viernes, abril 08, 2011

Second attempt at the no-knead bread

[No-knead bread]

Baked the no-knead bread once last year, wasn't too hard, but just didn't get around doing it again. Recently, I got interested again, bought some yeast and was waiting for the baking mood to come along. Realizing that the instant yeast I bought were going to expire in July, the frugal-not-wanting-to-waste me got to work. After consulting several food blogs and receipe versions online, and after lotsa trial and errors, I've been baking non-stop for the last two weeks....based on this this amazingly fool-proof recipe by Try it, happy baking!

martes, marzo 15, 2011

A practical call

[Call to conserve electricity - March 11 Japan]

For the Japanese, practicality overrides all things. First things first: BE ENERGY EFFICIENT - conserve electricity.

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lunes, marzo 14, 2011

A hideaway enveloped by forests

[Arcana Izu, Japan]

Was considering this onsen resort in Japan for my honeymoon, I guess not anymore... Would love to spend a weekend there at some point though. Monocle Magazine raves about it, looks like a fabulous place to escape from Shanghai for the food and fresh air.

Arcana Izu, Yugashima
〒410-3206 静岡県伊豆市湯ヶ島1662
T 0558.85.2700 F 0558.85.2701

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lunes, marzo 07, 2011

Japanese Black Seseame Butter


Just the right tint of sweetness - goes with anything, especially good with Ritz Crackers.

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jueves, marzo 03, 2011

Unique food gifts from Tokyo

[Higashiya Ginza's sweet potato chips]

Uniquely sliced and packaged sweet potato chips - no additives, so it actually taste like nothing :)

Get it at Higashiya Ginza

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miércoles, abril 08, 2009

Hot Pot King

[Authentic Chongqing Hotpot]

This devilish concoction is none other than the famous spicy hotpot of China. Mind you, your spice tolerance level has got to be 5 chili peppers and beyond. Otherwise you're gonna suffer.

We savored this particular hotpot dinner in the city of Kunming, located in the Southwestern province of Yunnan, in the company of an old friend Qingqing. It was supposed to an authentic Chongqing-style hotpot from the ex-Szechuan province, made out of a sort of butter and lots of different spices including the tongue-numbing Szechuan pepper.

Notice the little partition in the middle, that's the non spicy broth for those without an acquired taste of all things spicy. The usual practice is for a group of people to sit around a table, order numerous plates of sliced meat, seafood, mushrooms, vegetables, tofu products, cook the food in the bubbling pot and dip them in their own custom-made dips. Indeed, the highlight of every hotpot place in China is the huge buffet-style dip section. You can make you own dip with every kind of sauces, spices and herbs such as vinegar, satay sauce, cilantro, sesame oil, sesame seeds, 5 different kinds of soy sauce, and 10 different kinds of chilli paste or sauce.

I was told by my chinese colleagues that the hotpot phenomenon is more of a winter get-together thing so I would suppose that hotpot restaurants would be less busy when the days get sunnier. In Shanghai, we like to frequent this less chaotic and more upscale chain - Hotpot King, at their two locations, one in the west side of the city and one in downtown.

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jueves, marzo 12, 2009

Shanghai Eats

[Xiao Long Bao]

It's unbelievable, we've been in kungfuland for almost six months now! When I first got here I found that I wasn't able to add new posts to this blog. Friends and readers have emailed me to inquire of my whereabouts and realizing it's been almost a year since I've posted anything, I decided to post this picture I took of my first xiaolongbao in Shanghai. Notice it has a little opening on top!

I had just saw some friends in Singapore over the weekend and all of them have asked how we've been adapting here. It' s been really easy considering there are so many comforts in this city. Massages are 7.70 euro per hour, housekeeping services are 2 euro per hour, and taxi fares are 1.10 euro. Food-wise, there are so many interesting restaurants around that I've probably got all the weekends for the rest of the year to check out new places to eat.

Before I pen off, here are two addresses to try out xiaolongbao while you're in Shanghai.

Ding Tai Fung

2/F, South Block, Xintiandi
6385 8378

99-1 Xikang Lu
near Nanjing Xi Lu next to the Portman Ritz-Carlton on Xi Kang Lu
西康路99-1号, 近南京西路


miércoles, abril 23, 2008

An island getaway at Tioman

[Japamala Resort, Tioman Island]

Blame it on writer's block... here comes the long awaited trip report. Three full days of complete indulgence and relaxation is how I would summarize our trip last month to Tioman, an under-the-radar island off the Eastern Coast of Malaysia on the South China Sea. The trip came about because I had to think of something unique for T's 30th. As I couldn't quite yet grasp his design barometer, so a piece of design junk was definitely out of the question. I thought hard and long, and since he had never been to any interesting parts of Malaysia, a surprise island getaway would be a novelty, I had hoped.

How should I describe this place that I finally nailed down? Japamala tries to be lavish yet laidback. With only 12 Thai-Balinese-styled chalets, the secluded resort made us feel like we were the only ones at the place. Service was impeccable with extremely well-trained and well-mannered Burmese attendants. After all, that's how you would coin a boutique hotel, wouldn't you. For me, it's that personal attention that matters. Here, you don't get noisy families and throngs of people everywhere at some of the mainstream hotels on the island. Along the sun-dappled beach on our side of island, we could kayak or swim out to see the colorful marine life underwater, or take a walk out to another stretch of sand for some solo sunning.

[Whole lobster fresh off the grill]

Apart from having time to just chill by the beach with a book and a nice cool drink, the retreat is sprinkled with what I call instant gratifications. You can get a Thai massage by a skillful Thai therapist on an open-air deck, or you can have a nice picturesque lunch at the bar-restaurant, pearched up on stilts 100 metres away from the shore. Pictured above, the kitchen serves up a casual Italian fare with quite decent pizzas, pastas and grilled seafood. It boggles my mind as to why the management didn't choose to focus on local cuisine, since most of the guests hail from international places. I guess the forgiving bit was that the seafood served are fresh catch of the day by local fishermen around the island. We had big tiger prawns, lobsters and fish such as sea-perch and grouper, locally known as Kerapu and Kerisi. And for the very least, the sauces accompanied are sprinkled with local flavors like tamarind, lemongrass and chillis.

The other restaurant at Japamala serves up scrumptious breakfasts and dinners that we savored daily. Thai and Vietnamese influences are heavy on this one since the resort grew out of the success of the owners' first Indochinese restaurant venture in Kuala Lumpur. We had some really good squid stir-fried, curries, and salads made out of local ingredients like cilantro, peanuts, and green papaya.

Dusk on the island -- the view of the restaurant on stilts -- is mersmerizing. Attendants start to light up candles everywhere on the wooden walkways leading to the chalets perched up on the hill. For the two of us, spending three days there was just about right given that all you do is to hone the skill of doing nothing. A time of rest, relax and reflection, can all be had at this tiny boutique resort if you're willing to forgo having to do different things on your vacation.

In the know:
Japamala Resort
Tioman Island, Malaysia