Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I know this is kind of late but I've just been enjoying being back in Perth and doing absolutely nothing for the past few days, which is in itself a much needed luxury. Just want to wish you all an absolutely fantastic holiday season and a Happy New Year.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Grilled Salmon Thingy

Back in Singapore, well at least for a few days and with all the catching up on local fare to do, there hasn't been much time to post much. This is just a sample of what my tiny kitchen in Manhattan is capable of churning out. Grilled salmon and seared portobello mushrooms on a toasted potato brioche topped with with a creamed caper sauce. Ok... back to more local food now.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mcdonald's Baked Apple Pie

This is just something for the guys back home. The apple pies from McD's here are baked; not deep-fried.

What a bummer. Funny as it sounds, I actually miss deep-fried apple pies, at least I'll be home soon.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Amy Ruth's, Manhattan, NYC

The peace, the serenity...

A lazy Sunday arvo, even the pond turtles were basking in the sun...

the tranquility of... Manhattan? That's right, it's no secret that the man-made Central Park is a little nature getaway for most people living in Manhattan. What's fun about CP is that she spans a rather vast area and walking through it all the way will lead you out to Harlem. Now, since we're in Harlem, why not grab some soul food?

Amy Ruth's has been around for 10 years now and I've been told it's the place to grab some classic Southern style soul food. Soul food is basically an American style of food developed by African-Americans in the Southern region during the 50s and 60s. There's more history to it but I'm just keeping it brief for simplicity.

Cornbread was served at the start. Buttery and fragrant, these little pieces of bread were even still a bit warm from the oven which made very convenient for the spreading butter to melt and seep into every bit of it.

Chicken and waffles. Now isn't this a neat combo? Can't decide what to have for your main and dessert? Just order them both on one plate. Some of the folks around ate the waffle akin to like fries or some sort of side with their fried chicken. Of course there's the option of keeping it to end and eating it more conventionally with syrup. Which one did I choose?

Another interesting sweet and savory mix. Fried chicken with honey. A crispy juicy fried chicken leg doused over with spiced honey. I know it sounds weird but this mixed flavor sort of grew on me. Now even when I head to Popeye's for some fried chicken, I may eat it with some honey (the Popeyes' here provide little sachets at no extra charge).

More sweet stuff, a side-dish of candied sweet potatoes. Now this was pushing it a little, the sweet potatos were pretty sweet naturally and now being soaked in syrup, it was a bit overbearing.

When I saw deep-fried okra on the menu, I thought it'll be like those okra chips you get at Indian restaurants, instead these were battered prior to deep-frying which sort of left the okra still soft. Not too bad really, at least it wasn't soaked in syrup haha.

So how did I do that waffle in the end? Despite all the sweet stuff during the meal, I stuck to conventions and ate it as a dessert with lots of butter and syrup.

Now this definitely made that walk through Central Park worth it. After all, why waste all that exercise?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Daisy May's BBQ, Manhattan, NYC

Even though BBQ is pretty much a Southern thing, luckily there's still some decent BBQ to be found in Manhattan. Daisy May's is apparently one of the better ones around, so I decided to make that huge crosstown walk all across to the West side to sample some of the fare.

The order process is simple, you go up front, tell them what you want, the sides are all there for you to look at and behind in the kitchen, someone's chopping away at your meat. These are the Memphis Dry Rub Pork Ribs. Despite its name, the dry rub actually helped preserve the juicy interior of the meat. The spices used weren't too strong either and made a good balance. This was a pretty good start.

Next up was the Oklahoma Jumbo Beef Rib. Now, I've always been partial to beef ribs and this was indeed one tasty meat on the bone. Charred fatty edges and tender succulent beef rib basted in a BBQ sauce. The was easily my favorite of the night, even though it was more challenging to eat by holding that huge bone.

Kansas City Sweet and Sticky Pork ribs was up next. Cooked till fall off the bone tender, these were tasty although the sauce did feel abit overwhelming after awhile.

If all that meat isn't enough or there's a vegetarian(!) dining amongst you, the sides here are pretty darn tasty too. The creamed spinach, cheddar cheese corn and mash potatoes has enough calories (and taste) in them to justify eating and the mashed sweet potato with brown sugar was a sweet counterpart to all the savory meats.

All of this and a big jar of cold sweet mint tea served in a 32oz mason ball jar made a pretty good BBQ meal.

So who's to say we can't find decent BBQ in Manhattan? Come down to Midtown West and enjoy some good meat.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Forty Carrots, Bloomingdale's, Manhattan, NYC

The frozen yogurt (or more affectionately known as "froyo") craze in New York has certainly passed its peak but there's still enough critical fanbase for a decent number of Pinkberries and Red Mangoes to be found. Apparently, even before Pinkberry exploded onto the scene in about 2005, Forty Carrots at Bloomie's was already churning out some pretty decent froyo.

Here's a double swirl with original and butter pecan. Even though the original tasted a little tart (I thought it would taste as sweet as "I can't believe it's yogurt!"), the flavor soon grows on you. The butter pecan was surprisingly rich for yogurt and overall the quality was sufficiently creamy to make a nice ice-cream substitute or just a preferential dessert of choice. Tuck away on the 7th floor of Bloomie's is Forty Carrots, a little froyo getaway in the middle of midtown mayhem.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Sunset Dinner, Monterey, California

After trying some of the fancy offerings Monterey and Carmel possess, on our last night we opted for just a simple takeout dinner from the Asilomar dining hall. Started a little wood fire by the beach, a couple of beers and of course

a glorious sunset.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Tuck Box, Carmel, California

Carmel-by-the-sea (or just Carmel in short) is a little town about 20 minutes away from Monterey. It's touted to be pretty upmarket and yuppie and the fact that 80% of the shops here seem to be either an art gallery or an antique shop made that feel even more apparent.

Even the Starbucks here was yuppie and had an assortment of biscuits and pastries that I've never seen in Manhattan.

Since it was too early for lunch, we decided to have a light brunch. We chanced upon The Tuck Box (Dolores & 7th Ave, tel: (831) 624-6365 ) doing rather brisk business and so we took a seat under the warming late morning Sun on a rather cool day.

The bay shrimp salad was a nice refreshing appetizer. Even though the shrimp weren't gianormous, they were fresh and sweet. The salad leaves were also crisp and tasty and required minimal dressing.

Their signature sandwich came stacked with just the right balance of meats. Healthy turkey ham and crunchy fatty bacon, with some crisp lettuce wedged between two slices of lightly toasted bread. Simplicity in its finest. This was somehow very satisfying.

This place is apparently famous for their scones. What makes it interesting is that their scones aren't the traditional English sort (like American biscuits), rather the scones here are the Scottish variety; cooked in a cast-iron pan and cut into wedges. Buttery and very fragrant with the added cornmeal. These were indeed tasty.

The homemade marmalade accompanied the scones exceptionally well.

Of course, no visit to a tea house would be complete without a cup of tea. I'm not a big connoisseur of English teas but this tasted fresh and clean.

Sweetened with a little honey and enhanced with some fresh milk, this cup of tea added a nice finishing touch to the brunch.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Sardine Factory, Monterey, California

The Sardine Factory (located on 701 Wave Street, tel: 831-373-3775) is one of the restaurants highly recommended on the Monterey Visitor's Guide. I actually didn't know that, until after this meal but I guess it could only help keep my mind open as we dined that early evening.

The almost obligatory bread at the start. The buns were pretty good but the bread sticks tasted almost stale.

Some condiments to complement the bread, the spiced olives were particularly tasty.

The rich and thick clam chowder was much appreciated on this chilly evening. This stuff was filled with a generous portion of chunky clam flesh.

For my main, I order the calamari steaks, partly out of curiosity but also knowing that since I like calamari so much, I couldn't really go wrong. This was pretty interesting, large unrolled slabs of calamari body flesh coated in seasoned breadcrumbs and fried till crisp before being topped with a black truffle infused cream sauce. This was actually pretty tasty.

Much of the sauce was absorbed by the risotto with black truffle shavings. A very fragrant and delicious side to accompany the calamari.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Breakfast, Asilomar Conference Grounds, Monterey, California

Dining at the Conference Grounds doesn't really give you much choice since there's only one dining hall and meals are only served during designated hours. Of all the meals here, only breakfast seems to be good. It's always nice and hearty with some form of egg, meat (sausage or bacon) and a carbohydrate filler (pancakes, waffles, hashbrowns). None the less, I'm a strong advocate of hearty breakfasts because I believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the morning.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Trattoria Paradiso, Monterey, California

Monterey, California is a refreshing change from the bustle of New York City. Even though, I was spending most of my time at the conference grounds of Asilomar, I managed to check out the dining scene along Cannery Row. There are heaps of restaurants lining the beach front, some even giving out free samples of clam chowder but in the end we settled for Trattoria Paradiso because it seemed decently crowded and had a nice view of the ocean.

Warm bread was presented promptly to welcome us on this rather chilly late summer evening. Monterey gets surprisingly cool (cooler than New York even) at this time of the year. I think it's something to do with her proximity to the ocean but it sure made this freshly baked slice very appetizing indeed.

Next up was a clean garden salad. No cream dressings here, just a simple vinegarette and crisp leaves to match the crisp ocean air.

I'm a sucker for fried calamari, so we ordered a plate of this to share as well. Succulent and not overcooked, this was served with a tangy marinara sauce on the side.

I actually forgot to take a picture of my main of crusted sand dabs (a local fish) with lemon butter so you'll just have to take my word for it, that it was pretty darn tasty. I guess, I was just too hungry from that flight over from New York heh.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Street Food Round-up, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

Of course no visit of Thailand is complete without some grub from the local street food scene. Here's a charcoal grill making nice work of some Thai satays.

The pork was juicy and succulent with that bonus chunk of lard.

The chicken gizzards were pretty tasty too.

The beef had a different seasoning altogether, without any hint of sweetness that satay has, this was just delightfully savory.

Thai nem (preserved pork), quite similar to the nem in Vietnam. Sometimes, this is eaten raw (although it's really preserved in the spices) but here it was grilled on a stick which made it more attractive. The sourish and salty flavor may not appeal to many but I'm quite okay with it.

One of my favorite stalls is the mixed curry rice store. There's almost always something that one will find tasty in the large variety. A huge dallop of meats and a generous drizzle of curry on a plate of steaming hot rice; a humble dish, a satisfying meal.

The common fried insects stall was present as usual. Never had been a big fan of this to begin with, so I gave it a miss this time.

Fried pork collar in sesame seeds. One cannot help but get a bag of this to snack on.

In addition to the more traditional fare were some rather enterprising ones. This one was serving a huge variety of sushi.

They even had little pan pizzas going for under 2usd each.

Last but not least was this cute stall selling a huge variety of little pastries, ranging from tiny savory sandwiches to mini donuts. Even though my trip was rather short, I'm quite sure I ate my fill.