Category Archives: 3. Food Around the World

Food in East China : All manner of Dumplings

I must admit, I hate dumplings, not fond of them at all.

China dumpling 1

Chinese Ingot Dumplings

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Food in East China : Famous Air Dried Chinese Ham

China jin hua ham 3

For you gourmets out there, When you talk about Ham, you would either regard the hipsters choice of Spanish Iberian Ham or Italian Culatello  Prosciutto. Surprising to the rest of you Hipsters, I bet you don’t know China has its version of great Prosciutto.

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Crazy eats of South America Part 1

In Mendoza, Argentina the famous Malbec wine region : The Malbec grape varietal thrives and where the best Argentina wine come from, also famous for its Dulce de Leche, a condensed caramelised milk product popular with Argentinians

Half spoonful of  Dulce de Leche, fill the other half with Malbec wine, gulp it down.
Chile has its terramoto cocktail drink, red wine, pisco (grape liquer), pineapple icecream. This is Mendoza’s version of very bad drink ideas that taste quite disgustingly weird.

Alfajores : Very typical biscuits of South America, you see versions of it everywhere, especially in Chile and Argentina. This Argentinian version consist of snow dusted sugar on 2 biscuits with Dulce de Leche filling (caramelised condensed milk) . Quite addictive and probably will kill your liver and kidney from all those sugar! You easily find them in shops, cafes and on the streets.

Cerviche in Easter island. Raw fish cooked in lemon juice along with raw local shrimp from the surrounding sea. Served with steamed banana bread (right) that is more banana than bread, local Tuna call Kana Kana (middle), fried plantains (left) with salad in the background.
One of the best cerviche tasted so far since coming to South America but deadly if you are not into raw fish and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Mendocino (Mendoza, Argentina) version of Paella :

Rice cooked purely in white wine and a bit of broth, but really mostly cook in wine.  Add  tomatos and fresh tomato, onions, salted anchovies, garlic. The octopus is cooked in red wine with carmelised onions. Local Mussles added at the end, Olives and Half boiled egg place on top along with Biondilo and Mendocino hard feta cheese. Cooking preparation & time s about 1 hour.

Eating out in Argentina is expensive and one can’t afford to eat out for all main meals daily especially when it cost 50-80pesos (us$13- us$20) for quite a sub standard dish. That’s just a dish not a meal. However Mendoza is a great place for beautiful vegetables, sea food, meats produce and cooking is fun if you have a great kitchen.

Empanadas are like the South America version of curry puff, pastry stuffed with meats, or cheese, or chicken. There is the fried and baked version. The pasteleria everywhere seems to make awful pre-prepared empanadas, but there are dedicated shops that make fresh versions when you order them. The fillings and the pastry matters a lot. The trouble is it is more of a hit and miss affair when choosing a good empanada shop. The standard varies and often the popular shops serve up quite crappy versions even if there are tons of folks buying it. The  freshly made fried empanadas taste better than the oven baked ones of course. This is what most Chileans and Argentinans have as cheap fast food. A typical cheap dinner will consist of at least 6 pieces.

Salted pig in Argentina, this is more traditional and often prepared only for the weekends. The whole pig with skin and hooves is cured in salt. It seems more of a spanish dish where you make a stew out of it.  The taste apparently is better than fresh pork. Preparation takes more than 1 day to soak the pig in water to rid of the salt then boiled and stewed with root vegetables or eaten just like so. I  have no clue what this taste like as I don’t eat red meats.

Cerviche in Easter Island

Cerviche is raw fish cooked with lime juice. A popular dish in South America. Here in the island of Easter (isle of Pascua), or Easter island, right in the middle of the pacific ocean, you get fresh fish. The local tuna call Kahi Kahi is very popular and it is either pan fried or serve up raw as cerviche.

Food is pretty pricey here on the island, everything has to be flown from Chile. This dish of quite yummy cerviche cost us$22, served with steam banana cake (right) camote (left). This is the version of street food served from an aluminum shed.

No 100% Guaranteed Solid Crab

Somewhere at some seafood restaurant in Singapore

When you see this on the restaurant menu, perhaps maybe you wonder if this restaurant is scaring off their customers a little too much?

Apparently if I choose my crab at my own risk, I would need to buy my own insurance too.

I’m scared now.

The food was pretty good, so were the crab dishes which were delicious. Unfortunately for the restaurant it was a little too quiet for their business, while their competition just opposite to them was packed with a queue line.

Does say something about your advertisement doesn’t it?

Coffee Art at FoodAsia Expo 2010

Coffee Art Food Asia Expo 2010, Singapore

I visited the recent FoodAsia Expo 2010. It was massive this year with all the halls taken up and gave me little time to go through most of the stalls I wanted to visit and not a lot of time to snap a few photos.

It was a good expo, giving me a few ideas, I was looking for a coffee espresso machine but decided it was too much for home use. An Elektra dual semi-automatic machine was all too tempting, but still priced at sg$6,000+

A quick stop at the Boncafe booth, gave me a few precious minutes to record Barista Artist in action. Henri Koh, Barista Artist, trainer, and one of the judges for the Singapore Barista 2010 was performing his magic and serving overwhelmed visitors a little java for the soul. Thank you Henri for the much needed soul warmer.

Coffee Art

Coffee Art

Coffee Art

Coffee Art

Coffee Art

Coffee Art

Coffee Tasting at Papa Palheta Roaster

Papa Palheta Coffee Boutique, 140 Bukit Timah Road (off Hopper Road), Singapore

Reminding me of Central America – A Long Winded Story

Quite the coffee fanatic myself, I grew my love for quality coffee beans during my travels to Guatemala and Honduras, Central America. It was in Antigua, Guatemala that I came to realise that roasting was an important process after being introduced by a Coffee and Cacao roaster, Tostadoria (place of roast) who educated me with all the processes. These precious green beans came from beautiful local coffee farms that I had visited regularly on the weekends.  The coffee red berries apparently have high anti-oxidants,  had tasted the red berries, bittery with astringent aftertaste is great if you are in need of some Vitamin C. Families living around Antigua and Lake Attilan were growing coffee everywhere, both for personal use and for local market.  You could smell the sickly sweet acidic fermented berries as you walk pass houses drying their beans out in the open tarmac. These  are grown in rich volcanic land that gave the light floral sometimes herby tones to these coffee beans. Many have argued about the term Terroir, but in truth, the soil do give the beans its characteristics and giving its elusive and indescribable ‘Terroir’ term.

To say the least, I was practically hooked, my daily coffee pilgrimage to my favorite haunt consist of a cappucino in the morning, an expresso and cafe con leche (coffee with milk)  in the late afternoon,  and it was here that I was being educated with all the full flavors of coffee.   It was cheap too, US$1 for a cup of good quality coffee or cappuccino that would have cost around US$6.00 back home. The baristas were a passionate lot and had high standard in brewing their coffee, my regular jaunt was just a hole in the wall, very popular with the locals. Often in the afternoon if I wasn’t doing much, I would head to the roasters, Tostadoria where they also roast cacao (chocolate) beans.

The Coffee experience  spolit me, the education made me more picky with what I am drinking, can’t accept drinking highly sour and muddy water anymore. These days coffee appreciation has reached its fine wine or fine chocolate levels.

Back to Singapore, at Roaster, Papa Palheta

Papa Palheta

Found this place from another coffee enthusiast, who bought his coffee beans from this tiny little place that is situated in the quiet newton area. The coffee purveyors a rather passionate lot with very high standards in their roasting, something that I quite admire. It is great that the standard of coffee will be improved with these passionate local roasters.  Hope that the coffee drinkers of Singapore would graduate from drinking awful Starbucks to appreciating coffee and demanding their expensive coffee to be brewed properly.

Papa Palheta

The first Saturday of every month, Papa Palheta conducts an hour long coffee tasting session.

I was rather excited, for this would be my very first coffee tasting ever, am totally an amateur among the serious coffee enthusiast. You could almost pretend to be  like those professional coffee buyers at the Coffee/Tea Exchange of Calcutta or Chicago or South Africa, going through the process of sniffing the beans, running your spoon around the beans, sniffing the brew and slurping it then spill it out like what you do for wine tasting.

In April 2010, the purveyors presented Kenya Nyeri AA, Kagumo Co-op, its star of the month and added a total of 4 anonymous beans varietals for us to figure out.

Papa Palheta

First we looked at the beans, its color, texture and oily shine. Freshly roasted beans do not have that intense aroma and deep oily shine. It is best to let the beans mature and oxidise for 3-5 days before brewing the coffee. (Maybe a coffee professional can elaborate on the whole process)

Papa Palheta

The various beans were grinded by an expensive coffee grounder and presented along the tasting table. We examine the grounded coffee again, taking notes of its aroma, color and tonal ranges. Immediately you could tell which were the Asian beans, for they tend to be rather strong, slight toffee chocolate, sometimes buttery and herby at the same time. I had preferred the middle 2 bean varietals, less pungent than the ones on the side. There were some hints of sweetness and floral tones.

Papa Palheta

Next hot water is poured into the bowl, letting the grounded coffee powder sit for few seconds.

Papa Palheta

Apparently by pouring the hot water, you could tell which beans were recently roasted. Young freshly roasted beans would have lots of froth call crema  (creme) due to the oils mixing with the water forming oxidative colloidal solids. There is a chemical explanation for this crema (or creme texture) but I shall not go deep into that, we learn that in school a very long time ago.

Papa Palheta

Older beans would have a crusty top, less crema and more gritty

Papa Palheta

This is the city roasted bean, darker and was roasted a week or so. Even more gritty, more crusty, less crema

Papa Palheta

We are told to describe the smells first putting our noses right at the edge of the bowl. Image shows a very freshly roasted coffee as reflected by the crema (This batch turn out to be winner of the Cup of Excellence Nicarguan section)

Papa Palheta

You are suppose to look at the coffee take notes on the appearance. Sniffing the top layer, then using a teaspoon to lift the crust away and smelling the aroma below the crust, to reveal another characteristics.  I  couldn’t really tell the difference, but repeated smells do highlight a few aromatic tones, too subtle for me to differentiate, I would need to train my olfactory palate for that.

Papa Palheta

Put your nose right at the edge of the bowl, slowly inhaling, then using the spoon to lift the crust, spooning a sample and aspirate the coffee first at the tip of your tongue, before letting drip to  sides of your tongue and then your whole mouth. This will present the various flavor characteristics.  I was disappointed with the first coffee sample A, it turned out to be the winner of Nicaragua Cup of Excellence , it was aromatic when grounded but the taste and mouthfeel was disappointing, and it got flat at the end, very little bitter sweetness that a coffee should have in its finish. It first presented boldly, with its flowery notes, light acidity at the beginning but was flat at the end and lost its lingering aftertaste rather quickly compared to the rest of the samples.

Papa Palheta

Coffee at the end of the tasting still retains its genuine crema. As the beans age, less crema would be produced as the beans ferments further. To tell a difference between ‘real’ crema and froth, the crema does remain longer while froth disppiates after a few minutes. Remember your food chemistry back in School? Colloidal suspension of oils and water and carbon dioxide would remain longer than just high pressure hot water and air froth mixture.

Papa Palheta

Rich creamy texture is only presented via the high pressure espresso method. I personally love digging my coffee spoon at this layer. The true test of good quality and properly brewed coffee is that you need no sugar or milk to mask its bitterness,  the coffee should allow some sweetness to linger on your tongue.

Papa Palheta

Excellent cuppa Kenya here, rich creme,  sweet herby fruit, flavor lasts after initial tasting. Kudos to the barista!

Papa Palheta

Beautiful coffee art for the latte, great coffee needs no sugar! nice bittery finish.

Papa Palheta

Bangladeshi Food on a Tray!

Bangladeshi Food on a tray

Found Bangladeshi food in Singapore!
and its only in Singapore that they serve these dishes on stryrofoam plates with a brown tray.

Fish fish and more fish with vegetables Sabji (Hindi for vegetables). Yum yum.

Found my fish chutney, cabbages with dried fish, and more fish curry. I was so used to eating fish chutney in remote parts of Bangladesh, Assam and Nagaland in all my meals, that I was craving for them.

Despite being in India for quite awhile, had really dislike Northern Indian food, they are so heavy and loaded with tons of spices and yoghurt, it fills me up after a few bites. Even in North India, as much as I possibly could, avoided Northern Indian food and head towards the Bengali food places.

Bangla dishes are lightly spiced, freshly cooked, pretty healthy, as it is mainly fish and lots of Sabji (Vegetables)

I do miss my dried fish chutney, which I had in almost every meal in Northeast India. Assamese, Nagas, Bengalis all have their own versions of it.

Pani Puri at Old Delhi

Best pani puri stall at Old delhiOld Delhi, India

I got introduced by this street snack or Chaat in Hindi by a great Bengali food connoisseur, Sourabh and his great beautiful wife in Calcutta. There it is call Phuchka, and in Delhi its call Gol Pappa but most commonly known in its hindi street name, Pani Puri (Water-Biscuit)

Its made from wheat and semolina flour, deep fried into little balls, it is then filled with a mixture of tamarind and mint and pieces of potato and mixed spices, ‘Pani’. In Old Delhi it cost from 5rp to 10rp for 5-6 pieces, in Calcutta it cost 3rp – 5rp on average.

Tasted a few dreadful versions in places like Manali, some parts of New Delhi and other places,  this Old Delhi Pani Puri stall owner puts pride in his creation. The pani burst with sweet, sour and spicy mixtures in your mouth. Really great and cheap too!

One of the best pani puri stall at Old delhi

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Sorta getting addicted to Meetha Paan (sweet betel nut leaf)

Old Delhi : Sweet Paan Betel nut leafSweet yummy paan with coconut flakes and fruit preserves.

In Old Delhi, the street food here is great, while Calcutta can get considered as the Queen of great Bengali street food, Old Delhi is great for its Mughal influenced Muslim delights.

One of the weirdest thing I am getting addicted to, is the great quality sweet paan from Old Delhi. An average it cost from 3rp – 10rp.  Paan which is betel nut and its leaf is kinda of a dessert or a mouth-freshener which proofs to be a little addictive, where everyone seem to have in their mouth, chewing and splitting constantly.

I have tried betel nut leaf in many places around India and Burma, I hate it, they taste bitter and have this tongue and mouth numbing effect that it last for an hour.

In Megahalaya, the Khasi tribe tradition to serve a tongue numbing mix of limestone and bitter betel nut leaf, the womenfolk loves their betel nut as shown in the red and black decaying teeth and their blood stained lips.

Nagaland where a naga man once told me, chewing betel nut is healthy for teeth while showing his decaying black stained set of ivory and in Calcutta where they constantly chew the processed and dried version of it and forever seem to be splitting all over the streets of Calcutta.

The paan in Old Delhi is kinda different, the leaf is sweet tasting and you get the choice of putting a sweet version of some fruit sugar instead of that horrid limestone paste. The Paan maker gives you a whole selection of his fruit preserves, dried coconut flakes, candied spices and herbs such as fennel, and a whole lot of different syrups made from saffron, dates, honey and jaggery (brown palm sugar), of course they do add the fresh betel nut, which I usually opt out. I don’t seem to know how to chew the fresh betel nut, its tough and hard and it almost breaks or chip your teeth.

Old Delhi : Sweet Paan Betel nut leafOld Delhi : Sweet Paan Betel nut leaf

This paan seller seem to be quite popular, I had to wait for a while, there were many people constantly at the stall. The variety of mixes are amazing, hidden chambers of syrups, sweet fruits and other spices and herbs

Old Delhi : Sweet Paan Betel nut leaf

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