Monday, 11 August 2008

dai wan lai @ rowe st., eastwood

This is the place that, a handful of weeks ago, I had stood completely star-struck staring into the faces of Nicholas Tse's dad and sister (I mean real people) and had no idea absolutely how to react and just dumbly stood there, got all giggly and blurted out to my dad, 'OMG, that's Nicholas Tse's dad and sister' and well, turns out dad was equally just as star-struck and then it was mum; so as you can imagine, there we were, a family of 3 gawping after 2 very famous HK stars and stupidly staring into the restaurant to see what they were getting up to. Well, they were eating in my suburb (don't ask me why, I remain boggled).

A handful of weeks on and sharing my story with enough people to understand what it is like to meet HK stars in person (in particular the family of a star that I'd spent a good portion of my high school years gushing over - yes, I think I have all of Nic's CDs), dad finally gave in to trying to place out. You see, it takes awhile before my dad is convinced that a new restaurant is worth trying (he more or less starts off assuming that a place is crap until something or other recommends it).

We thought we'd make it an early dinner and arrived around 5.30pm on a Saturday night - we were told upfront that we would need to finish our dinner by 7pm. Dad tried to bargain with them but we were assured that they served up dishes quite quickly so 1.5 hrs was sufficient.

Pretty much all dishes were recommended by the waitress who looked after our table. To say the least, their menu isn't the most traditional of Chinese menus so dad was happy to take their recommendations for their most popular dishes. Here's the '3 Treasures - Pork Slices, Pork Knee, & Pork Intestine' (the latter of which I would not recommend for very good reasons - need I elaborate?).
This was almost a bit like Kebab Meat - but was actually chicken and came with a dipping sauce, fresh carrots, shallots and yellow buns which we assumed you wrap all your bits and pieces in. Quite a number of tables around us ordered this - the buns are a little oily. Lamb Cutlets - Northern Chinese Style. A winner! So crispy and probably quite fattening :PThis boy has been sick but managed to bring himself along to dinner.Pork Ribs. Quite an average dish. The carrot flowers are pretty though!This one I like. White Seafood Soup with Tofu - just sweet enough and full of fresh ingredients and flavour; comes also in a nice big bowl for a very large table that consisted mainly of boys.This one was a spicy chicken with capsicum that came in a ridiculously massive gold/bamboo pot. The dish itself is actually quite shallow so you look like you're getting a lot more (but you actually don't). I didn't like the fact that the boned chicken was so finely chopped - just felt like I was eating bone every time I grabbed a piece of chicken to eat.A sweet one which probably could've waited till the end of the meal. I actually quite liked it - it's a pumpkin flavoured sweet with red bean filling (again, in true Northern China style - quite oily and got a stamp of disapproval from J).This one is a must try! Steamed scallops with vermicelli (scallops were very, very fresh - N.B. Dai Wan Lai specialise in seafood or so they say). A rather average looking dish when you first look at it but is surprisingly full of flavour. Wouldn't mind having this again and great it wasn't oily.Dad didn't like this one (thought it was too bland cause it had a seafood filling) but I absolutely loved it! I love fresh dumplings, love how they're so mis-shaped and that the pastry that wraps the filling is so nice and soft (none of that chewy stuff).Last but not least, the fish (which I thought was rather average). Dad said the texture of the fish was meant to be like that so maybe I just didn't like the fish that dad had ordered.
As promised, dinner service was fast and all dishes were out within minutes of the first one getting to our table (the last to come was the fish). Our lovely waitress had been patient and did recommend a good cross-section of dishes for us to try and prompty refilled our tea as soon as it got empty. It's actually really nice to sit inside - one of the first and possibly 'only' Chinese restaurants I've sat in where it's been pristine clean all around and there's actually also an attention to decor. In a way, you can describe the decor as Modern but still incorporating some of your traditional Chinese furnishings which I thought made for a good mix - lighting was bright and you almost forget that you're sitting in a restaurant in Eastwood. Prices are on par with your other Chinese restaurants, service is probably better than most, all the dishes are served in unique bowls/dishes, menu is quite interesting and yes, worth trying I'd say.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

sugar magic: lesson 18

Whilst at the bus stop after class, waiting to get picked up, I thought I'd take a snap of the flowers I'm making this term (in the pic above, there's jonquil centres, hibiscus centres, correa buds, correa flowers, corea centres and calla lily centres). It's not all that exciting at the moment but hopefully after another 6 weeks, I'll be making a bouquet out of those flowers and fingers crossed - it'll look as nice or even better than my cake last term!

One of the girls I met last semester was saying how great it is to come to class and not have to think about anything else. I agree completely and it's great that for 2 hours a week, my mind is taken off thinking about everything else and just concentrating on that one thing - that piece of modelling fondant in my hands which I need to move reasonably quickly with and make that flower before the cold air and the fact that it's in my hands, dries it out. Oh...occasionally there will be the cursing and and the 'damns!" when not all goes to plan (in which case you start again) but otherwise, it's a lot of fun and I hope, developing me into a cake decorating pro!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

blackcurrant macaroons @ lindt cafe

I was very excited to come home the other night with mum telling me she had a surprise for me and that this little surprise came in a little white box. I wandered what it was and hello and behold, inside the little white box were 6 macaroons from Lindt Cafe - and of these flavours was one particularly new one, Blackcurrant which happened to be the first to get eaten :P When I say that I was excited, I was just short of jumping up and down and acting like a crazy woman - as those close to me will know. You see, I've asked J a couple of times since he started working (he works near a Lindt Cafe) to get me a few macaroons and almost 2 or more years later, I'm still waiting. *tsk tsk*

Apparently there was a 2 for 1 coupon in one of the magazines they hand out up at Wynyard - mum bought 6 for the price of 4. I reckon she could've bought more : )
All the flavours: Blackcurrant, Vanilla, Strawberry, 70% Chocolate, Pistachio and I'm not quite sure what the last one is (bottom right) - tasted a little like caramel.Enjoyed with one of my favourite reads and a cup of green tea.
I remember reading Suze's blog where she was comparing the merits of the macaroons at Lindt and those at Adriano Zumbo. Personally, I don't mind both - Zumbo is definitely a lot more creative and his macaroons are rich in flavour and texture but the selection changes daily so you'll miss out on flavours if you're not there one day. Lindt offers quite an expansive and consistent selection of macaroons (and looks like it's expanding!!) which if you frequent on a regular basis, you know you'll have your favourite flavour sitting there waiting for you. Although to be honest, I do look forward to my visits to Zumbo more than I do to Lindt (but then again, for reasons quite beyond macaroons and hence the debate of Zumbo Vs Lindt Macaroons isn't quite resolved...hmm...) Down to the vanilla macaroon now!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

mixed berry muffins (adapted from bill's)

The recipe in Bill Granger's 'Everyday' called for strawberries and raspberries - I only had frozen raspberries and blueberries and figured they'd make do. (Anyway, I prefer blueberries over strawberries anyway - you can never guess with strawberries; sometimes they're not as sweet as they look! Plus Frozen Blueberries have been on sale in the supermarket everytime I've gone to look meaning that my freezer was quite well stocked with them - 2 packets in fact :P)

Compared to other muffin recipes, you'll find that Bill's recipe isn't too sweet and the ratio of berries to muffin mix makes this one quite healthy to eat. The sweet tooth (being myself) at first felt a little disappointed but as I ate my way through one, it actually turned out to be quite a nice treat. My mum (who tries to make me put less sugar in anything I bake - her rule is between 1/2 to 3/4 the amount of sugar that's in the recipe as most Western recipes lean on the sweet side) actually preferred Bill's recipe over the other ones that I've used previously. Unfortunately, my brother (who are among the 2 people in my household to eat my bakes) thought otherwise and hasn't touched the muffins at all. Well, I suppose I can't please everyone! And I'm not too sure about the cinnamon that the recipe requires - could probably do without it as I didn't think it went that well with the recipe!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

creamy mushroom & prosciutto pasta

There's been a few cookbook additions to my bookshelf last month and well, they're not really sitting on the bookshelf anymore (cause the bookshelf has been full since the start of the year? and now I've resorted to stacking them in piles and they're slowly forming a little wall around my desk and covering the actual wall where I've had to lean them against to stop them from falling over). There's actually some method to the madness - I still know where everything is and somehow the piles have managed to keep nice and tidy; mum occasionally pops in to borrow reading material and everytime she does, I know exactly which book has gone missing. I'm going to have to sort through it soon though (which means chucking out a lot of the mess I've been nesting for the last 20 or so years).

This is a recipe from Bill Granger's 'Everyday' which I experimented with today - Creamy Musroom & Prosciutto Pasta. Found the Prosciutto in my local Supafresh and lined up a good 15-20minutes in the Sunday queues to pay for it. Was worth it in the end as it gave the pasta a much more intense flavour and what I felt, was superior to bacon (and less fattening too!)
J was over and was the first to taste test. He gave it the thumbs up and gobbled up two plates. Next time I'll remember to toss the shaved parmasen through the pasta rather than garnish on the top (J's comment was that the parmasen was too cold).
N.B. The parsley is home grown and is superb tossed through the pasta! I need to cook more - my parsley plant is growing all over the place with parsley (thanks to mum's love and care).
So you probably would've gathered that Bill Granger's 'Everyday' is one of the cookbook additions to my collection; I've slobbered over this book and finally resolved to buy it and now that I've bought it, I'm resolved to have a go at each of the recipes inside it (they all look so tempting and even better, bill makes it so simple to have a go). Next post will be his Mixed Berry Muffins which hadn't been too sweet but great as an afternoon snack. Oh, and by the way, I'm reading a copy of Julie & Julia which I got from the station for $2.95 - and I'm getting the urges to start a project like hers (esp. with a cookbook like Everyday!! :P)