry.sg
  • Mon, Wed, Thurs 11am – 10pm
  • Friday 11am – 11pm
  • Saturday 10am – 11pm
  • Sunday 10am – 10pm

Stirling Highway

IMG_7242With fine coffee and absolutely delicious food, Stirling Highway is certainly a valuable addition to the cafe scene in sunny Singapore.  I know, I’m a bit late with my acknowledgement of Stirling Highway’s existence, but I just returned to Singapore from Melbourne, and will be here for good, so I plan on visiting more cafes around our little island!

Visiting Stirling Highway on a Friday evening with some churchies, I was surprised to find that it was rather quiet – perhaps that could be explained by its location?  It is rather inaccessible if you don’t have a car or don’t live in the area.  But for food as good as this, you should definitely make the trip!  Their website has the directions.FotorCreated2Boasting a diverse menu of brunch foods, pasta, pizza, salads & sides, and not forgetting dessert, Stirling Highway really impresses their customers, especially if you’re aware that there’s only one chef – who is also the owner – assisted by a staff member.  They also stock a FotorCreatedwhole range of teas, most of which I’ve never heard of before – probably because I’m not really a tea drinker – but their range is really impressive.  They even have samples for customers to smell prior to deciding which tea to have with their meal.  Joshua decided to go for Ice Wine tea, which was recommended by the staff member as being the best tea they had.

I, on the other hand, was much more interested in the coffee, though I must admit that the tea was starting to attract me.  As usual I went for a long macchiato (or large macchiato as IMG_7297they call it).  Through my abundant experience of drinking long macchiatos in two Australian states and in Singapore, I felt compelled to confirm if I was going to get two espresso shots.  Thankfully that’s the way Stirling Highway does their long macs, because believe it or not, even in Australia you’d find long macs made like long blacks – the practice of which never ceases to annoy and baffle me.  Having tried macchiatos at more established and well known cafes such as Chye Seng Huat, I must say Stirling Highway’s definitely bests theirs.  The shots were extracted beautifully, and the milk frothed to absolute perfection.  The sides of the cup were clean, indicating a slow, steady flow of espresso, but my only suggestion would be to serve it in a glass – with such skill I’m sure the three layers would be clearly visible, making the macchiato much more visibly appealing (not that it isn’t already!).

Now before I proceed to show you what we ordered and thoroughly enjoyed, allow me to introduce my churchies!

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Top left (L-R): Ben, Josh, Jenice. Bottom left: Me

I think prior to having our meal we were all wondering if the trip into Ridgewood Close was worth it – but we weren’t disappointed.  Here’s what we ordered:

Prawn pesto - homemade basil & spinach pesto 17
Prawn pesto – homemade basil & spinach pesto 17

Joshua had no complaints about his dish.  The pasta (and all of our pastas) were cooked al dente, something that even some Italian restaurants along Lygon Street in Melbourne couldn’t do.  And I mean, how fresh does that pesto look!

Bolognese - house blended tomato paste 15
Bolognese – house blended tomato paste 15

While Jenice initially thought that it seemed a little on the dry side, she later said it was just nice, and started raving about it after we left the cafe :P

Mentaiko 16
Mentaiko 16

Here’s what I had.  I’m generally not a fan of dishes without meat, but I had to try the mentaiko pasta.  After reading several reviews of its amazingness, even my all time favourite Aglio Olio couldn’t sway me.  Actually, I think I have a new favourite.  I don’t know how to describe the flavour to you – it is simply delicious.  You have to try it when you’re there.

House made pulled pork pancakes with house bbq sauce and whiskey infused maple syrup 14
House made pulled pork pancakes with house bbq sauce and whiskey infused maple syrup 14

Ben decided to go for one of Stirling Highway’s signature dishes – pulled pork!  Ben, an aspiring chef himself, loved the pulled pork, commenting that it was juicy and flavourful.  The combination of savoury pork mingling with the sweetness of the maple syrup, according to Ben, was “super nice actually I wanna go eat again”.

Here’s the food we shared:

Home made buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup 9.5
Home made buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup 9.5

These pancakes aren’t as perfect looking as those from fast-food outlets.  Not that I care though – because the mark of something that is homemade lies in its imperfections.  I guess it’s somewhat like singing – use too much autotune and it sounds fake.  Waver slightly at some notes, and the vulnerability/naturalness of a performance becomes so much more endearing.  Just like those performances, these pancakes were special in their own way.

Truffle fries - house cut russet potatoes 8
Truffle fries – house cut russet potatoes 8

Truffle fries, anyone?  It is an achievement in itself to cut the potatoes so thinly to such a consistency.  The truffle oil wasn’t overpowering, and the addition of grated cheese (it was grated so fine it reminded me of the Taiwanese snow ice dessert) subtly gave the fries more flavour.  The garnish, though not imparting much flavour, certainly made the fries look much more appealing.

Strawberry crumble 6
Strawberry crumble 6

This cake reminded me more of streusel than crumble, but who cares what it’s called.  We couldn’t leave without having dessert, and while Jenice and Josh thought that perhaps we should have gotten the flourless chocolate cake, I stand by my choice :P  We can have the chocolate cake next time.

Overall, Stirling Highway has definitely made it onto my list of top Singapore cafes, and I’m contemplating writing to SMRT to get them to run another bus route through Pandan Valley (currently it’s just SBS’ 92) just to make it more accessible.  It’s the least they could do after their fare increases.  Jokes aside, take your calendar out, mark a time that suits (except Tuesdays), and head down to Stirling Highway, and you’ll regret you didn’t discover them earlier.  Stirling Highway isn’t as famous as some other cafes, but it is fallacious to think that only famous places have good food – just like how it is erroneous to think that the only people who sing well are those in the entertainment industry.  If you’re all about supporting small local startups, I sincerely hope that after reading this Stirling Highway is on your to-visit list of cafes.

After returning to Singapore I was thinking to which cafe I would dedicate my first local blog post, and here we are.

Stirling Highway

  • 5 Ridgewood Close, Unit G1, Singapore 276696
  • Tel: 6464 9607
  • Weekdays 11am – 9pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
  • Weekends 9am – 9pm
  • Directions

 

Fond of Fusion

Walking along Glenferrie Road in Malvern, Fond of Fusion Cafe (FOF Cafe) certainly stands out from the rest of the eateries along the same street – it doesn’t look like a cafe, or any food establishment for that matter.  IMG_6355

First striking me as an upmarket furniture shop, I soon realise that FOF Cafe is probably the only restaurant along that stretch that has a somewhat more unique restaurant layout – inside and outside.  I mean, look at those comfy armchairs on the sidewalk!

FotorCreated Seeing the luxuriousness of the furniture and setting of the restaurant, I thought I was walking into one of the most expensive Asian meals of my time in Melbourne.

Wildberry Juice (L) & Spice Apple Juice (R)
Wildberry Juice (L) & Spice Apple Juice (R)

Jeffry and I started off with these two juices, which I pleasantly found out were made of all-natural ingredients.  Each glass contained either fresh berries or apple cubes, and for the apples, they still retained a slight crunch to them, indicating that they didn’t come from a can, and the addition of fresh mint made the juices really refreshing on a hot day.  I’m normally not a fan of these juices (like Boost Juice – I’ve only had it once, and that was when “Andrew” was the name of the day), but both juices were really good, so for all the juice haters out there, give either a try!

Now for the food… Owner Joanne is no stranger to the kitchen, having grown up around restaurants in New Zealand run by her mother.  Working closely with her Taiwanese chef, they have developed a small but diverse menu, stocking proteins like beef, pork, chicken and fish though limited to 8 items for the mains.

I was also really surprised to learn that everything is made in-house, down to the sweet chilli sauce for our deep-fried organic tofu and sesame dressing for the salad.  Having worked in a number of Asian restaurants, it is quite rare to find one that actually makes it own sauces.  Despite all the effort to provide customers with the freshest ingredients cooked to the highest standard, Joanne keeps her prices low, though her staff, and even customers, sometimes tell her that the food could fetch a higher price.  This place is a must-try in Melbourne, I kid you not.

FotorCreated
1.3kg pork knuckle cooked in traditional Taiwanese flavours, served German-style – $18.50

Just take this pork knuckle for example, sold at a mere $18.50 for a massive 1.3kg serve.  Each pork knuckle is weighed to ensure that it hits the 1.3kg mark, says Joanne.  Based on my extensive experience in eating frozen-thawed-cooked meats, I’d reckon this pork knuckle was never acquainted with a freezer.  The meat simply falls from the bone, and that knife could easily be replaced by a spoon.  Cooked in traditional Taiwanese flavours, and served on a bed of raw baby spinach and an accompanying sauce, this dish needs no further marketing.  It was the dish of the day.

Tapas tasting platter - $19
Tapas tasting platter – $19

This is a real bargain for $19.  The sweet potato chips and chicken bites in the “flower pot” were really good, but the real hero of the dish is the tofu.

Deep-fried organic tofu with homemade sweet chilli sauce
Deep-fried organic tofu with homemade sweet chilli sauce

This is the tofu I was talking about earlier.  Organic tofu coated in a light batter deep-fried to perfection, dressed with homemade sweet chilli sauce.  I think I secretly ate more than half the plate, only taking one at a time to give off the impression that I wasn’t taking that many.  Not to be missed.

Top left clockwise: Steak with noodles, meatballs, Curried lamb with purple rice
Top left clockwise: Steak with noodles, meatballs, Curried lamb with purple rice

Using the same beef in traditional Taiwanese beef noodles, Joanne serves it as a whole steak with a serve of noodles, and a garden salad.  As for the meatballs, they are the largest I’ve ever seen.  180g of mince wrapped around glutinous rice – somewhat like a reversed bazhang.  If you don’t know what a bazhang is, Google it – it ain’t a dumpling.  Ha gao, jiao zi, wanton, xiao long bao etc are all already translated into dumpling, so let’s not add to the list.  Lastly, the curried lamb.  Finally, a spicy dish that is actually spicy.  The purple rice is spiced with green chilli, and the curry carries some light spiciness.  I absolutely dislike those “Asian” restaurants which mark their entire menu with chillies to indicate spiciness levels, only for me to find that their spiciest dish is as spicy as extra hot Japanese curry.

I’ve heard that FOF Cafe’s previous menu wasn’t really fusion – it was more East meets West on a plate, yet clearly defined.  The menu has clearly evolved since their renovations.  Take the meatballs or the steak with noodles for example.  I’d say the fusionness lies with the size of the meatballs (180g x 2) – most steaks are around 300g.  As for the steak with noodles, the fusion on the plate is obvious.

Our meal couldn’t have been complete without dessert, so we got the brownies.

Dark chocolate and white chocolate brownie with homemade berry compote and butterscotch cream
Dark chocolate and white chocolate brownie with homemade berry compote and butterscotch cream

The brownies weren’t that moist like most brownies are, but that was fine with me because I don’t like how brownies stick to my teeth.

Overall, my dining experience at FOF Cafe surpassed all my expectations.  From expecting an expensive menu I found myself looking at really reasonable prices, made even more unbelievable considering the high quality ingredients and impeccable taste, not to mention the labour that went into preparing those dishes (the presentation is amazing!).

FOF Cafe is the product of owner Joanne’s dream of having a cafe/restaurant decked out with rustic furniture and serving fantastic food.  Joanne’s passion was unmistakable during our interactions with her, and with food that could give Lucy Liu (along Oliver Lane in the Melbourne CBD) a run for her money , I’m sure FOF Cafe’ll become the talk of the town one day.

If I wasn’t leaving Melbourne for good on Thursday, I’d certainly be a regular customer at FOF Cafe.  The pork knuckle was just THAT good.

Fond of Fusion Cuisine on Urbanspoon

 

Early Christmas Feast

Whenever April organises a dinner, she always whips up some really delicious Western food, and this early Christmas feast was no different, as she served up a sumptuous meal of mussels, stewed beef, and roast pork, accompanied with a side of roasted potatoes in duck fat and balsamic vinegar.  Needless to say, April, being a fan of Jamie Oliver’s recipes, followed his recipes for the mussels and the potatoes, though I’m not too sure about the other two proteins.

And.. here we are!

Here we are! L-R: Sumay, April, David, Heidi, Damien, Me
L-R: Sumay, April, David, Heidi, Damien, Me

As always, the photo shows me not looking at the camera, but I thought I was!  For our entree, we had mussels in a yoghurt-bacony broth, with a generous serve of parsley stirred through at the end.

Mussels
Mussels

The mussels were very fresh and nicely plump, and while some did not open, I didn’t want to let them go to waste and so I pried them open and ate them anyway – they tasted just as good!  Parsley is one of the foods on my do-not-eat list, but I am learning – for this dish, it adds another dimension to the flavours, like some sort of freshness to the richness of the broth.

Boeuf bourguignon
Boeuf bourguignon

Our first main was the bouef bourguignon, but even after eating it, I still don’t really know what it is.  Wikipedia tells me that it is beef burgundy, a well-known traditional French recipe, so I’m going to go with that.  The chuck was braised beautifully, and retained its moisture, while the slight crunch of the onions gave the dish some texture.  It went really well with the roasted potatoes!

Roasted potatoes with duck fat and balsamic vinegar
Roasted potatoes with duck fat and balsamic vinegar

Our other main was the roast pork, and it was surrounded with a moat of gravy and roasted vegetables, consisting of celery, carrots and mushrooms.

Roast pork
Roast pork
Roast pork crackling!
Roast pork crackling!

The roast pork was juicy and succulent, and the crackling was just right.  I could munch on a bowl of cracking all day :P  I actually took home some of the roast pork, and after reheating it in the microwave for about 2 minutes, the crackling still remained just as crunchy as the day before.

Heidi's famous chocolate tart
Heidi’s famous chocolate tart

For dessert, we had Heidi’s famous chocolate tart.  Nowadays when Heidi says she’s bringing “a tart”, there’s no need to ask what tart she’s making.  This is it.  A buttery digestive biscuit base with a chocolate filling and glaze over the top.  Mixed berries go best with the tart, but as they were out of stock, we had frozen strawberries instead – and they were really nice, somewhat popsicle style.

And.. here we are again!

Happy days!
Happy days!

Thanks for the sumptuous meal April!

 

Pork ribs night

This week is certainly Food Gatherings Week, with two dinners at my place and one at April’s.  On Wednesday night, I invited some brethren from church to my place for dinner.  I thank God for bringing all of them into our midst at Bethel BP Church, and for the fellowship that we can share.  As April, Jill and Su Shiang are preparing to leave Melbourne, there was no better (or other) time to invite them to my place for a meal but now.

Back row L-R: George, Thays, Su Shiang, Jill, April, Me.  Front Row L-R: Candy, Ben
Back row L-R: George, Thays, Su Shiang, Jill, April, Me.
Front Row L-R: Candy, Ben

The beef rendang on Monday night turned out pretty good, so I thought that I’d cook it again.  The other dishes were vinegar pork ribs and cabbage with mock abalone and mushrooms.

Beef rendang
Beef rendang

The beef rendang was a hit!  Though some preferred the pork ribs to the rendang, George preferred the vegetables.

Cabbage with mock abalone and mushrooms
Cabbage with mock abalone and mushrooms

I used half a head of cabbage, 1 can of mock abalone, and five dried mushrooms.  The soaking liquid of the mushrooms and the gravy from the mock abalone made up the main flavour of the dish, and I guess that’s what appealed to George!

Vinegar pork ribs
Vinegar pork ribs

Because I didn’t bring enough money to Queen Victoria Market, and didn’t want to queue up for the ATM, I had to resort to buying smaller ribs instead of the normal premium ribs that I would like to use for this dish.  I think April liked this dish the most, but unfortunately I didn’t measure out any ingredients – I cook and adjust the flavour of the dish by tasting it along the way.  But this dish holds a special place in my heart, for it is my mother who taught me how to cook it.  She’d always cook it for me when I’m back in Singapore, so before coming back to Melbourne I asked her to teach me, and since then I’ve cooked it regularly.

Almond-meal tart with chocolate mousse and strawberries
Almond-meal tart with chocolate mousse and strawberries

Su Shiang’s food is generally gluten free, so I decided to make a tart base with almond meal instead.  Ms EL was off from work that day, so she joined me in the preparation for the dinner.  While I was cooking the pork ribs and preparing the vegetables, Ms EL was working away at the pastry for the tart.  Ms EL is a really good baker, so it was our privilege that she baked the pastry for us!

And finally, as it was Candy’s birthday the next day, Jill asked that we celebrate Candy’s birthday as well.  It was a slight surprise, as April popped the candle on just as everyone had finished taking their photos of it, and I lit it up with my blowtorch (a bit over the top, I know, but that was the only fire-producing thing I had apart from the stove)!

IMG_6299

I really thank God for the fellowship that we can have with brethren in Christ, and especially for the mid-week city Bible study, where we delve into the richness of the Word of God to learn precious truths from His Word.  As the hymn goes..

Thy Word is like a garden, Lord,

With flowers bright and fair;

And everyone who seeks may pluck

A lovely cluster there.

Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine,

And jewels rich and rare

Are hidden in its mighty depths

For every searcher there.

Looking forward to more dinners like this in the future, and for the blessedness of Christian fellowship!

Rendang Night

Rendang: A spicy dry meat curry (andrewandhisfood, 2014)

Some weeks ago, Julian mentioned to me that he really likes rendang, so I thought, why not have rendang at my place one evening?  Now that uni is all over, assessments are submitted, results are coming back, and some are graduating, there is no better time to have a dinner gathering!  For the dinner, I had the pleasure of the company of fellow applied linguists Julian, Dai Wei, Lan Anh, and Simin.

L-R: Dai Wei, Lan Anh, Simin, Julian, Me
L-R: Dai Wei, Lan Anh, Simin, Julian, Me

The dishes featured on Rendang Night included beef rendang, homemade teriyaki chicken, and kailan with mushrooms.  For dessert, we’d have dark chocolate mousse tart with strawberries.

Beef rendang
Beef rendang

I used my favourite cut, oyster blade, for the beef rendang.  Oyster blade has this incredible texture to it, and it never dries out after hours of cooking.  And it gets better – oyster blade only requires 1.5 to 2 hours of simmering to tenderise, though I normally cook it for about 3 to 4 hours.  Moreover, oyster blade has a streak of marbling down the middle, and I always slice it diagonally so every single piece of meat in the rendang has a bit of marbling.  Rendang is also best eaten the next day, so I cooked it the day before on purpose to let the flavours intensify overnight.  I have to thank Ms PL for her rendang recipe, without which I would not be able to even cook this dish!

Kailan with mushrooms and fried shallots
Kailan with mushrooms and fried shallots

Kailan is my favourite vegetable of all time.  The stalks are crunchy if cooked properly, and the leaves have a texture similar to kale, also on my top 5 veggies list.  For this dish, I used some dried 日本白花菇, or Japanese white flower mushrooms.  I don’t know why they are called white flower mushrooms, but my mother tells me that the more the mushroom looks like a tortoise’s shell, the better the mushroom is.  I avoid buying the cheapest kinds of dried mushrooms or canned mushrooms, because the yummy mushroomy flavours are often not present.  The dried mushrooms have to be soaked in hot water for at least 30 mins to soften them for slicing.  It would be a great shame for the soaking liquid to be discarded, so I always use it as the base of my sauce for the vegetables, adding to it salt, light soya sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar, to counter the bitterness of the kailan.  The fried shallots add another dimension to the dish with its flavour and texture.

Homemade teriyaki chicken
Homemade teriyaki chicken

I am so thankful that in Australia chicken drumsticks are really cheap, because I love drumsticks.  The only disadvantage of using drumsticks is the deboning part, but after cooking many, many drumsticks, I’ve become quite proficient at drumstick deboning.  My aim, however, is to learn to debone chicken marylands.  Watching the butchers to it in under 15 seconds is simply amazing, and one day I hope I’d get to that standard.  I marinade the drumstick fillets in only salt and pepper, then pan fry them.  The teriyaki sauce is made with cooking sake, mirin, light soya sauce and brown sugar (thanks to Ms PC for her recipe!).  I only flip the chicken fillets once, and when they’re almost done in the pan, then I drizzle the sauce on to further caramelise the chicken, and let the alcohol evaporate.  Adding the seaweed was Ms EL’s idea, and the contrast in colours really makes the dish so much more appetising.

Dark chocolate mousse tart with strawberries
Dark chocolate mousse tart with strawberries

This has to be the tart that I make most often.  The only other type of tart that I’ve made is a custard tart.  I use Nestle Plaistowe 70% cocoa for the mousse, giving it a rich chocolatey flavour that can be countered only by the fresh strawberries.  As for the strawberry arrangement, my limited creativity only allows me to arrange it in such a manner, although I wish I had made the circle in the middle a little rounder.  The crust is also homemade, as I have found that frozen shortcrust pastry is absolutely atrocious, like eating dehydrated compressed cardboard.  The recipe for the tart can be found here.

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It was really nice to have friends over for dinner, and as responsible applied linguists, conversation topics of the night revolved around bilingualism, language testing, and transcultural communication.  As some of us will be graduating in a couple of weeks, opportunities to have such gatherings are coming to an end, so I hope to have another one soon!