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Posts Tagged ‘tasty food’

Just while checking through my library, I stumbled upon an old French language marabout book [editor: Marabout; 1987 – Alleur / Belgique]. In it some humourous food drawings by Frapar, who I guess, was a local artist worldwide known in his own village.

Thomas Keller, a U.S. chef, explains that Sous Vide is a foolproof technique, involving cooking at precise temperatures below simmering, yielding results that other culinary methods cannot. However: literally it means  “under emptiness” which I hope helps explaining the wordplay that makes up the joke.

Petard means fire-cracker. – Dinde means Turkey. –

Farce has a double meaning -> or stuffing, or joke.  So they were “just joking” or “stuffing the turkey with a fire-cracker” is the wordplay in this cartoon. Always difficult to get the point translated I’m afraid, isn’t it?

An easy one: “I tell you it smells like paint, your lackered duck! Great line in a Chinese restaurant enjoying Peking Duck.

The boss of an eating place who identifies a inspector, the one who decides about the stars attributed…  “How many stars do you see now, mister G&M ?”  (Gault et Millau is a french institution commenting on the quality of restaurants.)

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H.G.Festival - Penang, Malaysia (BBC picture)

H.G.Festival - Penang, Malaysia (BBC picture)

Peng Chau is one of Hong Kong’s smaller outlying islands. Situated west  of Lamma island and east of Lantau island, its todays population is about 6,500 (2011).

Peng Chau viewed from a hill on Lantau

Peng Chau viewed from a hill on Lantau

With an area surface of about 1 km², it is, as said, one of the smaller islands but it comes with a full range of services for the locals: a covered wet market with lots of fresh seafood on offer, a full time police station, super market, bank and ATM service, lots of small chops and even a full branch of the Hong Kong Library.

Besides fresh seafood places (not many) there are also a few bars and restaurants, some ran by… frenchies (???). How about that? We visited this french bar/eating place. The name is referring to a popular song of Georges Brassens. He was a Frenchie born in Sète – southern France and had a great reputation as a post WW2 poet and guitar playing singer and composer. 

Brassens was a bit of an intellectual anarchist, what was considered “bon ton” in those days after the war. Brassens himself said (tongue in cheek): “I’m an anarchist, so much so that I always cross at the zebra crossing to avoid arguing with the police.” – “Les Copains D’ Abord”  has also a decent offer of French wines and Belgian beers.

"Obbao" french restaurant with some Brittany specialties

"Obbao" french restaurant with some Brittany specialties

“Obbao” although using a funny spelling translates as “Full tummy” or so I’ve been told. They have a nice offer of juices, brittany crepes, burgers, home made pizzas and a yummy preparation of steak tartare. (Although I personally prefer my tartare cut a tad more finely.) They have also some wines on offer but probably not as specialised as their neighbours (les copains d’abord). Please,correct me if  I’m wrong.

They also offer a few different beers. Unfortunately  that includes some “yellow dishwasher-fluid stuff” called Heineken.  Alas, C’est la vie! Nobody’s perfect. – Note to Alex & Chris: if you guys read this: don’t shoot me on our next visit please. Wink  🙂

Obbao's new summer menu

Obbao's new summer menu

The overall food quality is, to be honest,  better than in some other parts and more trendy places on HK island!

French bar

French wine & cheese bar with some great Belgian beers also on offer

We haven’t tried “Les Copains d’ Abord” yet but we are going to on the first saturday or sunday of next month. Good fine french wines with great cheeses, cold cuts (sausages, hams, country pate) and quiches really are very tempting, both for my wife and myself.  

However, regarding chinese fresh seafood restaurants, to be completely honest, the variety on offer on Peng Chau is no competition for places on Cheung Chau, Lamma Island or Sai Kung and Lei Yue Mun. (Just google for more info on any of these).

Still, during the week-end breaks the island is popular and visited by numbers of locals, expats and a few tourists alike. Good destination for a day-trip or even for a  half day-trip. Its small island lifestyle is very refreshing. While walking around one forgets that one is only half an hour away from the busy Central district or Kowloon.

And just to be complete, Peng Chau has very small but inviting streets for wandering around with no cars allowed other than official transport like police or ambulance. We locals (sic) walk or use bicycles.

You can reach Peng Chau by different ferries, sailing from Central (HK Island), Mui Wo (Lantau Island), Cheung Chau etc. From Discovery Bay (just across on Lantau) it’s only a few cable-lengths away. It takes the small local and slow Kai-to ferry less than 15 minutes of sailing time to get you to Peng Chau.

 The Hungry Ghost Festival

According to a website about “Chinese culture” :

(Quote): You have probably heard of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Have you also heard about the less well-known Hungry Ghost Festival?

Just as the Americans have Halloween, the Chinese have their version of a ghost festival too. In 2007, the festival of hungry ghost started on the 13th of August to 10th September of the Western Calendar.

(note: this 2011 was during a different period obviously, because the dates of the festival are calculated according to the lunar calender)

Celebrated mostly in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and especially in Singapore and Malaysia, the Hungry Ghost festival is a mixed Taoist/ folklore occasion that is taken very seriously by the Chinese. This festival falls on the 7th month of the Lunar Year and it is believed by the Chinese that during this month, the gates of hell are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander to seek food on Earth. (unquote).

More here: http://www.chinese-culture.net/html/hungry_ghost_festival.html

Video beneath was filmed by Jay-P. and his better half on August 20th 2011 during the local Hungry Ghost Festival on Peng Chau. Lots of dragons, lots of drums, lots of incense and other offerings. In short: lots of noise, local folklore and liters of sweat under that bloody hot sun.

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Contact Person: Mr. Ong Chin Hong

This restaurant in Lorong Chulia is probably older than we are. Many Penangites know the place “since always”, they have been eating at Shing Kheang Aun with family, parents and siblings since their childhood. Some actually remember the present owner when he was a young pre-teenager and the restaurant was ran by his parents!

It’s said to be renowned for its Hainanese as well as for its local Penang cuisine. Although not only a seafood place, we always order at least one fish preparation. Depending on the daily availability you get pomfret, garupa or other delicious fishes, cooked in different ways.119_FUJI0012bis

Mister Ong still uses recipes from his father, such as a pomfret or other fish cooked in a tamarind and ginger flower gravy with curry, served to your table displaying a delicate balance of flavour and taste.IMG_0964 Are you all getting hungry yet again?IMG_0965We also enjoyed a small dish of  Loh Bak. Very nice and flavourful, not dry or oily but I still prefer the one served at the Kek Seng Cafe. However, we for sure are not going to complain!

 IMG_0966Also their grilled prawns are a must-eat. They taste a little “smoky” and have that typical wok or grill flavour that I can not really describe but like so much! It’s as different as the taste of pan frying over a gas stove compared to BBQ-ing or grilling over a charcoal fire.IMG_0969

 The fresh veggies with spring onions, cabbage and mushroom were simple and just fine. They were cooked in a not spicy gravy and went along very well with our bowl of plain white sticky rice. (I always add more white pepper though and chilli, but that’s just me.)IMG_0970

For reservations – Tel: 04-2614786, Mr. Ong Chin Hong. Address: 2 Chulia Lane – 10200 Penang. Closed on Monday.

Just aside the restaurant, its own personal parking lot  including a guard, welcomes the cars of the patrons. Class!

IMG_0960Above: Lorong Chulia and its typical houses.

Unfortunately, a lot of these original pre-war shophouses turn shabby. So a good thing that Penang is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites Program since 2008. Let’s hope that concrete action will be taken to preserve and restore these houses. They were simple but cleverly built with street-long arcades providing shelter from rain or sun, but many nowadays remain in a questionable condition. BTW, being part of the Unesco heritage program is not a magical solution guaranteeing good preservation. It’s an ongoing process. Local authorities and government must act on it. Otherwise site will lose their status. So: keep pushing the elected representatives into real action to protect heritage buildings and mansions.

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Wa i chiak Hokkien Mee!

According to Wikipedia there are 3 kinds of Hokkien Mee. My favourite is the Penang version.

Hokkien hae mee
(prawn noodles)
Hokkien char mee
(fried noodles)
Refers to either the Penang prawn noodle or Singapore prawn noodle Refers to the Kuala Lumpur Hokkien noodle
Soup based (Penang) and stir fried (Singapore) Stir fried
Egg noodles and rice noodles Fat yellow noodles
No dark soya sauce used Dark soya sauce is used
Prawn is the main ingredient with slices of chicken or pork, squid and fish cake.
Kang Kong (water spinach) is common in the Penang version
Slices of chicken or pork, squid and cabbage

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Together with Penang Assam Laksa and Char Koay Teow, Penang Hokkien Mee is one of the signature dishes of the state and more precisely of the island [Pulau] of Penang. The soup is a ‘sourish’ and ‘shrimpy’ tasting seafood broth using fresh prawns, dried shrimps and pork meat. It’s served with egg and rice noodles, small prawns, sometimes with thin slices of pork and a half hard boiled egg. Served with a spoon of chilli paste for an extra kick aiming at your taste buds. I’ve eaten Penang Hokkien Mee at different kopitiam and hawker stalls and here I’m trying to get a few of them in some kind of  ranking with my personal rating.

Kedai Kopi Kwai Lock is one of the bigger coffee shops in Pulau Tikus. It is located at the corner of Jalan Burma and Solok Moulmein.

HokkienMeeRating: 13/20.

Good balance between the sourish broth and noodles, little prawns. A decent but average plate. Good spicy chilli. It’s a big coffee shop and very busy in the morning.

Kedai Kopi Swee Kong is situated just opposite Kwai Lock, also on the junction of Jalan Burma with Moulmein. Opens very early in the morning till about 9:30. Reopens afterwards for lunch.

HokkienMeeRating: 15/20

Comes without the egg but it’s very tasty. If I recall correctly there are also some small clams mixed in the broth. Worth a try but do come early,  you might have to wait a while as the place can be very crowded.

Kafe Khoon Hiang – Jalan Dato Keramat at the corner with Jalan Dunlop.

HokkienMeeRating: 9/20

When I ordered the dish was looking very promising. Alas, at the first tasting it turned out to be a disappointment. The secret of a good typical prawn broth was definitely not mastered by this cook. Way to sweet and even adding lots of chilli paste was not able to improve the taste. A pity.

Bee Hooi Coffee Garden– on Kimberly road is a big cafe. We were strolling through the neighbourhood and decided to have some refreshments at the outside terrace. Then my eyes made contact with a Hokkien Mee stall in full schwung. Of course,I had to order a bowl> Mind you, only for analysing and rating purposes [grin].

IMG_1316  Rating: 15/20

Very good balanced broth with many prawns and added hard boiled egg.

Kedai Kopi Classic –  Address: 126, Jln Perak, opposite Padang Brown food court. It has the reputation of being one of the best Hokkien Mee stalls on the island and yes, the stall lives up to that reputation!

HokkienMeeRating: 18/20. Simply superb.

Sungai Samagagah-Kuala Jalan Bahru. Fishing village near Balik Pulau at the Kampung Jalan Baru. Private houses that open their kitchen for guests only during the weekends. This one is famous for both Hokkien Mee and Penang Assam Laksa. The Hokkien Mee was very good and served in a rich broth with plenty of sliced prawns and pork meat. Yummy.

HokkienMee

Rating: 17/20. Excellent, full of rich flavours. Quality ingredients.

My apologies for only reviewing a small number of outlets. I’m sure there are many more excellent Hokkien Mee sellers. It would take a life time job to review them all. When returning and testing more places I’ll update this post.

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Padang Brown, also known as Padang Dato Keramat in George Town is bordered by Dato Kramat Road, Perak Road, Anson Road and Johore Road.

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The chinese section opens in the afternoon while the Malay section runs in the evening. At least that was our impression.

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Malay section closed in the afternoon

Malay section closed in the afternoon

The land on which Padang Brown is located was donated by David Brown, one of the wealthiest landowner in Penang at the time.
Brown Memorial, erected in Esquire D. Brown’s memory, once stood in the middle of Padang Brown. It was subsequently shifted to the corner, near the junction of Jalan Perak and Jalan Anson, and stands today in the midst of the Padang Brown Food court.
The food court itself has a Chinese section next to Dato Kramat road and a mostly Malay section that borders the Padang. The day of our arrival we checked it out in the evening and it seems that only the Malay section was in operation while the Chinese part already was closed down. I think they open only from noon till late afternoon. But there are also Chinese stall on the other side of the field, along Johore road. They open in the evening as well. We had some great Satays, prepared the Malay way:

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Ordering beef & chicken satay from Satay Station No 33.

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Cooking the Satay skewers to perfection over a charcoal fire.
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Padang Brown food court – Malay section Beef and chicken satay, accompagnied by the traditional cucumber, onion and a well balanced satay sauce. On another occasion we went back in the afternoon to some more food at the Chinese section of the food court. BTW, they have a parking lot that you can enter from Dato Kramat Road,just opposite the “Kedai Kopi Classic”, famous for its Hokkien Mee. This time the Malay section was closed while the Chinese one was starting to get in full swing. We came here to check out a specific stall. According to local foodies, one of the best popiah tastings on the whole Island defends its reputation here. We arrived round 01pm but the stallwas still not in operation. After asking around we were told they usually show up round 2 pm!  Ah…ain’t it sweet to be a famous hawker celebrity? You pick your own working hours as you know patrons will always be lining up to buy your stuff.While strolling around,  a Malaysian Pancake stall looked like selling very nice banana pancakes. I hesitated but still, as I am not really into sweet deserts etc,  I decided not to try it out. Maybe on a next visit.Yummy pancakes for those with a sweet tooth
Malaysian Pancake stall

Malaysian Pancake stall

While waiting for the popiah, my wife decided on getting some cendol. Looked great but again to sweet for my taste buds.IMG_1436

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Then, finally the local Prince of Popiah made his entree on the Royal Tricycle with pots filled with all his goodies.

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IMG_1301So, now let’s see what all the fuss is about. BTW, when you are ordering, do address the old lady because SHE says SHE is in charge of the orders. She was not the most nice person to address (attitude problem that might be related to be a [rich] local celebrity?) but hey, we didn’t come for her but for HIS popiah!

Indeed it is the best popiah I had till now. During our stay we went back several times for more and more. Have a look at the preparation on site, and enjoy.

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witloof

Here is another recipe from Flanders’ traditional cuisine – (serves 4)

  • 8 endives aka witloof or chicon.
  • 8 slices of cooked white ham
  •  milk
  •  flour
  •  butter
  •  a mix of grated gruyere cheese and grated  parmegiano (parmesan) cheese.
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg

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  • Clean endives and remove outer leaves, cut and hollow out the root base to remove bitterness
  • Steam endives till almost soft.
  • Collect the cooking juice.
  • Cover and braise for 3 minutes in a pan with butter.
  • Combine evenly until endives are slightly caramelized.
  • Endives should drain off a maximum amount of water for the next cooking step.
  • Make a clear roux:
  • Melt butter in a pot
  • Add flour as soon as butter has melted but do not allow it to brown.
  • Return to heat and gradually add milk while stirring well
  • Add juice from cooking endives
  • Continue to stir
  • Reduce heat
  • Salt, pepper and grate a generous amount of nutmeg
  • Add most of the grated cheese and let it melt in the sauce while continuing to stir
  • Reduce to obtain a creamy, thick sauce
  • Remove rind from ham slices
  • Roll each endive in a slice of ham and place them in a baking dish
  • Pour white sauce over all roulades
  • Add the rest of the grated gruyere to the dish after 10 minutes of cooking time and let it brown and cook the dish in a pre-heated oven or salamander
  • Serve hot accompanied with homemade mashed potatoes that are also cooked under the salamander till the top layer is crispy brown.

 

Next time I’m cooking the dish, I will take some pics of the process and update this post.

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Kota Kinabalu 01-08 016

Malaysia, truly Asia…

Last year in January we quickly had to use up  free Cathay air miles as their expiry date was nearing. We decided to spend a week in Sabah on Borneo and booked a  little hotel, The Hamin Lodge.  Ratings on the travel websites were better than average and while the place was not High End, it was clean and had a nice bathroom. Also important:  it came really inexpensive, especially if comparing with those resorts à la Rasa Sayiang and Co. It might seem like comparing apples and oranges but all depends what you expect from your holidays. In this case no need for a lazy stay at a beach resort alongside  the pool/bar/spa, nibbling on not so good resort-like finger food etc. We wanted a bit more action to get an idea about the environment, the local [sea]food and get on some Rain Forrest trail to visit our brethren, the [red] men of the woods… aka bro and sis Orang Utan.  

As for the Lodge, the only negative experience was the mattress on the first night: hard like rock. After remarks made the morning after they immediately changed ours to a softer version. Terima Kassih!

Hamin Lodge website: www.haminlodge.com

Another positive coincidence was that the hotel was next to one of the most popular food courts of KK. – Seri Selera @ Sedco Complex. The $$ saved on Hotel prices were used to make our tummies purr with joy. Most evenings we ended up here enjoying the seafood, lobsters, steamed garoupa, satay, veggies, cockels and all you can dream of  in coastal Malaysian seafood places.

Have a look at their website here: http://www.seriselera.com/public/aboutus.asp

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Staff in the morning cleaning the veggies and setting up the tables.

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Early evening. Food court getting ready for welcoming  the customers.

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Rock lobster RIP. ‘t was an excellent beast.

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Garoupa steamed to perfection.

 

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Making your choice from the many fish tanks is serious business.

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Videos with thanks to the bloggers from www.malaysia.com 

Even if the place is a bit touristic, top food quality is also present.

 The entertainment provided did include dancers performing the Magunatip, Sabah’s most famous Murut bamboo dance.

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Kota Kinabalu 01-08 037

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